Borderline Admission Decisions – UCLA, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Vassar

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UCLA 18% AR.86k applications, 5.7k enrolled – 1.6k internationals and out of state. 50-50 mix.  Seek low income and 1st generation. No super score.  Self-reporting.  All apps read twice.  NOT LOOKING FOR FIT – TOP ACADEMICS AND LEADERSHIP THE ONLY THINGS THEY’RE LOOKING FOR.

Vanderbilt 13% , 30k applications – 1600 places. 4 colleges – each seeking different kind of student.  Committee process. 4 different processes – depends on the specific school.

Northwestern 13% AR, committee process.

Vassar 22% admit rate. 2.5K, 1.5 hours north of NY.  8K applicants of 650.

Non-academic stuff comes into play where academics are strong across the board. Talent, motivation, engagement, impact.  In a class – balance of interests, talents, backgrounds, perspectives.

  • Meaningful contributions to class?
  • Depth of subject approach?
  • Response to challenges?
  • What would they bring?
  • What would they gain?

Case Study

Francois Yang – male, Asian, Canadian citizenship, born France, English 1st lang, Chinese at home, French – S, R, W.  Parents uni-educated. Goes to a school where most go to university.  AP curriculum.  No rank.  Class size 144. GPA 3.99/4.  All As.  SAT 740 R, MATH 770, Writing 770.  Subject tests Chinese 800, Math 800, History 780.  8 x AP. Student government, community service, athletics, YMCA counselor.  Personal essay.  Recs – foreign lang top 1-5%, AP chem top 1%.  Enthusiastic school counsellor.


Responses from the universities.  Typical involvements, typical essays, good numbers but the rest is « average ».  For UCLA, you only have his essay and you haven’t really got an impression of who he is.

WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT YOURSELF IN 2 MINUTES?  Make sure the 2 sides match up – counsellor and student.

What does it mean for a European to « sell themselves »?  Unis have outside readers, trained as experts for the region they are reading.  They understand cultural context and learn about other systems. 

And what if we change the factors?  E.g. gender, race, parental educational background. Will he be admitted or not?  At Vassar, every application is discussed.  Under-represented students have certainly been prioritised so even sb with great numbers may not be a priority.  UCLA – cannot take race and gender into account.  Citizenship and residency CAN be factored in but doesn’t change selectivity level.  Also lang at home and parental education.

What can the student do?  Be honest and open about who they are.  NO DISCONNECT BETWEEN RECS AND ESSAYS!

  • variation…
  • activities
  • writing
  • recommendations
  • school location and type
  • legacy, institutional ties
  • demonstrated interest
  • major or school interest
  • early or regular
  • financial need

Most essays are fine, don’t stand out.  WHAT MAKES YOU SOUND LIKE A REALLY INTERESTING PERSON?!!  Keep things short and pithy!

Vassar consider legacy but legacy varies by university.  No relevance to UC.  No demonstrated interest relevance at UC.  But Major and School IS taken into account by UC.

Financial need plays.  Vanderbilt – international scholarships, merit-based – need-blind.  UCLA need-blind for all but no scholarships.

ED – Northwestern 2k freshman – 43% was ED – sig chunk international. c100 Varsity athletes in the 2k.

Vanderbilt – 40% ED.

Admissions Rates – Update April 2014

Admission update for late April

American University : 6,927 offers out of 15,127 apps, 46 percent.

 Amherst College: 1,103 admission offers out of 8,468 applications, 13 percent.

Babson College: 1,721 offers out of 6,197 apps, 27.8% percent.

Bowdoin College: 1,032 offers out of 6,935 apps, 15 percent.

Boston College–34% admit rate (same as last year)

Boston U–34% (last year 37%)

Brown University: 2,619 offers out of 30,432 apps, 9 percent.


California Institute of Technology: 529 offers out of 6,524 apps, 8 percent.

Carleton College: 1,446 offers out of 6,293 apps, 23 percent.

Carnagie Mellon University: 4,767 offers out of 19,810 apps, 24.1 percent.

Claremont McKenna College: 613 offers out of 6,043 apps, 10 percent.

Colgate University: 2,224 offers out of 8,713 apps, 26 percent.

College of William and Mary : 4,738 offers out of 14,545 apps, 33 percent.

Columbia University: 2,291 offers out of 32,967 apps, 7 percent.

Conneticut College 36%

Cornell University: 6,014 offers out of 43,041 apps, 14 percent.

Dartmouth College: 2,220 offers out of 19,296 apps, 12 percent.

Davidson College: 1,169 offers out of 5,558 apps, 21 percent.

Duke University: 3,499 offers out of 32,506 apps, 11 percent.

Elmhurst University: 65 percent

Elon University: 5,397 offers out of 10,408 apps, 51.8 percent

Emory University: 4,616 offers out of 17,797 apps, 26 percent

Georgetown University : 3,232 admitted out of 19,501 apps, 17 percent.

George Washington University : 8,248 offers out of 19,028 apps, 43 percent.

Georgia Tech–32%

Grinnell College: 1,626 offers out of 6,056 apps, 27 percent.

Hamilton College: 1,312 offers out of 5,017 apps, 26 percent.

Harvard University: 2,023 offers out of 34,295 apps, 6 percent.

Harvey Mudd College: 510 offers out of 3,678 apps, 14 percent.

Haverford College: no figures available yet.

Howard University : 4,867 offers out of 13,714 apps, 35 percent.

James Madison University : 14,675 offers out of 23,326 apps, 63 percent.

Johns Hopkins University : 3,586 offers out of 23,875 apps, 15 percent.

Loyola Marymount: 52%

 Massachusetts Institute of Technology:1,419 offers out of 18,357 apps, 8 percent.

Middlebury College: 1,422 offers out of 8,196 apps, 17 percent.

New York University: 17,483 offers out of 52,000 apps (all campuses), 34% percent.

Northwestern University: 4,349 offers out of 33,673 apps, 12.9 percent.

Olin College: 102 offers out of 998 apps, 10.2 percent.

Pomona College: 938 offers out of 7,727 apps, 12 percent.

Princeton University: 1,939 offers out of 26,641 apps, 7 percent.

Purdue University: 57.6%.

Rensslear Polytechnic University:  6,750 offers out of 18,569 apps, 36.4 percent.

Rice University:  2,498 offers out of 17,720 apps, 14 percent.

Santa Clara University:  48%

Sarah Lawrence University:  1,214 offers out of 2,387 apps, 50.9 percent.

Scripps College: 758 offers out of 2,782 apps, 27.2 percent.

Smith College: 1,802 offers out of 4,461 apps, 40 percent.

Stanford University: 2,138 offers out of 42,167 apps, 5 percent.

Swarthmore College: 930 offers out of 5,540 apps, 17 percent.

Trinity College: 2,461 offers out of 7,503 apps, 32.8 percent.

Tufts University: 3,315 offers out of 19,075 apps, 17.4 percent.

 University of Arizona: 70%

 University of California at Berkeley: 17.4%

University of California at LA: 16.3%

University of California at San Diego: 34.4%

University of California at Irvine: 35.4%

University of California at Santa Barbara: 36.1%

University of California at Davis: 40.6%

University of California at Riverside: 56.7%

University of California at Santa Cruz: 56.9%

University of California at Merced: 64%

University of Chicago: 2,304 offers out of 27,503 apps, 8.3 percent.

University of Florida: 12,923 offers out of 12,923 apps, 44.1 percent.

University of Illinois at Chicago :  15,872 apps, 71 percent.

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign :  35,700 apps, 57 percent.

University of Maryland : 12,419 offers out of 26,228 apps, 47 percent.

University of Maryland Baltimore County : 5,808 offers out of 10,081 apps, 58 percent.

University of Notre Dame: 3,720 offers out of 17,897 apps, 21 percent.

University of Pennsylvania: 3,583 offers out of 35,868 apps, 10 percent.

University of Southern California: 9,218 offers out of 51,788 apps, 17.8 percent.

University of Virginia : 8,970 offers out of 31,042 apps, 29 percent.

U.S. Military Academy: no figures available yet.

U.S. Naval Academy: no figures available yet.

Vanderbilt University: 3634 offers out of 29,490 apps, 12 percent.

Vassar College: 1,771 offers out of 7,784 apps, 23 percent.

Wake Forest College: 3,773 offers out of 11,053 apps, 34.1 percent

Virginia Tech : 14,230 offers out of 20,897 apps, 68 percent.

Washington and Lee University : 1,062 offers out of 1,062 apps, 18 percent.

Washington University in St. Louis: 5,002 offers out of 29,211 apps, 17 percent.

Wellesley College: 1,330 offers out of 4,710 apps, 28 percent.

Wesleyan University: 2,199 offers out of 9,477 apps, 23 percent.

Whitman College: ? offers out of 3,791 apps, 39.5 percent.

Williams College: 1,150 offers out of 6,316 apps, 18 percent.

Yale University: 1,935 offers out of 30,932 apps, 6 percent.


– See more at:

SAT Scores and Ivy League Schools…

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While it’s fresh in my mind…

We just got some excellent US offers for Florimont students, accepted at Georgetown, MIT, Berkeley, Columbia, Berkeley, Barnard, Emerson and elsewhere.  One of our students has been offered a scholarship, too!

Looking at the SAT scores with one of the students, here are some conclusions –

  • 1900s  are very much at the low end for Ivy League!
  • Reading has to be at least 650
  • One of our students only applied to Ivy League, but with just over 2000 total found it hard to get offers.
  • Even with just over 2150 total, success cannot be guaranteed in getting offers.
  • Think twice before doing SAT II in Physics!  The approach and content are very different to Bac and Matu. At least one of our students did not prepare well enough and consequently did not receive as many offers as he might have…
  • CHECK HOW MANY SAT SUBJECT TESTS ARE REQUIRED as you do your college research – Georgetown, for example, requires 3 subject tests!
  • To be admitted to the top schools (e.g. MIT) you will probably score 750 or more in both the subject tests you take.  A minimum for Ivy League is 700 – 620 is just not good enough!

For interest, below are the SAT scores in relation to admit rates for Georgetown 2013…

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