by Stephen Reed
The results are in and this year’s Northwood seniors and 39 other graduates from recent classes who played hockey, skied, or otherwise filled gap years successfully navigated the college application process, earning acceptances at over 150 colleges. Some statistics and some thoughts about the process follow:
Applications filed by seniors: 310
Early Decision/Early Action Acceptances: 28
Wait List: 32 (All these students have admits at other colleges)
Number of colleges accepting Northwood students: 93
Colleges accepting three or more Northwood students: St. Lawrence (10), Hobart, University of Vermont (5), Union (4), Clarkson, Coastal Carolina, University of New Hampshire, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Trinity College (3).
Some of the other colleges Northwood students will attend this fall include Stanford, Notre Dame, Williams, Pitzer, Hamilton, Holy Cross, Babson, UNC- Chapel Hill, Brandeis, Case Western Reserve, Lafayette, and Kenyon.
The unsung hero of the application season is Sandy Baker, Northwood’s registrar and administrative assistant in the college guidance office. Sandy makes sure that all supporting materials are correct and submitted in a timely fashion. She also helps organize the SAT and ACT testing, arrange college visits, prod teachers to complete their recommendations for students, gather transcripts from previous schools and often arrange for their translation, ensure accurate GPA and rank, oversee the SEVIS documentation for foreign students, and help all students keep on top of what they need to do. She manages everything with an infinite supply of patience and smiles.
The guidance office is not short on experience. Dave McCauley has worked for 27 years in college admissions offices and as a college counselor in prep schools. His phone calls to his broad group of former colleagues in higher education have been instrumental in impressive results for many of our students. John Spear began as a college counselor in 2003 at our then neighbor, The National Sports Academy. I learned much of what I know about the process from John Scott, the head of Northwood’s guidance office when I came in 1971. I headed this office from 1973-2007. Together we have 97 years in the field, though as the landscape of college admissions changes, we keep learning and adapting.
Certainly, one significant trend in recent years has been the tendency of colleges to fill larger and larger portions of their classes (up to 40 % or so) with Early Decision applications. Many of our athletes can’t go this route because they aren’t sure what interest the various colleges’ coaches have in them. On the other hand, many athletes are allowed to apply well after the deadlines at various colleges.
This next is not a particularly new development, but it is important to recognize that most colleges nowadays value a student’s true excellence in and passion for a particular area – robotics, hockey, the cello --more than insubstantial contributions a number of extracurricular fields, preferring to be well-rounded schools made up of unique individuals rather than being comprised of well-rounded individuals. It is also true that community service is most valued when it is done over time and close to home as opposed to a two-week stint in some remote land. Long term commitment is key.
The most selective colleges get choosier every year. The top few accept fewer than ten percent of applicants. On the other hand, most colleges accept more than half their applicants, including some fine schools. I have found that, for most of our alums, their success at whatever college they went to is more determinative of their future success than the perceived prestige of the school they went to.
In any event, congratulations, and good luck to all.