Presentation on theme: "So You Want to Go to Harvard? (or Stanford or Vanderbilt or UNC or…)"— Presentation transcript:
1 So You Want to Go to Harvard? (or Stanford or Vanderbilt or UNC or…) Our motivation for creating this presentation was to give students who have aspirations for these institutions the information they need to become viable candidates by the time they reach senior year. It is heartbreaking for us when students come into our office as juniors with the hopes of going to one of these schools and it is too late for them. By reducing the uncertainty of what needs to be done, we hope to lower the anxiety of our students. Though the numbers are daunting, the main points of the program are 1) it’s just not grades and test scores; and 2) don’t think, “it’s impossible.” Instead, take action and here’s what you can do to make your goals happen.So You Want to Go to Harvard? (or Stanford or Vanderbilt or UNC or…)Tips and suggestions to becoming an attractive applicant at extremely selective colleges and universities
2 Why?With these next two slides, we wanted students to think about why they might set out to pursue the goal of attending a highly selective college to make sure they are doing it for the right reasons.What are some potential advantages to attending a highly selective school?The name does open some doorsStudents enjoy top-notch education and professorsSchools are generally wealthy and offer many opportunitiesWill be surrounded and motivated by other highly intelligent and motivated studentsOpportunity to make connections and draw upon influential alumni network
3 Why not?What are some disadvantages to attending a highly selective college or university?Often expensiveOften far from homeMight be intimidating or competitiveThis isn’t really a disadvantage---but there are no guarantees. You still have to perform well while there
4 Inside the Numbers 2012 Some overall acceptance rates this year: Although the number of high school students has leveled off, the acceptance rates continue to plummet. Reasons include: the Internet, the Common Application, stronger international competition and availability of financial aid. As a result, it’s important not to pick one school as the only one that will make a student happy. Let’s be optimistic, but understand that, with these kind of numbers, disappointment is also part of this game, if one chooses to play it.Some overall acceptance rates this year:Harvard 5.9% Stanford 6.6% Yale 6.8%Princeton 7.9% Dartmouth 11%Wash U. 15.4% Northwestern 15.3%Amherst 11.9% Duke 11.9%U Chicago 13% Vanderbilt 14.5%UNC (out of state) 14%
5 Vanderbilt 2012 Acceptance Rate: 14.5% (28,300 applications) This slide is included to demonstrate one particularly dramatic change in the admissions picture at a school prized by many of our students. During this time period, Vanderbilt doubled the size of their admissions staff and charged them to find students across the country and around the world. They have done that, which explains the results you see on this slide. The positive thing is that Vanderbilt has become a more diverse and national university, but the downside is that it has become much harder for our students to be admitted.2012 Acceptance Rate: 14.5% (28,300 applications)Early Decision: 22%Regular Decision 12.5%Average SAT: 14512000 Acceptance Rate:55.1% (9,754 applications)Average SAT: 1321
6 Stanford (McCallie)These slides are included to show that strong grades and test scores are usually a prerequisite for, but not a guarantee of admission at these institutions. Something more is needed to get the applicant out of the large pool of academically qualified students.Students should aim for these high marks, but also remember to develop their passions to keep them healthy and happy, as well as increase their chances of admission.
9 University of Virginia (GPS) It’s good to remember here and other state universities like UNC-Chapel Hill that a student’s state of residence may make a big difference. While you can’t access that information, we can. So students should definitely seek their counselor’s help in analyzing these scattergrams.
10 Davidson (McCallie)This scattergram is a good example of how smaller liberal arts colleges are often a little less hung up on numbers and choose to emphasize personal and extracurricular contributions. This makes sense because they are crafting a small community where relationships matter and where they can’t simply rely on numbers to achieve diversity of backgrounds and talents. They need to make sure, for example, that they have a tuba player or a soccer goalie or a community service leader.
11 The following slides are profiles of students who applied to highly selective colleges and received results of varying degrees of success. The idea is to help students understand the types of profiles that are attractive to these colleges and to help them think about how to develop their own extracurricular passions to the fullest.
12 The All-AroundGreat academic numbers and a variety of activities resulted in some excellent acceptances. Probably the lack of an overwhelmingly outstanding extracurricular passion is why some of the super-highly selectives said no.4.15 GPA, 1540 SAT (800 Math)8 AP classes with all 4’s and 5’sHonors ScholarJV baseballMock TrialResident Advisor – nice comments about performanceScience BowlAccepted: BC, BU, Central Florida, Chicago, Dartmouth, PennDenied: Harvard, Yale, Princeton
13 The Tennis Player 3.69 GPA, 1450 SAT (on first try), 9 AP classes Very good, but not spectacular GPA. Athletic recruitment plus early decision probably made the difference in this decision. Though Division III schools like Middlebury, Washington & Lee and Sewanee don’t offer athletic scholarships, recruiting can definitely be a big help in gaining admissions.3.69 GPA, 1450 SAT (on first try),9 AP classesApplied early decision, recruited by coachVoracious reader outside of classOriginal thinkerTop six tennis player at McCallie for two years, ranked #2 in TennesseeNot many applicants from Tennessee at MiddleburyAccepted: Middlebury
14 The Test WhizStandout academic numbers, but fairly limited extracurriculars. As a result, student did well at large state universities and engineering programs that value numbers highly, but less well at the schools that practice the most holistic review.3.92 GPA, 1510 SAT (780 Math), three 4’s and nine 5’s on 12 AP testsClimbing teamSurferComputer Science majorAccepted: Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Southern CalDenied: Cornell, Harvard, Stanford
15 The Intellectual Musician Very strong academic numbers. Lots of academic enrichment and passion beyond just hard classes. Student’s real standout feature, though, is his initiative and dedication to community service and the national-level recognition he received for it. Colleges really value experiences that students create for themselves over those that are “packaged” for them. Also pays to notice that even getting into Ivies and Stanford doesn’t guarantee admission everywhere. Perhaps he didn’t demonstrate enough interest in Johns Hopkins…3.88 GPA, 1520 SAT, 7 AP classesMember of MENSAClassical guitar quartetCompleted BC Calculus as sophAttended Harvard and Stanford summer programsTook Advanced Italian at UTC as a seniorRA, excellent comments about contributionsNational Prudential Spirit of Community award, project playing guitar to earn $ for houses in NicaraguaAccepted: Brown, Cal Tech, Carnegie Mellon, Chicago, Columbia, Harvey Mudd, MIT, Northwestern, StanfordDenied: Hopkins (WL), Princeton
16 The Servant-LeaderObviously this student has very good academic numbers, but his success probably results from his incredible dedication to community service AND the national recognition he received---three national awards, one state award. In addition, the formation of his own non-profit shows the independence and initiative to create his own opportunities, not just take advantage of those provided for him.4.08 GPA, 35 ACT, 7 AP’sEarned Eagle Scout at 12State winner of Prudential Insurance Spiritof Community Award in middle schoolState Eagle Scout of the YearFounded a non-profit to collect food for a local food bankAwarded Presidential Volunteer Service AwardNational winner of Prudential Insurance spirit of Community award in high schoolPresident of Toys for Tots and Food Bank at McCallie SchoolHabitat for Humanity, Boys Club, Deacon of Student Vestry, Science BowlResident Advisor, DramaHandbells student leaderAccepted: Duke, Harvard, UNC, Stanford, VanderbiltDenied: Yale
17 The WorkhorseGreat guy, hard worker. Perhaps his lower test scores hurt at the most selective places. Also, he was successful at places where he could play football or help the track team, but those abilities didn’t get as much “credit” at places like Vanderbilt where he could not contribute. It’s important for students to find the right match.4.00 GPA, 1340 SAT, 8 AP classes, mostly 3’s and 4’s on AP TestsTwo-way varsity football starterVarsity track shot-putterTEPSNHSYoung DemocratsAccepted: Emory, Furman, Rhodes, Sewanee, UTK, WakeDenied: Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt
18 The ScholarIt’s still possible to overwhelm even the Harvards of the world with flat-out academic brilliance. BUT, since those places reject a MAJORITY of both valedictorians and applicants with perfect test scores, it may well be that her academic activities and awards outside the classroom were what got her in. Demonstrating academic passion outside the classroom is huge.4.24, 2400 SAT, 36 ACT, 16 AP’s,three 800’s on subject tests, moreacademic awards than you can countNational Merit Semi-finalistSpeaks four languagesYearbook Editor, Model UN (Multiple Best Delegate, Best Position Paper Awards), Selected for National MUN Conference, Spectrum editor, Science Club/Science OlympiadSummer Science New Mexico State, had research paper submitted to Harvard-Smithsonian Center for AstrophysicsSummer internship at Rockefeller University in the neurobiology and behavior labChattanooga Youth Leadership Program - chair of the marketing and corporate sale committeeAccepted: Harvard, MIT, Princeton
19 The Admissions Decision: What these colleges look for Colleges don’t expect students to take every single AP course their school offers, especially if it overloads them into poor performance. They do expect students to fully explore the most challenging courses in the areas they say they are passionate about and good at. As stated previously, going above and beyond the classroom---independent study, academic enrichment opportunities, etc---weighs heavily.Grades and Course Selectiontake the most challenging courses you can in the areas you demonstrate interest and aptitudemake A’s and A+’s as often as you can
20 The Admissions Decision: What these colleges look for It’s easy to criticize colleges for using test scores since they are not great predictors of college success. But, it’s also easy to see why they use them: they really provide the only standard point of comparison across thousands of high schools. Many colleges like to say that test scores aren’t “that important”…until they explain to us why a student didn’t get accepted! They are important and worth the time it takes to prepare. That said, there are a growing number of schools that are test-optional, mostly small liberal arts colleges. These can be a good option for students who continue to struggle with their test scores.Test scoresread a lot to increase your chances for high scores on the SAT, ACTdo individual preparationtake Subject tests after the relevant classstart testing process early enough to have time to retake
21 The Admissions Decision: What these colleges look for Colleges really value activities and accomplishments that student are truly passionate about because these are the ones they will continue to pursue on the college campus. Students should not try to do a little of everything, but to focus on their true interests. This leads to health and happiness, as well as an attractive resume.Activitiespursue your interests with great passioncreate your own opportunitieshave an academic interest you pursue beyond the classroomaim for recognition at McCallie/GPS, Chattanooga and beyondtalk to your coach about what is required to be recruited as an athlete
22 The Admissions Decision: What these colleges look for This slide is mostly self-explanatory. I will say that colleges tell us that applications from McCallie seem “natural” and not overly processed. It is important to show the true voice of the student (not a parent or counselor), but it should be the best voice. This is one area that students too often neglect: giving themselves enough time in their busy schedules to craft the best writing they can. Very often these essays and short answers are the tie-breakers among highly qualified students, so they are highly important.Essayspractice the craft of good writingkeep a journal, practice introspectiongood activities lead to good essaysconsider the Common Application questions ahead of timestart early to give yourself time to rewrite
23 The Admissions Decision: What these colleges look for Accessibility to teachers through small classes, dorm life, coaching and extracurriculars is one of the great advantages of a school like McCallie. Students should definitely fully avail themselves of this great resource.Recommendationsparticipate in classinteract with your teachers beyond classroom discussionbe open to the idea of a teacher as a mentor or friendprepare a resume/information packet for teachers
24 The Admissions Decision: What these colleges look for These activities demonstrate interest on behalf of a student and allow the school to get to know the student better. Colleges know that students who file “stealth applications” (those that are the first contact a college has from the student) are much less likely to matriculate at that school, so they want to accept students who demonstrate their interest in and knowledge of the university. It should be GENUINE contact, not by rote just because a student is “supposed” to do it.Demonstrated Interestvisit the school officially with a tour and information sessionmeet admissions representatives when they travel locally and cultivate a relationshipget on the mailing listcultivate a relationship with a professorcultivate a relationship with a coach by calling, ing or filling out recruiting questionnaireapply Early Decision if it’s offered and if it’s the right move for you and your family personally/financially
25 The Admissions Decision: What these colleges look for For the most part, connections play a lesser role than they did 30, 40, 50 years ago, which is a good thing. For the most part, the process is the most fair and democratic that it’s ever been. There are circumstances where a connection might help, and we are happy to help you utilize one effectively. If you don’t have any connections, don’t panic. Most people don’t and mostly it doesn’t matter.Connectionsbe related to Bruce Springsteen, Bill Gates or President Obamahave parents donate a dormdo household chores/babysitting for college counselorsrely on connections with people who actually know you
26 RememberWe hope this presentation helps students understand what is required of them if they are interested in being a competitive applicant at these schools. When we talk to students in our offices and help them create a prospective list of schools, we are also certain to help them see that there are other great schools similar to these but a little easier to get into.The school with the ‘biggest’ name is not necessarily the best fit for you.There is more than one “great fit” school for you. Don’t get too hung up on one college, but early decision can sometimes be a good option if you settle on a favorite.This is fun…sometimes…if you decide that it is.