I’m often surprised when I read a newspaper article that says a high school student applied and was admitted to all eight Ivy League universities. I am surprised not because they were admitted, but because I wonder why would anyone apply to all eight of the Ivy League colleges. It makes me wonder if the student applied primarily for prestige or really didn’t take the time to learn about the colleges they applied to.
While these eight universities have some things in common like low acceptance rate, high graduation rate, strong need-based aid, no merit aid, a high ranking in US News and World Report, and the same sports conference, they are more different than they are the same.
I am left questioning how “smart” the student really was who applied to these eight schools. I ask myself, would someone who:
Liked Columbia University’s strong core curriculum, like the lack of a core curriculum at Brown University?
Liked college in a big city like The University of Pennsylvania, like being at a college in a town like Dartmouth University?
Liked the focus of the university being on the undergraduate students like at Princeton, be happy at Harvard where there are more graduate than undergraduate students?
Wanted to live on campus in a residential college system like Yale’s be happy at Cornell which only has housing for about half of its undergrads?
Wanted to go to a college with a semester system, be happy with Dartmouth’s quarter system.
Wanted a smaller undergraduate student body like Princeton’s be happy at Cornell where the undergraduate student body is more than three times as large?
Last, but not least these universities have strengths in different majors and some have majors not offered by any/many of the others.
What’s your reaction to my pet peeve? What do you think makes these 8 schools similar or different?
For high school seniors, college application deadlines are just around the corner. Here are five things to do now, to be ready for fall application deadlines.
1. Finalize the college list and know the due dates. Generally, I recommend that students apply to no more than nine colleges, including stretch, match and safe schools. College application deadlines vary, and some schools have application due dates as early as October. For each school on your final college list, decide whether to apply early decision, early action or regular decision. Record the application and financial aid due dates.
2. Schedule Fall tests. If you haven’t taken the SAT or ACT, or want to take them again, check that the scores will be available by the college due dates, and then register. October is often the last test date that will be scored in time.
3. Schedule college visits. Many colleges use “enthusiasm to attend” as one of their admissions criteria. Visiting is an excellent way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and to learn more about the college. If possible, schedule an interview when you visit. You may be able visit some colleges that are in session, before high school resumes.
4. Get teacher recommendations. If you did not ask teachers for recommendations in the Spring, do it as soon as school starts. Notify your guidance counselor if you will be applying to schools early admission, since they also need to prepare a recommendation and get other materials ready for your applications.
5. Finish applications, including essays early. Your applications are critical and should be treated as such. Your essays will take time to write and revise. Plan enough time to revise each essay three or four times. Make sure to proofread your applications, including essays carefully.