Borderline Admission Decisions – UCLA, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, Vassar

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.25.44 Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.26.30Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.27.49 Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 11.27.59

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.

University of South Florida, Tampa Bay

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 12.45.44  Generous scholarships for international students.  E.g. IB, cultural ambassadors (reaching back to their country’s students).

Dr Ralph Wilcox – Provost and Exec VP.

100 public universities recognized for their research – USF is in top 50 for science unis.  Health, literacy, climate change – applied problem-solving.  Learning communities (similar to colleges) around the campus.

Competitively priced – « we kept it that way ».  Lots of international students.  Education abroad experience is expected – partner institutions.  3k international students – 140 countries represented.  But not the majority – revenue-generation is not driving their globalisation push.

240 different degree programs offered.  Other campuses at St Petersberg and Eckerd. 1600 professors.  In 2012, 1 professor selected as professor of the year.  Behavioural sciences.  Business.

Provost –

Why USF?  Ballet, modern dance, music performance, college education.  Everything is offered.  Lower IELTS scored accepted and bridge programs provided to help raise their level.

Salsa club.

DL comment – v international feel to student body, extremely friendly and helpful.  Form great friendships with other students from all over the world.

Dr Kaw – Professor of Mech Engineering.  Good teaching-research balance.

40k students.  V diverse international students – China, India, Saudi, Venezuela, Taiwan, South Korea. etc

Florida as retirement destination means lots of emphasis on medicine and bioscience.

Direct admission – 1200 SATs.  Accelerated – 2.5 GPA.


Eckerd College, Florida

 An email I just received…
International Counselor Newsletter

Welcome to the Triton Times Issue 12! We hope your seniors are settled and ready for their next adventures and your juniors are excited at the possibilities ahead of them.

This issue we feature the sociology program, the Tritones (our a cappella group), a student and alumnus profile as well as exciting news about a current student. Enjoy!

Department Highlight

Sociology is one of the broadest fields in the social sciences. Sociology at Eckerd is designed to give students a firm foundation in sociological inquiry, theory and research with the flexibility to develop their own concentration. Thevariety of courses offered in the sociology program is impressive, covering family, home, society, criminal justice, social stratification and sociological concepts. Did you ever wonder why some days fly by and some days drag? Professor Michael Flaherty’s work has focused on time and society as well as the social construction of reality. His book,A Watched Pot: How We Experience Time, looks at how we culturally and socially perceive the passage of time. Professor Flaherty “spends time” working with students who often take their research on the road to regional and national conferences. An individual experience crafted from the broadest of the social sciences…this is how we THINKOUTSIDE.

Alumni Highlight

RJ Nowling ‘10
Computer Science and Mathematics

Where are you now and what are you doing?

I am a Computer science & Engineering Ph.D. student at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana. My research involves developing new simulation methods for studying protein folding.


What does your job entail and how has your Eckerd experience impacted your career?


My job consists of doing research and assisting with teaching classes. My day-to-day research activities include reading and writing papers, implementing mathematical models in computer programs, and running simulations to verify whether the models are correct. Eckerd provided a strong foundation for my work in graduate school. My thesis work with Professor Mauch and research work with Professor Kelly Debure allowed me to work very closely with both professors and receive significant personal attention through which I was able to develop important research skills. I became familiar with research papers, writing formally, and giving presentations on my own work to general audience, which has proven invaluable for graduate school. Through my math courses, I became comfortable interpreting and analyzing mathematical equations and models, which has enabled me to do the work I’m currently doing.


When I assist with classes, I develop and write assignments and solutions, give lectures, grade students’ homework, and tutor students one-on-one. My professors at Eckerd provided invaluable role-models whom I often think of and try to mimic when preparing materials for classes or working with students. My experience at Eckerd has instilled respect for a quality education for undergraduates in me, and I try to bring those same principles to my teaching at Notre Dame. As a result, I’ve won an award from the Kaneb Center and my department for being an outstanding teaching assistant. I also encourage my students to think about the interdisciplinary nature of computer science and try to instill interests in fields outside of computer science such as math, the other sciences, and humanities. I want my students to see the larger picture and how everything fits together – an attitude very much reminiscent of the education I received at Eckerd.


What makes Eckerd so special or why does it stand out to you as a great college? What does it mean to you now that you have been away for awhile?

Eckerd offers students a broad view of the world, compels students to think about how they can contribute to the world (locally and globally), and gives them the courage to make those contributions. Eckerd not only gives their students valuable skills, but shapes the person and their character as a whole.

Read more about RJ online.

Ask Admission

One idea I have heard from counselors is to ask varied colleges for pens. Keep the pens in a cup on your desk. Have students take a pen then research the school and report back with a few interesting tidbits about that school. It pushes them a little beyond their comfort zone of known schools and can make them more willing to think about lots of different schools.

Does demonstrated interest matter at Eckerd?

When reviewing applications, we certainly notice if the student has interacted with our office in some way — college fair, visit, email, etc. For a borderline applicant, the relationship with his/her counselor can be a great boon. My colleagues and I will advocate for a student that we know and feel has more to offer the Eckerd community than the numbers may not show. Now, one cautionary note… we would love to hear from students (and their parents) but not daily…

Have a question? Just ask.

Student Highlight

Student: Matt Thompson
From: Plymouth, MN

Why did you decide to attend EC?

Eckerd was a perfect match for me from the beginning. I went to a very big high school and I knew that I didn’t want to go to a big state school type university. With Eckerd I got a chance to not only escape the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but also I had the opportunity to play for a Division II soccer team, study abroad in Europe, and enjoy close relationships with all of my professors.


Do you have a « that’s so Eckerd » moment? What is it?


While I was traveling along the Cote d’Azur in the south of France, I needed recommendations for what to do. Well, my winter term professor and freshman mentor, Olivier Debure, is actually from Nice, France, where I was planning on traveling that afternoon. As a long-shot idea, I emailed Professor Debure asking for recommendations on what to do, where to eat, etc. Sure enough while I was on the train to Nice, he  responded with tons of things for me to do in his hometown. Because of that, I had a great time in Nice and it remains my favorite city on the southern French coast. That type of availability of professors and willingness to respond to students (even those across the world) is what makes Eckerd special.


What are some traits or characteristics you find in most Eckerd students?


What I love about the students at Eckerd is the all around openness to other students and genuine personalities. Eckerd students seem to always be willing to involve the other people around them, whether they are already friends or complete strangers. You feel comfortable in and outside of class interacting with the other students, and Eckerd does a great job of encouraging that interaction.


Where is the best place to hang out on campus?


The best place to hang out on campus is Kappa field. On any given day you’ll see dozens of people relaxing, playing Frisbee or soccer, and often reading for class (why be in the library if you can read and tan at the same time?). With South Beach, the outdoor pavilion, and sand volleyball courts all a stone’s throw away, I can’t imagine a better place to be.


Using 5 words or less complete this sentence: Eckerd is…

where I discovered myself.

Read more about Matt online.

Organization Highlight

Name of Club: The Tritones

Student Name: Miranda Watrous ‘14

What do you do in this club:

The Tritones is the first ever a cappella singing group at Eckerd College. We’re a co-ed group made up of about 20 members currently. We cover popular and classic songs, both arranging our own pieces and using sheet music. We have performed at several different campus events and simply enjoy making music!


What is your favorite thing about this club:

My favorite thing about this club is the eclectic group of people who come together over our mutual love of singing! There is so much creativity and talent in each practice. Also, when all of the layered vocal percussion comes together and we’re making music, it’s pretty magical. Everyone has the chance to take leadership in some area, as well as a solo or suggest new songs.


What are the challenges with this club:

Because so many of this club’s members are involved heavily in their academics and many other aspects of campus life, it can be hard to find times that we can all practice together. But we meet up in smaller groups during the week and then all together on Sundays.


How did you first get involved with this club:

My freshman year, a few friends and I decided that Eckerd desperately needed, and had ample talent available, for an a cappella club. We’re not performing at competitive level, simply for fun  and the community’s enjoyment. Since starting the club, it has grown by leaps and bounds each semester.


Who to contact for more information:
Miranda Watrous ’14 (founder/president) –

What’s New at Eckerd

Eckerd students often boast tremendous achievements in the sciences. Our students have earned more NOAA Hollings Scholarships than any other institution in the country. What you might not know about is our students’ achievements outside the sciences. While we certainly have our share of Fulbright and Truman scholars, we also have amazing talent in the arts. Wyatt McMurry, an Eckerd junior, received a first place award in poetry for his poem “Nail Polish” from plain china: Best Undergraduate Writing 2012. With one of the first creative writing undergraduate programs in the country, we’re especially proud of the achievements of our students in the creative arts.

Letter of Recommendation

Download the admission recommendation form (pdf)

Fast Facts
Thousand hours of service donated by our students.

Contact Us

Eckerd College
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711

(800) 456-9009
(727) 867-1166



Visit – Syracuse University, New York

Here is a short report of the visit of Ms Nancy Rothschild, Assistant Dean of Syracuse University.  17 pupils attended and 3 staff  – 3 from 1ère, 5 from 2nde, 9 from 3ème.

Medium-sized city – university is on a hill overlooking the city.  The US offers amazing choice.  Sunshine in Florida and California – snow in the North East.  Some universities in cities, like Syracuse.  And universities in small towns out in the countryside.

What kind of environment?  Small liberal-arts?  Professional school? Syracuse – right in the middle – a bit of everything.  13000 students divided between 9 different schools and colleges.  Largest indoor stadium on a campus – 35,000 in the stadium.  Division 1 teams in basketball, football etc  Residence halls – all 1st and 2nd year students have to stay in university housing.  Great facilities – golf, swimming etc.

US studies – exploration, changing your mind is fine – you don’t have to decide on major until end of 2nd year.

College of Arts and Sciences the largest.  3.3 students.

Well known for Economics and International Affairs.  The post-grad school is one of the best for social sciences – the professors teach the undergraduates. Architecture – engineering – information management and communications.  Management.  Public communications – public relations.  Visual and performing arts – art, music, drama.

Established 1870, one of the 1st to accept women.

You don’t have to know your major, but you do need to decide where to begin – arts and sciences or somewhere else.  Your current interests (e.g. engineering) dictate your choice of which part of Syracuse university you start at.  Transfer is of course possible.

What does it take to get in?  Grades – overall, and in particular subjects given your potential choice.  For example, architecture needs a portfolio.

Harder for Europeans to get in?  Competition from Asia?  Syracuse values diversity and Europeans are desirable in maintaining and developing this.  There are no quotas.  The question is how well prepared are you to succeed in the area you wish to major in.

SATs can be interesting but not required.  English proficiency IS needed of course – either through SATs or TOEFL.  At least 600 on writing and 600 on critical reasoning.  In case of doubt, interviews can be requested.

Majors and minors can be combined.

300 plus clubs and organisations – many professionally-oriented.

Centres in Strasbourg and Florence and elsewhere in Europe.

A teaching and research university.  Research is part of what you do from the beginning.

For a marketing degree in the business school, Maths is important.

US Universities – Ideas


MUSIC BUSINESS – Columbia Chicago. Open admission.  Huge breadth – film, art, music, theatre – great location.  Most of faculty adjunct.  Satisfied students. No portfolio needed.

Midwest universities – Furlong, Chicago, North Western, Colorado, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Lake Forest, Bowsman Montana, Montana State (open), Kansas, Arizona