Despite battling a nagging illness, dealing with the upsetting news from this past Tuesday night (I though Britt and K-Fed would be together forever), and coping with the loss of LOST until February, I decided to be a trooper and update the blog before bed tonight. Things have been going well for me in the world of Admissions at Hopkins, despite still being quite busy. The re-launch of Hopkins Interactive is coming along quite well now, and we are still targeting the middle of next week to go live. Stay tuned for my next entry which will be a tour through the new H.I. (version 2.0). Between now and then, check out the return of the Hopkins Interactive Guest Blog and the inaugural edition of the This Week @ Hopkins blog.
As for my colleagues, our fall visit events are complete and the travel season is coming to the end for everyone. So now we are gearing up for the read season, which begins in earnest next Monday. Yes, next Monday, each member of the counseling staff will visit their application cubbies in the Operations area of our office and see something we haven't seen since last March -- application files. There is great excitement as you open that first file of the year, but it is not pure joy. There also exists an underlying sense of fear? -- anxiety? -- trepidation? -- dread? (maybe that is too harsh?) -- whatever the proper word is, there does exist a slight hesitation knowing that the next five months there will be only this priority in our lives - READ THOSE FILES!
I thought that with a week to go until our Early Decision deadline (Yes, November 15th is just one week away!!!), I'd make the theme of this entry a discussion of the ED process at Hopkins. I expect (hope) those of you who have applied ED, will be applying ED, or are still contemplating ED, have checked out some of the useful information we have already provided about this decision plan:
- Early Decision FAQ List: click here.
- 2007 Early Decision brochure: click here to download the PDF.
- ED section of Applying to Hopkins web page: click here.
- Archived Hopkins Insider post about last year's ED review process and decision release: click here.
I started thinking about what to write about ED earlier this Fall after a discussion that started in a staff meeting. If I remember correctly the discussion began because some schools had decided to drop their "early plans" starting next year. I think I remember reading about that, but I really can't remember which schools. Was one in Massachusetts? And I think another had something to do with Thomas Jefferson? And then there was a third -- I think we may play that school in Lacrosse every once and a while. Hmmm...can't really remember I guess it wasn't that big of news. [Obviously I am joking.]
Back to that staff meeting discussion ... It started with addressing why these schools decided to drop their early plans (because they could) and will their decisions have a ripple effect in the world of highly selective admissions (probably not as big as many expect). Then the discussion moved to whether we would be changing our policy. Easy answer ... NO. It is something our Director is interested in looking into over the years, but for the time being Johns Hopkins will not be dropping our Early Decision plan.
Though that part of the staff meeting discussion may seem to be the most interesting, it is what we discussed afterward that really intrigued me and is the motivation behind this post. Collectively, the counseling team looked at how we speak with prospective students about our Early Decision program and specifically how we answer these two questions: (1) who should apply Early Decision? and (2) is there an advantage / benefit to applying ED to Hopkins? I took a lot of notes from what my colleagues and I discussed, and especially listened intently to the guidance that my boss, Director of Admissions John Latting, provided. So let's share some of that info...
Who Should Apply Early Decision?
Generally, when asked this question we answer, "If Hopkins is your definitive first choice and you are ready to make that commitment, then ED is definitely for you." This is a solid answer and is typically followed by a discussion that ED is truly for those students who are clear about their "love" of Hopkins and their desire to complete the process earlier if admitted. ED is for those students who just know -- those who dropped a pretty penny in the bookstore on Hopkins paraphernalia -- those who have the Hopkins web site as a favorite -- those who get angry when people forget the "S" in Johns. This is the right answer, but in all actuality it is not that simple.
To really answer the question about who should apply ED, you need to address both the PRACTICAL reasons to apply and the "supposed" TACTICAL reasons to apply. The practical reasons fall under the umbrella of what I mentioned above -- Hopkins is my clear first choice, I have done my research, and I want to apply ED. We all agree that this is the right way to make the decision.
It is the supposed TACTICAL reasons swaying a student's decision to apply ED that concerns us. By tactical, I mean someone whose main reason for applying ED is a focus on the "numbers" and the assumption that it is easier to get in ED. This focus on the "competitive advantage" and the tactics of "winning the game" of highly selective admissions is truly not the right way to approach the decision to apply ED. (Read below for more on this idea of "competitive advantage.")
ED should not be a strategic tool -- it should be about FIT. So back to the initial question, who should apply ED? Those who know for practical reasons (FIT!!! that Hopkins is their absolute first choice. Who should not apply ED? Well, those who are not sure Hopkins is that perfect fit, but think ED is the best way to "get in."
Is There a Competitive Advantage / Benefit to Applying ED?
The discussion on the tactical side of applying ED to Hopkins leads to this less frequently asked question, but an important one to ask. And also, it is the harder one to provide a definitive answer to, but I will give it a try.
When asked the question about a competitive advantage to applying ED to Hopkins, most counselors including myself do not provide a direct answer. The reason for this, is that a direct answer without an explanation leads to assumptions, and often will sway a person to thinking more about tactical reasons than practical ones.
The direct answer is YES, there is an advantage / benefit to applying early decision to Hopkins. As you can see I did not use the word "competitive" to describe the advantage, and that is where the explanation must follow.
There is clearly a benefit to applying ED, and that benefit is the fact that an ED application proceeds through the review process with a more careful evaluation. Why is this? Well simple numbers -- 1000+ applications read in a one month period of time versus 13000+ applications reviewed in less than 4 months of time. ED applications are read by the staff without a sense of pressure, without the time crunch of making sure to get all the reads done in time. We can spend more time on these files, and since the ED applicants are signing a contract of their commitment, there is a strong sense that they deserve a careful evaluation. (Please, RD applicants, do not read this as the staff will not read your applications carefully -- just understand the time frame and the numbers.)
Another of the benefits when reviewing ED applicants, is that the counselor knows in almost every situation that the student applying is clearly interested in attending Hopkins. The concept of interest is pertinent in the review process, because we want to enroll students who are eager to experience Hopkins. ED students bring an enthusiasm to the University, and tend to embrace all aspects of being a Bluejay. Though sincere interest is not a determining factor of our decisions, it definitely helps in the holistic approach we take in our reads. And yes, the holistic approach to the evaluation is as inherent in our reads for ED applicants as it will be for RD applicants.
The important final point about this discussion of advantage and benefit is to state clearly that the advantage is not an academic / competitive one. It is not "EASIER" to get into Hopkins ED -- we do not lower our standards for ED students. With all our reads, whether ED or RD, we do not work with a set profile, a set grid, a set percentage of who we must take. The approach we take in evaluating a candidate in academic terms is the same no matter if the student applies ED or RD. We benefit from the fact that our ED applicant pool is in academic terms, quite similar to our RD pool.
Finally, though the selectivity percentages seem to tell the story that there is a serious advantage to getting in ED, you need to put those ED numbers in context of the overall applicant pool. The story is not as simple as 48% versus 27% -- read above, I think I have stated that case as clear as I can.
Before I conclude this post, I do want to clear up any misinformation out there about applying ED to Hopkins.
- Admissions ED is BINDING. We do not offer any non-binding early action plans.
- Financial Aid will not be limited if you apply ED.
- ED applicants have an equal chance of being awarded a merit scholarship as RD applicants. The only difference is that an ED student offered a scholarship will not find out until RD decisions are released.
- We do not fill a majority of our class through Early Decision. Typically ED students make up 30-35% of the incoming freshman class.
- It is not true that if you are not admitted ED there is no hope. Most ED applicants not admitted will be deferred to the RD pool and re-evaluated for admission. Every year deferred ED students are offered admission as RD applicants.
Finally, for any BME applicants considering ED, I strongly recommend you read this FAQ list: click here.
I hope you all find this information helpful. Check back next week for a tour of the new Hopkins Interactive. Feel free to ask any follow-up questions in the Comments section below.
And if you need a study break, I recommend this: click here.