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Highest and Lowest Paying Majors - What Should You Choose?
I remember when I was in high school, I told myself that my major doesn’t matter. As long as I’m happy studying what I’m studying, I’ll be fine. While this is a healthy mindset to have, don’t forget about the advantages of being financially literate and independent. Brush up on your knowledge of 401Ks and Roth IRAs, and you might reconsider your stance on salaries. After all, income levels are related to surveys of happiness; a 2018 study suggested an income of “$95,000 for life satisfaction and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being.” With that in mind, let’s review the highest and lowest-paying majors as additional factors in your decision-making when it comes to majors! Ten Highest Paying Majors (Starting Salary): Petroleum Engineering ($94,500) – with this degree, you prepare for work in the oil and gas industry, researching, designing, and developing ways to extract fossil fuels. Mid-career earnings are around $200,000! Electrical Engineering and Computer Science ($88,000) – technology continues to pervade all industries, especially coupled with the application of big data and AI. This is an expertise that will continue to be in demand. Mid-career earnings reach $120,000 for computer scientists. By the way, keep in mind that certain areas pay more because of cost-of-living; think Silicon Valley, which is closer to $200,000. Pharmacy ($79,600) – this is the only health care-related one, and it’s not nurse, doctor, or even surgeon. Keep in mind that this is a list of starting salaries. If you want to make a quick impression on your bank account, pursue pharmacy! Mid-career earnings reach $130,000. Operations Research ($77,900) – if you’re unfamiliar with the title, it’s probably because you might be more familiar with data analysis, especially the recent trend of applying big data and AI. Many fields, including law, are utilizing AI as a useful tool. A background in this field is very versatile. Mid-career earnings near $140,000. Aeronautics and Astronautics ($73,100) – not many students remember that our skies are filled with planes and other things that can fly and glide and that this major exists! Mid-career earnings exceed $110,000. Plus, you can always introduce yourself as a rocket scientist. Electrical Power Engineering ($72,400) – we’re talking about power generators, transmission, and utility companies. With the advent and increasing popularity of electric vehicles, positions yourself for a field that is sure to boom. Actuarial Mathematics ($63,300) – how much do you need to pay for insurance? Ask an actuary, which will be you if you study this major. You will need to command exceptional analytical reasoning and math skills, and your input will be greatly rewarded, especially at large companies, where mid-career earnings top $100,000. This field is still expected to grow! Applied Economics and Management ($58,900) – while the starting salary is a bit lower on this list, the mid-career earnings can top $140,000 on average. Don’t forget that economics is less math and more social science. Being able to understand markets and to predict accurately is the key here. Political Economy ($57,600) – this is a combination of political science and economics, similar to international economics. A grasp on trade policy and legislation yields a mid-career earnings of over $120,000. Business Analysis ($57,200) – you would be responsible for analyzing aspects of businesses, including strategies, IT solutions, management, and information systems. You will be required to utilize strong conflict-management and communication skills, an excellent major for someone with strong people skills. Mid-career earnings hover around $85,000. Ten Lowest Paying Majors (Starting Salary): Before I start the list, I just want to remind us that salaries are not the end-all-be-all. You need a balance of personal happiness and enjoyment in ANY career. That said, this is more of an educational approach to the ten lowest-paying majors. Just keep in mind where your major falls on this list and that this is just a list of starting salaries. Your mileage may vary! Design and Applied Arts ($43,122) Criminology ($42,988) Hospitality Administration/Management ($42,931) Criminal Justice ($42,729) Human Development and Related Services ($42,400) Psychology ($42,313) Health and Physical Education/Fitness ($41,778) Animal Science ($41,080) Education ($39,543) Social Work ($37,727) Conclusions: Yes, there are no real surprises here. Degrees in STEM lead to high starting salaries and high career median salaries. If you’re not interested in STEM but are still interested in a high salary, consider Applied Economics and Management and Political Economy. As for the lower starting salaries, what you will notice is that these majors are great foundations for master’s degrees and beyond; if your major is on this list, perhaps consider the idea of pursuing graduate school, after which your starting and mid-career salaries will be considerably higher! Consider your entire academic plan when choosing your undergraduate major. In the end, don’t choose a major based solely on salary; however, do take into full consideration your strengths and weaknesses to see what kind of career would fit you best. Don’t pick a major based on the classes you like or dislike. Majors in college are much more varied than the typical 7 classes to choose from in high school. Talk to others if it’s hard to see for yourself! After all, this is for your “life satisfaction” and “emotional well-being”!
Effects of Social Class on College Admissions
There’s no denying the fact that social class and family income have a non-zero effect on college admissions. We’ve heard and read numerous studies that aim to balance the effects of various non-academic factors. We’ve heard studies that students who take the SAT more than once, on average, will see an increase of at least 100 points. Logically, this statistic favors students who are fortunate enough to be in financially stable environments that allow them to take the time to study for and retake the (still important) standardized test. Recently, we’ve also heard the news about how the University of California system is doing away with the SAT and ACT altogether (although rumblings suggest that it will create its own standardized test, which is a can of worms for a different time; we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it). In any case, the legal settlement revolves around the idea that standardized tests are biased in terms of race, wealth, and disability. Similarly, more than 50% of colleges in the United States announced that the SAT and ACT are optional for applicants this fall. However, with so much focus on the tests themselves, we should remember the effects of our social class on college admissions. First off is the essay. For many colleges, this ranks as equally important or next important after GPA, academic rigor, and standardized test scores. However, essays are oftentimes polished by peers, parents, and friends, and statistically speaking, if you aren’t getting help, you could find yourself behind the curve when it comes to your essay quality. In a very interesting study that involves an education Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University, over 220,000 essays sent to the UCs in 2016 were analyzed by software, which found that essays that contained a higher number of punctuation marks and longer words were correlated with students from families with higher household incomes. Analyzing essay prompts and utilizing human readings and statistical analyses of 220,062 essays contributed by 55,016 applicants to a public US university system, we find circumscribed genre expectations and class-correlated patterns of self-presentation but also substantial range in what the university and its applicants invoke as evidence to support competitive bids for admission. Furthermore, these students wrote essays that were more “thematically abstract,” which includes topics such as human psychology, philosophy, and descriptive writing. However, as colleges continue to remind us about holistic admissions, we also need to recognize that a higher level of liberty in terms of discretion for admissions offices may result in situations like this: high-scoring Asian students are penalized because of “character or fit.” To avoid adopting a blatant quota system, Harvard introduced subjective criteria like character, personality and promise. The plaintiffs call this the “original sin of holistic admissions.” They argue that the same character-based system is being used now to hold the proportion of Asian-Americans at Harvard to roughly 20 percent year after year, except for minor increases, they say, spurred by litigation. Sure, colleges are synonymous with social education and progress, but the vast majority of them are still for-profit institutions, meaning they have revenue targets; financial woes have even led to several colleges closing permanently, as in the case of the renowned Mills College. Plus, keeping a high ranking can be very profitable as it allows for schools to raise tuition: Traditional economics would suggest that raising the price of an item (such as a college education) would reduce demand for it. But instead this study found that raising tuition — as well as instructional expenditures — actually improves the demand to attend liberal arts schools and schools in the bottom half of the top 50. For example, for liberal arts colleges ranked 26th to 50th, a $1,000 increase in tuition and fees was associated with a 12.9-point increase in SAT scores and a 3.5 percent increase in the proportion of top freshmen admitted. This is because such costs “serve as markers of institutional quality and prestige,” the authors write. On top of all this, studies show that richer, whiter high schools receive more college visits, and in combination with legacy admissions, social mobility may still have some roadblocks in its way. Don’t forget that some elite colleges have more students from the top 1% than students from the bottom 40%. All this suggests that a shift away from standardized testing can easily open the path to other factors that admissions offices will lean more heavily on, including ambiguous and vague ones such as “character or fit,” easily twisted to explain why a high-scoring student is not offered admissions. Reliance on soft factors can allow college admissions offices to pursue their goals but deflect questions about which of the goals they prioritize. Remove one admissions factor, and you will need to replace it with a new one or increase the weight of the other remaining factors, which include extracurriculars that may also favor wealthier families. The trend of holistic admissions is not without its drawbacks, but overall, the fact remains that it is extremely difficult if not simply impossible to separate socioeconomic indicators from applications. Your social class absolutely has an impact on college admissions.
How to Interpret Latest Study: Admissions Tests Discriminate against Low-Income and Minority Student
Last week, a new study found that “the SAT and ACT tests discriminate against low-income, minority and female students in college admissions at selective colleges.” The main findings of the study were three-fold: 1. Students with family income of $100,000 or more are more than twice as likely as students with family income under $50,000 to have combined SAT test scores of 1400 to 1600. Takeaway: It’s no secret that financial resources allow for better and more thorough test preparation, especially noticeable on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. In strict correlation, as a family’s income decreases, so too do the expected test scores primarily due to this explanation. On average, students who take the SAT a second time can expect to see a 100+ score increase. This effect diminishes on repeated tries, but increases are still measurable. 2. White students are three times more likely than Black or African-American students and twice as likely as Hispanic or Latino students to have combined SAT test scores of 1400 to 1600 Takeaway: Socioeconomic factors continue to be at play here, and we see a looser correlation to family income affecting test scores, this time categorized by ethnicity. Meanwhile, Asian students score consistently higher than the average population, spiking near the top end of scores. This also explains why a high SAT or ACT score is not much of a differentiating factor for Asian college applicants. There are simply too many Asian students with high test scores. Unique factors must come from elsewhere. However, the double-edged sword here is that Asian students are also, at the same time, held to a higher standard of SAT and ACT scores. 3. Male students are 42% more likely to have combined SAT test scores in the 1400 to 1600 range than female students, possibly due to differences in performance on math exams. Takeaway: While the distributions look similar, there is a marked difference in scores in the 1400-1600 range between male and female students. The study notes that the differences typically come from stronger math section scores reported by male students. The main takeaway here is for female students to focus on raising their math scores if they wish to stand out from the crowd a bit more. The overall conclusion should be understanding that these statistics show us what colleges are comparing students against. For example, if you are an Asian male student with a high family income, you are expected to have a high SAT score and strong math scores. This may not come as a surprise, but this is a reminder that this expectation is rooted in the numbers. If you wish to compete with these most competitive numbers, you will need to climb the mountain. However, if test scores are not your strong suit despite a high family income, seek ways to stand out that aren’t strictly academic. It will be a bit more difficult, but with creativity and effort, your activities and participation in non-academic events will pay off, just as they have for many of my students who wished to go against the grain. Choose your path wisely!
Tips for Class of 2022
As we get ready for summer and another season of college application, here are some tips for the Class of 2022 that are both proven and learned from the Class of 2021. Apply Early Action and Early Decision! We’ve helped students boost their admissions chances by strategically picking best-fit reach schools and applying early action or early decision. As mentioned in previous blog posts (check it out if you haven’t already yet), applying early decision is a great strategy to improve odds because of yield rate and commitment. People often say that colleges don’t worry about protecting their yield rate, but the truth is they matter, and early decision applicants, generally speaking, do enjoy increased admissions odds. Feel free to reach with ED1 and ED2! Utilize Summer and Fall! Another thing I remind students of is to utilize summer. Four summers is essentially an extra year, effectively 25% more time. Make sure that you have plans for summer, even if you aren’t attending a college program or volunteering, find something meaningful to do and possibly reflect upon in your college essays. A rule of thumb is if you probably can’t tell the story of it in a college app, it’s probably not meaningful enough. At the same time, keep expectations realistic. You aren’t required to cure cancer. You just need to be productive enough this summer! Also, don’t forget to maximize your usage of fall, meaning squeezing in more standardized tests and continuing to visit colleges virtually from now on. Include a Wider Range of Schools on Your College List! What we’ve all learned and heard from the Class of 2021 is that all colleges were substantially more difficult to get into this year. We have no reason to believe the same for the Class of 2022 because, after all, we’re still in pandemic mode: distance learning and limited opportunities off-campus. This also means that we need to be more open-minded to a wider range of schools on our college lists, in both directions – up and down! Decide on SAT, ACT, or neither! Are you going to take a test? Which one? Have you taken one already? Will it be your first time? How are you doing on your practice tests? Should you take an official test at all? Would your time be better spent on something that has more value or return? These are all questions with different answers for each student’s situation. Several of my students did not report a test score and still enjoyed wonderful results because they spent that time focusing on interesting activities that set them apart from the pack more than a higher standardized score could ever do. Keep that in mind! Start Now! What else did we learn? We need time! We need the time to research schools, to explore majors, to visit colleges, to brainstorm and draft essays, to consider early or regular deadlines, to think about standardized tests, to request and obtain official documents and letters of recommendation, and to keep up with academics. Most of all, we need time to enjoy the last year of high school! Start now. No one has ever regretted starting early.
Which AP Scores Do I Report?
As we march on through AP test season, many questions arise, some more than others, especially during a second unfamiliar pandemic cycle. However, most questions come down to which AP scores to report. Let’s break it down! First, understand that not all colleges treat AP scores the same. You need to check via the AP Credit Policy Search: For example, UC Berkeley gives credit for a 3 or higher, but students will need a 4 on AP Biology to satisfy UC Berkeley’s equivalent of Biology 1A/1AL & 1B. Second, remember that AP scores are numbers that mean nothing without context. Schools that expect high scores will want to see high scores, so yes, reporting a low score can actually hurt. Consider the schools that you are applying to. If we revisit our previous point about different schools having different minimum score requirements, think about using that as your baseline for determining which scores to report to which schools. After all, AP scores are self-reported. Third, be familiar with average test scores for each AP test. If your score is higher than the average, it could still be worth reporting. Reference the following: Fourth, think about your collection of scores; you may qualify for some awards! Keep in mind that the National AP Scholar award has been discontinued. To summarize, consider how competitive the school you’re applying to is; then, see if your scores meet their minimum requirements. As an easy rule of thumb, report all 4s and 5s, and do more homework about your 3s.
Top 10 Mistakes High School Students Make
Believing Certain Years Don’t Count
Students in California may have often heard of something called a UC GPA, which is calculated based on your grades from 10th-12th grade. However, this does not mean that 9th grade doesn’t matter. All schools will still consider your cumulative GPA, which actually includes the summer before 9th grade. Remember, the moment you graduate each year, you are officially in the next grade! That is, any courses that you took for a letter grade during the summer before 9th grade will also be counted in your cumulative GPA. Don’t forget, private schools and liberal arts colleges want to see your cumulative GPA. All years count! Taking Easy Classes or Classes Because of Friends
When choosing courses, many students tell me that they choose classes based on what their friends are taking and which teachers are easy. This is an overall detriment to your profile because you may end up wasting time taking a class that doesn’t help that much for the major that you are applying for during college application season. Having a higher GPA but fewer classes that prepare you for your major won’t be as helpful. Sacrificing Grades for Sports, Clubs, or Social Life
Students who join sports are called student-athletes. Remember, your job is a student first, which is why you must maintain a certain GPA to be part of sports teams. The most important thing that will help get your foot in the door when applying to college is your GPA. Make this your number one priority. Focusing ONLY on Academics and Volunteering
However, don’t ONLY focus on academics. Also, many students tell me that they volunteer. This is great! However, your major should help determine what kind of volunteering, if at all. For example, a student interested in Computer Science should probably have more technical projects and experience instead of volunteer hours in order to be competitive at elite schools. Not Utilizing Summer
Summer vacation is usually 2-3 months. You have 4 of these if you count the summer before 9th grade. That’s an extra YEAR! If you are not utilizing summer time, you are effectively 20% behind competitive applicants. Think about it. Not Developing Relationships with Faculty
One of the great aspects of attending a summer program is interacting with faculty from colleges and universities. Ideally, if you hit it off really well with them, they may even be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you! But wait – don’t forget about teachers from your school that you see every day, especially teachers that you’ve had or predict that you will have for multiple years. For example, a teacher that you had in 9th grade and 11th grade would be able to speak to your maturity and growth throughout high school. That’s fantastic! Imbalance in Extracurriculars or Unrelated-to-Major Activities
When I say imbalance, I mean too many or too few extracurriculars. Yes, you can have too many extracurriculars, especially activities that take lots of time away from your major. This is similar to point number four. How you spend your free time is very important; try to do things that are related to your major. Interested in Computer Science? Make software and programs! Interested in business? Start an online store! Be creative – you do NOT have to attend a single summer program if you are proactive and take initiative with your talents. Forcing Self into Wrong Major
Similarly, if your talents and activities don’t align with the major you are gunning for, your application will naturally feel weaker. Think about this from the admissions office’s perspective – your profile shows that you volunteered a lot and took lots of biology courses, but then you apply for Computer Science. Major matters because schools have limited space in each major. Not Taking Enough Responsibility
Colleges look for students who are ready for college, which means students who are mature, organized, respectful, social, and self-aware. Yes, you may feel pressure about which classes to take, but it is your responsibility to do well in the class. Yes, we all have had “teachers who don’t teach,” but students who are independent and motivated will still find ways to succeed. Not Asking for Help
And that brings us to the last point. Students have lots of resources both on and off campus. Faculty members such as teachers and counselors are there to help. Parents and adults have experience to share. Asking for help can feel difficult, but it’s one of the greatest things you can learn to do!
The Value of a Four-Year College Degree
In a recent Gallup survey (April 2021), studies show that many families are reconsidering the value of a traditional four-year college education. Many parents are thinking about hands-on experiences for their children instead, such as vocational programs, joining the military, or pursuing entrepreneurship. When finances are not an issue, the opinion stands: 46% of parents want alternatives to four-year college. The study shows a decade-long decline in interest in college among American parents. In fact, just last year, a 2019 Gallup poll shows that only 51% of Americans believed that a college education was “very important.” As recently as 2013, 70% of Americans believed the same. What has happened to the perceived value of a four-year education? Within the survey, parents were asked if given an ideal situation, meaning no obstacles or limitations, what they would want their children to do immediately after high school. 54% of parents responded four-year college. 22% responded other pathways, such as work, military, volunteer, or joining a family business. 16% responded non-college training programs and apprenticeships. There are six main takeaways from this study. #1 – Black parents were more likely to prefer that their child pursues four-year college. In fact, 67% of Black parents attested to this, which was 16% higher than white parents and 11% higher than Hispanic parents. #2 – The parents’ political party was a strong predictor of college preference. 70% of Democrats stated that they would prefer their child to pursue four-year college, compared to 48% of Independents and 46% of Republicans, partly explained by a 2017 Gallup survey that found many Republicans were critical of colleges for “pushing a liberal agenda.” #3 – Parents who were less likely to prefer four-year college were much more likely to prefer a skills-training program or apprenticeship such as plumbing or automotive repair. Often, these parents stated that they believe “experiential pathways” provide better career preparation than sitting in classrooms at college. #4 – About 33% of parents who attended college DO NOT want their children to do the same. In addition, Republican college graduates were less likely than Democrat college graduates to want their children to also attend college. #5 – Only 8% of parents preferred community college education, despite its affordability. In fact, they would rather their children attend skills-training programs or apprenticeships. Most parents did not believe that a two-year college program could deliver the same level of quality education that they associated with skills-training programs or apprenticeships. #6 – Household income was NOT a strong predictor of whether parents want their children to attend college. Location had a stronger correlation: parents living in cities and suburbs were much more likely to want their children to attend four-year colleges than parents living in towns or rural areas. Naturally, we begin to wonder about the current value of a bachelor’s degree. If more and more students are attending and graduating from college, is the value of a bachelor’s degree being heavily diluted, in essence? The answer depends on where you live and what you do. Research from Georgetown University shows that the national mean earnings for bachelor’s degree holders is $92,608, much higher than the $50,051 average for high school graduates, an increase of 85%. However, this increase drops as low as 15% in North Dakota and climbs as high as 103% in New York, leading to their conclusion that college degrees are better investments in big cities. Otherwise, perhaps an associate’s degree or simply a high school diploma is the better financial investment and decision.
What Juniors Can Do Right Now
What Juniors Can Do Right Now As the Ivy League schools release their admissions decisions, we have unofficially come to the end of our college application season; however, many of us are still waiting, literally, on waitlists and appeals. For the most part, we have received the majority of our acceptance letters and have a decent idea of what the next few years look like. For non-seniors, there are many things that can be done as early as now, especially for juniors to do. Here’s a quick summary of what rising seniors can and should be doing during this second semester. 1. Academic planning Most of you have already chosen your senior classes, but if you haven’t already (or if you still have the opportunity to make changes), pick your classes wisely. Colleges are looking at your applications holistically, so you’ll want to make sure that your classes agree with the major that you pick. In addition, don’t pick classes because other people are too or because your parents are telling you to. The important thing about course selection is picking classes that you enjoy so that you’ll put more effort into them, naturally resulting in a higher GPA. However, don’t stop challenging yourself – find the balance between enjoying-senior-year and keeping up with your academic rigor, which is a legitimate factor that college use to assess applications. 2. Recall all activities and awards On your college applications, you will be asked to list all the activities, awards, honors, and achievements that you have had throughout high school, starting with the summer after 8th grade graduation day. If you don’t remember everything, make sure to start digging through your old boxes for those ribbons and certificates. Keep track of all the hours you spent (including travel and prep time) so that you can report the most accurate total of hours. Consider everything, not just academic stuff. Time spent traveling to all your karate lessons and competitions. Time spent watching your younger sibling while your parents were busy with work. Time spent tinkering with your computer hardware or software, whether video game related or not. The main goal is to present the hours you spent outside of sleeping and studying. Your activities list is another opportunity to highlight your skills, talents, and characteristics. 3. Brainstorm majors and colleges If you don’t know what you want to study, start with which majors don’t excite you. Be careful not to dismiss an entire major just because you didn’t like your high school teacher who taught a loosely-related subject. Do your research and look at the various majors that schools offer. There is much more to computer science than just “computer science!” After that, start making a list of colleges that even have the majors that you’re interested in. You might be surprised to find out that your major isn’t offered at all schools. Separate your schools not just by chances of getting in – think about if you would actually attend that school if you were offered admission. Think about where you would be happy for at least four years – that will be the most important factor when deciding a school. 4. Figure out letters of recommendation Ideally, you would ask a teacher who you’ve had more than once, especially over the years so that this teacher has seen and can attest to your growth throughout high school. Ask early enough so that you are familiar with the teacher’s policies, especially if you are thinking about applying to any schools early. Teachers (and school counselors) need time to prepare well; letters of recommendation are critical in the current application environment, so make sure to get to know your teachers – visit them during office hours and learn more about them! 5. Think deeply about these three questions: How did I become who I am today? Why do I want to study my major? What will I do with my college experience and degree? Too often students begin writing college essays without putting enough thought into themselves. The key to a successful college essay is one that oozes critical self-analysis and understanding, which shows a level of maturity and self-awareness that signals to colleges that you are ready for the next level. At the same time, try not to overthink things. Tell yourself that this is simply 13th grade. After all, there really is not much difference between an 11th grader and a 12thgrader; why should there be much difference between a high school senior and college freshman? What I’m getting at is the idea that if you can stand out from a crowd of teenagers in terms of maturity and self-awareness, you’re well past the bell curve. Think deeply, and then outline some short stories that demonstrate and highlight your personal experiences that are yours alone. Tell unique stories; that’s how you end up with a unique application.
How Asian Americans Can Stand Out Despite Admissions Bias？
From 2000 to 2017, the Asian-American population nearly doubled from 10 million to 19 million. Within the same time period, the total number of college-enrolled Asian Americans rose from 1.1 million to 1.5 million, an increase of about 40%. “In contrast, total admission to Harvard College has remained steady during this time, while the number of total applicants has doubled.” In the 90s, during the dot com boom, America attracted over 200,000 immigrants per year, mostly from Asia. With this new wave of incoming Asians came their offspring: Asian Americans who are now and have been applying to colleges in the states. Meanwhile, the number of international students in the United States has more than doubled, from 0.4 million to 1 million, of which 0.7 million are from Asia alone. In recent years, there has been “a systematic attempt to discredit high GPAs and SAT/ACT scores from Asian-American students as somehow tainted and the result of ‘privileged’ upbringing. The truth is their high scores are because they worked hard and not by virtue of legacy or political power. This bias has left many Asian-Americans red-faced despite their communities’ having championed and supported diversity in all walks of life.” In short, hard work is not paying off, and hard work it has been. Let’s take a closer look by breaking down the data: In 2016, the college enrollment rate was highest for Asians (58 percent) compared to Two or more races (42 percent), White (42 percent), Hispanic (39 percent), Black (36 percent), Pacific Islander (21 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (19 percent). In addition, from 2000 to 2016, total college enrollment rates increased for White (from 39 to 42 percent), Black (from 31 to 36 percent), and Hispanic young adults (from 22 to 39 percent) but were not measurably different for the other racial/ethnic groups during this time period. The 6-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began their pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year degree-granting institution in fall 2010 was highest for Asian students (74 percent), followed by White students (64 percent), students of Two or more races (60 percent), Hispanic students (54 percent), Pacific Islander students (51 percent), Black students (40 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native students (39 percent). In 2017, the percentage of 8th-graders who reported that they had zero absences from school in the last month was higher for Asian students (62 percent) than for students who were Black (42 percent), White, Hispanic, of Two or more races (40 percent each), Pacific Islander (38 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native (35 percent). The percentage of students who were 9th-graders in fall 2009 earning their highest math course credit in calculus by 2013 was higher for Asian students (45 percent) than students of every other racial/ethnic group. The percentage of students who were 9th-graders in fall 2009 earning any Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate (AP/IB) credits by 2013 was higher for Asian students (72 percent) than for White students (40 percent). The percentages for Asian and White students were higher than the percentages for students of any other racial/ethnic group. In 2016, among those with a bachelor’s or higher degree, Asian full-time, year-round workers ages 25–34 had higher median annual earnings ($69,100) than their White peers ($54,700), and median earnings for both racial/ethnic groups were higher than those of their Black ($49,400) and Hispanic ($49,300) peers. In 2013–14, about 2.6 million public school students (5.3 percent) received one or more out-of-school suspensions. A higher percentage of Black students (13.7 percent) than of students from any other racial/ethnic group received an out-of-school suspension, followed by 6.7 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native students, 5.3 percent of students of Two or more races, 4.5 percent each of Hispanic and Pacific Islander students, 3.4 percent of White students, and 1.1 percent of Asian students. Unfortunately, colleges focus on creating diverse graduating classes, at least that’s what they say. We’ve seen actions taken by public schools, like the UC campuses, that match the talk. However, at most private schools, we still do not see Asians as the majority ethnic group, even though the academic qualifications speak for themselves. Asian Americans make up just roughly 20% of Ivy League undergraduate populations. In actuality, research shows that Asian Americans need to score 300 points higher on the SAT to have the same probability of acceptance. Asian-American applicants to Harvard were 25% more likely than white applicants to be described as academically qualified but unexceptional. “In some cases, universities seem to be shifting metrics from objective to subjective measures in an attempt to justify rejecting applicants. The University of Chicago says it doesn’t care about ACT/SAT scores. Just send a two-minute video, as if videos will un-bias the system. Now, young scholars have to make sure their looks appeal to the admission folks. I recollect a comment made about a prospective student’s video: ‘Will this student appeal to our recruiters?’ Codeword – not good-looking enough.” If we take a step back and just focus on numbers, it does make sense that while everyone is trying to squeeze into the same elevator, perhaps taking the stairs is a better idea. That is, instead of focusing on what makes most Asian-American applicants the same, perhaps it’s time to focus on how to make an Asian-American student stand out. Essays and activities can be very individualized and absolutely need to be chosen carefully in order to add originality (or however much you can) to the student’s profile. Unfortunately, many adults help with essays too much, sanitizing the language and therefore taking away the student’s voice and personality. This is shooting yourself in the foot. This safe writing no longer stands out, and it’s Asian Americans who are at the highest risk of losing out the most as a result. I often tell my students that what you write about is infinitely less important than how you write it. Everyone can write about the same topic, but only a few will stand out because of the writing style and tone. Make sure that your essays represent you, not just a list of your achievements. Show us your humor. Show us your values. Show us your inner thoughts and emotions. Most of all, show us what you want in life. If you don’t know, then keep thinking. You aren’t deciding the rest of your life, just an idea – a plan. Whatever your true passions and interests are, focus on them! I’ve had students write great and effective essays about Pokémon and video games because they were truly memorable and unique experiences. Don’t be afraid of most topics, especially a topic that you spent most of your high school years on. Imagine not writing about the thing you enjoy the most, instead of writing about that one AP test you got a 4 on instead of a 5. Why?! “Asian-American applicants to Harvard were rated the lowest of any race in categories like ‘positive personality,’ courage, kindness, being ‘widely respected,’ and ‘likability.’” Don’t forget that college admissions officers are human. People inherently have biases. There’s even something coined as voter fatigue. NBA fans, get ready for this: why doesn’t LeBron James win MVP every year? Are people getting tired of voting for the same person? Seeing the same person win every year? It is not impossible to stand out as an Asian American; you simply need to get outside of your comfort zones. There are too many people squeezing into the same elevator as you. Plus, colleges compare you to students at your high school, meaning the people who live in your city. If you live in a predominantly Asian-American area (for example, my high school was 75% Asian), then you’ll have to try even hard to stand out. Instead of working harder, consider working smarter. Overall, the essay is very much like a one-way interview. What you choose to tell them is critical. If you don’t tell them, they won’t know. Perhaps talking about yourself sounds like bragging and feels impolite, but you need to tell them about yourself. I’ve had wonderful results this year with Asian-American students from predominantly Asian schools. Their GPAs and test scores were not what caught colleges’ attention. It was their activities and passion. Their relentless pursuit of experiences that differed from the majority of Asian-Americans’ interests. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be the best at the most popular skills. You just have to love and do it.
Grades vs. SAT scores… Which is a Better Predictor of College Success?
In recent years, new research has supported the notion that a student’s GPA is a much better predictor of a student’s success in college than standardized tests, which include the SAT and ACT. According to this research, “High school GPAs were found to be five times stronger than ACT scores at predicting graduation rates, and that the effect of GPAs was consistent across schools, unlike ACT scores.” Of course, the first thing that may come to mind is GPA inflation and GPA variance across high schools. However, the studies take this into consideration; plus, colleges are familiar with high schools. Colleges know what type of courses that each high school offers, including the wide range of honors and AP classes. In short, colleges compare students to their high school peers. “The researchers suggest that the number of factors playing a role in GPA scores helps make them a robust indicator of future success. These factors include effort across a whole semester in different types of classroom, demonstrating a variety of academic skills and adapting to the expectations of different teachers.” Realistically, your GPA might not represent the same experience of a student with the same GPA at another high school. However, because colleges compare you to other students from your high school, colleges can still use GPA to predict your success (plus, they have the historical data to support their views). “Researchers at the University of Chicago compared the relationship between GPAs and SAT scores with college graduation rates, and found the former had a much stronger correlation than the latter.” Therefore, in a seemingly counterintuitive way, standardized tests offer less information to colleges, not to mention the ongoing debates about the ability to score higher on these tests through financial advantages such as affording tutoring and prep boot camps. “Student[s] with a GPA under 1.5 had a 20% chance of graduating college, up to 80% for those with a GPA of 3.75 or higher, once student background and college characteristics were taken into account.” In addition, for students applying to private schools that accept letters of recommendation, the research suggests that teachers are better judges than standardized tests as well. “The findings suggest that effort put into coursework is more effective than preparing for standardized tests, said Kallie Clark, co-author of the study and a doctoral student at the University of Chicago.” In conclusion, the recommendation of taking as many challenging courses as manageable and cultivating a positive relationship with teachers and faculty still stands strong. Students with lower standardized test scores but with high GPAs and strong letters of recommendation will be more successful, which translates directly into higher acceptance rates: colleges routinely remind us that they are looking at student profiles holistically – we need to believe them.
Why Mills College Is Closing after 169 Years？
Mills College in Oakland, California, is one of the few women’s colleges in California. On March 17, 2021, the institution announced that it will be closing, no longer enrolling new-first-year undergraduate students after fall 2021. Mills College opened in 1852, just two years after California became a state. Even though the school survived the effects of both world wars, the recent pandemic affected Mills College in terms of declines in enrollment, operating losses, and unexpected challenges. In fact, the school experienced financial difficulties even before this year. In 2017, “Mills College declared a 'financial emergency,' laying off several tenured professors, due to 'five years of multimillion-dollar shortfalls and enrollment declines.” In addition, “Mills College was facing a $3 million deficit against its approximately $50 million annual budget.” According to President Elizabeth Hillman, “Today, because of the economic burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic, structural changes across higher education, and Mills’ declining enrollment and budget deficits, Mills must begin to shift away from being a degree-granting college and toward becoming a Mills Institute that can sustain Mills’ mission.” After closing, Mills College plans to transition to an institute that promotes women’s leadership. This heart-touching announcement comes at an interesting time as the number of applicants to popular universities has hit a record high. Harvard saw a 42% increase in applicants. Columbia saw a 51% increase in applicants. UPenn saw a 34% increase in applicants. MIT saw a 66% increase in applicants. UCLA saw a 28% increase in applicants. Actually, if we compare UCLA and Mills College side-by-side, we see some incredible differences. Student Population: 46,000 vs. 1,000 Applications Received: 109,000 vs. 850 (down 15%) Students Admitted: 15,400 vs. 710 Admit Rate: 14% vs. 84% “Some experts are predicting that hundreds of small colleges across the country could be at risk of shutting their doors soon. However, industry leaders argue that such forecasts are overly alarmist and that there will not be any sudden surge of campus closures or mergers in the private college sector. Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, a group of 656 schools including Mills, said he anticipated ‘there might be a small increase in the number of colleges that close in the coming year’ because of issues exacerbated by the pandemic. But he said he does not expect ‘an epidemic of colleges going over the cliff.’ The number of small colleges closing or merging per year have varied between zero and 10 annually over the past couple of decades, even during the Great Recession, he noted.” As we see more students applying to certain schools, we can accurately predict that admit rates will continue to plummet as colleges do not and can not physically expand to accommodate. Unfortunately, as popular colleges become more and more popular, we may continue to see students flocking to them, leaving less popular colleges behind. Students need to consider how they can separate themselves from the increasingly larger pool of applicants. Identifying unique factors, experiences, and personal statements will be paramount.
Class of 2025: College Decisions Dates and What to Do Afterwards
The below is a spreadsheet of dates you can expect to hear from each college regarding your application status: Rejected? Remember, these admissions offices don’t know the complete you, so as hard as it may be, don’t take it personally. They were simply more attracted to someone else’s application (for whatever many reasons). Appeals are usually unsuccessful without major (and I mean it!) changes in circumstances. If you truly love that school, you could always transfer or try again for grad school! Waitlisted? Don’t forget to opt-in to the waitlist if necessary. Read the letter that you received carefully. Strongly consider writing a Letter of Continued Interest and send supplement letters of recommendation, if applicable. Accepted? Congratulations! Create a spreadsheet and add the school to your list. Read the acceptance letter very carefully. Note important factors like scholarship or aid offered, cost of tuition and board, major for that school, and deadlines to notify them, make a deposit, or send any other material. Most importantly, keep track of the deadline for the Statement of Intent to Register (SIR). For example, the SIR deadline for any UC is May 1st. Once you make your decision, inform other schools as well, typically done via an online portal, so that waitlisted students can have an opportunity. Don’t simply choose the highest-ranked school on your list - it might not be the best match for you! Talk your decision out with friends and family. Take time to think clearly about where you will spend the next four years of your life (if not more - most students find their first job in the same city as their college). In the meanwhile, be sure to keep up your grades! After all, they conditionally accepted you because they liked what they saw. Don’t let senioritis take over.