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  • Swati Chopra

March Madness..In The World of Admissions

It seems like a life time ago but I clearly remember when my kids were in elementary school and March was a month full of spring carnivals, Scholastic Book Fairs, and green chocolate cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day (it was never about college basketball in my household). The kids loved the long, sunny days and while the days and weeks did seem hectic - life, in general, was stress free.

Fast forward to 2023. March keeps me busy as I onboard my new students and review the plan for the next application season. But March is when most universities drop decisions and the news, on certain days comes fast and furious. If you have a senior who's waiting for decisions March will probably give you a few gray hairs by the time your kid puts down their deposit. But who said parenting was easy?

This year we're seeing more deferrals than the previous years especially at some of the more selective schools like UVA, VA Tech, and USC but also at some state schools (which surprised me) like Wisconsin and Clemson. It seems deferrals are the new waitlist. The reason for so many deferrals is probably because these schools are receiving too many applications and they just need more time to go through the stacks and stacks of applications they've received. But when a deferral turns into a waitlist and then into a denial - that's when my heart breaks for my students. Colleges claim they need more time and don't seem overly concerned about this new trend. But many of us who live and breathe college admissions feel cheated on behalf of our students because the whole point of applying early is to hear back early and be done early.

This has been said before, many times over, but admissions is more about institution priority than anything else. Majors have played a huge role in who gets in this year. Students have been waitlisted everywhere including at San Jose State for Computer Science, CSU Long Beach for Business, and VA Tech for Engineering. And yes, sometimes students with a lower GPA from another high school get in in the same major because colleges want diversity. I'm sure San Jose State could fill their entire CS freshman class from Evergreen Valley High, but I highly doubt they would do that and am thankful that they don't.

But it's not all doom and gloom, students have gotten into some fantastic schools early on and have had the time to research them again with a new sort of energy. It's refreshing to see that my students have gotten their first choice major at the majority of schools they've applied to. And even though admit rates are dipping to the low 20s or even teens, at the end of the day the kids who get in get in because they're a good fit. The rise in applications also means a rise in applications from students who really don't have a chance but want to throw their hat into the ring 'just to see'. It's a vicious cycle but not one that's going to break any time soon.

Class of 2023 - Congratulations on everything you've achieved so far! We've got two weeks to go so hang in there!

Class of 2024 - Start planning your spring break now and try to visit at least one or two colleges if you haven't already done so. Day trips around the Bay Area are fun and sometimes we need a little reminder of how lucky we are to have so many amazing schools in our backyard.

Class of 2025 - It was great meeting many of you in February to plan your junior and senior class schedules. Keep an eye on your grades and keep that GPA up. If you're still looking at summer programs and need help, let me know. Summer means different things to different students so if you're prepping for the SAT that's fine, and if you're working, that's great too. Keep at it and I'll see you in May.

Class of 2026 - In our February meeting we made a tentative 4 year plan to help you understand what your progression will look like by the time you apply to colleges. Stay active in those clubs and other extracurricular activities and most importantly, enjoy the rest of the school year.

While I was writing this UC San Diego, UC Irvine, and UCLA dropped decisions around 5 pm today and while it's too early to really understand the numbers, we already know that the number of students waitlisted at UCSD seems to be unprecedented. Sigh..

For now I think I'll bake up some green chocolate cupcakes for old time's sake and FaceTime my kids while I'm at it. Waiting for decisions is always a bit easier with chocolate by your side.

Have a wonderful spring break!


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