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If you’re reading this, it is likely because you want to feel better about your applicant’s 2023 ED results, or you are getting a jump-start on what 2024’s ED results might look like. Regardless, there is much to unpack.

Every year I learn more about college admissions, which help the kids I work with, making me a better college advisor. This year is no different.

Halfway though the early round, trends are starting to emerge. Here are the top five from my vantage point.

  1. Kids who attend elite boarding or private schools are, almost across the board, having a “come to Jesus moment.” While in past years, they were usually anointed into Yale or Brown, they have discovered their admissions profile did not support this. What they needed to do in sophomore or junior year, they did not. And that is to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack.This is done by pursuing true interests and NOT just activities that pad a resume. DECA, Mock Trial, Model UN, and the like, are no longer deemed as impressive. One of my UPenn LBW students did not get into his first choice of UPenn, and neither did any of his peers and friends at the impressive Penn Summer Program. Time to find other summer activities that “move the needle.”
  2. If there isn’t something “wow,” in the profile, an applicant is just another impressive kid who won’t stand out. Find a fun hobby, and interesting activity, or just something that makes admissions officers see you in a different light.
  3. Part time jobs are awesome, and say so much about an applicant. And I’m not talking about being a golf caddy at a ritzy country club. I mean a job-job!  One of my applicants this year worked at a convenience store, I made sure the schools knew this, as it said something about him I knew they would like. And it worked, he got into Columbia.
  4. Take the hardest classes you can. I say this every year, and it always falls on deaf ears “Our APUSH teacher never gives A’s.” Take it! Rigorous classes matter.
  5. Lover your ED schools, but don’t fall in love with it. In short: be sensible. You never know what will happen. And there are loads of schools you might like as much if not more.

That’s it for now. More to come after the rest of the schools announce.