2023 Admission Predictions…and Hopes

Last week I had the opportunity to answer this prompt in a Higher Ed Dive article, along with a few friends and colleagues around the country: In 150-200 words, what is one admissions trend you expect to see in 2023?  

Here was my take: 

In the year ahead, due to the emergence and prevalence of artificial intelligence software such as ChatGPT, I expect more colleges to either drop their admission essay altogether or expand the format through which students can convey their voice and demonstrate their ability to articulate their opinions and interest. 

This could take the form of proctored writing samples, graded essays from their high school, a rise in the use of unscripted interviews, or various mediums and platforms for students and their supporters to submit information, i.e. voice recorded recommendations or video elevator pitches. 

Removing barriers to apply and simplifying the application process in general will be particularly important due to the pending Supreme Court case on affirmative action, and the desire of colleges and universities to preserve a diverse applicant pool. To that end, expect more colleges to make announcements ending legacy preferences and launching transfer pathway programs geared toward historically underrepresented students. 

The first half of my response (AI, essays, broader submission mediums) elicited a number of emails and social media messages which fell into one of two camps: A: You are wrong.  B: I hope you are wrong. The good news for those of you who disagree is that you don’t have to look far back on this very blog to see my many errant prognostications.  

Normally, I don’t mind being wrong, but in this case I hope I’m not. Here’s why- and here’s what I hope we will see. 

Ask most admission counselors what they’re looking for in an application essay and you will get some version of “we just want to hear the student’s voice.” Well, let’s solve for that? The truth is that many of these essays are already overly sanitized or professionally tailored/ tampered with already. I hope the Common Application and Coalition Application will modernize their platforms and integrate technology that allows us to more directly hear and/or see students, and the adults that support them.  

Allowing for voice recorded responses, or short video clips, is the student’s voice. Yes, I understand this would mean parameters and controls, so another cottage industry does not emerge but stick with me for a moment. Changing the medium of delivery to audio/video – or at least providing it as an option- gives a much better sense of how a student would engage in the classroom or on campus than the essay. Importantly, if these are limited to a minute or so, it does not add time to review for colleges- and could be a welcome reprieve for the tired eyes of admission readers. (Companies like Initial View are offering this for students).  

Same for school counselors or teachers. While they could still send written recommendations, if that was their preference (and use AI at will), the truth is most American students attend public schools where counselor: student ratios are an utter travesty at several hundred to one. My hope is we can make it easier for these folks by allowing them to advocate for their students in mediums they are comfortable with in 2023, i.e., voice/video. I don’t want a student’s boss from Subway having to login and submit a rec letter, but I think there would be value in hearing them say, “she’s the only person outside of my family who I allow to have the keys to the store.” 

Several folks who messaged me “could not see colleges doing away with the essay.” Maybe you are right. Maybe higher ed really moves that slowly and the essays will persist in current form a good bit longer. But AI is here, and students will be using it during their K12 and college admission experience. As a result, I agree with the notion that ChatGPT and others will move students more to editing mode than author mode. Ultimately, if a student wants to use AI to create their prompt responses, that’s their choice.  

With that said, while my prediction is some schools will drop the conventional admission essay altogether, my hope Common Application and Coalition Application will at least install software that screens for AI use and displays that result to students prior to submission. This will give students a chance to decide if they want to edit further or proceed, especially since colleges maintaining essays could very well run similar scans on their side post-submission.  

My biggest hope is the Supreme Court will not overturn decades of national precedent and will continue to allow colleges to responsibly use race as “one of many factors” to recruit students, make admission decisions, award scholarships, and more. (More on why providing more data not less is important in holistic review from my Fisher vs. Texas blog).

However, my prediction is SCOTUS will make affirmative action illegal and we will see a downturn in underrepresented undergradaute student enrollments, particularly at state flagships and selective privates- the American higher education experience will be further devalued as a result. And even with the reduced percentages of black and brown students on many college campuses, we won’t see a reduction in the number of entitled, privileged people complaining about not getting into Stanvard each April.   

Agree, disagree, forward, or delete—I appreciate you reading. An exchange with people from various backgrounds showing up to listen, respect, and learn from one another is how we add value and make progress…. I just hope the Supreme Court agrees.  

What do colleges want?

My wife has celiac disease. While many people do not know exactly what that is, they have at least heard of “gluten” and are familiar with the GF or grain symbol on food labels in the grocery store or at restaurants. 20 years ago, however, when she was first diagnosed, that was definitely not the case. In fact, going out to eat was an incredible hassle. “Can you tell me if this is gluten free?” inevitably resulted in a bemused and moderately annoyed manager emerging from the back. Most of the time, despite our best efforts to provide examples, there was more head scratching (disturbing around food) and eyebrow furrowing than recognition or appreciation of the issue. In many cases, to be safe, Amy would just order a salad- sometimes bringing her own dressing to be sure.

One Saturday a month we went to a “Gluten-sensitive support group,” aka GSSG, which was 20 miles from our house in Atlanta. In a city of several million people, there was only one group- giving you an idea of how little known the issue was at that time. During those meetings, people shared advice on which doctors to see, where they had been able to find gluten free products in health food stores (never regular grocery stores), and also exchanged recipes. At the end of each meeting, people shared their latest baked good product or casserole. I looked forward to those meetings the way you look forward to taking an SAT- that is to say- not at all. At best the food tasted like salty cardboard and at worst… well, let’s just say twice in my recollection I had to quickly walk to the bathroom sink to spit out whatever half masticated delicacy I’d partially ingested.

Bottom line is if you had celiac disease, or a significant gluten allergy at that time, there were extremely few choices and options. Even as a spouse, it felt limiting.

Choice and Options

Along with my staff, we have written extensively in the past about “what colleges are looking for.” We’ve covered GPA, rigor of curriculum, activities and involvement, essays, more about essays, plenty of ink spilled and callouses grown writing about writing, teacher recs, interviews, etc. And all of that is accurate, helpful, and worth checking out. But what do colleges really want? Regardless of their size, geographic location, or athletic conference, they want the same thing– Choices and Options. They don’t want to have to “just have a salad” and bring their own dressing. They want a full menu. And their desire- or hunger as it were (really just wrote this entire blog to use that phrase)- for choices and options explains a lot about your college admission experience.

College Search (mail, email, etc.) – If you are a sophomore or junior, you have started to receive more and more email, postcards, and other glossy, shiny solicitations from colleges. Maybe this sounds familiar:

“Dear <<insert name here>>” check out our campus.” Notice all these kids of different ethnicities hanging out together snacking while studying on our super green grass. It just so happens when we took this picture that there were three benches in the background occupied by students engrossed in important discussions about today’s issues.

They say they want you to visit, check out their website, fill out this card, or ultimately apply for admission. Does this mean you will get in? Absolutely not. Does it mean you are competitive for admission at their school? No. So why did they buy your name, spend money on bulk rate postage, or invest copious time debating whether to include a picture of the kid studying abroad in Spain or the one of the students looking closely at a colored liquid in a campus laboratory? Two words (ok, technically three): Choices and Options.

Colleges cast a very wide net to encourage students to check out their school, but they have limited information about you when doing that. Perhaps they have your test score or a sense of what classes you have taken. Maybe they are trying to attract more students from your state or city, or they saw you (or your mom) indicated an interest in Chemistry on a survey or test registration form (hence the lab pic).

Post- Covid (I’m just going to keep saying that ‘til it’s truly a thing) it is tougher to visit high schools during the school day. Traveling is also time intensive and expensive. Sending hundreds of thousands of emails and mailing broadly prospective students- what schools refer to as “student search”- is a big part of their enrollment strategy. Build a big funnel of students, see who is really interested, see who applies, admit those they want, and voila- a class.

What does this mean for you? The good news is contact from a variety of schools helps you see a bigger picture. At times, we all have a tendency to be too narrowly focused. Receiving information from places you have never heard of challenges you to ask bigger questions about what you really want or need- not just default to what you recognize.  On the flipside, too many students believe that the number of times a college contacts them correlates to their odds of being admitted. Nope. Just because a school sends you pithy emails or a lovely fold out poster of their gothic campus nestled just south of the city does not mean the wind is ultimately going to blow you into the admit pool. Take these mailings with a big grain of salt (or a sodium laced circa 2003 gluten-free experiment).

Admission DecisionsIf you are a senior, unless you applied to a college who explicitly stated they are using a formula to make admission decisions, they are not using a formula to make admission decisions. Holistic admission means they draw circles more than lines. When you hear admission reps say, “We are looking for a well-rounded class…” they mean they want choices and options. It’s not just going to be about your test score or number of AP classes. This means a few things.

First, it means you are likely to see a student with lower grades or fewer activities get into a school that denies you. Their decisions are based on goals and mission. They want choices and options. They are trying to “build a class” not just hit ENTER on an Excel sheet to figure out who gets in. Is this fair? NO. But they don’t call it Fair Admissions. They call it Holistic Admission- probably because “Choices and Options Admission” rolls off the tongue like Debbie’s gluten free casserole in the GSSG bathroom.

Second, it means if you are deferred admission, they are not saying you are not smart, or they don’t like you, or that you should have joined the French Club back in sophomore year and that would have done the trick. Instead, they are saying we’d like to see our full set of choices and options. Send us your fall grades or maybe write another supplemental essay (good times!) about why you really want to come.

Fun to wait? Absolutely not. I polled 100 humans recently about their five favorite things to do in life and surprisingly nobody listed “Waiting.” But understanding the WHY matters. Too many students take a deferral as an ego hit. Or they are mad, confused, and feel wronged. Deferrals- and ultimately waitlist decisions- are part of the process. What do colleges want? Choices and Options, people. Choices AND Options.

Lastly, it means you may get into a school with a higher ranking or a lower admit rate than another school that denies or defers you. Each year after we release admission decisions, we get calls or notes starting, “With all due respect… (Note: This is the southern equivalent of “Bless your heart…” and basically should be interpreted as “I’m about to tell you why you are wrong or clueless.”) I think you have made a mistake. See, I was admitted to/ got a scholarship from (insert supposedly better college here), so I’d like you to re-review my application.” First, that’s not a valid appeal. Second, what led to the decision was that particular school’s choices and options based fulfilling their distinct institutional priorities.

As I said earlier, colleges often look the same on their websites or brochures. A picture is worth 1000 words, but when all the pictures are the same, it can seem like all colleges are too. Thankfully, they are not. At the end of the day, they all have different goals, different priorities, and different processes for enrolling our students. What they are “looking for” varies widely, but the one thing all colleges want is Choices and Options.

The good news is you can learn a lot about how to approach your college search and selection experience from understanding how colleges approach building their class. And we’ll cover that next time. Until then, have a great Thanksgiving Break. Eat well, take a nap, read something that’s not been assigned, and as always- Hug your mama.

Top 3 Reasons NOT to Trust Rankings

This week the US News and World Report rankings of colleges came out. Over the years, I have written extensively  about this topic, in order to put them in perspective and point away from the list and more toward the methodology, i.e. how they are formulated.

Here is what I know.

  • Your time is limited. Between friends, school, work, practice, studying, and the basics of eating and sleeping, you are busy.
  • College- and college admission can feel overwhelming. Lots of colleges, lots of opinions, lots of money. Lots.
  • Rankings simplify things. On some level, we all desire this, right? Amidst the swirl of sources, the deluge of data, and the whirlwind of words around college, a list is refreshing. A clean, easy, simple cascading enumeration is like a healing balm.

I get it. I hear you. You’re not crazy. But it is ironic at best and hypocritical at worst to put any stock in the rankings, because it’s the opposite of how you want colleges to consider your applications—or for the overall admission process to be conducted.

In no particular order, here’s how I see it.

  1. More than a number (cue The Drifters). As a college applicant, you expect the colleges will not see you purely as a number. You don’t want them to boil your high school experience down to a cell on a spreadsheet, draw a hard cut off line on SATs, or assume your GPA absolutely defines you. Instead, you expect schools will use context and nuance as they review your application. As a senior, that’s why you are drafting, second guessing, and asking for opinions about your essay right now, isn’t it? (Yes. I see you.) You want them to see you in full. Return the favor.

When you draw hard lines and only visit or apply to schools in the Top X or Y from a list, or select a college simply because it’s ranked higher than another one to which you have been admitted, it gives way too much credit to the methodology on which these numbers are derived, and artificially distills countless qualitative factors and dynamics. As I have said before, good college applicants think like good college students and dig into any number, percentage, or statistic they find to understand the source, and determine it’s validity.

  1. Gameable. It’s been a few years since Varsity Blues (aka The Admission Scandal), and we’ve endured a global pandemic since then, so it may be fuzzy in your mind. Ultimately, what made the public so upset about this situation was that wealthy, connected parents were gaming the system in order to get their kids into particular schools. It was not fair. It was not ethical. As an applicant, you expect other students will not hack into the admission database, bribe admission officers, or influence college administrators in order to change their result in the process.

And you don’t want this to occur on a systemic level either. I know this because whether I’m in Georgia, California, abroad or anywhere in between, students and families are consistently worried “the school down the street” is inflating grades or getting an advantage because of some misperception of quality.

To put it gently, the rankings are very gameable at the micro and macro level. Check out Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, Revisionist History, The Lord of the Rankings, in which he details the work of Dr. Kelly McConville and her team of statisticians who enumerate specific tactics colleges employ to increase their position through strategic decisions. The truth is they don’t scratch the surface of the myriad ways ways to implement slight adjustments in class sizes, course naming conventions, faculty pay, or even the way you report and categorize numbers around the fringes, i.e. clinical changes, which have no bearing on the actual student experience.

In my career, I have personally known numerous admission deans who have been hired and fired based on their willingness, or lack thereof, to organize their operations (and their actual admission decisions) to boost a university’s spot. It’s one thing to have game, my friend. Gamey and Gaming- also different. The rankings are gameable. They are actively being gamed.

  1. Opinions vs. stats. Imagine you walked into class on the first day of school and Mrs. Bertha Ormse begins passing out the course syllabus. Slowly and repeatedly pulling and pinching her chin, she announces in her gravely voice, “On page 1-2, you can see what we will be learning this fall in US History 1800-1910.”

    Anoushka Buch | Daily Trojan,https://dailytrojan.com/2021/09/24/we-should-not-fret-about-college-rankings/

Scanning quickly you pick up the high points: Western expansion, War of 1812, Missouri Compromise, Monroe Doctrine, rise of railroads, Trail of Tears, Civil War, Reconstruction, Industrial Revolutoin. Nodding in agreement you think, “Makes sense. I’ve heard of most of this.”

Interrupting your ruminations, she continues matter-of-factly, “Page 3 outlines how you will be graded.”

Quizzes, homework, tests, projects = 80% of final grade.

“Ok. Ormse. I see you. I mean, I may have weighted quizzes a little less, but…” And then… “No. Certainly not. Wait… the final 20% of my grade is based on… opinion of other students.” 20%?!

That’s right. Your fellow students, who have a vested interest in their own scores and ultimate position in the class, will make up 1/5 of your final grade.

You start looking around anxiously and suddenly your mind shifts into overdrive.

Who is that kid in the second row? I’ve never seen him in my life.

Oh, no. Zach. He has always hated me ever since that thing with the guy at the place back in third grade.

Crap. Sarah. Everyone loves her. She’s…she’s…she’s…all the things I’m not. But does that make her better at history? Does that make her better than me in general?

Well…when the opinion of others accounts for 20% of the grade—probably.

And that’s how it goes for colleges with the rankings. 20% is based on the opinions of others. Others in the same game. Others in the same class. Others with vested interests in their own results and position.

Raise your hand if you’d like 20% of your admission decision to be based on the other applicants opinions of you. Ok. You can put your hand back down now. Oh, and to be clear, in most cases they’ve never met you, seen you, or have anything concrete to go on except where you are from and a vague recollection that a few years ago someone they met said you were “Ok.”

Bottom line: I earnestly think you are smarter than the gamemakers at US News. And I know you know you better than they ever could.  So is it crazy to suggest you creating your own ranking system? More on that here.

Rank the Rankings

Colleges want you to apply because you have done your homework and believe you match up well academically and beyond the classroom. They send you brochures, email you invitations to come to campus, and even travel to your town or high school in hopes they can tell you a full story about their history, mission, offerings, and ethos. You apply to colleges expecting them to look beyond your name or test score. Holistic review is time intensive and deeply human. It’s not perfect, but it strives to be comprehensive. I’m just asking the same from you in your consideration of the rankings.

How to WIN College Admission

Get out your pen or phone because I’m only going to go through this once.

To get into any college in the country, you need to follow these steps exactly.

Note: It is important you complete each task in listed order. Failure to include one of these on your application negates the guarantee.

  1. Take AP Physics
  2. Volunteer as a translator at your local hospital
  3. Use either bucolic or grandiose in the opening line of your essay (ideally both)
  4. Score at least 70 points higher than your current score on the SAT

Excellent. Now, be sure you say this to yourself every day, and post it on social media more than twice but no more than four times each month, “I will only be happy if I attend (insert your top choice here).”

As you know, visualization is a powerful tool. Athletes, actors, prominent speakers, and other top performers use this strategy in preparation for achieving excellence, and you need to do the same thing in your college admission/application process. So, close your eyes and imagine yourself at your dream school. Think about walking around campus, eating in the dining hall, laughing boisterously with friends, and hashtagging #BestLifeEver on a daily basis.

You are killing this exercise. Well done. This time close your eyes and imagine yourself at any other college. Think about the disaster this would be. Tears, ruin, and utter carnage should be filling your mind and thoughts. Forget posting on social media in this place. Your fingers will be trembling, internet will be intermittent if functional at all, and all of your friends will have unfollowed you anyway.

Parents/ Supporting adults– I don’t want to leave you out of the fun. Think back on your student’s life to this point. You’ve always known success and happiness to be monolithic. That’s how  your life has played out, and it’s what you’ve seen repeatedly in your friends too. One path to success- and a specific college determines EVERYTHING.

Consider when they were little. All of the parenting books said you should only let them pretend to be one thing, and you followed that advice verbatim. One outfit, one sport, one interest to pursue. You’ve spent so long limiting them and pigeonholing them, but now everything is on the line. This is a test of your mettle. Welcome to the show. Their future- and yours hinges on this- college. Don’t falter and DO NOT relent! Keep pushing them towards one absolute outcome.

And for the love of all things holy don’t let others distract you with stories of unexpected joy or alternatives to your master plan for your child’s life.  You know as well as I do that college is a zero-sum game. Winners and losers. If your kid does not go to X College, not only will their life be over, yours (which thankfully will be much shorter anyway) will be too.

Final Advice  

  • Rankings are the gospel truth. Follow them blindly as you do all other things you read online. Don’t question their methodology or buy the false narrative purporting that they are really only about clicks and marketing dollars. Think about it- if a school went up five spots or dropped three this year, it is because they are fundamentally different places than they were last year. Draw hard lines. This is war.
  • Trust YouTube, TikTok, Reddit implicitly. If a kid says she got into Yale because of the essay she wrote, that’s exactly what happened. Listen closely to her advice and subscribe to that channel for sure. Also, share it with your friends and encourage them to like it- they really will.
  • There is a direct correlation between your chances of getting into a school that admits 10% or fewer of its applicants and the number of those colleges you apply to. I mean that’s just math, folks.
  • Holistic Admission is BS. You need to make a higher score on the SAT, even if they say they’re test blind/free/optional. Go pay a lot of money, spend an exorbitant number of hours practicing, wake up each Saturday at 6 a.m. just to acclimate, and tattoo your necessary score on your wrist. We all know standardized tests are going to help you immensely as a college student. The highest scorers in the NFL combines always pan out to be the best players in the league. Same same.
  • Schools in the same athletic conference are identical. Apply to all of them.

Do all of this and you will Win in College Admission. Do it not and…

What Are Your Admission Requirements?

Recently, someone asked me what has changed at Georgia Tech since I started in the early 2000s. Almost everything it seems. When I arrived, our undergraduate student body was a little over 11,000—compared to almost 18,000 now. The parking lots that littered the interior of campus have been replaced by green space or pedestrian walkways, and as a result golf carts, bikes, scooters, hoverboards, longboards, unicycles, and mopeds are the predominant wheeled devices/vehicles on campus. “Online” was literal, you needed a physical key to enter buildings, and the Atlantic Coast Conference included nine teams- all of whom were close to the actual Atlantic Ocean.

From an enrollment and admission standpoint this is also true. At that time, Tech’s first- year class was just over 2,000. In 2022, our transfer class alone will push 1,400 with another 3,700 students beginning as first-years. Our application count was lower, our admit rate was higher, and as a result our review process, admission timeline, and staff structure all looked radically different than today.

What has not changed is the fundamental question students ask—”What are your admission requirements?” READ: Please just tell me clearly and plainly what I need to do/have to get in?

There was a time when I could (and did) answer, “Sure. Get a 3.7 GPA, 1300 SAT, write a few lines on your essay, do some stuff outside the classroom, and we’ll see you in the fall.”

Now, you simply cannot give a purely quantitative answer, because GPAs are not uniform across schools, states, etc. With an applicant pool of 50,000+, it is the very rare applicant who has below a 3.7 GPA. Certainly, a big part of this is due to rampant grade inflation in our state and beyond. But it is also because the traditional 4.0 scale (extremely common two decades ago) is the exception now. At that time, 4.0 was perfect and you could not exceed it. Now, due to the weighting of courses and the proliferation of grading scales, providing any specific number as a minimum or requirement is misleading at best.

For instance, we recently looked at the 256 students who applied last year from a large public Atlanta Metro high school. 192 (75%) had above a 4.0 GPA. I have visited schools with GPAs evaluated on scales of 5.0, 6.0, 13.0, as well as others abandoning numbers entirely for narratives, graphics, or emojis. Tell a student with a 10.2 GPA they need a 3.7, and they’re thinking, “Yes! My Cs are really paying off now.”

This is why, when you ask what seems like a very simple and logical question, “What do I need to do/have to get in?” (especially of colleges receiving far more applications than they have spots available in their class), you’ll inevitably get long-winded answers, passionate hand motions, and at least two mentions of “holistic.”

What are your admission requirements?

Unlike my early days at Tech, I cannot give you two numbers or a formula. But I can still make you a promise. I can still tell you what you will need to do/have in your college admission experience (and your future college career) to be successful.

 DO Keep an Open Mind

As a senior, especially one reading this blog, you are inevitably receiving an absolute crap-ton (forgive the highly technical language) of information from colleges. Emails, brochures, postcards, and increasingly more invasive modes of communication (ads in your feed, text messages, pop ups of varying kinds) on a daily or weekly basis. I completely understand how this deluge of marketing material could seem annoying, but I’m imploring you see it instead as encouraging and broadening.

Even if you have never heard of a college that mails you something in the weeks ahead, take the time to open it. Be willing to examine what you see, read, hear- and consider what interests you or does not resonate. Ultimately, the willingness and openness to new ideas, and the earnest consideration of places, people, ideas, that are not familiar is not only the sign of a good college applicant, but a great college student too.

In my experience, the students who end up the most disappointed by the college admission experience are those with a fixed and limited mindset- those who are trapped and myopic about the idea of one place, one kind of place, or one definition of “good” or “best.” Conversely, students who finish their senior year satisfied, gratified, and confident in their college choice are often not the ones who got into their top choice or had a completely smooth experience. Instead, they acted like students in the college admission experience—they thought deeply, committed to a dynamic mindset, and were willing to question and test assumptions or information they acquired along the way.

What is required in college admission (and college as well)? An open mind.

HAVE a Support System

Go to almost any admission information session or listen to a panel of admission deans/directors talk for five minutes and you’ll hear a lot of focus on YOU.

They will say: YOU need to own this process.

They will say: We want to hear YOUR voice in your essay (not your mom’s, your best friend’s, or the one you paid for from some purported expert online or down the street).

They will say: Do you own work, think for yourself, and figure out why you care about going to college, pursuing a particular major, or anything else a college advertises or touts as a selling point.

I agree wholeheartedly. However, all of the talk about YOU can dilute how imperative it is as a college applicant to surround yourself with people you know and trust.

Over the course of the next year, the likelihood is you are going to face some disappointments, dark days, and bad news when it comes to comes to your college admission experience.

Perhaps this will be as minor as angst over your essay topic, having to wait months for decisions, or being deferred or waitlisted by colleges. For some this comes in the form of an admission denial, or not receiving adequate financial aid/scholarships to afford a school you want to attend.

The truth is college will bring more of the same. Inevitably, you will have classes, relationships, internships, exams, or situations that will force you to question yourself, your decisions, and your abilities. Good times, right?

There is no panacea here. But when it comes to keeping perspective; when you need to be reminded of who you are and the value you bring; when you need encouraging words to help you bounce back or try again, your support system will be critical. True as a college applicant- true as a college student.

So, I want to encourage you to highly limit what you share on social media about your college admission experience. Instead identify two or three people you can consistently talk to and walk with through applications, decisions, consternations, and celebrations.

What is required in college admission (and college as well)? A solid support system.

What are YOUR requirements?

Let me flip the question. Instead of asking what a college requires of you, ask what you require of them. Take time to write down and consider the types of programs, environment, support systems, etc. that you really want or need. Clarifying your requirements will be far more valuable than obsessing about admit rates, rankings, number of benches, or squirrel/deer to student ratio.

My hope is you will resist the prevailing urge to quantify and distill college admission into simple numbers. Instead, DO keep an open mind, HAVE a support system around you, ASK what you require of colleges, and I promise your college admission (and actual college experience) will be far more rich, meaningful, satisfying, and transformative.