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August 8, 2021

3 Minutes Read

Hi friends,

Greetings from New York!

It's good to be back in the city and just a few subway stops from the intellectual hub that is Columbia University. Yes, it participates in the Ivy League, but much more impressive is "The Core Curriculum."

For the student that wants to read the classics, be immersed in ideas, and spend time around peers who want to live "the examined life" late into the night, Columbia is a special place. If that sounds good, you should also check out St. John's College—it's a true hidden gem!




✍️The summer cohort of Write Your Way Into College is finishing up this week. The last rounds of revision are all about incorporating the kind of advanced techniques that transform a good story into a great college essay! The final cohort for the class of 2022 starts September 13. 

🚀The College Admissions Launchpad is for 9th and 10th graders looking to stand out in the college admissions process. This half-day workshop teaches students how to create an overarching strategy from which to approach each element of the college preparation and application process. The next session is September 11



📝🤔Creative Admissions


Colleges knew the SAT and ACT were problematic exams well before the pandemic, but now their status is even more significantly diminished. At this point more than 1,500 schools, including many of the most selective, are considering applications without test scores (and admitting at comparable rates!). 

Submitting scores can still be a strong part your application, but they will NOT be the most important part of a holistic review. After your transcript, schools also learn a tremendous amount about you through your resume, essays, letters of recommendation, and interviews. Unless selective colleges move to a lottery system (gets a lot of press, but highly unlikely) each of these other aspects takes on more importance. 

Another possibility is to replace the SAT / ACT with a different test. While the University of California system is currently looking into this, and California is very influential, we don't believe their test will be a viable replacement. 

One assessment we think is much more interesting, and was actually used at Tufts University from 2005 to 2010, is dubbed The Rainbow Project. In addition to analytical and practical skills, it was designed to measure creativity. 

(One of the unique features of the assessment was a section asking students to write a caption for a New Yorker cartoon. Seeming simple, this is one of the most challenging creative tasks I know. After the fact, a good caption is humorous and appears obvious, but staring at the same drawing trying to come up with that caption can be stupefying. Try it yourself). 

While no longer in use at Tufts, some research showed that results of the Rainbow Project assessment were better predictors of success in college than the SAT. Because of this, many schools have essentially tried to incorporate the search for creativity into their application essay questions

The University of Chicago's prompts, like "What's so odd about odd numbers?", are extreme examples.

Bottom line: the holistic review process can be nuanced, but creativity is a character strength highly coveted by selective colleges. 




A few more things...


  • 🖥️Common App LiveThe common application is now updated for the class of 2022. If you haven't already done so, it's time to make your account, complete the standard information, and get to work on your supplemental essays. Younger students: you don't have to wait. Make an account early and information can roll over to next year. 

  • 🌿The New Ivy: Minerva Schools at KGI is not an actual member of the Ivy League, but it was created by several former Ivy League deans and has a lower acceptance rate than Harvard. In operation for almost decade, Minerva has just been awarded official accreditation. It's an incredibly innovative and unique university that's definitely not right for everyone, but certainly worth a look. 
  • ✍️Hemingway SaysProofreading our own writing is hard. Our brain fills in gaps to the point where we literally can't see our mistakes. I encourage students to read their work out loud or print it out to read on paper—or both!  On screen editors like Grammarly can also be helpful.  I personally like the Hemingway Editor to help make my writing more bold and clear (which words do you think Hemingway would cut from this paragraph?). 


🗣️Quote of the Week: from Day 6 of the trial on Harvard's admissions practices, Dean Fitzsimmons explains what a particular admitted applicant's essay communicates...

It reminds us he is a person who loves books and loves reading and loves ideas.