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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, April 30, 2018
New Orleans Student Gets 80 College Acceptances
While early Spring can be an excruciating time for college hopefuls, it can be a season of triumph. No one understands this better than Darrin Francois, a high school senior at the International School of New Orleans (ISNO). Francois applied to over one hundred colleges. So far, he has received 83 acceptances, and been offered close to $3 million in scholarships.

Francois owes his success to perseverance, hard work and optimism. He earned a 4.24 GPA, was a National Honor Society President and has already taken a number of college courses. He claims to be using his spare time to visit potential colleges and says he is looking for a school with a diverse student body and strong criminal justice program. Francois hopes to become a judge.

ISNO is an open-enrollment charter school in New Orleans, with 565 students. It claims to be the only school in the city to offer an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP). The school reports that at least a dozen other students have each received twenty or more college acceptance letters.

Open-admission is a big deal. It means that students seeking to attend need not test in. Schools with frontloaded filters tend to concentrate students from privileged backgrounds. ISNO is able to offer its students many of the advantages of private school education-things like smaller class sizes, better student-teacher ratios, and more stringent oversight from guidance counselors during the college application process.

The International Baccalaureate is an educational program created in Switzerland in the 1960s. It has grown in popularity and now offered in close to 2,000 schools worldwide. IBDP programs require students to learn a foreign language, and typically include interdisciplinary instruction. Though access was historically skewed to private institutions, more than 90% of the IBDP programs in the U.S. are available at public schools.

Francois has until May 1st to make his decision.


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Wednesday, April 18, 2018
In College Admissions, Courting Counts
Almost all of the college admissions consulting advice hinges on a single assumption: though colleges get to make the final call, it is students who actively make the choice of where to apply. Yet a deeper look at the recruitment agendas of the nation's colleges and universities tells a very different story, one in which it is the colleges who decide which students to court and why.

A recent NY Times op-ed by two education academics presents alarming (if not unsurprising) data showing that colleges spend more time, money and effort on recruiting students from wealthier, whiter high schools. It certainly isn't news that income and race create an instant advantage in college admissions. Yet data showing the disparity in recruitment techniques is disheartening.

Students may not understand the depth of information mined by universities each year. Testing bodies sell scores and high schools provide them. When universities come to call, they do so with comprehensive knowledge of the target demographic. But it isn't just about wooing the students who are most likely to get in; it's about wooing the students whose families are most likely to be able to pay for it.

Despite all of the collegiate bluster about building diverse classes, the recruitment practices tell a very different story. This shouldn't come as a huge surprise since colleges are, above all, businesses. It makes sense to center resources upon the demographics that can best help a college's bottom line.

Sadly, this contradiction between the promise of diversity and the need to buoy endowments is likely to make it increasingly difficult for colleges to cultivate classes that cut across racial, social and economic lines.


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Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Why College Seems So Out of Reach
If you're in the waning years of your high school career, I've got one piece of useful advice for you: stop looking at admissions statistics. Any scientist will remind you that correlation does not imply causation. So while colleges are in fact admitting fewer students, it isn't just because the competition is stiffer.

Here are four things to consider:

1) The Common Application: Feel free to blame most of your college admissions woes on this effective electronic platform. Gone are the days of filling out separate applications by hand. Now you can apply to an unlimited number of schools with the click of the button. What have you got to lose?

2) More High School Graduates: There isn't much you can do about a growing population. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students expecting to attend university has quadrupled since the year 2000.

3) Students Take Longer to Graduate: Did you know that students are now taking an average of five years to complete an undergraduate degree? Educational costs often drive students to work in order to fund their degrees. Ironically, this means they're taking fewer units over a longer period of time. The slower turnover means fewer empty chairs at the start of a new admissions cycle.

4) Competition is Fierce in Elite Colleges: Ivy League and other elite schools are now boasting of single digit acceptance rates. The best solution for this hurdle? Stop paying attention to them. The US has close to 8,000 colleges and universities. We are a nation of 325 million people. You do the math. Check the ivies off your list and move on.

Any living society learns to bend to the will of change. College admissions may look very different than it did twenty years ago, but so do a lot of things. This does not mean that we aren't progressing as a social collective.

The best way to tackle change is to embrace it. Now's as good a time as any.


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Tuesday, April 10, 2018
When Admissions Tests Get You Down
The polarization of opinion regarding the merits of standardized testing is well-acknowledged in the world of higher education. At base, aptitude tests are used to measure an applicant's ability to do well in an academic setting. These tests are designed to be the great equalizer-the scientific method that ascends the myriad soft variables that otherwise differentiate students. Yet, like every great idea, standardized tests often work better in theory than in practice.

The debate has again surfaced in the context of law school admission. In an effort to widen a shrinking applicant pool, some law schools have begun dispensing with the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) requirement, replacing it in some instances with the Graduate Records Examination (GRE). Some 600,000 aspiring graduate students take the GRE each year, compared with around 125,000 LSAT takers. This makes sense, since the LSAT is largely useless unless you are applying to law school.

But what does a standardized test really measure? A student's ability to take a test? Academic confidence? Quick mental processing skills? Socioeconomic background? Since no one can scientifically argue that a test can fully measure intellect, schools couch it in softer language. High LSAT scores tend to be good "predictors" of law school and bar exam performance. Proponents of the exam argue that schools would be doing a disservice to students who perform poorly on the test by leading them to believe they have a bright future in the legal profession.

Can a single test possibly measure all the potential of a future lawyer? Are there no other factors in play when it comes to success?

Currently, more than 20 of the nation's 205 ABA-accredited law schools do not require the LSAT. This includes heavy hitters such as Harvard. Arguably, some schools don't need the LSAT, because they're already privy to an elite applicant pool. For others, the LSAT may be filtering out qualified students with great potential to serve their communities in legal practice. Whether a standardized test is a good measure of a person's ability to contribute to society is another matter altogether.


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Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Universities Formally Tackle Trump’s Travel Ban
Executive Order #13769, ominously titled "Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Entry into the United States", was an executive order issued by President Trump in within days of his inauguration in January 2017. It quickly became known colloquially as the "Travel Ban", or even more accurately, the "Muslim Ban". The bill was tackled quickly in the courts, many of whom blocked its enforcement immediately. Less than two months later, the order was superseded by marginally less restrictive legislation. A third iteration followed.

The orders were immediately and roundly criticized for being too broad, and for targeting people based upon their race, national origin, and-most notably-their religion. Airports became scenes of chaos, with agencies unsure of the current state of the law, and unwitting travelers being sent back, detained or denied entry to the U.S.

In the intervening months, the voices of opposition grew louder and more auspicious. Hundreds of academics, CEOs, Nobel laureates, Jewish organizations, Catholic bishops, diplomats and members of Congress signed on to letters condemning the ban.

As the third order languishes before the United States Supreme Court, a group of over thirty universities has submitted an amicus brief in opposition to the ban. In it, they argue that the loss of international students created by the ban, will cause irreparable harm to the American educational environment, one which thrives with the cultural and intellectual contributions of students from all over the world.

The brief cited surveys in which admissions officers noted more than a fifty percent decline in applications from graduate students from the Middle East and North Africa; overall international applicants were down by 46%. With the uncertainty of the ban's future up in the air, and a clear isolationist message from the Trump administration, students simply don't want to take a chance on an education in America.


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