Rejected by Ivy League, accepted by New York University: The trend of studying abroad in the US has really changed
This year, our students have had good overall results in US university admissions, with acceptances from Princeton, 4 from Yale, 2 from Brown, 2 from Northwestern, 2 from Cornell, Columbia, and so on. There were also acceptances from liberal arts colleges such as Williams and Amherst, and 12 from New York University alone. But to be honest, no consultant can guarantee that a student will be accepted to their dream school 100% of the time.
I believe that students who are accepted to Ivy League schools definitely have the ability and are also particularly lucky.
In fact, every year there is a large percentage of students who have the ability, but do not receive ideal admissions results.
For example, there is a student in my daughter’s American high school class who has grades similar to hers, is also a key player and captain of an important school team, and is also very involved in extracurricular activities. However, they have only been accepted to a California university ranked after the top 30 (we hope they will be accepted from the waitlist for a better admission).
So, is it because this student is not as strong academically as my daughter that they did not receive a good admission offer? In fact, their conditions are basically the same as my daughter’s, except that their luck is a little worse.
I want to say that the trend of undergraduate admissions in the US has really changed this year.
Increasing Number of Applications: The number of offers applied by students is on the rise.
Currently, American students are applying to more than a dozen colleges, while Chinese students are applying to at least 15 colleges, and many have applied to more than 20. Some students have even opened multiple accounts and applied to 30-40 schools. With the increase in applications, the acceptance rate has decreased, and schools are focusing on improving their acceptance rate.
Difficulty of Getting into Top 30 and UC Schools: This year, the most discussed trend is the difficulty of getting into the top 30 schools, including the UC schools (UCB, UCLA, UCSD).
The overall acceptance rate for Chinese students has declined by 21.7%. Additionally, the acceptance rate for New York University has dropped to 8%, setting a historical low, with three undergraduate colleges having an acceptance rate of less than 5%. For reference, in 2018, Yale had an acceptance rate of 6.3%, and Cornell University had an acceptance rate of 10.3%. These statistics have caused concern for many parents, as even some students who were accepted to Ivy League schools were rejected by NYU.
Emphasis on Education Equality and Political Correctness: American universities are increasingly emphasizing education equality and political correctness, causing middle-class families to become caught in the “rat race.”
For example, minority groups such as Japanese-American families and Chinese-American students born in Peru have been accepted into Ivy League schools. Additionally, many schools are directly breaking the 20% barrier for the proportion of first-generation college students, with USC reaching 23%. Furthermore, schools are also accepting more students from local public schools and economically disadvantaged states. However, this trend is also leading to fewer spots for Chinese students and Chinese-American students from well-off families attending boarding schools in the US.
Top Students Join the GPA Battle to Protect Their Academic Achievements
How to deal with the increasingly competitive university admissions process? The key, in my opinion, lies in academic excellence. We often hear the saying that the UK emphasizes academics while the US is more holistic. While this is not entirely untrue, many parents misunderstand it to mean that academic excellence is not necessarily a priority, and that activities, personality, essays, and leadership skills can compensate for a lack of top-notch academic performance. However, for top-tier schools like the Ivy League and Oxbridge, academic prowess, particularly in STEM subjects, is highly valued and often necessary to gain admission.
In fact, the opposite is often true. I believe that many students who fail to gain admission to prestigious American universities do so because their academic performance is not up to par. One might argue, “But I have an A- or even a B+ on my transcript, and my grades have been steadily improving. Why wasn’t I accepted to an Ivy League school?” The truth is, why would Ivy League admissions officers choose you when they have a pool of straight-A students to consider? It’s not that straight-A grades are all that matters, but rather that not having straight-A grades can be a significant weakness in your application.
From boarding schools in the US to elite institutions in China’s four major cities, the battle to maintain a perfect GPA and excel in IB courses has already begun. In my opinion, if an IB student in Shanghai does not take HL mother-tongue English and aims for an Ivy League school, it is not difficult to understand why they might not be accepted.
This year, a student from China who was accepted to an Ivy League school transferred from the Chinese public school system to an international school and challenged the most difficult IB English A HL course (which is designed for native speakers) in one go. Although her grades and final predicted score did not reach the maximum, the rest of her academic achievements were impressive. We attached an additional explanation to her application, explaining her transition from public to international school and her decision to undertake a highly challenging English course, to emphasize that her academic performance was not a reflection of her learning abilities. Ultimately, the university accepted our supplemental explanation and granted her admission.
As the admissions process becomes increasingly competitive, top students must be prepared to defend their academic achievements by maintaining a strong GPA and excelling in rigorous courses.
Event is not so important,But it is important to be exceptional
We often say that extracurricular activities are about quality rather than quantity. If the school awards some prizes, especially in American high schools, they are definitely more useful than something like the John Locke Essay Competition or the Physics Olympiad outside of school. Unless you are on the national team and can win an Olympic medal.
Some of the top summer schools that used to be very useful are becoming less distinctive. Take the Stanford Humanities Summer Program, for example. It used to have fewer than ten Chinese students, but now it has dozens.
The Physics Olympiad mentioned earlier is also becoming less distinctive. In the past, only a few students with strong physics background participated from each school, but now almost all students interested in science participate in the Physics Olympiad. With so many participants, various awards are flying everywhere.
Of course, the AMC (American Mathematics Competition) cannot be ignored. If you say you made it into the AIME (American Invitational Mathematics Examination), but you didn’t win any math awards in school, then was your score trained or leaked from coaching classes?
In my opinion, GPA planning should be “I am stronger than others,” while activities should definitely be “I am exceptional.”
American high schools are still advantageous,Especially for science and engineering students
Although this year, schools in China such as Shanghai Pinghe, Beijing Normal University Experimental School, UWC, SAS, and BASIS have had good admission results, I have noticed that the admission quotas of second- and third-tier city schools are shrinking. Admission is concentrated in the top schools in Beijing and Shanghai, and overall, the total admission volume of these top schools has not increased significantly.
The UWC system is still modeled on American or British high schools.
Therefore, overall, the advantages of American and British high schools will become more and more obvious.
Especially for students who apply to boarding schools in the United States. These students, because they started preparing for the application to American high schools early, many of them had achieved a TOEFL score of 110 in the first semester of eighth or ninth grade, which is much earlier than many domestic high school students who can only achieve that score in their sophomore year.
Not to mention, they often have talents in sports, music, and arts, and start various academic explorations and extracurricular activities earlier. Plus, American high schools offer more diverse course options and activities, and American universities have higher recognition of American high school transcripts and recommendation letters, so American high school students have a stronger competitiveness when you apply.
Also, in fact, it is easier for Chinese science and engineering students in top American high schools to apply to top universities such as MIT. I have a student who is studying at a top American high school and was successfully admitted to MIT early this year. His grades were not particularly outstanding, and his English was not particularly exceptional either, but he took very difficult math and physics classes, which made it much easier for him to be admitted to MIT than for domestic students.