|Admissions Essays Blog|
|Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.|
Monday, January 29, 2018
Length Matters in College Admissions Essays
This week Stanford University announced some minor changes to their essay prompts for the class of 2022. In an announcement in their own periodical, The Stanford Daily, these prompts are more aptly referred to as "supplemental application questions". To apply for a spot at Stanford, students must complete no less than eleven of these written responses.
To complicate matters, these responses are limited to between 50 and 250 words. By way of illustration, my opening paragraph above is 56 words. A full seven of Stanford's application questions are limited to 50 words. Most standard-length essays give students enough space to have a first paragraph that eases the narrative off the runway. Stanford's requirements scarcely give students the time to edge out of the driveway.
Since Stanford's admission rate is a whopping 4.65%, the discussion that better deserves to be aerated is the general challenge of the short essay. Most colleges require at least one essay of 500-650 words, meaning that admissions committees understand the importance of the thesis/body/conclusion essay model.
But fewer words should be easier, right? Not exactly. You're talking 2-3 sentences at most to answer a question like "What is the most significant challenge that society faces today?"
Some essay consultants even invite students to put a spin on these short responses by bulleting them or including separated sentences. In essence, the universities want two things: 1) a window into who you are and 2) brevity.
I realize I may be aging out of new composition standards. After all, even 280-character tweets wield a lot of influence these days. Yet for students, the key to short essays is to omit needless words; and then omit them again. Understand that you can't say everything, something that should feel more liberating than restrictive.
Put another way: get right to the point. The end.
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Law School Recruitment Heating Up
For the past decade, law school enrollment has been in a tailspin. Since 2006, freshman enrollment has declined 30 percent, a figure running parallel to the downward slope in numbers of students taking the LSAT. A weak legal job market has made competition for junior associateships and post-graduate attorney roles ruthlessly competitive. Law schools have been forced to adjust by shrinking faculty, increasing tuition, and, in some cases, shuttering their doors.
The trend, however, seems to be turning a corner. Applicants are up 12% this year, and LSAT takers are up by 4%. This is true even though some law schools are taking a more lenient approach in admissions by allowing students to take the GRE instead of the LSAT.
The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is the body that administrates the LSAT. They have just joined forces with the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), a non-profit that has been around for over a century. AALS’ purpose is to improve the legal profession through better legal education. Together, these two massive organizations are pulling together a recruitment push, designed to attract law school students, beginning as early on as high school.
Though LSAC clearly has a financial stake in this scheme, both organizations claim to be committed simply to providing better information about legal study and the profession beyond. Through a social media campaign and website revision, they hope to reach out to young students, rolling back the negative narrative that has surrounded law over the past several decades.
The goal of this outreach is to help young students understand the variety of ways in which a legal degree can be employed across a broad spectrum of industries. Students should not feel confined to "pre-law" majors, nor should they assume that being a lawyer is about sweeping monologues in a crowded courtroom.
Launch of the campaign is expected within the next six months.
Monday, January 15, 2018
College Admissions: Tasks for January
As we emerge from the business and bustle of the holiday season, many high school seniors may once again find their focus pulled back to that elephant in the room: the college acceptance letter. Unless you filed for early admissions, you're still playing the waiting game. What can students do to fill the time?
1) Follow-up: Check in with the universities to which you have applied. Enquire as to whether or not they need or accept any supplemental materials. If they do, pull those together and send them. If not, sit quietly on your hands. Just remember that, in some cases, each point of contact with the school helps to demonstrate your continued interest in their program. (It will also end up being an effective life lesson in taking initiative).
2) Check Application Status: This may seem obvious, but it's also important to ensure that the college has received all of your submitted materials in a timely manner. Most colleges offer this information on-line, so the follow-up here should be quick and easy.
3) Avoid Senioritis: I get it. You are almost done with high school. You've basically done all of the hard work of getting into college. But remember, you still have time to screw it up. Do not slack on academics in these last few months. Colleges still reserve the right to rescind offers if they see a dramatic drop-off in your academic performance. Hang in there!
4) Savor the time: Even if you've got one foot out the door of your high school and your family home, remember that these next few months are ones you will never get back. Enjoy your friendships. The full responsibilities of adulthood are still some time away—take advantage of that. Go to the beach. Go to the prom. Maybe even consider being nice to your parents.
Above all, try to trust that, when it comes to college, the future will mostly take care of itself. (In the mean time, it's okay to give it a little nudge).
Monday, January 8, 2018
College Admissions and Big Data
This Christmas, my husband bought me a Sonos sound system with Alexa built in. Two days in, my kids have learned how to boss Alexa around, and I've discovered that she's already learned my musical tastes based on my amazon library. Smart homes and robots with feelings will be the signposts in my children's youth, in the way that cassette tapes and VCRs marked mine. Perhaps it will make it easier for them to cope with the growing reality of Big Data's influence on our purchasing tastes.
Even the people who share the most casual relationship with social media probably have some sense of algorithms, and the way they are employed to streamline what we see and search for online. In the business world, data mining is now a standard part of marketing strategy. It is cheaper and more accurate than direct marketing, and colleges, like other businesses, are quickly learning to use it effectively.
The purchasing of student information is nothing new. Law schools purchase the names of students with certain LSAT scores from the test's administrator in order to court high-performing students. Universities looking to perfect demographic mosaics can purchase survey information from the College Board and the ACT. But as data mining becomes more sophisticated, its influence on the shaping of student bodies grows stronger.
The tech-savviness of the younger generation could prove a double-edged sword for colleges. On the one hand, high school students have already been warned to curate and sanitize their social media profiles carefully. On the other hand, it's difficult to cover up your digital footprints, and most people make little effort to try. Weighing privacy against convenience is no easy feat.
One thing is certain, data mining is changing the way all businesses operate, and colleges, who have been name-buying for decades, are quickly morphing with the times.
Labels: College Admissions and Big Data
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