Deadline for accepting offers to US Colleges: 1st May
Many congratulations to those of you in Year 13 who have recently received offers of admission to US colleges. You have until 1st May to accept, decline or defer any offers you have received. A question that is sometimes asked by students at this time of year is:
I have been placed on the waitlist for my first choice college but have also been given a firm offer from another college that is lower in my list of preferences. What should I do?
You should accept the offer from the lower preference college before the 1st May deadline. Then, if you are subsequently offered a place at your first choice college you should accept it, and withdraw from the other college. It is perfectly acceptable to do this as your withdrawal from the other college will free up a place for someone else. But if you don’t get an offer from your first choice college, your place at the other college will be secure. Always keep your options open for as long as possible.
The Harvard Admissions Office will let students on the waitlist know about their status as early in May as possible, and at the latest by the end of June (by US college agreement). Some colleges occasionally offer students the opportunity to defer to the following year if not enough slots become available, allowing the student to take a gap year to undertake travel, work experience and community service in the knowledge that a firm place awaits them at the end. The proportion of waitlisted students offered places varies somewhat from year to year, as it depends on how many admitted students take up their places, and how many waitlisted students take up firm offers elsewhere.
Record numbers of applicants for Harvard Class of 2022
Last year’s record of 39,506 applicants for the Class of 2021 has been beaten yet again by the Class of 2022. This year, 42,749 candidates applied to Harvard College, of whom 1,962 were admitted. The high number of applicants meant that the admissions rate of 4.59% was slightly lower than last year (5.20%). First generation students (those who are the first in their family to go to university) make up 17.3% of the class, up from 15.1% last year. International citizens (from outside the United States) make up 12% of the class, and they come from 90 countries. Applications from the UK were also at their highest ever and offers of admission were sent to 31 UK applicants.
For comparison, here are this year’s acceptance rates for the ‘Ivy Plus’ group (the eight Ivy League schools plus MIT and Stanford):
Brown 7.2% (2,566 accepted from 35,438 applicants)
Columbia 5.5% (2,214 accepted from 40,203 applicants)
Cornell 10.3% (5,288 accepted from 51,328 applicants)
Dartmouth 8.7% (1,925 accepted from 22,033 applicants)
Harvard 4.6% (1,962 accepted from 42,749 applicants)
Pennsylvania 8.4% (3,731 accepted from 44,482 applicants)
Princeton 5.5% (1,941 accepted from 35,370 applicants)
Yale 6.3% (2,229 accepted from 35,306 applicants)
MIT 6.7% (1,464 accepted out of 21,706 applicants)
Stanford 4.3% (2,040 accepted from 47,450 applicants – making Stanford the most competitive university in America)
Top US colleges are statistically more difficult to get in to than Russell Group universities in the UK, although direct comparisons can be misleading because of the way in which the applications are submitted. The US has a completely free market system where anyone, of any age, may submit applications directly to as many universities as they wish. This generates a certain proportion of unsuitable applications that would get filtered out under the British system, where UCAS applications are submitted via students’ schools, not directly by the students themselves, and therefore are subject to vetting before submission.
As top US colleges become ever more competitive for admission, our message to UK students thinking of applying next year remains the same: apply broadly to a range of competitive and less competitive universities in both the US and the UK to give yourself the greatest chance of success.
New ACT free online learning platform launched
Last month, a new online learning platform was launched for students studying to take the ACT test. Known as the ACT Academy, the platform helps students to improve their ACT scores and master the core skills they need to prepare for college success. Besides full-length ACT practice tests, learning materials include educational games, short skill tests, interactive apps and video lessons. Each student also receives a personalised study plan, based on the ACT Academy’s diagnostics or scores on the ACT practice tests. Click hereto register.
Students practising for the SAT can make use of the existing free online coachingprovided by the Khan Academy.
SAT and ACT test dates are fast approaching
Many students in Year 12 will be taking the SAT/ACT on the final test dates of this academic year, which are:
- ACT: 9 June 2018
- SAT: 5 May 2018; 2 June 2018
You should plan your practice so that you are at peak performance just before the test date. Students normally find that their scores in the actual test are slightly below their best scores in practice. This is perfectly normal, but it means that you should aim to achieve higher than your target score in your final practice sessions before the test.
Spring or summer is a good time to take the tests because if you do not get as good a score as you hoped, you have the option of re-taking them in the autumn and still meeting the deadline for submitting the scores to your chosen colleges. But an even better plan is to achieve good scores at your first attempt!
Test Day Checklist
A basic checklist for both the SAT and ACT is:
- Photo ID
- Admission ticket
- Two or three sharpened HB pencils (equivalent to US no. 2 pencils)
- Soft pencil eraser
- An approved calculator
- Watch (without an audible alarm)
- Snack and small bottle of water (can only be consumed during break time)
- Make sure you know where the Test Centre is located and can find the entrance
- Leave home early in case your journey is delayed
- Check train times in case of weekend engineering works or strikes
Further details of what to bring, and (importantly) what not to bring, can be found on these websites:
Link to SAT test day checklist
Link to ACT test day checklist
Choosing between the SAT and ACT
If you are in Year 11, and will be taking the SAT or ACT next year, you may be wondering how to choose which of the two tests to take, given that US colleges accept them both equally. Students capable of getting top grades at GCSE and A Level will perform well in both tests, but they are structured differently, so it ultimately boils down to which style of exam you prefer. Our suggestions about how to maximise your scores are as follows:
- Take a free online practice test for both the SAT and ACT and go with whichever one gives you the better score.
- A good score is one that fits the profile of the colleges you have selected.
- Consider test dates, locations of test centres, and availability of places and PLAN AHEAD.
- Familiarity with the test is the best way to boost your score, so schedule a regular practice session of 2-3 hours per week.
- For the SAT, use the free online practice tools provided by the Khan Academy.
- For the ACT, use the free online practice tools provided by the ACT Academy.
If your test scores don’t reflect your potential, consider one of the test flexible or optional schools. Click here for a full list of test optional schools.