Early Application Response

It’s December, and students who applied early will be hearing back soon from colleges to which they applied. Here’s a flowchart that outlines the student’s next steps based on whether they were accepted, deferred or denied.

The ED Instructions in the flowchart can be found here.

If you have been accepted, you are probably very happy. Celebrate!

If you have been denied admission you may feel sad or disappointed. Being rejected is hard, but it doesn’t reflect on your personal worth. So, don’t take it personally!

Aftermath of the SCOTUS Ruling on Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Background: About two months ago, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down affirmative action in college admissions. Since then, U.S. colleges and universities have been eagerly awaiting guidance from the Biden administration on what this means to them. That guidance was released days ago.

On July 3rd, a racial discrimination lawsuit was filed against Harvard University based on its legacy admissions. According to the lawsuit between 2014 and 2019, students whose parents and family members were alumni were nearly six times more likely to be admitted, advantaging white students.

What has changed: The Common App, the application used by over a thousand U.S. colleges and universities, has made options for colleges and universities not to see the responses to the questions on race and ethnicity.

However, the SCOTUS ruling says that “nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”

The SCOTUS decision and the lawsuit against Harvard have led to several changes including these:

  • Some colleges and universities have dropped legacy admissions, a policy that gives students related to alumni preferential treatment in admissions. For example, Virginia Tech dropped legacy admissions.
  • In addition, Virginia Tech also eliminated early decision, replacing it with early action. Typically, students from financially disadvantaged families are less likely to apply Early Decision because they need to compare financial aid packages from different colleges before making their final college decision.
  • Wake Forest University began offering an Early Action deadline only for students who would be the first in their families to attend college.

These changes are attempts to balance the impact of the SCOTUS ruling on the diversity of college and university student bodies.

Colleges with Fall 2023 Openings

Hofstra University

It’s May 4. National College Decision Day, the deadline for students to select the college they would start attending in Fall 2023, was three days ago. If you are a high school senior who never applied, didn’t get accepted by any four-year college, or who doesn’t like any of the colleges you were accepted to, don’t despair.

Wagner College

Students still looking for an undergraduate college for Fall 2023 have many choices. Currently the National Association for College Admission Counseling website (https://www.nacacnet.org/college-openings-update/) lists 295 colleges with openings, and the list is updated daily. You can search the site by state (or country) or several other criteria, including housing and financial aid.

Manhattanville College

For example, when I searched for colleges with freshmen openings, housing and financial aid in New York, I found these sixteen 4-year colleges (listed alphabetically): Adelphi University, Alfred University, Hartwick College, Hofstra University, Ithaca College, Long Island University – LIU Post Campus, Manhattanville College, Nazareth College, Niagara University, Pace University, St, John Fisher University, SUNY College at Fredonia, SUNY College at Oswego, Utica University, Wagner College, and Wells College.

Adelphi University

ChatGPT and School

If you have been following the news, you may have read about ChatGPT and the controversy surrounding the use of ChatGPT for college application essays and schoolwork. I thought it would be interesting to ask ChatGPT some questions about these topics and share its response with you. Here are the questions I asked and the written responses that ChatGPT provided.

What is ChatGPT?

“ChatGPT is a language model developed by OpenAI, capable of generating human-like text based on the input it receives. The model was trained on a massive corpus of text data and uses deep learning techniques to generate responses to prompts in a conversational context. ChatGPT can be used for various purposes, such as answering questions, generating creative writing, or even as a chatbot for customer service. The goal of ChatGPT is to generate text that is contextually relevant and grammatically correct, allowing for a more natural and fluid interaction between users and the model.”

Explain the dangers of using ChatGPT to write college application essays.

“Using an AI language model like ChatGPT to write a college application essay can be dangerous for several reasons:

  1. Lack of authenticity: Since ChatGPT is trained on vast amounts of text data, it may generate essays that are not truly reflective of the student’s own thoughts, experiences, and perspectives. This lack of authenticity can raise red flags with admissions committees who are looking for evidence of a student’s individuality and character.
  2. Poor language and grammar: While ChatGPT can generate text that is grammatically correct, it may not always generate text that is well-written and engaging. Admissions committees are looking for evidence of strong writing skills, and an essay that is poorly written or lacks coherence could hurt a student’s chances of admission.
  3. Lack of creativity: AI language models like ChatGPT are trained on patterns and rules, which can limit their ability to generate truly original and creative ideas. An essay that lacks creativity and uniqueness may not stand out to admissions committees and could harm a student’s chances of admission.
  4. Ethical concerns: Using an AI model to write an admission essay can also raise ethical concerns. Submitting an essay written by a machine, rather than by the student, can be seen as a form of academic dishonesty and could have serious consequences, such as being rejected from the college or having an admission offer rescinded.

It’s important to remember that college admissions committees are looking for evidence of a student’s character, interests, and potential to contribute to the university community. Using an AI language model to write an admission essay is unlikely to provide that evidence and could have negative consequences for the student’s application.”

Explain the dangers of using ChatGPT to do school writing assignments.

“There are several potential dangers associated with using a language model like ChatGPT to write school assignments, including:

  1. Plagiarism: ChatGPT generates text based on patterns it has learned from large amounts of text data, so there is a risk that the text produced may be identical or similar to existing text that can be easily detected by plagiarism checkers. This could result in serious consequences for students, including failing the assignment or even being expelled from school.
  2. Lack of original thought: By relying on a language model to write an assignment, students miss the opportunity to engage in critical thinking and develop their own ideas and opinions. This could harm their education and limit their future opportunities.
  3. Inaccurate information: While ChatGPT is trained on a large amount of text data, it may contain inaccuracies or outdated information. This could lead to students submitting assignments with incorrect information, which could negatively impact their grades and reputation.
  4. Lack of understanding: By relying on ChatGPT to write an assignment, students may not fully understand the concepts they are supposed to be learning. This could lead to difficulty in retaining the information and applying it in future assignments or exams.

In summary, using a language model like ChatGPT to write school assignments can be tempting, but it is important for students to understand the potential dangers and to consider the long-term consequences of their actions.”

My advice:

Don’t use ChatGPT for college application essays or school writing assignments.

New Year’s Wishes

Rana Slosberg, Slosberg College Solutions

My New Year’s wishes for college admissions are increased transparency and simplified applications.

I would like to see increased transparency in both acceptance rates and financial aid. For example:

  • Colleges should provide readily available per cent acceptance data including:
    • In-state vs. out-of-state applicants applicant acceptance rates at public universities
    • Acceptance rates by college within a university or by major, when the acceptance rates are not uniform.
  • Better visibility of net cost before application and after acceptance:
    • Families should be able to get a good cost estimate of what they will pay before a student applies. Only a few schools like the College of Wooster and Whitman provide this. The Net Price Calculator is not good enough.
    • The financial aid letters from different colleges should be uniform so families can easily compare the out-of-pocket costs of these colleges.

I’d like to see the application process simplified. For example, I wish there were only one form for self-reported grades across colleges. I have had students who had to fill out three different forms to self-report grades: the SRAR, the Common App Grades section, and the section of University of California application. Each of these forms is tricky and prone to error.

Courses, Grades and GPA

Understand the high school class requirements of the colleges to which you plan to apply. Many colleges and universities require or recommend a certain number of years of English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Foreign Language. Students who don’t fulfill the requirements are often ineligible to be accepted. 

Last year, a student I worked with decided not to take the third year of a foreign language in high school. I had him check with the colleges he wanted to apply to that listed a requirement for a minimum of three years of foreign language. Some of these colleges indicated that they would not consider him without the third year of foreign language. This decision changed the list of colleges to which he would apply. I wanted him to understand the implication of his senior year course selection and not waste time applying to colleges that indicated they would not consider him without the third year of language.

Challenge yourself academically, while balancing your life. Take classes that challenge you (e.g., Honors, AP, or IB) while spending enough time to be healthy (e.g., to eat, sleep, exercise) and pursue your extracurricular interests.

Most colleges look at students holistically, so a tiny change in GPA is insignificant. One student recently told me she was planning to take a required art class, Pass/Fail. She didn’t want the class grade to lower her weighted GPA since the art class wasn’t an Honors or AP class. I told her not to take the class Pass/Fail because a college she was applying to required a year of art with a grade of at least a C. A decision to take the art class Pass/Fail might have had the unintended consequence of making her ineligible to be accepted to that college.

Students often do not realize that many colleges and universities will re-compute their GPA. The re-computed GPA may exclude certain classes and will often weigh the grades differently than their high school.

Read and carefully follow instructions when self-reporting grades in college applications. When self-reporting grades, carefully categorize courses. Some colleges only count English, Math, Social Studies, Science, and Foreign Language courses when they re-compute GPA. 

Recently, a student listed their Public Speaking class in an “Other” category instead of in English. Having more than four years in English would have been a plus for her, but her miscategorization would have jeopardized that. 

Another student took a high school Geometry class in 8th grade and made the mistake of leaving that class off her self-reported grades. That error might have disqualified her from consideration at a college she was applying to where high school Geometry was required.

When something about self-reporting grades is unclear, reread the instructions. Check with your counselor or the college if that doesn’t clarify the situation. Don’t guess.

College Planning Books

I just finished preparing a list of books for independent educational consultants and the families they serve for the Higher Education Consultants Association website.

These books would be great reference material for you, if you are a high school student or a parent of a high school student:

Dispelling College Myths

  • Where You Go Is Not Who’ll You Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni

How College Admissions Works

  • Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions by Jeffrey Selingo

College Selection

  • College Match: A Blueprint for Choosing the Right College by Steven R. Antonoff

College Financial Concerns

  • The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price by Lynn O’Shaughnessy
  • The Price You Pay For College: An Entirely New Road Map for the Biggest Financial Decision Your Family Will Ever Make by Ron Lieber

College Majors

  • Book of Majors by the College Board

General College Guides

  • Fiske Guide to Colleges by Edward B. Fiske
  • The Princeton Review The Best 3xx Colleges by Robert Franek (xx is a 2-digit number that changes with different editions of the book)
  • America’s Best Colleges for B Students, A College Guide for Students Without Straight A’s by Tamra B. Orr
  • Colleges That Change Lives by Loren Pope, Revised by Hilary Masell Oswald

Specialty College Guides

  • The K&W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Differences by Marybeth Kravets and Imy Wax
  • Creative Colleges: A Guide for Student Actors, Artists, Dancers, Musicians and Writers by Elaina Loveland
  • BS/MD Programs – The Complete Guide by Todd A. Johnson

College Application Essays

  • College Essay: Conquering the College Admissions Essay in 10 Steps by Alan Gelb
  • College Essay Essentials by Ethan Sawyer

Going to College Advice

  • The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College by Harlan Cohen

Can I Get In There?

If you are wondering what your chances are at getting accepted to a particular college or university here are four things to consider:

  1. What percent of students do they accept?
  2. What criteria are important to that college?
  3. How well do you meet the criteria?
  4. Will the major you have selected have an impact on whether you will be accepted?

What percent of students do they accept?  

The higher the percent of students the college accepts, the better your chance for admission. If the percent acceptance is very small, your chance of admission is very small.

Percent acceptance ranges between 2 or 3 % and 100%. Schools that accept 100% include many 2-year community colleges and some 4-year colleges.

Some schools accept a much different percent of applicants depending on whether the student applies as an early decision, early action or regular decision applicant. Percent acceptance may also vary by gender or ethnicity. In-state and out-of-state acceptance rates vary significantly and many public colleges and universities.

What criteria is important?

Important criteria may be reflected in the school’s mission statement. It also may be reflected in published data (see collegedata.com) which indicates how important (i.e., very important, important, considered, or not considered) each of the following is to the particular college:

  • Rigor of secondary school record – Rigor considers the number of years of a particular subject that you have taken.  Colleges often specify the number of years required or recommended for a particular subject like English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Foreign Language. Rigor also looks at the level of the course you took (e.g., college prep, honors, AP, IB) as compared to what your high school offered.
  • Academic GPA
  • Standardized Tests
  • Class rank (if available)
  • Recommendations
  • Application essay
  • Application interview
  • Level of applicant’s interest
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Volunteer work
  • Particular talent/ability
  • Character/personal qualities
  • First generation to attend college
  • State residency
  • Geographic residence
  • Relation with alumnus
  • Religious affiliation/commitment
  • Ethnicity
  • Work Experience.

How well do you meet the criteria?

For every criteria that is very important, important or considered by a particular college, consider how you will measure up.

For example, consider how your grades and course rigor and how your SAT/ACT test scores compare to the students the college accepts. If your high school has Naviance or SCOIR, you can use scattergrams to get an idea about how your grades and test scores stack up to others from your high school that applied to a particular college or university.

Will the major you have selected have an impact on whether you will be accepted?

The acceptance rate at some universities may also be dependent to the college which you are applying. For example, the College of Engineering may be more competitive than the College of Arts and Science.

Some majors which are in high demand and/or which there are few professors may be “impacted” majors. They may be more difficult to gain acceptance into than other majors. You may get accepted to the college or university, but not for your first choice major. At some schools, no one is accepted directly for a particular major. Students can only declare that major after meeting certain criteria as a college student (e.g., completing certain college courses with a particular grade).


Be realistic about your chances of admission. Be sure to include colleges with a high and medium probability of acceptance, not just colleges with low probability of acceptance.

If you need or want assistance with the college selection and application process, work with an experienced independent educational consultant like me. I help students select colleges which meet their academic, social and financial needs and I work with them throughout the application process to make sure they put their best foot forward in their applications.

Colleges Still Accepting Students

It’s May 2. Yesterday was National College Decision Day, the deadline to select the college you will attend this fall and to make a deposit. 

However, if you are still looking for an undergraduate college for the Fall, go to nacacnet.org and review “College Opening Update.” Currently, the site lists 337 colleges with openings, and the list is updated daily. You can search the site by state (or country) or several other criteria.

When I searched by state for colleges in Pennsylvania with openings, I found a mix of 33 public and private colleges listed alphabetically by college name. For each of these colleges the following information was provided: college name, whether they are public or private school, the size category, whether they are accepting freshmen or transfers, whether housing or financial aid are available, a contact person, email address, phone number and website.

For example, the first entry looked like this:

Albright College
( PA )

Enrollment: Private,non-profit
1,000 – 4,999

Freshman: Yes
Transfer: Yes
Financial Aid: Yes

Contact: Jennifer Williamson admission@albright.edu

Phone:  (610) 921-7700
Website:  https://www.albright.edu/home/

Albright College

Senior Year Blues

If you are a high school senior and not feeling great about your future because of the following all is not lost:

  • You didn’t apply to college, but you recently decided want to go
  • You applied to college, but you didn’t get accepted into any of the schools you applied to
  • You applied to college, but none of the schools you got accepted to are affordable for your family or
  • You applied to college, but you don’t like any of the schools you were accepted to.

Here are three approaches you might take:

  • Attend a local community college or a college with open admissions in the Fall
  • Take a gap year, and apply to colleges in the Fall
  • Check the list of colleges with available space in the Fall on the NACAC website (https://www.nacacnet.org/) typically posted on May 2 or 3. Apply to the colleges that you would like to attend and that you believe will be affordable for your family.

Best of luck!