May 1st is the date many colleges ask students to submit an enrollment deposit, so it's largely seen as the end of the college application season. Since May 1st is a Sunday, it's being extended by one day, in a year where, in many respects, it seems the end really needed to come sooner, not later. Here's a quick look at why, along with some seasonal reminders:
A Trend Towards Indecision Counselors from across the country are reporting a notable increase in the number of students who are waiting to the very end to decide where they will continue their education next fall. There doesn't seem to be any clear reason for this, other than the dim hope students will start getting called from waitlists before May 1, a rare occurrence to be sure.
A Trend Towards Double Depositing? Indecision like this has been seen in the past, and its implications weren't good for colleges. Too many students who wait for a sign on April 30 don't really get one, so they decide the best answer is to take matters into their own hands and extend their decision-making deadline by depositing at more than one college. That may work for the student, but it's bad news for the college that comes up short in enrollment in the fall when 20 double-depositing students pick the other college--and the college suddenly has a $1 million shortfall. Double depositing is a no-no, kids. Take the weekend, and choose.
Deferral Doesn't Condone Double Dating Other students are wondering if they can defer admission for a year (at many schools you can) so they take that year to "try out" another college, then simply stay there if they like it better. While rules of deferral vary by college, there are very few that allow students to attend classes at another four-year college during the deferral period. It's more common to allow students to take credits at community college, but that might be a no-no as well.
Colleges Contact Students Over Summer It's also time to remind students that colleges often e-mail freshman over the summer about all kinds of important things, like financial aid, orientation, and the scheduling of fall classes. Now is the time to remind students to keep an eye on the mail and the e-mail. This isn't a time to lose your cash or your place at school.
Counselors Can't Just Go Fishin' The increase in students who lose touch with their college in July and August has a name--summer melt--and it happens disproportionately to low-income students and students who are the first in their family to go to college. Counselors working with these students will want to review plans for reaching out to these students over the summer to make sure they get the help they need. This plan could be as basic as a string of e-mails and a disposable cell phones to make calls from the beach, but plan accordingly.
Juniors and the Costco Essay Many juniors have read the story about the student who wrote her essay about Costco, and was admitted to six thousand Ivies--so, of course, they are now devoting their muse to crafting a big box paean as well.
I have seen nothing from any Ivy League admissions office affirming that the student's essay, good as it was, got her in. That means we don't know why she got in--but we do know that many students don't get in when their essay lacks originality. When it comes to applying to college, investing in authenticity is your best buy.