May Update: Latest Admissions Stats, Writing a Winning College Essay, Skills College Students Need


Welcome to summer--our busiest (and favorite) time of year! We send special wishes to our 2017 families as they celebrate graduation and head into the final weeks before college. We loved being a part of your student's college process and thank you for sharing your children with us. Please do keep us posted on their continued success!

Speaking of the class of 2017, we wanted to give a list of where some of these amazing students are headed to next fall. Drumroll, please:

Tufts, Michigan, UT Plan II, UT Engineering, Vanderbilt, Hendrix, Austin College, Rhodes, Oregon Honors, Lewis and Clark, Georgia Tech, Colorado State, Washington University, UCLA, USC, NYU, Texas A&M, Colorado - Boulder,  Trinity, Boston College, American, Rice, Angelo State, Clemson, Purdue, Whitman, High Point, University of Washington, University of Denver, Chapman, UT McCombs, Berkeley, Duke, Johns Hopkins

Latest Admissions Results for Austin Area High Schools

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The admissions results for AISD and for Westlake / Lake Travis make for an interesting and relevant read, offering a glimpse into the competitive nature of admissions as well as information on how students at local schools fared overall. As you are likely aware, at University of Texas, only the top 7% of students in any graduating class are guaranteed admission. If your student attends a highly rigorous public high school such as Westlake, LASA or Lake Travis, getting a spot in that top 7% is a feat, to say the least. Looking at the current stats, a student at Westlake making it in the top 7% had a GPA around 108!  For those who don't make the GPA cutoff, UT evaluates applications holistically--meaning that extracurriculars, service, work experience and essays are all considered in the process. Many of the students we work with are not automatic admits to UT, but our students have a successful track record for UT admissions--even in highly sought-after programs such as Engineering, Business, and Plan II. 

Writing a Great Common App Essay: 10 Do's and Don'ts

Application season has begun, which means rising seniors around the nation are embarking on one of the biggest pieces of the application--the college essay. Writing the Common App essay can strike fear in the hearts of some students. The broad, open-ended topic selections can be welcoming for students who enjoy creative writing or know what story they want to tell; for others, such freedom can be stressful. No matter which topic you choose, a few handy do's and don'ts can help you craft a winning Common App essay. Read more on our blog about 10 do's and don'ts for a great Common App essay.

Insights From The Past Year's Admissions Cycle

Bob and I have been busy visiting colleges and attending college admissions conferences during the past two months, which always proves to be a great way to round out our reflection on the previous year's admissions cycle.
Here are few of our takeaways from the campus tours and the conferences:

  1. Uncertainty seems to be the buzzword. We are in a new landscape of college admissions where it is harder than ever to predict probability of admissions. It has never been more important to have a balanced college list due this shift. It would take hours to explain this shift, but the bottom line is we must be committed to diverse college lists. The good news is that there are thousands of great colleges out there, so we've got this covered!
  2. Early, early, early! For better or worse, Early Decision is an increasing tool the highly selective colleges are using to fill their classes. Students who have their hearts set on a highly selective school need to consider Early Decision. This is a conversation we are having with all of our students. There are serious pros and cons to Early Decision, so is not a decision to make lightly.
  3. Demonstrated Interest continues to be a big factor in admissions. This year, we really heard the colleges stressing that visits are the preferred way to show interest. This is tricky as students have limited time and budget for college visits. We can help you prioritize your demonstrated interest plan.
  4. Supplemental Essays matter--a lot! Students write two types of essays--general essays, which are broad in nature and typically go to multiple colleges. The second essay is a supplemental essay, specific to an individual college. A common question is : Why X college? We heard a number of admissions reps mentioning reading parts of the supplement in the review process. This is one more reason to start early on essays, so students can give as much attention to supplements as they do to the general essays.

Updated National Admissions Results for the Class of 2021

We brought you stats from this year's admissions pool last month, but even more schools have reported information on the incoming class of 2021, including:  American, Boston College, Boston University, Colorado College, Columbia, George Washington, Georgetown, Georgia Tech,Harvard, Harvey Mudd, MIT, Northwestern, Stanford, Tulane, Tufts, University of Florida, University of Pennsylvania, USC, University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis and more. Check out all the admit rates here.

Careers: Where College Students Feel They Fell Short

Conventional wisdom might tell you that choosing the right major would is a key factor in college (and post-college) success, but choosing the wrong major isn't at the top of the list when it comes to what college grads regret the most. Topping the list of graduate regrets is not getting enough work experience during the college years. This might explain, in part, at least, another recent finding that a majority of college grads do not feel very prepared for a career after graduation. Both articles offer food for thought on planning a college that will help develop both the hard and soft skills required by jobs of the future.

Making Social Media Work for College Admissions

Parents might think that social media has no place in college admissions (maybe you had to fill your applications in by hand or on a typewriter like we did). But it's a different world, and college admissions officers are often quite interested in the online affairs of the high school students applying to their college. To ensure that your online presence is an asset--and not a giant red flag!--here are 10 tips from CEO Matt Sweetwood on improving your admissions chances through savvy social media use.

Summer Reading List

You could stick with the annual summer reading lists published by the usual suspects, but if you are looking for less of a beach read, we have a few other options to consider.

First, since we all have college essays on the brain, it's worth a few minutes to take a read through some of these standout college essays, recently published in the NY Times--each one is full of the depth, artistry, and humanity we hope your students will be able to tap into as they craft their essays.

For recent graduates, we bring you a summer's worth of reading to prepare you for a successful life (each book a selection of a top business leaders). 

And if you want to stay on the cutting edge, check out these 50 reading selections by this year's TED speakers.