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The Supreme Court’s decision and its effect on the upcoming admission cycle

August 15th, 2023

Since the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions this summer, much has been changing.

Quite a few colleges have revised Common Application supplement questions to elicit more information about students’ lived experiences and how they may contribute to inclusion and sharing of diverse perspectives on campus. 

At least one college, Virginia Tech, eliminated Early Decision, which entails a binding commitment, in favor of Early Action, which allows students to compare all admission and financial aid offers that may result.

One college, Wake Forest, introduced an Early Action option specifically for First-Generation college students, while maintaining an Early Decision program for students willing and able to foreclose other options.

Wesleyan University (Connecticut) and Occidental College (California) eliminated legacy preferences, joining a handful of institutions including Amherst, Carnegie Mellon and MIT that had already done so.  The University of Virginia has changed its approach to legacy status, inviting students with ties of all kinds to the institution to discuss how their tie prepares them to contribute to campus life.  This new policy includes special mention of descendants of individuals who labored at UVA.

We’re heartened to note the common thread running through all of this:  emphasis on equity, inclusion and understanding.  While we have some trepidation about what the Court has wrought, we’re hopeful about changes under way and believe that today’s article link from Inside Higher Ed will deepen your understanding of this shift.

Article linked below written by Liam Knox, published on August 2, 2023 by Inside Higher Ed

The Common App Enters an Uncommon Era

Even in a typical year, Aug. 1 is a big day for college admissions.

It’s launch day for the Common App, the 1,000-member platform for college applications, and the beginning of many months of preparation and nervous anticipation for parents and applicants of all ages. Many college counselors refer to it as “admissions new year.”

But yesterday wasn’t just the start of a new year in admissions; it was the dawn of a new era, the first application cycle since the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action.

Read more at Inside Higher Ed>>

What will this summer mean to you?

July 18th, 2023

As summer weeks dwindle, students find great benefit in reflection. What have been the highs and lows of this summer? What have you accomplished over the last two months, and what has been truly meaningful? What will you remember most about the summer of 2023? Summer months can feel long or short, impactful or meaningless; it’s all up to you.

For students heading into senior year of high school, one way to make sure you have a productive summer is to get ahead of college applications. Our experience shows that students who have completed the Common App and main essay by the time school starts find they have much more room to breathe as senior year begins. Finding time for application work now will set you up for a much less stressful year ahead. The refreshed Common App launches on August 1st but there’s no time like the present to make headway!

Make this summer your most effective and powerful yet. The article linked below has some amazing ways to help you re-energize and re-focus to make what remains of this summer more meaningful. We appreciate The College Essay Guy’s insights and think you will, too.

Article linked below from The College Essay Guy, written by Andrew Simpson

How to Spend your High School Summer

During summers when I was in high school, I often felt torn—how much of the summer should I spend working to save more for college (be wary of loans and college debt)? How much working to save the world (how exactly I’d do this was always a little vague)? How much just spending time connecting with friends and family and living my life as fully as I could (if you’ve never been to Montana, a summer can easily fly by on the rivers and lakes and mountains)?

In this post, I’m going to assume that you’ve wrestled with some similar questions. And I’m going to walk you through some of what I would’ve loved to have understood back then, to help me decide how to spend my high school summers. (And I’m probably going to have a few more parentheticals.)

If you just want some options for stuff to do, you can skip down to here. But if you want to understand more about how you as a human being function, and how that understanding can lead you to living a happier life, read on.

Read more at The College Essay Guy >>

Authenticity and AI in the application process

June 20th, 2023

Artificial intelligence has become a hugely popular topic of discussion, including in regards to college applications and essay writing. This revolutionary tool is tempting for students of all ages, but especially those rising seniors approaching essay writing this summer. Spoiler alert: just because there is a technology that can take away the heavy lifting does not mean you should use it.

Many problems might arise if using this technology to write for you. For starters, students are required to confirm that Common Application work submitted is their own. We don’t know yet how admission offices will screen essays to detect authenticity. However, one could argue that submission of an AI-generated essay may be considered cheating, not only on the college application but also cheating yourself out of learning. Could it result in denied admission? The jury is still out, and we’ll learn more as the next cycle unfolds.

Essays are opportunities for colleges to get to know you and your unique, authentic voice. I recently attended a national conference where much time and attention were allotted to the impact of ChatGPT on admissions. The general consensus was that even if admission offices were to welcome the technology’s use with open arms (which is not yet the case), an AI-generated essay is bland. Although AI can use a collection of facts to generate a generic essay, that writing does not showcase individual voice or creativity.

Brennan Barnard, one of our favorite college admission experts to follow, recently wrote an article on the topic of AI use in college admissions. His article linked below places ChatGPT in the fuller context of the importance of authenticity on applications.

Article referenced below from Forbes, written by Brennan Barnard, published on December 21, 2022

I know what you’re thinking. “Another article about ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), the artificial intelligence wonder-bot from OpenAI, and how it is going to revolutionize society, work, education, and more.” Perhaps it will, but that is not this article. The rise of this extraordinary technology, rather than muddling it, makes it clearer than ever what constitutes authenticity.

If you or your child are applying to college, you have undoubtedly heard an admission officer talk about authenticity. Whether discussing the college essay or the activities in which you chose to be involved, they will denounce any kind of “secret recipe” for gaining admission. You will learn that the wrong questions to ask are:

“What are you looking for in an applicant?”

Read more at Forbes>>

First-year files: the world is your oyster

May 17th, 2023

The signs of May are all around us: prom, Derby, graduation, oh my! This time of your life is filled with excitement and of course I want you to soak it all in. Yet, it can be easy to get distracted and lose focus on what’s most important. My advice is to keep your head down and finish strong.

When the busyness slows, what are your plans for the months ahead? No matter your year in high school, it’s important to maximize your summer plans. Whether your summer involves a job, travel, coursework, research, or internship, draw as much from the experience as possible. This will not only reflect well on your college applications but, even more importantly, you’ll learn a great deal about yourself and the world around you.

In today’s edition of First-year files, Luisa M., a previous Shrop Ed advisee, shares her experience at University of Texas Austin. Luisa recognizes opportunity and doesn’t let it slip by. I am thoroughly impressed with her open mind; she is proof that with hard work comes great opportunity. We’re grateful to Luisa for her willingness to share and wish her much continued success!

I don’t think it’s possible to over exaggerate my experiences this year at UT Austin. Choosing to be a Turing Scholar, in the Computer Science Honors Program, was probably the best decision I could’ve made.

My classes here are very CS-heavy. Turing Scholars take Data Structures and Computer Architecture in their freshman year, and Operating Systems in their sophomore fall. These are classes that are usually taken as juniors and seniors in other colleges. The workload is pretty high, and it’s not uncommon to walk up into the dorm attic at 4:00 a.m. and find it taken over by your classmates, still coding away. Projects in Data Structures were fun, and a test of how many all-nighters one could pull (though I never pulled any). I thought some of our coolest projects were Web Crawler (the thing that search engines like Google use to find and index web pages) and Tetris. I’m currently taking Comp Arch in the spring, where we designed a programming language and wrote a compiler for it in the third week of class! Needless to say, the CS education here does not disappoint.

My classmates are all incredible, and I’m learning so much from them. Two of them made an AI for Tetris that got to several million pieces playing 10 hours straight. Another made and released an open-world video game, where you explore a world and go on quests. Though half of my class were Platinum-Tier USACO, USAMO qualifiers, or something else equally insane, I fell into the category of my class that had much less experience in computer science. I don’t feel out of place, though. The environment here is so supportive, with classmates and TAs all willing to help. And after all, we’re all here to learn something new.

There are just so many incredible opportunities offered at this school. Texas Robotics, where I’m an undergraduate researcher, is home to some of the top robotics labs in the country. I’ve gotten to talk with some of the most well-respected people in robotics and machine learning almost on a daily basis. I’ve also programmed robots, trained deep learning models, and gotten to walk a robot dog down Speedway. I’m also getting sponsored to attend ICRA in London, the largest robotics conference in the world, to compete in an international autonomous navigation competition. Being a freshman, I don’t feel there are less opportunities available to me. What opens doors is not academic year or age, but the amount of work you are willing to put in–which is what I love about being here.

Though I’ve had a great school year, I’m very much looking forward to the summer. This summer, I was hired as an intern at NASA. I’ll be working at the Ames Research Center doing research on their trio of robots currently serving on the International Space Station. These Astrobee robots help astronauts perform routine tasks on the ISS, and they’re pretty cute for floating space cubes! I have the amazing support at Texas Robotics and UT to thank for all the opportunities I’ve gotten so far, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.