Jeffery Selingo , Darryl Diggle, and James Nondorf share their insights about college admissions this cycle
September 9, 2020
If you are a parent of highly competitive college applicant and are not sick to death of admissions webinars, I highly recommend the one I watched last night hosted by Jeffrey Selingo, who came up in my Labor Day email blast. Selingo asks good questions of – and gets honest answers from – James Nondorf, Dean of Admissions at UChicago, and Darryl Diggle, Director of College Counseling at Friends School of Baltimore. I’ve met Nondorf and Diggle a few times at conferences over the years, and I plan to skim Selingo’s new book “Who gets in and why. A year inside College Admissions.” It’s a good hourlong check-in and verification of what I’ve been telling my clients and doling out piecemeal in newsletters, social media, and as I encounter hundreds of kids that flow through Foley Prep during the summer and fall.
Admissions Advice for Seniors
Press Facebook.com to watch or listen to the whole hour – you don’t have to log in or have an account. Share it with your child. It’s well-paced and has very little fluff. They share insights on the following for applicants to very competitive schools:
- How colleges will/will not use the SAT or ACT this year.
- Whether seniors should bother taking or re-taking the SAT or ACT. Short answer: only if it will be one of the 2 or 3 components that make you shine.
- Supplemental essay advice. Very important this year. Also, what not to say.
- Good suggestion on main Common App essay: write about a slice of life. Nondorf looks forward to reading about kids who took the last 4 months to wash dishes every day for their stressed about parents, etc.
- How to handle activities that have shriveled up during covid
- Need blind vs. need aware
- Nondorf suggests that kids who go above and beyond to learn something, such as completing Khan Academy classes, submit evidence in their applications
- How Early Decision will work this year
- How the wave of deferred admissions will affect incoming freshman fall 2021. Short answer: it won’t make a difference, in fact, schools may look to admit more from the Class of 2021 because universities’ finances are shaky.
- Perhaps the best piece of advice for JUNIORS and SENIORS looking to get a flavor of the school is to try to watch a class online. Because it’s very difficult to visit colleges, also try to connect to a current student or recent graduate.
- The importance of counselor and teacher recommendations. Be kind to your teachers online!
Their insights align exactly with the advice I’ve been giving to kids looking at Ivy League and first tier colleges. For those not looking at top colleges, the advice changes somewhat, of course.
Campus Covid – Good News
In other news, if you have a son or daughter at university now, you might take comfort knowing that a Brown University study showed that of 26,000 college students that have tested positive for COVID, not a single one was hospitalized. This might explain why Foley Prep had its biggest summer ever – kids learn better in person, and understand that they are at very little risk from this bug. We are following all the CDC guidelines for social distancing of course, including students and teachers wearing masks, 6′ between desks, limited sharing of rooms among teachers, and, as always, single-use materials like tests that we give every student to take home.
Weekdays at Foley
We are delighted to see so many students coming over to Foley right after “school” at 12:30pm or earlier. Our private school kids are thrilled to have in-person 1-on-1 test prep and academic tutoring and classes conveniently during the daytime. Our public school kids who are 100% online are super happy to get out of the house and meeting Foley teachers in person. Next week our pod programming starts. Our online tutoring and classes are as popular as ever.
Canceled College Conferences
I’m missing getting to see my colleagues in admissions at the annual NACAC conference that usually happens around this time every year. In the past 30 years I’ve been to more than 12 of those huge, fun conferences, and close to 100 smaller conferences held by the College Board, regional admissions organizations, and international admissions organizations.
College Math Classes
I’m teaching 22 credits of college math online this semester – my fall classes sell out in June. I’m going to request Calc 1 and 2, Stats 1 and 2, and Linear Algebra again for the spring. As a tenured professor, I have control of my schedule – please let me know if you have a child looking to take a course for credit.
This will be an unforgettable school year. Please let me know if I can help you in any way.
Ron Foley, M.S.
Doctoral Candidate, Rutgers University
Tenured Professor of Mathematics, Middlesex College
Member HECA, NJACAC, NACAC, NCTM, MAA, NAS, AMATCYNJ
Rumson-Fair Haven | Haddonfield | Holmdel | Warren | Bernardsville | Mountain Lakes |Freehold