2 years ago
Admissions Advice

My 2 cents for the Class of 2027 based on these 2 hypercompetive admissions cycles

All you 9th-11th graders have watched 2 uber-competitive admissions cycles so here are my take aways for the next season that begins in exactly 197 days from now.

-The trend of Top 50 Universities & Liberal Arts Colleges getting more applications is not going to stop. It's kind of like the hype sneaker market. Fire is fire, and as long as test optional policies remain in place, everyone and their cousin is going to line up trying to cop an admission. This is a double edged sword so keep that in mind. Yes, some lucky people without test scores are going to get into top colleges, but on the back end 90% of the application pool are going to get rejected and that's whole lot of wailing. Think of it this way, when 50-100% more people apply, and the amount of matriculation seats stays fixed, then pool of rejection and deferments increases as well. If you really don't fit the admission stats, my advice is that you will be much happier applying to schools that are a better fit for your and vice versa. Think of it like the show the Bachelor or the Bachelorette. There is 1 rose for 25 contestants, so 24 go home very upset, some devastated. Well some Ivys are now like 1 in 25 as well, so ask yourself if you really want to put yourself through the meat-grinder. That's why you should really pay attention to your CV chancing % range. Don't spend half your time on colleges that have low probabilities for you, or those in the 1-20% range.

-The other trend is that the applicant pool is getting more and more competitive year after year. What does that mean? It means that UWGPAs are going up, more students are taking APs and IBs and DE credit, more students have extra math, science, history, English and language class than the minimum, test scores for those submitting are through the roof, and ECs and co-curriculars have never been more impressive. 10-15 years ago, one could focus on 11th and 12th grade and squeeze into a great school because admit rates at schools like Cornell, Rice, Emory, NEastern, BU were like 25-35%. Now they are 7%-14% and going down every year. So in a mere 2 cycles, your dream schools are now pipe dream schools because the landscape has changed a lot. The really clever students have figured out that unless you start preparing hard from 9th grade and put the pedal to the metal for 4 years, your dreams might not materialize. So this is completely rude awakening for the majority of HS students because by the time they get ready to college prep, they realize that they are 1 or 2 years behind everyone else in the applicant pool. Therefore, if you have not worked on every aspect of your college admissions narrative, the best thing to do is to focus on applying to schools that fit you and vice versa. If you are 2 years behind other high achieving seniors, applying to MIT/CalTech is really kind of futile because you are going to be even more behind if you win the lottery ticket to get in. I watched a Malcolm Gladwell lecture once, and his best advice to college applicants is not to apply to Harvard or Ivys. Why? Because you don't want to be mediocre at Harvard and just average in a highly competitive pool (unless you are independently wealthy and have connections). If you are a STEM person, it's better to be a top student at a lesser school because you will get more research opportunities and personal attention from professors. This will lead to more publishing opportunities and job offers. If you are ranked #150 in CS at Harvard by your GPA, that's not as good as being #1 Olin College of engineering.

-My last big idea is not to focus on clout, rankings, and hype. There are only like 15000 seats at Ivys, 415597 apply, 20633 get in, so that's an avg. yield of 73% and 4.96% average Ivy admit rate. So just like my Bachelor example, 1 out of 20 get a rose, the rest go to non-Ivy schools. The best thing you can do for yourself to avoid a can of whoop-ass pain and potential huge college loans, is to make a sizeable list of colleges that you can see yourself happy and thriving at that will not break your families bank account future debt burden. After you make a list of a couple safeties, a lot of targets and few reaches, make plans to visit them in person. It might be the best $$$ money you spend on the entire college process. After you visit 10 to 20 colleges, you will get a better idea of how these campuses really feel like. You'll get the vibe, the setting, the proximity to culture, food, nightlife, transportation, and what kind of people attend these schools. I visited about 20 colleges in person over 3 trips and it opened my mind to different possibilities I wasn't even thinking of. After doing this, I was super relaxed about applying to college because after visiting all these places, I would have been just as happy to attend Mt. Holyoke, Wellesley, Vassar, Trinity College, CMC or Pomona as going to Columbia where I'm going this fall. I didn't know I would get into a Columbia, and when my decision came out I wasn't even jumping up and down or yelling my head off, because I had already told myself that wherever I get in, I'd be happy and make great friends, connections with teachers and have a great college experience. Please remember that Youtube reaction videos are not reality. The only people making Youtube reaction videos are the fortunate ones that get in to their reach schools, the other 95% of HS students are definitely not making Youtube videos. So lets keep it real okay. Where you go to college matters so much less than your own talent, personality, skills and determination to work hard. Is an Ivy going to make you a better human being? Absolutely not. You are either a great human being or not. And no college is going to all of a sudden mold you from a lump of clay with potential to a Rodin sculpture. While I certainly answer a lot of questions pertaining to advising HS students get into the best schools in America, I truly believe that there are 250-500 exceptional college in America where you can get an excellent education that will more than adequately prepare you for whatever you want to be when you grow up....doctor, lawyer, Wall Street investment banker, engineer. My last point is don't pick a school where you are going to be $100,000-$250,000 in debt. Seriously, pick a college that will give you a great education for a good price. It's like car buying. Even if you get a low interest loan a qualify for a $175,000 Porsche 911, that doesn't mean you should burden yourself with a giant loan payment for the next 10 years. Too many high school student ignore the financial aspect of college selection and end up running out of time to research schools, good schools that have awesome financial aid. So don't be that person. Spend some quality time weighing the positives and negatives for each of your schools with a financial lens on. Especially if you want to go to grad school. You don't want to apply to medical or business or law school with $200K of debt because by the time you finish you will have $400K of debt.

That's a lot to unpack. So good luck everyone, and have great summer prepping for the next college admissions season.

You can earn an 🚀 Above and Beyond award if the original poster thinks your reply takes the conversation to the next level!
2 years ago

I'm class of 2025, and I needed this! I think there is this huge amount of pressure on high school students to go to the top prestigious colleges/universities with sky high tuition. Whether it's pressure from parents, teachers, or yourself, it's difficult to overcome. I have big ambitions like many other HS students, and the pressure of only wanting to go to an Ivy League school. While it's not unattainable, its way better to have a list of many different schools that you like, even if it isn't in the top 10, 50, or even 100. "Where you go to college matters so much less than your own talent, personality, skills and determination to work hard." I agree with that!

🎤2 years ago

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I greatly appreciate that you took the time to write something personal to me. I hope you get to where you are supposed to be in your future. There are many different roads to your destination and who is to say that attending an Ivy would ensure you get there faster or better. You will achieve everything you need to regardless of the name of your college or people that go there. Be well and keep at it.


2 years ago

i'm class of 2024! thank you so much for posting this advice, it's seriously appreciated. the part from the malcom gladwell lecture hits especially hard. like, being part of the most prestigious colleges can be good on a resume, but if you get zero attention from professors and can't network, i heard it can be hard to start off super strong in the workforce. this comment helped me realize that going to my dream school, which is coincidentally columbia lol, maybe isn't the most optimal choice for me. i want to have a close relationship with my professors and the ability to carry out research, and i'm sure i can get that at other places as well without hurting my parents' bank accounts so much. (i mean i'm pretty sure prices are still just consistently climbing though :( )

again, thank you so much for your advice and for taking the time to write so much about this! it's such a big help to high school students like me!!!

🎤2 years ago

You are welcome @melonmelon ! Have a great summer and visit some colleges this summer!!! you will be grateful if you did because it's only 1 1/2 years before you have to apply.


a year ago

Unrelated but what's with the disrespect for Olin College of Engineering?! They're top tier mate, their graduates make more on avg than MIT graduates after 10 years!

a year ago

I went through the 2 day process of registering here just to give you an up vote. Olin is basically the hardest school to get into in the country.

10 months ago

I went through the 12 day process of registering here just to give you a downvote. Ollin is absolutely not the hardest school to get into in the country it’s caltech.

🎤10 months ago

Obviously, you are lacking in reading comprehension because no one said Olin was #1 anywhere in the passage. The talking point is that it's better to be ranked #1 as a student at Olin than 150th in your class at Harvard. And I didn't argue this but an intellectual scholar named Malcolm Gladwell. GEESH


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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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