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How to navigate the college admissions strategy during the coronavirus…

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20-06-19 08:31

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How to navigate the college admissions strategy during the coronavirus crisis

Students applying to universities usually make a list of 10 schools to apply to: three "reach" schools, four "base" schools, and three "safety" schools, or some combination of such three-part divisions. In such university list making, it's a good idea to have at the bottom of each section a very large public university, or if the students applying have very strong profiles and there are only private universities at that high level of university, having a very large private university at the bottom of their "reach" schools is good. For example, New York University, Boston College, and then University of Wisconsin Madison, or Columbia University, Dartmouth College, and then Cornell University, or George Washington University, American University, and then Indiana University Bloomington.

The third university in each of the three sets of examples above is the biggest university in their admission level of schools. This strategy is very useful, since it allows students to get into a university in that level of schools if they should have the profile (test scores, grades, activities, and recommendations, essays) to qualify for that level of school. Having only small, very selective schools in any one of the three segments of their list of universities is very dangerous. That year may have had an unpredictably large application pool to that small university, and therefore students may easily be denied admissions despite that they had a very competitive application profile for that level of school. Of course, such a list should be made in consultation with students' college counselor, but having such a strategy in mind is very useful.

Many Korean and Asian students too apply to just the top universities, which often are the very competitive private Ivy League universities of the US east coast. In fact, many employers in the US value applicants to their company from regional universities. This results from the fact that many of those very competitive private Ivy League universities of the US east coast or west coast are very expensive, and going to university out-of-state itself is an added cost. More costs are in the flight fees, moving costs, having to buy all of the big, unpackable household items upon arrival into the university dormitory or apartment. Most east coast and west coast universities usually have also higher cost-of-living rates too. From the hiring companies' point of view, being poor is no sin or fault of the applicant. Therefore, graduating from the top public university of a state that matches the home address state of the applicants is still an indication of a very promising candidate for that company. It's not the fault of students unable to afford out-of-state tuition fees and cost-of-living expenses, and the public universities know this too. The public universities therefore compete with the small very competitive universities by offering honors programs, and embossing such students' diploma with "XYZ Honors Program Recipient." The honors programs are for the very elite applicants with significantly higher test scores, grades, and application requirements of additional honors-program essays. Such programs are able to be entered into after admission into a public university too in many cases.

Be careful however since application to such an honors programs to large state universities then makes that university on students' lists not a good category to be sitting at the bottom of a category of universities. Lets call such universities the "clean up batter" from a baseball analogy. Some universities offer a choice to have students be applying as a non-honors program applicant if they fail to be admitted into the honors program. If that's the case then, that very large "clean-up" university can still act its part well, as that segment's safety school.

At the bottom of the list of 10 universities, the safety universities are usually all very large public universities, so it's good to have a high safety, a mid safety, and a low safety. Also, too, if the college counselors at students' high schools are very stubborn or strict or otherwise not very flexible, it's a good idea to let the counselor choose three to four of the universities on students' list of 10 universities. Most counselors allow only 10 universities, and some counselors may allow more because so many parents and students urge, beg, threaten, and stubbornly insist that they should apply to more, but control your urges and apply to only 10. Students like me 20 years ago thought it was a LOT to apply to even 5 universities, for example. I applied to four, for example: two reach, one base, one safety. However, be mindful to determine the admissions rate (given as one of the indicator numbers in the US News and World Report US University rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities), the university's undergraduate enrollment size to determine whether the counselor's recommended university should be the "clean up" school or not on your university list.

Of course, you are welcome to have a counseling session at Steven Academy to have me advise you on your application and your acceptance prospects. Please, call ahead to make an appointment, and such counseling continuously through students' schooling annually is free for current Steven Academy students.

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