<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=155486331574868&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

April 14, 2021

3 Minutes Read

Hi friends,

Greetings from Princeton!

The Savvy Applicant is a weekly email where we share important news and actionable guidance on the selective college admissions process. If you have a question you'd like answered, let us know by replying to this email.

If you'd like to invite a friend to join our community of over 5,000 readers, send them this link and then let us know so we can thank you properly🙏.


New and Noteworthy


👏Congratulations to all our seniors that have now chosen their home for the next four years! We are excited for all of you and humbled to have been a part of your high school and college admissions journey. Check out where our students have been admitted.

✍️For juniors, the spring cohort of Write Your Way Into College is now closed.  Our next live cohort will be in July. We'll share the details as we get closer to summer, but you can join the waitlist now to reserve your spot.

🚀For freshman and sophomores (and parents), our upcoming College Admissions Launchpad is scheduled for Saturday, May 15. You will learn how selective colleges evaluate 11 different aspects of an application and begin to put together your long-term strategy to stand out. Get in touch to learn more




🎓The Stories We Tell


Ivy day was last week and, as expected, a slew of news stories were immediately published on the record low admissions rates (Harvard accepted just 3.4 percent of applicants).

It could be argued that this is an embarrassment for institutions that aspire to be agents of social mobility. Some have even proposed elite colleges like Stanford clone themself.

With the exception of Rice, where they increased the number of spots in the freshman class, most schools aren't racing to diminish one of the keys to their reputation. The more exclusive they are perceived to be, the stronger their brand vis-a-vis other schools. 

Sadly, some students are internalizing the old self-deprecating Groucho Marx joke— that he wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have him as a member. This mindset can not only pervert the educational experience of high school, it will make you less likely to be admitted to the colleges you most want to attend.   

While our system is not perfect, the college admissions process is one of the biggest opportunities for students to develop their potential and learn to tell impactful stories.

As every world class athlete will tell you, focusing on the preparation process—enjoying and trusting that process—rather than a desired end goal yields the best results. Students who embrace this philosophy are miles ahead. 

There are no magic bullets. No GPA, test score, or internship makes one applicant more worthy than another. So, what does stand out?

Authentic exploration of curiosity, developing creativity, becoming more self-aware (character and emotional intelligence), and a general desire to be your best self. It is the students that see their future through the lens of abundance rather than scarcity, that do the best in our system. 

This is developing potential. Essentially, a growth mindset

What else does it take? A strong personal brand. Once you conceive your personal brand statement, it can serve as a beacon for making choices with your time and how to succinctly communicate who you are.

This is impactful storytelling for influence. 

While the falling admit rates tell one story, the reality is opportunity to stand out abounds. 


Here's what else we want to share with you:


  • 😎UC Explained: In addition to Berkeley, and UCLA, this year saw over 100,000 application to UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara. One of the keys to understanding perplexing admissions decisions is that majors matter. At Irvine, almost half of the students applied to just six of 85 majors — with biological sciences the top choice. Other popular majors were business administration, nursing science, computer science and psychology. Read the full LA Times article.
  • 🚑Humanities on Call: For students interested in medicine, it is important to understand just how key the liberal arts, and particularly the humanities, are to their success. Genuine interest (major? double major?) in literature, history, and philosophy is not just for your own enjoyment. It will make you a stronger college applicant, medical school applicant, and ultimately physician.  Here's why.
  • 💉More Vaccines Required: Rutgers was the first, but as we predicted many more colleges are announcing a vaccination requirement. By the end of this week 37 states will be issuing vaccines to anyone over the age of 16. There will still be logistical, legal and ethical issues, but the bottom line is if you plan to be on-campus next year, you will most likely need proof you got the shot


While I know a bar graph of admission rate changes at 10 highly selective schools from 2020 to 2021 is of interest to our readers, developing a growth mindset is exponentially more important.