So you’re waiting for mid-March when colleges will release a flood of seemingly life-defining decisions. Some people in your school are probably already wearing their college sweatshirts proudly, but you haven’t heard anything back or settled on a college yet. Thinking about when decisions will be released and where you’ll end up for the next four years and checking your email obsessively may be keeping you up at night. All of us instructors and essay coaches at LogicPrep were likely in your shoes. But as I wait for my students to send me the news, I have been thinking about what an infernal few months that was for me. Since hindsight is 20/20, I’ll share some tips about what to do, and what not do, that I wish I knew at the time.
Dive deep into non-academic hobbies
I applied for college during a gap year, so I had plenty of time on my hands to freak out over what admissions officers might be thinking about my application. I found that one of my favorite hobbies, playing music, was an invaluable tool for escape. I would call up the members of my band and kind of force them to jam with me for hours on end. These hours flew by much quicker than hours scrolling online, and we got a lot better in the process! Even if you don’t play music, find something hands-on and physical to do that isn’t academic. It will get those endorphins flowing and help pass the time.
Try not to let negative decisions inform your chances elsewhere
I was rejected from about 6 colleges before I got into one. I will never forget my first rejection email from UCLA while I was out to a friend’s birthday dinner. It was like a kick in the gut, and the hits just kept coming. I would receive “We are sorry to inform you…” over and over in the next few months, and I began to question my literal value as a person based on those emails. It’s easier said than done, but try not to let these get you down. Remember, all you need is one acceptance you’re happy with!
Volunteer your time somewhere
This sounds sort of fluffy and moralizing, but it actually helped me a great deal when I was waiting for decisions. When you volunteer your time to some sort of cause you are passionate about, you are removing your “self” from the equation for a while. I don’t know about you, but when I have too much time to sit around and think about myself, it gets exhausting quickly. Chances are you just did a lot of that while crafting your essays and figuring out how to present yourself to colleges, so give yourself a break!
DO NOT go on student forums
I really wish I had followed this rule. Sights like CollegeConfidential can seem indispensable for gleaning insight to cultures on different campuses, and often they are, but they can also be highly toxic. Threads of students giving other students “chances” on getting in based on their statistics seem to exasperate the stress they already face. I remember reading students who should have been Nobel Laureates posting their accomplishments and feeling like a nobody. Do yourself a favor and leave the decisions up to admissions committees, because these websites can really make the wait that much longer.
I know you might be thinking, “Well this is easy for you to say since you’ve gone to college and it worked out well for you”, and I used to say the same thing to my mentor when he would tell me to chill out while I was awaiting decisions. I promise if you can do just one thing on this list, it will make these next couple of months that much easier!
ARE YOU READY SENIORS?
Regular decision notifications will be out before you know it! Take a look at our list below to see when you will find out the news.
American University - April 1
Amherst College - early April
Babson College - April 1
Barnard College - late March
Bates College - April 1
Bentley University - late March
Boston College - April 1
Boston University - late March
Bowdoin College - early April
Brandeis University - April 1
Brown University - late March
Bucknell University - April 1
California Institute of Technology - mid-March
Carnegie Mellon University - by April 15
Claremont McKenna College - April 1
College of William and Mary - April 1
Columbia University - late March
Connecticut College - late March
Cornell University - early April
Dartmouth - late March/early April
Davidson College - April 1
Dickinson College - late March
Drexel University - April 1
Duke University - April 1
Elon University - March 20
Emerson College - beginning of April
Emory University - April 1
Florida State - March 28
Fordham University - April 1
Franklin & Marshall College - April 1
George Washington University (GW) - early April
Georgetown University - April 1
Georgia Institute of Technology - March 9
Hamilton College - March 20
Harvard University - late March
Haverford College - early April
High Point University - Rolling
Indiana University, Bloomington - March 15
Johns Hopkins University - April 1
Kenyon College - mid-March
Lafayette College - April 1
Lehigh University - late March
Loyola Marymount University - April 1
Marist College - mid-March
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - mid-March
Muhlenberg - mid-March
New York University - April 1
Northeastern University - April 1
Northwestern University - early April
Penn State - March 31
Pepperdine University - April 1
Pitzer College - April 1
Pomona College - April 1
Princeton University - late March
Rice University - April 1
Rochester Institute of Technology - mid-March
Rollins College - April 1
Sarah Lawrence College - late March/early April
Stanford University - April 1
Syracuse University - late March
Trinity College - late March
Tufts University - April 1
Tulane University - April 1
UNC Chapel Hill - end of March
University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) - end of March
University of California, Davis (UC Davis) - mid-March
University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) - March
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - mid-March
University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego) - end of March
University of California, Santa Barbara (UC Santa Barbara) - mid-March
University of California, Santa Cruz (UC Santa Cruz) - March 15-20
University of Chicago - late March
University of Colorado, Boulder - April 1
University of Georgia - late March
University of Massachusetts, Amherst (U Mass Amherst) - early March
University of Miami - early April
University of Notre Dame - late March
University of Pennsylvania (U Penn) - April 1
University of South Carolina, Columbia - week of March 11
University of Southern California (USC) - April 1
University of Texas at Austin - March 1
University of Virginia - end of March
University of Washington - March 1-15
University of Wisconsin, Madison - end of March
Vanderbilt University - April 1
Vassar College - late March
Wake Forest University - April 1
Washington University in St. Louis - April 1
Wesleyan University - late March
Yale University - April 1
Wondering about a different school? Let us know below!
It has been a few months since most Early admission outcomes were announced, and while many of you have received definitive decisions, some of you may feel “in limbo” after being deferred from your Early choice(s). For those who have done the research, you know that universities have varying philosophies around who they defer and how many candidates they defer during the Early cycle. Certain schools—such as Harvard and Princeton—defer a large portion of Early applicants each year, while others—like Stanford—typically defer less than 10% of applicants to avoid a drawn out process for anxious students and families. Receiving a deferral notice can certainly be disappointing, but here are a few across-the-board truths to keep in mind (read: don’t lose all hope!) as you await your final decisions in late March:
1. Your admission officer was impressed with your application.
Being deferred means your admission officer advocated on your behalf to the admission committee and led a thorough discussion on what they found to be most remarkable about your application. However, there may have been some hesitations among committee members that caused a “split vote” or an outright defer vote on your admission decision—meaning, while your academic and extracurricular impact was notable, the committee has decided to wait for more information in the Regular round before making a final decision (e.g., mid-senior-year grades, significant exams or awards awaiting final results, missing materials in your application, and/or more context provided by reviewing Regular Decision applications from other students at your school).
2. Post-deferral updates you submit can make a difference.
After receiving your deferral notice, universities will typically give you an opportunity to provide updates to your Early application through your applicant status portal. We strongly recommend submitting an update, not only because any new awards, impact, or recognition received can strengthen your overall candidacy, but also because it reaffirms your interest in the university and (if true) your intent to enroll if admitted. While you cannot make changes to an already-submitted Early application, these updates will be reviewed together with it in the Regular round, so be thoughtful about what you include and how you describe noteworthy developments that may have occurred since submitting your application on November 1.
3. Your application will be re-reviewed in full during Regular Decision.
Some students worry that if they weren’t admitted from a smaller pool of applicants in Early, then there’s “no chance” they’ll be admitted in Regular with so many more candidates. You’ll know from previous blogs we’ve written that the Early pool is typically comprised of the strongest candidates applying to any university that year, and if indeed you were strong enough to be deferred in the Early round, you’re certainly a very strong applicant in Regular as well. That is to say—stay positive, carefully craft and upload the aforementioned update, and trust that your admission officer will be looking for reasons to admit you with new evidence to share with the committee.
4. You’re still in the running.
With the exception of Georgetown, universities will not defer you if they believe you have zero chance of being admitted in the Regular round. If your counselor, research mentor, professor contacts, an ‘influential alum,’ or anyone else who knows you well offers to write a letter of advocacy on your behalf (without repeating anything already included in your original application), speak with your college advisor about which universities are open to receiving these and what could be most valuable to include in the letter to strengthen your candidacy further.
We understand it can be frustrating to wait to learn where you may land, but unfortunately it’s difficult to calculate an individual’s chances of being admitted after a deferral, as it’ll depend on a variety of factors even the committee may not be able to predict, including the strength of the applicant pool in the Regular round and institutional priorities considered when admitting a well-rounded class. Universities understand the anxiety this uncertainty may cause, which is why so few of them (such as MIT) will explicitly state admit rates for deferred candidates. Nonetheless, in general, defer-to-admit rates will be very similar to the Regular Decision admit rates for a university in any given year, which admittedly can be quite low for some of the most competitive schools. However, we encourage you to see your deferral as an opportunity to explore other wonderful college options in Regular Decision and/or Early Decision II. Remember that you’ve submitted a broad slate of other applications to incredible universities, ultimately increasing your chances of being admitted to an awesome institution you’ll love.
The first semester of college is exciting—a new beginning in your life, a new chapter in your story, a new learning environment that promises to be a great fit!
And yet... college students now seek support for emotional and mental health issues in greater numbers than ever before. Since 2009, when anxiety surpassed depression as the leading mental health issue facing college students, the number of students experiencing anxiety has continued to increase each year. It is not clear whether the transition to college itself is a root cause of anxiety or whether college is the first opportunity for some students to access appropriate services or request an intervention.
College students reported causes of anxiety ranging from the challenges associated with managing competing commitments (new classes, clubs, sports, dorm life, Greek life, and other new social opportunities), the challenges associated with managing technology (addiction), homesickness, and the fear of not doing well (or well enough, especially after having worked so hard to get in) or of not getting a job after college.
Even at the secondary level, school administrators report concern about the mental health of students and an increased need for funding to meet these needs. In last year’s survey of school superintendents, for example, the New York State Council of School Superintendents (NYSCOSS) reported a 17% increase in the percentage of superintendents identifying increasing mental-health related services for students as a top funding priority (from 35% to 52%). Across multiple questions related to financial matters, 45% of superintendents responded that the capacity to help students with non-academic needs (including health and mental health) is a significant problem, and when asked to rank three top priorities, should funding beyond what would be needed to maintain current services and meet mandates become available, increasing mental health services emerged as the top priority among superintendents statewide.
There is a consistent link and a positive correlation between student’s social and emotional well-being and mental health and their school success and academic achievement. Students who achieve academically at a high level are more likely to engage in healthy physical activity on a regular basis, more likely to get healthy sleep, and less likely to engage in risk behaviors and vice versa.
With the shortest day of the year on the immediate horizon, winter break provides students the opportunity not only to sleep in, but to recharge and reflect on the transition to college with their families. Talk with your first-year student (or sophomore or junior) about what’s working well, how to foster healthy relationships and routines, whether he or she feels supported appropriately on campus, and how to grow academically each new day as the days begin once again to lengthen towards spring.
At LogicPrep, we’re committed to supporting students throughout their entire journey - and that extends through college. Interested in learning some new organizational techniques or chatting about time management? Looking for support in Into to Calc or Econ or Psych? Our team is - and remains - here for you every step of the way.
Every year college admissions professionals gather for the NACAC Conference to discuss the trends happening in the world of admissions. The conference this year took place in Salt Lake City and covered a number of new and exciting topics.
A new way to read applications - Committee Based Evaluations
There is a relatively new way that applications are being read in admissions offices called Committee Based Evaluations that was started by an admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania. Now, when you apply to Penn, your application is read by two people — at the same time, sitting right next to each other. One will be the "driver;” this person manages the “territory” (admissions speak for the geographic location) that the application is coming from. The driver is someone who is familiar with your school’s curriculum, opportunities, and overall grading system, and will focus on the more quantitative and academic side of your app (transcript, school profile, counselor recommendation, and teacher recommendations). The second reader will be assessing the more personal and qualitative components of your app (the application, essays, alumni interview, and any additional information or recommendations). The two readers will then discuss the applicant together as they read through the application to ensure the most thorough read. This strategy guarantees more eyes on every application — focusing on each facet — and we won’t be surprised if more colleges begin to adopt this procedure in the coming seasons.
What is Early Decision 2 really?
A panel of Admission Officers from Claremont McKenna, Colorado College, and University of Chicago examined Early Decision 2 and why those acceptance rates are significantly lower than Early Decision 1. Claremont McKenna saw a 13% drop in acceptances between the two rounds, Colorado College saw a 9% drop, and the University of Chicago declined to share their numbers. However, there were a few themes throughout all of their presentations that alluded to why this is the case. In addition to being a larger applicant pool in Early Decision 1 as opposed to Early Decision 2, students with “hooks” - something that allows them to stand out in the process - most often apply in the first Early Decision round. These students are the legacies and recruited athletes and oftentimes are able to have the conversation with admissions (via a coach) before applying, helping to ensure that their Early choice is within reach. The other notable difference that everyone (myself included) saw between the rounds is that the strength of the Early Decision 2 pool is weaker than Early Decision 1. Not in such a way that it makes it easier for a student to get in through ED2 as opposed to ED1, but because students sometimes overreach on where they are applying. This makes the choice of selecting an Early Decision 2 school that much more strategic for those students who either don’t get into their Early Decision 1 school or don’t apply in the first round.
The TOEFL has competition
Duolingo, the popular language learning platform, has rolled out a competitor to the TOEFL test. Using the data they’ve collected on language learning patterns from its millions of users, they’re able to test people on their level of English proficiency. They can do this at a much faster rate by having the test adapt to the user’s level of fluency, allowing them to complete it in 45 minutes rather than 4 hours. This test has already been adopted as an alternative to the TOEFL by top schools including Yale, Duke, WashU, Tufts, UCLA among others. More information (and an opportunity to try the test out) to come soon!
“Fit” isn’t just a buzzword — it’s an increasingly important angle to evaluating college applications.
The vast majority of universities are moving towards putting more emphasis on "fit.” A number of admission officers and deans that we spoke with brought up the importance of using fit to prioritize applicants — in a manner more prominent than it has been in years past. They spoke about this in the sense that applicants who may seem qualified for a school, but don't fit in (one example given was a non-STEM student applying to CalTech) wouldn't be accepted. On the other hand, students who might seem a little under qualified for a given school but are a really good fit for the campus and academic life would, in fact, be offered a spot. While this concept has always been a factor in the admissions process, it seems as though it will be weighed even more heavily. With this in mind, the narrative students share is even more important than ever.
You have more control over your recommendation letter than you think
Some high schools are developing a new format for writing letters of recommendation. While not the most groundbreaking news, some schools are trying to structure their letters to have individual sections for showing (1) how the student did in the larger context, (2) what his or her activities and interests are, and (3) what kind of impact he or she has made on the community or school at large. This means that it’s now more important than ever for students to diligently fill out their “brag sheets” — a term often applied to the self-reporting form students submit to guidance counselors. If this isn’t an option at your school, take the initiative to send your guidance counselor a summary of your achievements and contributions to your classrooms and community. This way, you can be sure your counselor will have plenty of glowing anecdotal information to draw from when drafting your recommendation letter.
You’ve completed your Early applications, and now you’re playing the waiting game. When do you find out if you’ve been accepted? We’ve got all of your Early Decision/Early Action notification dates for the Class of 2023 right here:
Amherst College - December 15
Babson College - Mid-December (Early Decision) / January 1st (Early Action)
Barnard College - Mid-December
Boston College - December 25
Boston University - December 15
Brandeis University - December 15
Brown University - Mid-December
Cal Tech - Mid-December
Carnegie Mellon University - December 15
Columbia University - Mid-December
Cornell University - Mid-December
Dartmouth College - Mid-December
Duke University - December 15
Emory University - By December 15
George Washington University - Mid-December
Georgetown University - December 15
Hamilton College - December 15
Harvard University - Mid-December
Harvey Mudd College - December 15 (decisions mailed)
Johns Hopkins University - By December 15
Middlebury College - Mid-December
MIT - Mid-December
New York University - December 15
Northwestern University - December 15
Notre Dame University - Mid-December
Pomona College - By December 15
Princeton University - Mid-December
Stanford University - By December 15
Swarthmore College - By December 15
Tufts University - Mid-December
University of Chicago - Mid-December (both Early Action and Early Decision)
University of Michigan - By December 24
University of Pennsylvania - Mid-December
University of Virginia - January 31
Vanderbilt University - December 15
Washington University in St. Louis - Mid-December
Wellesley College - Mid-December
Williams College - By December 15
Yale University - Mid-December
Expect these dates to change as December approaches. We’ll do our best to update dates as they become available.
We asked our team of experts to share their favorite (or least favorite!) college application essay prompt and how they recommend responding. See their advice below!
Washington University in St. Louis: Tell us about something that really sparks your intellectual interest and curiosity and compels you to explore more. It could be an idea, book, project, cultural activity, work of art, start-up, music, movie, research, innovation, question, or other pursuit.
Andrew’s tip: A question like this is great because it's inherently exciting. There's no implied expectation to start with some wild hook or pithy remark. Really, the best way to start with this kind of question is just with free brainstorming, or even going back-and-forth with a friend. Imagine: what kind of class would you read in a course catalogue and go nuts over? Or start listing out some of your favorite (or just recent!) classes, books, movies, etc. and start spitballing: what grabbed you? Once you've filled a half page (or more!) with everything that jumps to mind, start rereading your notes. Do any immediately lead you to ask another question? These cascading questions can be a great sign that you really have an interest to describe here.
Villanova University: Describe a book, movie, song, or other work of art that has been significant to you since you were young and how its meaning has changed for you as you have grown.
David’s tip: I love this one because it allows you to both revel in a work of art or pop culture you've loved as a kid and also show the tools you have now to look at it with more adult eyes. I recommend going back to something you loved before you were, say, 7. Because all great works you love as a kid have so much more there waiting to be explored!
Eli & Julia
University of Virginia: What’s your favorite word and why?
Eli’s tip: This is a great chance to be creative and really stand out in the process - think outside the box!
Julia’s tip: This prompt allows you to fill in the cracks of your application with whatever aspect of your personality you feel hasn't been addressed elsewhere. Is the rest of your application quite serious? Choose a silly word (like my personal favorite, "guacamole" -- it's impossible to say without smiling). Are you bilingual? Choose a non-English word of significance to you. A language nerd? Choose something with an interesting etymology, like "clue". Still can't come up with anything? Then work your way backward: pick a story that you want to share with your Admissions Officer, and come up with a word that will serve as a segue allowing you to tell your tale.
Fausto & Marjorie
Common Application: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Fausto’s tip: This question gives you an opportunity to acknowledge a time when you struggled and overcame a challenge. By reflecting on challenges and setbacks, you will demonstrates courage, perseverance, a sense of maturity and self introspection. Think of an obstacle that resulted in an "aha" moment. Show how that obstacle was transformational - what did you learn? how did you change?
Marjorie’s tip: This is actually my least favorite prompt. Like any prompt, the “lessons we take” from setbacks or failures can result in a good essay, but so often it’s a trap! Students set up artificial “challenges” wherein other students misbehave (e.g. in a homophobic, misogynist, or racist manner) and, having witnessed this behavior, they confront the “challenge” of what to do about it! This results in a judgmental rather than an introspective narrative. Or worse, the student addresses an authentic setback or failure...but dwells on actual failure resulting in an essay leaving what might best be characterized as a “Wah wahhhhhhh” impression rather than a positive impression on the reader.
Stanford University: The "write a letter to your roommate" essay.
Grace’s tip: I'd recommend answering it colloquially (without being disrespectful or crass, of course) while revealing your voice and personality, any quirks and weird fun facts about yourself, and general excitement about specific opportunities (name them) Stanford has to offer -- and how you're pumped to explore all of those things together with your roommate.
University of California Application: Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.
Matthew’s tip: I love the way this question defines creativity in such a broad fashion, beyond the usual associations the term has with the arts. I'd recommend writing about an activity they don't suggest. Baking cookies? Doodling on your converse sneakers? The weirder, the better!
Yale University: Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six people. What do you hope to add to your suitemates' experience? What do you hope they will add to yours?
Sean’s tip: I love this Yale-specific question because it brings back a flood of memories from my time in the residential college system. Having gone through Yale, I would advise someone who is applying to lean into the second half of the question. "What do you hope they will add to yours?" During my time at Yale, I was exposed to some truly unique people and experiences, and most of them happened in the form of impromptu trips to people's hometowns, meals they cooked, or concerts of their favorite bands. These experiences both broadened my interests and helped me make life long friends. It may sound tacky but its true, and that is one of the goals of Yale's residential college system. If you can speak to this, the admissions officers will see that you are applying for a wonderful reason: your peers.
Stuck on an essay prompt not listed here? We can help. Contact us today to get started!
For seniors, the timeline to submitting applications is getting shorter and shorter, leaving many asking the question of how to select a school for Early Decision. While the school should definitely be a reach (but a reasonable one!), lots of students are torn between two or three places and wondering how to make up their minds. One of the best ways to do that is going back to the schools you are considering this fall and doing a deeper dive on your visit before applications are due.
On these return visits, I always recommend going while school is in session, which it generally is between now and November 1st. You want to use this time on campus to get a sense of what life is like there for students and how you would fit in. By now, you probably have a better sense of what you would like to do in college, even if you haven’t completely made up your mind. You know what types of classroom environments you’d like to be in and what types of people you’d like to be around. So look for that!
When you’re there on campus, try and imagine what life would be like for you a year from now. What classes would you be taking? Go sit in on one of those. Where would you be having your meals with friends? Go eat in that dining hall. How would you be spending your free time? Go read the student newspaper to see what is happening on campus. Maybe you can even stop by a football game, theater production, or lecture to see the environment there as well.
I would also spend some time around campus getting answers to questions that you are going to have down the road. How easy is it to change majors? What classes are you required to take (and is this a deal breaker for you)? How accessible are the professors? What is the Career Development Office like? Feel free to even drop by the office to get a sense of how they are working with students and helping them get set for life after college. These are all things that will come up down the road, so why not get a jump on them now before you sign a binding Early Decision commitment?
And as always, don’t hesitate to ask your instructors about their experience if they went to one of these schools you’re considering. Also, consider asking one of our advisors if any LP alum are attending a school you’re considering. We would be happy to connect you with them so you can really learn what it’s like to be a student there. Everyone loves to brag about their alma mater, and this decision is important. So, let us know how we can help you to feel truly empowered to make your final decision.
My favorite bookstore in the world in the same city as my favorite sister in the world (side note: I have only one sister). It’s called Powell’s Books, which is an enormous warehouse of a building, yet somehow also feels cozy. In color-coded room after color-coded room, there are books on every possible subject and in every genre. Best of all, Powell’s shelves new and used books together, so If I’m traveling to Berlin, say, I can buy the latest guidebook… along with a 19th-century traveler’s diary.
Nearly every Dec 26th, my family goes. And every time we enter, the same thing happens: we make beelines to different sections, roam the store following our varied interests, and don’t see each other again till we meet in the café with piles of books to choose from. Our tastes aren’t always what a stranger would guess: for instance, my brother, a composer, somehow finds himself in the international mysteries; I predictably dart for languages but somehow wind up in monographs about animal intelligence.
I’ve been thinking about Powell’s because it’s college essay writing season – and after my first question (“what do you plan to major in?”) I get to ask one of my favorites: if you were trapped in Powell’s Bookstore -- and had no phone -- where would you go? Which is another way of saying: what really makes you interested? What subjects actually bring you pleasure? And be specific, because Powell’s is huge! If you love “sports,” my next question will be: which sports? And then: the history of that sport? Stats? Memoirs of? Business management?
The larger question, of course, is what strange byways of knowledge would you like to explore? Because if I know which section of Powell’s you’d wind up in, I know something about you -– something better than what your major might be. I know what you truly find fascinating. And that is the beginning of really knowing someone.
So choose your major wisely, but also: make sure at college – and in life – you make time to wander the bookshelves of Powell’s. Whether or not you actually find yourself in the real Powell’s or not.