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Carnegie Mellon No Longer Seeking Demonstrated Interest

Monday, July 09, 2018

In an effort to enhance access and equity in their admissions evaluation process, Carnegie Mellon University has come out with a new policy eliminating the element of student demonstrated interest.

Included in this effort to better align the admissions process with student access, the university will no longer offer evaluative interviews.  Instead, the interview will serve as a informational tool to help applicants better connect with CMU resources and programs. 

CMU's evolving policy extends beyond the initial application process itself. If at the end of the standard admissions cycle the university should decide to establish an applicant waitlist, CMU will no longer encourage or accept the submission of additional inputs such as extra recommendations; research projects; outreach letters to admissions representatives; etc. Rather, CMU plans to request from those students offered a place on the school’s waitlist a response paragraph to a yet-to-be-determined prompt.  

For now, CMU says that they will hold back on publicizing such prompt so as to not to pre-empt a decision about whether or not they will eventually establish a waitlist.  As of this writing, students will have to patiently stand by to see how CMU will ultimately handle waitlisting at the end of the current admissions cycle.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC.  Contact Marla via www.achievecoach.com  
 

Boston College Un-Restricts Its Early Action Policy

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Beginning with the 2018-19 admissions cycle, Boston College has quietly loosened its Early Action policy to allow students the option of applying via a binding Early Decision commitment at another college.

Previous to re-drafting its Early Action application policy, BC had in place a "Restricted Early Action" plan that permitted students to apply to the college under a non-binding early plan, however requiring that students refrain from submitting a binding ED application to other institutions. In acknowledgement of this more liberal policy, BC has posted their preference for students applying ED elsewhere to consider not applying to BC via an Early Action plan:

"Candidates who have selected the Early Decision I option at another college are free to apply through Early Action to Boston College. However, such candidates have identified that college as their absolute first choice. They have entered into a binding agreement to enroll at that college, if admitted and therefore are not free to fully consider a possible acceptance from Boston College. Thus, we strongly request that Early Decision I candidates consider not applying Early Action to Boston College."

According to the college, as demonstrated interest is not a factor in admission consideration an early application will not weigh in a candidate's favor.  For the most recent admissions cycle, BC points to filling 30% of its class via Early Action.  BC also offers the option of Regular Decision; there is no binding ED plan available to applicants to the school.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC.  Contact Marla via www.achievecoach.com  

Crafting the Personal Statement

Sunday, June 17, 2018


As final exam season begins to wind down, students turn their attention to the next phase of their application college process: writing the personal statement.

Unlike a typical classroom paper or analysis, the essay component of a college application invites the student to share a focused perspective or experience that allows Admissions a view into personal purpose; strength or character.  A personal statement can emerge from unexpected places.  Sometimes there is a funny story to share.  Sometimes there is a significant turning point that provides meaning to the student's experience.  

Emory University shares with readers examples of personal statements written by accepted students along with insightful comments shared by admissions officers who have reviewed these applications. Regardless of the story or the background of the writer, introspection underpins each essay. 
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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and NACAC. Contact Marla via www.achievecoach.com







Hanging Out In Waitlist City

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Decision letters have been mailed out and the National Reply Date deadline of May 1 is here and gone. It's time to heave a happy sigh because the college application process for most seniors is finally in the rear-view mirror -- but not for all. For some applicants, the final story is an inconclusive one if placed on a waitlist, meaning they technically are not rejected -- but neither are they accepted. From Boston to Seattle, Portland to Miami, the trend many students are seeing is not admission, not rejection, but instead one of "no decision."

What's Behind the Waitlist Game?

In order to manage yield rates, an ever-important factor that goes into USNWR rankings (and you know not to pay any mind to a magazine's rankings, yes?) colleges have increasingly been playing a waitlist game that serves only to help them manage their acceptance/attendance numbers. By waitlisting applicants, colleges afford themselves flexibility because they can later pull in additional students after extensive review of initial acceptees who actually take their offered spot. Striking is the fact that it is not unusual for colleges to waitlist hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants, in some cases waitlisting more than the entire freshman class population.

How to Approach the Waitlist

First, recognize that at many schools the waitlist is little more than a holding pattern. If offered a spot on a college's waitlist, students need to confirm right away their intention to accept a spot. And then what? According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, students need to carefully follow directions for next steps required by the school. In general, waitlisted students can continue to express interest by writing a brief letter to admissions expressing sincere commitment to attending and WHY; forwarding any new and improved test scores; updating strong final grades; a new and insightful recommendation; notification about significant awards or achievements.

Know that unlike waiting in line for a seat on an over-sold flight, there is no "position number" on the waitlist. Another consideration for waitlisted students, in addition to continued weeks of uncertainty, is the likelihood that financial aid funds will be spoken for by the time colleges comb their waitlists for possible admits.

Hope springs eternal in the world of college admissions but, because movement on waitlists is typically slow and infrequent, the best approach is to deposit where accepted, proudly purchase the school T-shirt and commit to attend. Most students would be gratified to know that the schools that have accepted them view them as a fit and an asset to the school community. So celebrate your well-earned success: Woo-hoo and congratulations to all our seniors and their families!!

Image Credit: Rob Dobi
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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com  



What To Do If You've Been Deferred

Monday, March 05, 2018

What To Do If You've Been Deferred

The email or letter usually goes something like this:  "Thank you for submitting your application to X University.  We have taken the time to review your impressive credentials but, due to an especially large volume of applications in our early round, we have decided to take a second review your application later in the admissions cycle..."

Take heart -- your student's application is still in the running!  As the popularity of early applications continues to rise, it is becoming more common for students to find that the "early decision" they were hoping for may just take a little more time.  When students' applications have been moved along to the Regular Decision (RD) round, they may likely receive a decision by mid to late March and no later than April of the senior year.

In the Meantime

Students should be anything but passive as they wait to hear back.  Active waiting consists of being in touch (reasonably) with the college over the coming months. Colleges may appreciate knowing that they are a top or first choice for the student.  The schools value useful updates such as:
  • increased SAT/ACT/SAT Subject Test scores
  • complete semester grades and/or most recent quarter grades, especially if they've improved
  • an update on awards; accomplishments; or even a new job
  • maybe some impressions of a recent college visit or contact that reflects the student's sincere interest in the college or underscores their sense of fit
What schools don't want is to be besieged with loads of additional recommendation letters, especially if these don't add anything new.  If there is, however, something significant or indicative of character or accomplishment, then perhaps an extra letter may be supportive if the college invites it.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

The 2018 - 2019 Common Application Essay Prompts Have Arrived!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Common Application has announced its 2018-19 college essay prompts, reflecting no change from the prompts established in last year's admission cycle.  

Over 700 US and international colleges utilize the web-based Common App. Students choose among seven essay prompts, providing a platform for students to to create a personal statement that conveys aspects of their character; unique experience; personal growth; or individual focus. Students are permitted a maximum of 650 words to convey their personal statement through one of their chosen Common App essay prompts.

Here are the prompts for the upcoming admission cycle:

2018-2019 Common Application Essay Prompts

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. 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?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.



"Through the Common App essay prompts, we want to give all applicants - regardless of background or access to counseling - the opportunity to share their voice with colleges. Every applicant has a unique story. The essay helps bring that story to life," said Meredith Lombardi, Associate Director, Outreach and Education, for The Common Application.

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


Second Semester Juniors: What’s the Game Plan?

Saturday, January 06, 2018

With nearly half of the school year in the rear view mirror, many juniors are thinking about what’s to come in the remaining months. If you’re blessed with a “glass half-full” perspective, high school juniors have a whole 5 - 6 months in front of them to make good progress on their college plans. Many students kick off 2018 with several excellent opportunities at their disposal, most of which require good planning and smart use of our most precious and fleeting resource: time. 

What to Focus On Now

With mid-year exams on the horizon, one of the best plans of action now is to gain an early start in prepping for these exams.  In my practice, I note that a large number of students find that the precious ground they’ve gained in a semester of classroom success is later dampened by a lesser midterm exam grade. Too many students pay too little attention to a significant exam that could push their semester grade up or down several quality points, potentially affecting the GPA.  Hindsight can’t override a C+ on a midterm exam that brings down a student's A- work somewhere into the B or B+ range.

KEY: Begin to gradually prepare for mid year exams. Don’t cram!


Standardized Testing

Spring can be the ideal time for students to sit for the SAT or the ACT. The 2018 testing calendar starts off with a Feb 10 ACT and a March 10 SAT.  Starting test prep now will allow approximately 5 weeks of prep for the ACT; 4 weeks beyond that for the SAT.

KEY: Prep for standardized testing doesn’t happen overnight. At the very least, students need time to understand the tests and how to approach them. Don’t go in cold!


Planning for Campus Visits

Winter/Spring breaks present an excellent opportunity to check out campuses for size; location; vibe; facilities; connecting with athletic coaches; student support services, as appropriate. Planning well now for these upcoming months will bring a huge return when it comes to narrowing lists later on, thereby reducing the last-minute crush of to-do’s at the beginning of senior year.

KEY: Visit campuses when students are present. 


And the Rest...

Then there’s more to the story for students to plan ahead and make the most of their summers through work; camp; internships; research opportunities; service; etc.  Early winter (now!) is a great time to set plans in motion for summer.   In the midst of winter, thoughts of June-July-August feel close to a dream, but before we know it the boots and gloves will slip off and our juniors transform into rising seniors.
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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

Early Application Popularity Continues to Steadily Grow

Friday, January 05, 2018

More and more, rising early action (EA) or early decision (ED) applications are impacting the college admissions landscape at colleges and universities across the nation.  

The application calendar continues to push back toward early in the senior year, with some colleges using a slightly different set of admissions criteria or aiming to fill seats in the early rounds. Others employ the early schedule to manage their inflows both in the admissions office as well as in the financial aid office.  

The Reality Behind Applying Early

Early applicants typically find themselves in a smaller pool than do regular decision applicants, hence admissions officers may be able to devote more time to reading each individual application, potentially resulting in a more nuanced review. In addition, since ED becomes a binding commitment to attend once the student is admitted, students who pursue this route are thereby indicating to the college that the school is the student’s clear first choice. For those schools that aim to fill a significant percentage of seats in the early rounds, applying ED may enable the applicant a higher likelihood of admission versus waiting to submit an application with a much larger regular decision (RD) pool.

Still, some schools pursue a policy of accepting only "stand-out" applicants in the early rounds, more often than not deferring these applicants to the RD rounds. Deferred applications are later reviewed, enabling colleges to make decisions across a larger and complete pool of applicants.

Given that students applying ED are at the time of application making a commitment to attend regardless of financial need, it is commonly said that ED is the bastion of those who have the means to pay for college without the need to compare favorable merit, grant or loan awards. ED may also appeal to those students who have begun their college process relatively early and/or have taken the time to visit individual campuses to enable a single-choice focus.

Although not all colleges offer ED or EA schedules, there is no controversy around the stark reality that, generally speaking, ED or EA policies help drive applications to colleges. Given the growing numbers of early applications many colleges have been seeing over the last several admissions cycles, the clock on the college timeline ticks on with the trend toward early application likely to continue.  READ MORE


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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com


Getting Into College

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

10 Things to Know About Getting Into Your Dream College


While one size never fits all in the world of college admissions, this article from The New York Times explores a broad range of factors that come into play. Diversity... legacy... ability to pay... unique interests... .  In the admissions office, these all are fair game at the time of application review.

In today's landscape, obvious academic credentials as evidenced by grades in a rigorous curriculum supported by solid standardized test scores typically lay the foundation for a student's application.  But on top of these, admissions offices at competitive colleges may look for evidence of character traits or habits of mind viewed via commitment; giving to others; resilience; curiosity; motivation; leadership.  

Ideally, a student's application communicates a story about who that teen is today and how she or he is likely to "show up" on campus during the course of the undergraduate career.  Expect to see students evaluated holistically and in keeping with the mission of any particular institution. 

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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com

Why Colleges Pay Attention to Applicant Interest

Thursday, October 05, 2017

A Lehigh study points to the significance of campus visits in the admissions process.

According to a study by Lehigh University faculty, when higher-achieving prospective applicants make actual campus visits, doing so is strongly correlated with their probability of attendance and, therefore, a higher likelihood of admission. The recently-published study, named Signaling Interest in College Admissions, points to the factors that drive enrollment management in today's competitive college admissions landscape.

It is common knowledge that selective colleges adhere to an enrollment mission of offering acceptance to students who have achieved higher grades and standardized test scores within a rigorous academic program.  The Lehigh study finds students who invest the time to visit campus signal a stronger interest in the school and therefore a greater likelihood of attendance in comparison to students who limit college contacts to within their local communities.  

Colleges may use this behavioral factor in combination with a student's higher-bracket test results to determine which students are most likely to attend if admitted.  In other words, a higher-achieving student in combination with a perceived interest in attending a college may be more attractive as a candidate.   As students apply to greater numbers of schools and colleges grow more and more cognizant of their yield percentages, accepting likely attendees steadily becomes more of a focus in the admissions office.

The Lehigh study refers to the common reality that students and parents often may face limits of time or financial resources for trekking out for distant campus visits, thereby implicating issues of cost and affordability in the college process.  Still, it will be worth noting how schools that value demonstrated student interest will continue to evaluate this element in students' applications.
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Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via www.achievecoach.com



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