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November 14, 2021

3 Minutes Read

Hi friends,

Greetings from New York!

We recently passed a major marker of the college application season! November 1 was the most common deadline for early admission programs. This isn't the most democratic aspect of the admissions process (it often doesn't allow students who need financial aid to compare packages from multiple schools), but strategically using early admissions programs can significantly improve chances of being admitted.

More deadlines coming tomorrow (Nov 15) and at the end of the month when applications for all schools in the UC system are due (Nov 30). We'll see if UCLA continues to be the most applied to university in the country (140,000 last year!). 

Whether you are working on your own or with a counselor, setting up a realistic long term project plan earlier rather than later is the key to feeling calm and confident this time of year. 

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


🚗🎓On The Road


I didn't go all the way across the country like Jack Kerouac, but the other week I had a chance to take a driving trip through the Berkshires in western Massachusetts to catch some of the fall foliage. Along the way, we also had the opportunity to meet with several students at Williams College. It's not for everyone, but IMHO it's pretty close to the platonic ideal of a New England liberal arts college. 

And while some students resist looking at smaller colleges, I urge you to visit one or two. Even though there may be the same number as students as your high school it will feel much different. Plus, among a number of other benefits, everyone  should know that if you are interested in graduate, law or medical school, small colleges often offer superior preparation. 

Admissions Insight: Most liberal arts colleges are part of DIII athletic conferences (Williams is part of the prestigious NESCAC) and while there are no athletic scholarships given at these schools, they care about their sports teams A LOT.

In fact, athletes make up over 30 percent of admitted students at Williams and other highly selective liberal arts colleges. If you are more interested in a great education than going pro, standing out on the field can help you stand out in the admissions office.

Is it a Match? A college that is a good "Match" takes into consideration a variety of your preferences including size, location, academic programs, extra-curricular opportunities, culture, affordability and yes, prestige.  Savvy students take them with a grain of salt, but check out where Williams and other LACs came out in the 2022 US News rankings.


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🚀Mind The Mission 

One of the essential pieces of college research is reading and understanding a school's mission statement.  At MIT, one of the most prestigious technical colleges on the planet, the mission statement begins: "to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century" ( read full statement).

According to two of their deans of admission, "The insights of science and engineering... operate within human societies, and can serve the world best when informed by the cultural, political, spatial and economic complexities of human existence, beliefs and ways of inhabiting the earth."

They argue, and I would certainly concur, that humanistic fields are not only vital to solving the world’s most urgent problems, but they also help students shape successful careers and meaningful lives." 

For example, in the same article, one MIT alum who is now a physician noted that her practice requires medical knowledge and the ability to interpret her patients’ narratives – something she learned studying the many ways humans share stories. She writes: “MIT biology prepared me for medicine. MIT literature prepared me to be a doctor.” 

Google It. Sergey Brin and Larry Page originally set Google's hiring algorithms to sort for computer science students with top grades from elite universities.

However, what they found out after studying their successful employees and teams was that programming was not even close to a top skill. Emotional Intelligence and several other "soft" skills, typically associated with humanistic study were. They changed their hiring practice accordingly.

A Shark's Secret: Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban often looks for philosophy majors when investing in start-ups.

Still skeptical? Want to know more? Please read this


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✍️Application Essays 301: How to Sound Smart Without Really Trying

Our Write Your Way Into College course will return in 2022, but for those of you still working on essays this fall, here's a lesson from Module 3.
One way to demonstrate that you're really smart, or, more precisely, your intellectual vitality (what highly selective colleges really want), is to ask an interesting rhetorical question in your essay. Example:
😆"If there's exists a 33 ounce jar of Nutella, do we really have free will?" 🤔
Whether you shop at Costco or not, this would do it! Read the full essay and our analysis here.

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🔣41 Percent

That was the acceptance rate at UPenn in 1989. Thanks to our colleague Jeff Selingo for this remembrance. Many reasons for this including fewer students applying to fewer schools before the Common App, but admissions is just a different animal now.

For those interested in taking a deep dive into the modern admissions office, I recommend Jeff's book Who Gets In and Why. For something a little more accessible, watch Peter break it down in this video: Inside the Black Box of Holistic Admissions

1989 US News Acceptance rates