Ivey Files

Featured Content

January 27, 2015

52 Weeks to College: Week 31 — Deferral Updates

If you've already submitted your best and most compelling application — your standout application — is an application postscript ever be warranted? Yes! In three cases:

1. When you have significant updates to your application

2. When you have been deferred

3. When you have been waitlisted

This week, we're focusing on the deferral scenario. 

If you've applied early to one or more colleges, the decision letter might not actually contain a final decision. Instead of being admitted or denied, you might be notified that you've been deferred. Although that news is no doubt disappointing, you have not been denied. And that is indeed good news, because your deferred application will be reconsidered in the regular round of decision making. You get a second bite at the apple without suffering any penalty for having applied early. A deferral is basically a second chance at being admitted. Nice!

What does a deferral indicate? It means that the admissions officer is on the fence about whether to admit or deny you. He or she wants more information before a final decision is made. The admissions officer might want to see how things go in your senior year, or she may want to see how you stack up against the larger Regular Decision pool of applicants, or both. 

That's where updates come in. You want to provide updates that have a positive influence on the admissions officer. Not all updates accomplish that. That is why you must update with a purpose

Week 31 To-Dos

Every Week

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.  

This Week 

  • Send deferral updates.
  • Interview with colleges.
  • Finish your FAFSA and keep copies of all the underlying documentation.

Tips & Tricks

1. Update with a purpose. See our tips in Week 23 for the most effective updates to be sending. 

2. Format your updates as a short essay or a bulleted list. Keep the updates simple and easy for the admissions officer to read and digest.

3. Talk to your college counselor. Ask your counselor for help in the form of an updated note with the midyear report or an optional report.

You can read more about deferral updates in chapter 23 of our book.

About the Authors:

Alison Cooper Chisolm heads the college admissions consulting practice at Ivey Consulting. She came to private consulting after working in admissions for more than 10 years at three selective universities (Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College).

Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process and make smart choices about higher education.

You can find more college admissions tips in their book How to Prepare a Standout College Application (Wiley 2013), and follow them on Twitter and Facebook

About the 52 Weeks to College Series:

52 Weeks to College is a week-by-week plan for applying to college. It breaks this complex and difficult project down into weekly to-do lists with supporting tips and tricks for getting it all done. Based on the Master Plan for applying to college found in our book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application52 Weeks to College is designed for any applicant who intends to apply to top U.S. colleges. For those of you who are just discovering the 52 Weeks series and want to catch up, click here.

January 23, 2015

Finding Your Voice

Some nice feedback on working with our consultant Greg, from an applicant headed to a T14 law school:

Greg, I am absolutely delighted to let you know that I have been accepted at _________  [T14 law school]!! It is honestly a dream come true for me.  _______ was a reach school for me, as I fell right along the median for GPA, but slightly below for the LSAT. Without stellar “softs” and as someone who had to retake the LSAT, __________ would for most people have seemed like a long shot. But then again, as Ivey Consulting has taught me, the application process is much more than just two numbers. It’s about telling your story.

Looking back I wanted to express my appreciation on two particular items. The first involves the writing and helping me find my “voice”. This is something that I found particularly difficult, since following college I found myself unaccustomed to writing in the first person. Your help and edits allowed me to find my voice and to tell my story in the most effective manner.

Secondly, I would also like to express my thanks for the service as a whole. Ivey Consulting was extremely professional with not only their quick turn around times but also their assistance. I remember having talked to you for not only the essay, but also received advice on how to address the multiple LSAT question.

It has been a very interesting journey and I appreciate having the support and assistance from Ivey Consulting along this process. Please let me know if you ever receive an inquiry from my alma mater. I would be more than happy to be a point of reference.

January 20, 2015

52 Weeks to College: Week 30 — The Midyear Report

The school report and its subsequent updates — midyear report, final report, optional report — are prepared and submitted by your high school counselor or another high school official. We talked more about school reports in Week 15, which you can read here

At this point in the admissions cycle, it's time to pay attention to your midyear report. Your midyear report is submitted to colleges once your high school has released first term grades midway through your senior year. It generally updates only those parts of your school report relating to grades, but might also update the school profile or the counselor recommendation. The midyear report is typically considered during the Regular Decision cycle, because it comes too late for the Early Action or Early Decision cycles.

If your midyear report is positive, life is good. If it's negative, life gets more complicated. Bad news might be a drop in grades, a one-day suspension, or getting caught with alcohol. It's really hard for college applications when things go wrong senior year. That is why we always tell applicants that they must stay focused on school and avoid trouble even after their applications have been submitted.

Week 30 To-Dos

Every Week

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.  

This Week 

  • Confirm that your midyear report has been sent.
  • Interview with colleges.
  • Work on your FAFSA.

Tips & Tricks

1. Confirm what your midyear report will say. Check in with your counselor to review your grades, activities, and test scores.

2. If your midyear report has good news... ask your counselor to get this report out the door as soon as possible. 

3. If your midyear report has bad news... the first thing you must do is stop whatever is going wrong and come out of your senior year "death spiral." The second thing is to do whatever you can in terms of damage control for your applications.

You can read about situation-specific damage control in our book (chapter 7 for grades, chapter 13 for disciplinary or criminal records). You can also follow the suggestions we give in chapter 23 for post-submission supplements to your application.

About the Authors:

Alison Cooper Chisolm heads the college admissions consulting practice at Ivey Consulting. She came to private consulting after working in admissions for more than 10 years at three selective universities (Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College).

Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process and make smart choices about higher education.

You can find more college admissions tips in their book How to Prepare a Standout College Application (Wiley 2013), and follow them on Twitter and Facebook

About the 52 Weeks to College Series:

52 Weeks to College is a week-by-week plan for applying to college. It breaks this complex and difficult project down into weekly to-do lists with supporting tips and tricks for getting it all done. Based on the Master Plan for applying to college found in our book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application52 Weeks to College is designed for any applicant who intends to apply to top U.S. colleges. For those of you who are just discovering the 52 Weeks series and want to catch up, click here.

January 19, 2015

MBA Admissions Tip: The Waitlist

What should an applicant do when placed on the waitlist at his or her dream school?  While most applicants regard the waitlist in a negative light (we’ve even heard it described as “a sort of purgatory prior to getting dinged”), the best approach is to view the glass as being half-full (especially for R1 waitlisters).  In all cases, getting waitlisted is much better than getting denied.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate this often difficult and mysterious process:

1) Know your file.  Before you can develop a waitlist strategy, you need to understand where you may have fallen short in the application process.  Read over your file with a critical eye and try to identify any weaknesses.  Talk to anyone you know who might be able to give you feedback (MBA students at the target school, former admissions officers, admissions consultants, etc).

2) Familiarize yourself with the school’s waitlist rules.  Do you need to “opt in” in order to be on the list?  Are you allowed to submit supplemental materials to bolster your case or inform the committee of changes to your candidacy?  Does the school offer a chance for feedback via a phone session or interview with a “waitlist manager?”

3) Follow the waitlist rules.

CASE A: Schools that accept supplemental materials.  If a school hints that you may want to provide a supplemental essay or recommendation letter, then by all means, take this offer seriously and get something together for the committee.  Approach these materials in the same way that you would approach the application process (e.g., do not just send along something that you dash off in a matter of minutes).  If you have several items you wish to send, it may make sense to spread them out over the course of a few weeks to demonstrate steady interest.

CASE B: Schools that do not accept supplemental materials.  This may sound obvious, but if a school indicates that they do not want supplemental materials, then you should respect their guidelines.  In other words, do not send along a new recommendation or an essay if the program has clearly indicated that you should not do so.  There may be exceptions to this – for example, if a dramatic change has taken place in your candidacy – but in most cases, you should simply follow the rules. (Contact us to learn about other ways to improve your waitlist status with schools that frown on supplemental materials.)

4) Consider a school visit.  It may make sense to visit the school, particularly if you have not been before.  So many different things can happen on a visit:

a) You never know when you’ll have that chance meeting with an admissions officer who is willing to give you a little feedback (and who through the process of meeting you face to face might get a better sense of your candidacy).

b) A school may take note of your visit (if you sign in with the admissions office) and view it as a potential sign of your interest.

c) You may interact with students or professors who can better inform you of opportunities at the school and provide you with helpful “content” for any waitlist materials you go on to submit.

d) By visiting, you may find out that school X is really not for you, enabling you to move on and remove yourself from the waitlist.

Just as there are a number of waitlist to-do items, there are also countless things to avoid doing.  We’ll devote another post to that at a later date.  Please contact the Clear Admit offices for questions about waitlist strategy and our related services (info@clearadmit.com).

In addition, for valuable guidance about being on the waitlist, check out the Clear Admit Waitlist Guide.  This guide will teach you to understand the ground rules of a program’s waitlist policy, formulate a plan to address weaknesses in your candidacy, craft effective communications to the admissions committee and explore every opportunity to boost your chances of acceptance.  This 23-page PDF file, which includes school-specific waitlist policies and sample communication materials, is available for immediate download.

About Clear Admit:

Ivey Consulting is proud to partner with Clear Admit to provide comprehensive admissions information and consulting services to business school applicants. Learn more about Clear Admit here.

January 14, 2015

10th Graders - How To Plan Ahead For the New SAT

You may have heard that the SAT is in the process of being overhauled. If you're a 10th grader now, what does that mean for you?

The first administration of the NEW SAT will be in March of 2016. You'll most likely be taking your standardized tests in the spring of 2016 or fall of 2016, so if you were to take the SAT, then you would most likely be taking the NEW test. Here's how we recommend tackling your test prep:

Do some test prep this summer, focusing on the ACT rather than the SAT.

Doing intensive test preparation for the SAT during this summer would be tricky, because it is unclear at this point whether the makers of the SAT will have unveiled enough about the structure of the NEW SAT in time for the test prep companies to revise their curricula by this summer. So we can't advise that you invest in doing test prep that might not even be related to the test you will be taking.

Plan on taking the ACT.

First, the ACT will be stable, so students can prepare for it on this longer timeline. Second, many students do as well as, or better on, the ACT than they do on the SAT, so the more stable ACT is the safer bet in the "transition" year.

And here's a nice bonus.

Even if you end up taking the NEW SAT, the prep you will have done for the ACT will serve you well, because the SAT is changing to be MORE LIKE the ACT, so much of the prep you do for the ACT will transfer over to the NEW SAT.

Need more guidance through the college application process? Our college admissions experts are here to help.

January 13, 2015

52 Weeks to College: Week 29 — Following Up On Your Submitted Applications

This week we're giving tips about how to follow up on the Regular Decision applications you've already submitted.

Week 29 To-Dos

Every Week

  • Check your email, voicemail, texts, and snail mail for any communications that relate to applying to college. Read them and take whatever action is necessary.
  • Update your parents about what you’re doing. This regular communication will work wonders in your relationship with your parents during this stress-filled year.  

This Week 

  • Confirm that the Regular Decision applications are complete.
  • Interview with colleges.
  • Work on your FAFSA.

Tips & Tricks

1. Confirm that your early applications are complete. The only way to know that your application is complete is for you to have confirmation from the college. Just because the Common Application says "downloaded by the college," or your counselor has confirmed to you that something was sent, does NOT mean that the college has received that item and put it in your application file. Until you have confirmation from the college, you don't have confirmation, period. If you have not received confirmation within two weeks of (1) having submitted the application or (2) the deadline (whichever comes first), contact the admissions office to check the status of your application.

2. Resolve problems promptly. If your follow-up reveals that something is missing from your application file, then it is up to you to fix the problem. Clarify exactly what is missing. Identify the fastest way to get the missing item to the college and into your application file. Then take action and get it done. Be as proactive as necessary. (For example, volunteer to mail the recommendation yourself rather than wait for the recommender to find the stamp and mail it.) Let the college know that you are aware of the problem and working to resolve it. 

3. Call rather than email. You can often get the whole problem resolved in one phone call, whereas email often requires a long chain of back-and-forth correspondence.

4. Always be polite and respectful. No matter how frustrating these snafus are, being angry with others will probably make it harder to solve your problem, not easier. Any rudeness towards the admissions staff will also be noted and could be held against you.

You can read more tips about things to do after you submit in chapters 22 and 23 of our book

About the Authors:

Alison Cooper Chisolm heads the college admissions consulting practice at Ivey Consulting. She came to private consulting after working in admissions for more than 10 years at three selective universities (Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College).

Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process and make smart choices about higher education.

You can find more college admissions tips in their book How to Prepare a Standout College Application (Wiley 2013), and follow them on Twitter and Facebook

About the 52 Weeks to College Series:

52 Weeks to College is a week-by-week plan for applying to college. It breaks this complex and difficult project down into weekly to-do lists with supporting tips and tricks for getting it all done. Based on the Master Plan for applying to college found in our book, How to Prepare a Standout College Application52 Weeks to College is designed for any applicant who intends to apply to top U.S. colleges. For those of you who are just discovering the 52 Weeks series and want to catch up, click here.

January 12, 2015

The Wild and Crazy February LSAT

Today’s advice comes from our friends at Blueprint LSAT Prep. Blueprint students average an 11-point increase on their in-class practice tests, and can enroll in live LSAT prep classes throughout the country or online LSAT courses from the comfort of their own home.

With February LSAT deadlines abound, you’re running out of time to start studying for the next administration. One reason you might still be unsure about whether or not to take the February LSAT is the fact that, well, the February LSAT is kind of weird.

That’s because most LSAT administrations feature only one experimental section. On the February LSAT, however, the whole thing is kind of “experimental."

Here’s what we mean:

First, LSAC uses the February LSAT to try out new concepts. They’ve got to keep LSAT test-takers on their toes, after all. Because of this, some content on the February LSAT can come off as unusual. It can be as simple as a Logic Game with a confusing intro, but in some instances, you may not even recognize the question type. Fortunately, you won’t be the only person in your LSAT testing center dealing with it, and the LSAT score “curve” should reflect any questions that tripped up a large number of test-takers.

Second, once your February LSAT score comes out you won’t know what mistakes you made because LSAC does not release the February LSAT questions. It is the only non-accommodated LSAT that is not disclosed. Obviously, if you thought you did well on the exam and then received an LSAT score that showed otherwise, this can cause quite a headache. Then again, if you studied correctly, you should clearly know your weak points heading into test day from your most recent practice LSAT scores.

Unless your law school does not accept February LSAT scores (some don’t, so make sure you check), taking the February exam can actually be advantageous for anyone hoping to apply in the 2016 law school application cycle. If you earn the LSAT score you want, you’ll have the rest of the year to dedicate to your law school applications—which would include getting letters of recommendation from your professors and getting started on all those admission essays.

As you know, getting your law school applications in early gives you the best chance at admission. Check out your target schools’ policy regarding early decision. Most law schools accept students on a rolling basis, so your application is often evaluated as soon as it arrives. With the current law school admissions landscape, it’s only to your advantage to get your apps in as soon as you can.

Just make sure you’ve got a good LSAT score to go with it.

If you’re discouraged, remember: The LSAT is the kind of test you can study for. You can improve your LSAT score. Even though the February LSAT can be viewed as quirky, it’s still an LSAT. Do not sit for it (or any LSAT) unless you are confident about how you will perform. For the best LSAT score/law school admissions results, it’s always best to begin on your terms, not the law schools’.

For more study tips from Blueprint LSAT Prep visit their LSAT blog, Most Strongly Supported.

January 12, 2015

New Book on the Admissions Process by NYT Columnist Frank Bruni

I'm pre-ordering this book, VERY excited to read it:

Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania 

The title alone is a great reminder not to conflate your whole identity with where you do or don't get into college (or grad school for that matter). My immediate reaction is this, and it's something I've been mulling over for some time now:

One of the real downsides to the current "holistic" approach to elite university admissions in the United States is that the schools give the impression that they're evaluating you (judging you) *as a human being*. So when the rejection letter comes, it's easy to assume (although incorrectly) that they're rejecting you *as a human being*. Oof, I don't know a lot of grown-ups who can take that punch without internalizing some of it, and it's especially a lot to take on as a teenager.

I'll report back after I've read it... and in the meantime,  here's the amazon link.

 

Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founder of Ivey Consulting. She and her team help college, law school, and MBA applicants make smart decisions about their higher education and navigate the application process. She is the author of The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions and How to Prepare a Standout College Application, and also serves on the leadership team of the non-profit Service to School.

January 9, 2015

Finding Typos in Your Application After You Submit

Typos. In very important missives. That you've already sent to very important people. Argh.

Everyone has been there at one time or another, including lawyers (which can be especially embarrassing). And, as you might be acutely aware, it happens to future lawyers, too. When you've been staring at the same thing six hundred times while you polished it, trying to get it just so, your eyes can start missing the little things. The irony.

It's that time of year when people start freaking out over typos they find after they've hit the submit button. I feel your pain. There's no magic wand or time machine to undo that submission, so here's the best you can do:

If you find a typo after you have submitted your application, call up the admissions office, be very nice (always!) to the person who answers the phone, and ask if you can substitute that particular document. If your file hasn’t already been sent off for evaluation, they’ll probably let you send in the corrected document. Ask them how they would like to receive the correction, and do not treat their reply as an offer for you to negotiate some other method. It's their way or the highway.

Even if they let you send in a corrected document, they might not be willing to get rid of the old one. They might only add a more recent copy to the file, but it’s unlikely that admissions officers will do a line-by-line comparison anyway. So be it. That's still the best outcome in these circumstances.

If you can’t substitute that page or that document, go to your Happy Place with the knowledge that the odds are they won’t even notice your typo. If, on the other hand, you find multiple errors dispersed throughout your application, you've got bigger problems, whether you leave the mess the way it is or ask to substitute the entire thing. One typo is human; multiple typos make you look sloppy.

I'll end on a happy note. An applicant once called the admissions office at the University of Chicago Law School, where I used to work, and sheepishly confessed that he had misspelled his own name on the application, and what was his best option to fix that? The wonderful woman manning the phones (a) chuckled and (b) said, "Don't worry about it, honey, I'll just fix it in our system. All taken care of."

Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and and a former lawyer, Anna Ivey founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process. You can read more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions, and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

January 6, 2015

Minimum TOEFL Score for Law School

I'm an international student applying for law school. I took TOEFL and got 103, which is a decent score for most law school. The problem is that I only got 20 on writing section. Will that hurt my chance? Or would admission just care about the total score? Thank you for answering. 

Each school sets its own TOEFL requirements, so you'll need to confirm those requirements at each school that you're interested in. Schools usually post that information on their websites.

A common approach that you'll see is for schools to set a minimum for the overall score, and then some (but not all) schools also add minimum requirements for the subsections.

For example, a school might require at least a 100 overall (using the scale for the internet-based test) and at least 25 in each of the four subsections. Another school might require an overall score of at least 100, with a minimum of 26 on the reading and listening subsections, and a minimum of 22 on the writing and speaking subsections. These are just some examples taken from real schools, but they illustrate how each school handles the TOEFL minimums differently. In both of those examples, your overall score would suffice, but your writing score wouldn't, and you would need to get that writing score up.

For schools that list only a minimum overall score but don't list minimum scores for the subsections, you can go ahead and apply if you've met the overall minimum, but be aware that they will still evaluate your subscores as well, and in their discretion they might decide that your writing score is too low. So it's no guarantee that your writing score will pass muster even if a school lists only an overall minimum.

I hugely admire people who are able to master another language enough to be able to earn a degree in that language. Hats off to you, and if you can get that writing score up, so much the better. Law school exams (and grades) are typically writing-based, so any investment you make to improve your writing subscore will help not just with admissions but also with your academic success once you're in. Good luck!

Anna Ivey is the former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and founder of Ivey Consulting. She and her team help college, law school, and MBA applicants make smart decisions about their higher education and navigate the application process. She is the author of The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions and How to Prepare a Standout College Application, and also serves on the leadership team of the non-profit Service to School.

Syndicate content