Class Struggle: Admissions 101

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 04/11/2012

How to get off that college wait list

#1: Tell your parents to butt out.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 04/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:35 PM ET, 04/04/2012

Why getting into Harvard is no longer an honor

You may have seen that Harvard just set a record for low undergraduate admission rate. Only 5.9 percent of applicants for the class of 2016 were accepted.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:35 PM ET, 04/04/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:43 AM ET, 03/27/2012

Admissions 101: What are you getting out of the last-chance April college visits?

Hundreds of thousands of high school seniors will be showing up for April college visits next month. We need to help them decide what to do while they are there.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:43 AM ET, 03/27/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:36 AM ET, 03/20/2012

Admissions 101: Ban parents from final college visits

Why mess up your April visits to the campuses that have accepted you by having all those parents there?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:36 AM ET, 03/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 03/13/2012

Admissions 101: Do you prefer college acceptances and rejections be done by Web site or envelope?

At the end of this month, college acceptance and rejection notices go out. If you had the choice, would you prefer to hear by Web site or envelope?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:42 AM ET, 03/13/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 03/06/2012

Admissions 101: AP takes step toward International Baccalaureate-like credential

Will this help our schools and the college preparation process?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 03/06/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:14 PM ET, 02/28/2012

Admissions 101, GOP Primary edition: Are we pushing kids too hard to go to college?

Sen. Rick Santorum may have gone too far in suggesting that it’s snobbish of President Obama to put such emphasis on college, but many readers have made the point to me in other ways.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:14 PM ET, 02/28/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:25 PM ET, 02/21/2012

Admissions 101: Getting college credit for International Baccalaureate courses

I have been ranting about the failure of most U.S. colleges to give proper credit for IB courses successfully completed with good IB exam scores.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:25 PM ET, 02/21/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:13 PM ET, 02/14/2012

Admissions 101: How badly do school test-tampering scandals hurt college applicants?

Selective colleges are more likely to believe the information they receive from school officials with a history of candor and clarity in their transcripts and other data.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:13 PM ET, 02/14/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 02/07/2012

Admissions 101: Smart and lazy ways to pick a college major

Why did you pick a major? And would your method work for today's students?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:45 AM ET, 02/07/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 01/31/2012

Admissions 101: Checking admissions essays for plagiarism

Universities are expanding the use of plagiarism checks in vetting admissions essays. Is it a waste of time and money?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:20 PM ET, 01/31/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:54 AM ET, 01/10/2012

Admissions 101: Many colleges don't teach creative thinking and writing very well

Do we care about that, or is the reputation of the colleges of more use, as we choose colleges?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:54 AM ET, 01/10/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 12/20/2011

Admissions 101: Do colleges with test-optional admissions inflate their U.S. News ratings?

A growing number of colleges that do not require SAT or ACT tests. Does that help, hurt or do nothing for a school’s U.S. News ranking?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:30 PM ET, 12/20/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 12/13/2011

Admissions 101: Using your SAT and ACT scores to pick a college

Most college guides note the mid-range of SAT scores. Why not pick your school by comparing your score?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:00 PM ET, 12/13/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 12/06/2011

Admissions 101: Is early decision here to stay?

It's early decision anxiety time — Is this once controversial practice to be part of the college admissions process forever?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:30 PM ET, 12/06/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 11/29/2011

Admissions 101: Is our tendency to choose colleges with the shiniest toys hurting efforts to improve the teaching of students?

Should we, or can we, stop being so impressed by big sparkly items like news stadiums on the college tour?

By Jay Mathews  |  12:30 PM ET, 11/29/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:00 PM ET, 11/22/2011

Admissions 101: Do parents need special tools to hide their children's Facebook excesses?

Are such social network searches by colleges ethical?

By Jay Mathews  |  01:00 PM ET, 11/22/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 11/15/2011

Admissions 101: Are the SAT and ACT to blame for the inferiority of U.S. schools compared to those Finland, Japan, Singapore, and Shanghai?

Marc S. Tucker notes that nearly all schools in other countries share one approach to college admissions that is different from ours. They don't use machine-scored exams controlled by testing companies as the key to determining who is admitted to high-level academic institutions.

By Jay Mathews  |  11:00 AM ET, 11/15/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:28 PM ET, 11/08/2011

Admissions 101: Should Advanced Placement have such a tight grip on college admissions?

Readers lead the discussion on the place of the AP courses and test in college admissions.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:28 PM ET, 11/08/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:17 AM ET, 10/12/2011

Poor kids still lose race despite better scores

Selective colleges worry that they are becoming too exclusive, with few students who have not grown up in middle-class or upper-class homes. Some have argued that low-income students can’t meet the academic standards, but a new study contradicts that, saying disadvantaged applicants are doing better but still can’t catch kids with more money.

By Jay Mathews  |  03:17 AM ET, 10/12/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:51 AM ET, 09/28/2011

Is the SAT losing its edge?

SAT scores are going down. But more important, America’s once more feared test is losing ground to its rival, the ACT. It also has less influence with very selective colleges. There remain just two ways the SAT can still help you.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:51 AM ET, 09/28/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:59 PM ET, 09/09/2009

Admissions 101: What's the Best College Guide?

Over at Admissions 101, Jay Mathews has opened the debate on the best college guide. Here's a quick sampling of the discussion so far: ANetliner says: Daniel Golden's "The Price of Admission" is a terrific book on this subject. Golden...

By Washington Post Editors  |  02:59 PM ET, 09/09/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:37 PM ET, 08/25/2009

Admissions 101: To Take or Not to Take AP and IB

Over at Admissions 101, Jay Mathews is discussing the answer to a prickly question: The Question: Is it better for college admissions to take an IB or AP class and receive a C or D or take a standard class...

By Washington Post Editors  |  03:37 PM ET, 08/25/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:55 PM ET, 08/11/2009

Admissions 101: College Pitfalls for Poor Students

It's conventional wisdom that talented, but underpriveleged, students are often turned away from college for lack of funds. Jay Mathews tried to dispell that idea in a column this week. He asked for readers to throw out examples of such...

By Washington Post Editors  |  01:55 PM ET, 08/11/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:09 PM ET, 08/04/2009

Admissions 101: Boot the SAT?

Jay Mathews is looking for feedback over at Admissions 101: My latest online column addresses the growing trend of colleges telling many of their applicants they do not have to submit SAT or ACT scores. This is one of the...

By Washington Post Editors  |  01:09 PM ET, 08/04/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:30 PM ET, 07/28/2009

Admissions 101: Can Acerbic Students Make Good Teachers?

In his Friday column, Jay Mathews wrote about Michele Kerr, username Cal_Lanier on the boards, a California teacher who was nearly thrown out of Standford University's Teacher Education Program (STEP) for blogging about her anti-progressive (thus anti-Stanford) ideals during her...

By Sarah Mimms  |  02:30 PM ET, 07/28/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:12 AM ET, 07/07/2009

Admissions 101: Are Low Grades in AP/IB Classes Better than High Grades in Regular Classes?

A few weeks ago, Jay Mathews asked readers a tough question in his Admissions 101 - which is better: an A or B in a regular course or a C in a more challenging course like an AP or IB class? Jay sided with AP, saying that all students interested in tier 1 or tier 2 schools should take at least 2 AP or IB courses. Even if that means a C on a high school transcript, Jay argued, colleges will appreciate a student who is willing to take on a challenge. Reader reactions have been pouring in ever since:

By Sarah Mimms  |  11:12 AM ET, 07/07/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 03:02 PM ET, 06/23/2009

Admissions 101: A Class Quandry

Jay posted a true quandry in Admissions 101: Is it better for students to get good grades in easy classes, or mediocre grades in tough ones? Jay is specifically talking about AP and IB classes and how top tier schools...

By Washington Post Editors  |  03:02 PM ET, 06/23/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:12 PM ET, 06/02/2009

Admissions 101: Recommend a College for Students With Special Needs

Two years ago, Jay Mathews asked for recommendations on the best schools for students with special needs. No, not just learning disabilities. Jay was looking for everything from the best intramural sports programs to schools that were good at motivating...

By Washington Post Editors  |  12:12 PM ET, 06/02/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 12:57 PM ET, 05/26/2009

Scholarship Contests: Easy Money or Scam?

A little while back Jay received a press release for a contest from a group called Upromise that offered a chance for students to win a $10,000 scholarship by submitting a 30-second web video. It turns out these scholarship contests...

By Washington Post Editors  |  12:57 PM ET, 05/26/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:42 AM ET, 05/19/2009

Admissions 101: Are Too Many Smart Kids Ditching the SAT?

Back in March, Jay asked in Admissions 101 whether smart kids were moving away from taking the SATs. The conversation has been bubbling ever since. Patrickmattimore1 writes educators should not rethink which tests students are taking, but the tests in...

By Washington Post Editors  |  11:42 AM ET, 05/19/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:39 AM ET, 05/12/2009

Admissions 101: How qualified are AP teachers?

In Admissions 101, a conversation has been bubbling over the last week about the qualifications of most AP teachers. Patrickmattimore1 thinks teachers are well prepared: The College Board works hard to ensure that high-school teachers are qualified to teach AP...

By Washington Post Editors  |  11:39 AM ET, 05/12/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:18 AM ET, 05/05/2009

Admissions 101: Why Aren't More Students Taking AP Classes?

In Admissions 101, Jay Mathews is pondering an interesting question about Advanced Placement tests -- why high schools aren't pushing more students to take them. As Jay writes: "The annual Newsweek Challenge Index is the largest existing data base of...

By Washington Post Editors  |  11:18 AM ET, 05/05/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:57 AM ET, 04/28/2009

Admissions 101: You Can't Always Judge a School By Its Size

In Admissions 101, Jay and readers are discussing the merits of small colleges vs. large colleges. Aflagel1 points out you can't always judge a school's attributes by its size: I have worked and consulted for small and large schools,...

By Washington Post Editors  |  10:57 AM ET, 04/28/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:49 AM ET, 04/15/2009

Admissions 101: The Unusual Stress of Applying to Art School

In Admissions 101 Jay is discussing art school and school stress: A smart parent wrote to challenge my brush off of high school stress in Monday's Post column. I said high school parents "like to blame schools for the stress...

By Washington Post Editors  |  10:49 AM ET, 04/15/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:11 AM ET, 04/07/2009

Admissions 101: What's the right college for the 'no-schooled'?

In Admissions 101, Jay is discussing "no schoolers": Fairfax County, Va., parent Laurel Summerfield recently told me the story of her four children, aged 18, 17, 16 and 14, who, for the last nine years, have been unschooled -- that...

By Washington Post Editors  |  11:11 AM ET, 04/07/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:31 AM ET, 04/02/2009

Admissions 101: Attention, Top U.S. High Schools

In his Admissions 101 discussion group, Jay asks: This year I have resumed my role -- previously ceded to researchers half my age -- as principal data collector for Newsweek's annual Top High Schools list. I said on the forms...

By Washington Post Editors  |  09:31 AM ET, 04/02/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:01 AM ET, 03/24/2009

Admissions 101: Professors Reviewing Professors

In his Admissions 101 discussion group, Jay asks readers: Many of our brightest students, once they have been admitted to a top-flight college, consider a life of research and teaching. Most of their role models for those four years are...

By Washington Post Editors  |  09:01 AM ET, 03/24/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:17 AM ET, 03/17/2009

How Hard Should We Try to Get Low-Income Students Into College?

In his Admissions 101 discussion group, Jay asks readers: One of my recent columns in the Post is about efforts by some colleges to admit low-income students in groups of friends and high school classmates, so they can support each...

By Washington Post Editors  |  09:17 AM ET, 03/17/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:02 AM ET, 03/12/2009

Should Student Life Trump Academics?

In his Admissions 101 discussion group, Jay asks readers: A very interesting e-mail arrived a few minutes ago from a Washington area parent. I will disguise the details, but it is a pretty common situation all around the country. She...

By Washington Post Editors  |  11:02 AM ET, 03/12/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:15 AM ET, 03/10/2009

Are College Choices Too Career-Driven?

In his Admissions 101 discussion group, Jay asks readers: A former college counselor expressed concern to me about a recent query on the National Association for College Admissions Counseling listserv. A counselor was asking if anyone knew of a college...

By Washington Post Editors  |  09:15 AM ET, 03/10/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:19 AM ET, 03/03/2009

Talk: Are Legacy Admits Happy?

I am reading an interesting new book from Princeton University Press: "Taming the River: Negotiating the Academic, Financial, and Social Currents in Selective Colleges and Universities" by four careful scholars. It is about the barriers to selective college admission for...

By Washington Post Editors  |  10:19 AM ET, 03/03/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:27 AM ET, 02/24/2009

Talk: Do Students Regret Early Decisions?

There is a study out, mostly based on interviews as far as I can tell, suggesting that many students who lock themselves into early decision applications, later regret their decision. They wish they had more choices. I am wondering if...

By Washington Post Editors  |  10:27 AM ET, 02/24/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:19 AM ET, 02/18/2009

Admissions 101: Dealing With the College Drinking Culture

I think the weekend binge culture is one of the worst things about American higher education. I have no clue what to do about it, but would love some ideas. Has anyone found a college that has made strides in...

By Washington Post Editors  |  09:19 AM ET, 02/18/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 02/10/2009

Talk: How Would You React as a UDC Student?

The University of the District of Columbia is considering several changes, including ending its open-door policy for four-year students and raising tuition sharply. Some students will not let the changes come without a fight and there are plans to pitch...

By Washington Post Editors  |  10:50 AM ET, 02/10/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:45 PM ET, 01/30/2009

Admissions 101: The More Apps You File, the More They Charge

I was fuming about the practice of some law schools of charging no application fee to students with very high LSAT scores. How about another kind of incentive, or rather, disincentive, to try to damp down the over application craze...

By Washington Post Editors  |  01:45 PM ET, 01/30/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 01:54 PM ET, 01/29/2009

Universalize the Med School Admission Model

In our recent discussion about Score Choice, many posters and e-mailers told me they thought life would be better if colleges all adopted a computerized student admission system similar to what is used for Med Schools. As I understand it,...

By Washington Post Editors  |  01:54 PM ET, 01/29/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 02:01 PM ET, 11/30/2008

What is Admissions 101?

Trade tips with Jay Mathews on winning at the college roulette table in this open forum. Visit to discuss the application process, financial aid and more....

By Washington Post Editors  |  02:01 PM ET, 11/30/2008 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)