By Deb Coco

In the ever changing world of college admissions, there is a new “kid on the block.”  For years there have been 4 types of acceptances:  Accepted, Deferred, Waitlisted or Denied.   Enter “Spring Freshman” and things just became a bit more confusing for students, parents, and those advising them.

We noticed a few years ago that Northeastern University, (an extremely desirable school with a huge applicant pool) began admitting some students with an acceptance AND a caveat; if they wanted to enroll they would have to agree to be a “Spring Freshman” through the “NU In” program.  Northeastern sends their spring admits abroad, so for the student who might have been considering junior year in another country; this could be considered a win/win.  But, it does mean they won’t be entering with the freshman class they expected.  For some students this is exciting, for others it is frustrating, but for parents it poses many questions.  Here are some points to consider.

In the 2017 admission cycle, we have already had a few students receive acceptance under spring programs.  Their parents were confused and questioned the parameters of the program.  As Dr. Dean explains: “It’s a way to over-enroll so that when the school loses students in the fall, it will be able to fill those spaces, much in the same way airlines over sell their planes knowing that some passengers won’t show up.  It’s actually a great way for the University to maximize its revenue.”  Maximize its revenue you ask?  That sounds like something a business would do.   But this is an institution of higher learning!   And here is a common misconception about the inner workings of academic institutions.  They are first and foremost businesses.  Their business is education, but the competition is bountiful and there is a lot of money at stake.  So this is where the numbers game begins.

The number of college applications has skyrocketed in the last decade.  While there is little cumulative data to support this point, one interesting statistic shows the unbelievable volume of applicants to UCLA.  The flagship of the University of California public university system received 113,000 applications this year.  That is a jump of 11% over last year (102,000).  But amazingly, UCLA received only 55,369 applications in 2008, indicating that in the past decade the number of applicants to UCLA has more than doubled!  So even beyond the highly selective Ivy League, large public universities are feeling the effects of more applications than they are equipped to accept.  However, there are students within that pool who they do not want to turn away altogether.  So, they must overcompensate for the normal drop-out rate after fall semester.  According to US News and World Report, as many as 1 in 3 students do not return for their sophomore year; that is a staggering number.  And thus, Spring Admission was conceived.  Each year more schools come onto the scene with their own spring programs – some well known names include Tulane University, University of Maryland, Binghamton University, USC, Cornell University, and Hamilton College.  And, given the plot graph for applicants vs. admission spots, we are likely to see this list increase each year.  Schools are able to offer admission to more than they can accommodate during fall semester, and students who hoped to attend “X” school are given the chance.

So what is a student to do when the college of their dreams tells them its spring or nothing?  Get the facts.  Every program is different – Each has a different name and different structure.  As I mentioned, Northeastern’s “N.U In” is spent studying abroad.  Not bad, right?  The fine print here is very important because if you are a financial aid or merit recipient, you need to make sure that this does not affect your qualifications.

The University of Maryland’s “Freshman Connection” program allows students to live on campus, but they are forced to take classes only on Monday-Thursday after 3 pm, and on Fridays.  Why?  This is yet another business decision:  Most college classes take place between 8 am and 3 pm, and very few college professors teach classes on Friday.  In addition, students in the program are only allowed to register for classes after traditional freshmen.  These are significant concessions for some students, so it’s important to fully understand the specifics before you commit.

Other schools suggest that students offered spring admission look outside the school towards community colleges to fill credit hours.  This may not sit well with some students, and it is EXTREMELY important to research whether the classes you take will transfer once spring arrives; often they DO NOT.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had students who want to transfer from one school to another discover the classes they took at one college will not be accepted by their transfer school.

The take away here is to read the fine print.  Not all spring programs are created equal; some will seem enticing and others not.  Ultimately, it is up to each student and family to decide for themselves if the school of their dreams is worth waiting just a bit longer to attend.




So you’ve submitted your application, what now?

by College Advisor of New York on November 21, 2017

By Deb Coco

November 1 is a big milestone in the world of college admissions.  Early Action is the first in a “series” of possible application deadlines for college seniors.  At The College Advisor of New York, we encourage many of our students to submit their applications (if offered by colleges on their list) on this deadline.  And therein lies one of the many caveats to this process – not all schools offer “EA” and not all students should use it, if indeed it is offered.  There are six possible admission plans in the world of college admissions:  Early Action, Single Choice/Restrictive Early Action, Early Decision, Regular Decision, Rolling Admission, and Open Admission.  Confused?  It’s important that you understand the difference because they are not all created equal, and if misunderstood, each can affect the outcome of your candidacy.

Early Action is the earliest available deadline.  If a school offers this 11/1 or 11/15 option, we normally advise students to select it.  However, every EA pool is different and it’s important to have a knowledgeable college consultant advising you on whether or not your qualifications are suited to the Early Action pool at the schools of your choice.  EA is non binding, allowing applicants to apply to more than one EA school; it does not require a final decision until the May 1 deadline.

Early Decision is a binding contract, meaning students may only apply to one “ED” school and if accepted, they MUST attend.  We advise “ED” to very few students, simply because most 17-year-olds are not secure enough with their decision making to commit to the college of their choice, early in their senior year.  We believe that in most cases, it is wise for students to apply to at least 7 schools and weigh the options when the decisions come in.  Being “wed” to one school can actually cause angst at the 11th hour and there is no way – other than the school not offering an adequate financial aid package – to wiggle out of an “ED” acceptance.

Regular Decision and Rolling Admission are just as they sound and the most common.  Regular decision deadlines range from between January 1 and March 15.  Rolling is “anytime” meaning students will submit when they’ve completed their application and schools send decisions on a “first come first served” basis, typically within 3-5 weeks of submission.

So, you’ve hit the submit button . . . what happens next?  First, I tell all my students that this process has many moving parts and their application represents just one.  Official standardized test scores need to be sent from the testing companies (ACT and The College Board) unless you are applying to “test optional” schools.  High school transcripts, school counselor and teacher recommendations are transmitted from the student’s high school.  It is crucial for students to be in constant contact with their school counselors to assure that their documents are sent out on time.  It is prudent to follow up with college admission offices and verify that they’ve received ALL the components of your application.  You should do so about a week after you’ve applied.  Believe me, we’ve seen the fall-out of panic when students realize they forgot to send their test scores or their supplemental essay…it happens.

The most important quality during this entire journey is patience.  The majority of our students begin working with us at some point in their sophomore or junior year, so, once the application deadlines have come and gone, they are more than one year in.  It is at that point that the real waiting begins.  Acceptances for Early Action and Early Decision normally begin to roll in around the holidays, but Regular Decision notifications won’t be available until early spring.  That can feel like a lifetime of running to the mailbox.

Just hold tight because most (if not all) students will receive at least one “deferral” letter.   Deferrals place students who applied under the Early Action plan on a “wait list” until the entire application pool is reviewed – usually in the spring.  Most schools will offer the option of remaining on the deferral list or not.  This can cause some last minute anxiety, but unfortunately is quite common.

The take away is that this process is long and drawn out, with curves and speed bumps.  The sigh of relief after pushing the “submit” button is closely followed by worry, both by student and parent.  As Tom Petty told us so well, “the waiting is the hardest part” and nowhere is that more evident than waiting for a letter of admission to arrive.  I tell my students that the best way to fight the anxiety is to understand that the work is done.  Don’t look back and don’t fret . . . it’s time to let go and let the process play itself out.  Take some comfort that your essays are written, the “I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed!  Senior year comes but once in your life, so congratulate yourself on a job well done, sit back, try to relax and I wish you the best of luck!


Don’t Save For Retirement

October 12, 2017

By Dr. Dean Skarlis, President  “You can take out loans for college, but there are no loans for retirement.”  It’s a familiar refrain among those in the financial services community and has been sound advice for many families for years.  But in 2017, it may be the worst advice a financial advisor can give to […]

Read the full article →

Stand out! Why your college application should be anything but ordinary.

September 12, 2017

By Deb Coco  College Admissions Coach The College Advisor of New York, Inc. Fall is in the air.  School is back in session, the days are a bit cooler and the pumpkin spice obsession is back.  And, at The College Advisor of New York, our seniors are hard at work selling themselves. It may seem […]

Read the full article →

Need a cure for the summertime blues?  Write your college essay!

July 30, 2017

  By Deb Coco The lazy, hazy days of summer are slipping by quickly.   At The College of Advisor of New York, one of our goals for our rising seniors is to complete their main college essay by Labor Day.  By Labor Day you say?  Your friends aren’t even thinking about college applications yet! There […]

Read the full article →

It Does Not Take A Village . . .

June 17, 2017

By Deb Coco, College Admissions Coach, The College Advisor of New York If you’ve watched a newscast within the last few years, you’ve probably heard some depressing news about the future of the next generation:  they are categorized as “lazy,” “out of touch with reality,” or “unfocused.” As college admission coaches, each of us spends […]

Read the full article →

Free Tuition? The Fine Print on New York’s Excelsior Scholarship

May 31, 2017

By Deb Coco, College Admissions Coach, The College Advisor of New York Free is an enticing word and it grabs our attention.  So when New York unveiled its Excelsior Scholarship or “free” tuition program, the buzz began in earnest.  And with good reason.  Parents of prospective college students are especially vulnerable right now as the […]

Read the full article →

Tune In To Life Happens Radio this Saturday

May 28, 2017

Set Your Graduates Up For Success Upcoming Show – Saturday, June 3 Lou Pierro and Dean Skarlis   As we celebrate the achievements of our high school graduates in June, families should also be laying the groundwork for their child’s legal transition to adulthood. Tune into Life Happens Radio on June 3, when Lou Pierro […]

Read the full article →

The Campus Visit: According To The Experts

April 28, 2017

By Erin Wheeler, College Admissions Coach, The College Advisor  of New York I love a good road trip!  Sunny weather, loud music, junk food and good company.  It’s always fun to hit the open road and see new places, meet new people and enjoy new experiences.  Taking those trips with family or friends to visit […]

Read the full article →

Decisions, Decisions!

April 12, 2017

By Deb Coco It’s finally that time of year.  Our students have visited, visited again, applied and of course, WAITED.  May 1 is just a few weeks away. If you are like most students, you’ve received offers from several schools and now it’s time to buckle down and weigh your options.  It’s more difficult than […]

Read the full article →