Set Up for College & Avoid the Crapshoot

Set Up for College & Avoid the Crapshoot

December is when many colleges begin sending early acceptance and early decision notices to high school senior applicants. Early signs show the bar went up again due to increased applicants! With fewer students getting in, let’s look at any lessons there are to learn about college planning. The following summary covers what I read, hear from parents with college students, and learned in the work world among a wide range of industry employees. PrepScholar did a good job of covering the territory so I’ve included highlight points. There are links so you can review the entire PrepScholar post.


This story begins on Quora.com, a top website for finding good advice and real world views on a wide range of topics. Students or parents can find wisdom about college planning, specific colleges, college strengths, or advice regarding getting into selective colleges. You can post any question and people with strong qualifications will answer. To find good information, begin by reviewing past questions on your broad search terms. For example, in the question field, enter “University of North Carolina Chapel Hill” instead of “How Can I Get into the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill?” A broader search approach will bring up all related questions with the terms you entered.


What if you are not aiming for a highly selective college?


You can build a stronger application if you apply the advice in this guide. Do your best. Create your best. Invest some time to answer hard questions about your future. Talk to working professionals to hear their advice and challenges. Your years between age 18-22 are a special time to invest in college and to “push” to build work skills. If you have a career plan and know what you need to do to build specific credentials for a career in mind, you will more likely end up with a happy ending after graduation and beyond.


Here is a Quora question that sparked links to a long and good explanation of how to get into top colleges;


“If I get a perfect SAT score, will the Ivy League universities automatically admit me? By Vineet Reddy, a former student at Northview High School, Johns Creek GA. This post led to a link of top guidance: “How to Get Into Harvard and the Ivy League” by a Harvard Alum, of Allen Cheng of PrepScholar.

Reading the PrepScholar post is a great education. The reading is long but is well worth your time. Yes, not every student aims to get into selective colleges. However, the views apply to most students who are wanting to know what they should do to create good choices for future success.

What will you learn?

How should you use your time well in high school? Most students make the mistake of trying to be “well rounded,” thinking this is what colleges want to see. This is a big mistake because this is not focused on doing anything particularly well. Shift your path by developing a “relentless focus” for any skill or field. Create a “deep spike” instead, of something impressive that is difficult to do to set you apart from the competition.


How should you use your time well in high school?
Be intentional about how you use your free time and extracurricular activities. Developing a “spike” of skill mastery and accomplishment in some areas is far more important than being well-rounded by spreading yourself thin with many activities and a variety of skills. It is hard to get straight As, plays an instrument, and compete in a sport. Instead, explore and dive deep into something. Make trade-offs. Give up what is usually 1,000 hours of wasted time every year on things that don’t matter. Focus on your top strength, something specific, and something you are passionate about so you can stand out. Find ways you can show accomplishment in this area and by competing at the highest levels possible. Focus on what you like doing, what you are good at, and keep doing that. Aim to be stronger and stronger.

So, what should you actually do?

What you do doesn’t have to be newsworthy. Do think big. Aim for focus on something you are genuinely interested in. Commit to discipline, competency, and passion. Talent is not required when you take the dive, but you need devotion and hard work. A strong will and structure in your life can get you there. Start brainstorming and doing online research to unravel more ideas. Find something rewarding and fun to do. Let go of a time wasters. Let go of classes that don’t fit into your story. Find out how to tackle this goal.

Read more about college requirements to get the details, what to do, and what this means for your college application.  #talent #strategy #selectivecolleges

College Admission Trends

College Admission Trends

Every year the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) releases its State of College Admissions report, with information on what admissions officers are looking for in applicants, what has changed from one year to the next, and more. Here are top current trends that college bound students should be aware of from the 2019 report:

Growth in Application Volume Continues

  • College Application Volume Continued an Upward Trend. The number of applicants from first-time freshmen increased 6%; applications from prospective transfer students increased by 2 percent; and international student applications increased 7 percent, on average. Public colleges experienced an average 1.7 percent decline in transfer applications while private colleges had a 4.7 percent increase.

  • International Student Acceptance Rate is Low. Yield Slightly Higher than First-Time Freshmen. At institutions that enroll first-time international students, the Fall 2018 rate for this population (52 percent) was lower than the rate for both transfer and first-time freshmen students. The average yield rate for international students was 29 percent.

  • Average Yield Rate for First-Time Freshman Holds Steady After Long Decline. The Yield Rate was 33.7 percent. Over the past decade the average yield rate has steadily declined from 48% in Fall 2007.

  • Transfer Acceptance Rate Slightly Lower than Freshmen Rate. Yield Much Higher. More than half (52 percent) of transfer applicants who were admitted ultimately enrolled, compared to only 27 percent of freshman admits.

Recruitment and Yield Strategies

  • Top Recruitment Strategies. College tours remain the top institution strategy when recruiting first-time freshmen.

  • Early Decision (ED) and Early Action (EA) Application Options Activity Increases. According to NACAC, the average yield rate for early decision (binding) admits is 87% – considerably higher than the overall average yield rate (35.1%.) An early decision or early action application option can be an extra motivator for students to apply because admit rates tend to be higher and they will receive their decisions earlier in the admissions cycle. The number of Early Decision applicants increased by 10 percent and the number of students accepted through EA increased by 9 percent.


SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 2018–19

Source: NACAC – Survey of Admissions Trends 2018-2019

  • Wait List Activity Increases; Likelihood of Wait List Acceptance Remains Low. Fall 2019 saw the number of students offered a place on an admissions wait list increased by 18 percent, on average. Institutions accepted an average of 20 percent of all students who chose to remain on wait lists.

Factors in Admission Decisions

Top Admission Office Factors for First-Time Freshmen. Overall high school GPA, grades in college preparatory courses, strength of curriculum, and admission test scores. The next most important factors are the essay, a student’s demonstrated interest, counselor and teacher recommendations, class rank, and extracurricular activities.

SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Surveys, 2007-08 through 2018–19

SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Surveys, 2007-08 through 2018–19

  • Importance of Student Background. Nearly one-third of colleges rated first-generation status as at least moderately important in first-time freshmen admission decisions. About one-quarter of colleges considered high school attended, race/ethnicity, and state or country of residence as either moderately or considerably important.


SOURCE: NACAC Admission Trends Survey, 2018–19.

Georgia College Applicant Highlights

  • UGA – Early Action Applicants Holds Strong. Nearly 17,000 students applied through early action said UGA’s President Jere W. Morehead.”This is a 25% increase compared to five years ago.PrepScholar indicates admissions is extremely competitive with a GPA of 4.0, so UGA requires you to be at the top of your class, and to take AP or IB courses to show college academics is a breeze.The the average SAT score at 1325, and an average admissions rate of 48.6 percent.UGA continues to elevate its academic offerings and support, resulting in record achievements for its students.UGA set records for six-year completion at 69 percent and matched its all-time high first-year retention rate of 96%. US News & World Report lists UGA No. 16 of top public universities, marking its fourth consecutive year in the top 20, and only two institutions in the Southeastern Conference to be listed in the top 20.

  • Georgia Tech– Enrollment Reaches All-Time High. In 2019, 36,489 students applied to Georgia Tech, an increase of 11.5 percent over the previous year. The additional 3,766 students are primarily graduate students, and a large number are enrolled in online master’s degree programs. The acceptance rate of 18.8 percent is down from 26 percent overall in 2018. Georgia Tech provides a high-quality and affordable education that has resulted in unprecedented growth in the online programs, with the newest in cybersecurity. These programs have made a significant impact on high-tech fields. The average GPA of admitted applicants was 3.98 and the average ACT score was 32, and the average SAT score was 1450. Starting your college prep early in high school, will strengthen your success in the college admissions process.

FOLLOW-ON COMMENT: This article was posted before COVID-19. I expect the update next year will be very different as students are deciding if they will come back or if they will continue with online education. – Susan Thrower