By Fred Alvarez
The offers have rolled in at a record clip.
By the time first-semester classes ended last week, members of the Class of 2020 at Ojai Valley School had received 30 offers of admission from colleges and universities across the country.
That’s more than anyone can remember, at least in recent memory, this early in the admission process.
Two-thirds of this year’s seniors had received at least one offer of admission by mid-December, and a couple of seniors are now done with the college application process, having received early offers from their first-choice schools.
Impressive, to be sure. But at this time of year, it’s important too.
We hope these early admissions will serve as a source of comfort for our seniors, many of whom are stressed and struggling to balance their schoolwork, sports commitments, and co-curricular obligations with the daunting, seemingly endless task of applying to college.
You wouldn’t believe the number of times I have had seniors in my office seriously questioning whether any college will want them. And no matter how much I try reassuring them, there’s no better cure for the “I’ll-never-get-into-college” blues than that first college acceptance.
But more to the point, this high volume of early acceptances points up the increasing emphasis on early applications and admissions on the college side.
A growing number of colleges and universities are now filling more than half their incoming classes through early application programs, most of which carry Nov. 1 to Nov. 15 deadlines. This year alone, the University of Virginia and Boston College added Early Decision options by which students agree to attend if admitted (one of our seniors was admitted Early Decision to Boston College and will attend next fall).
Twenty one of our 25 seniors applied Early Decision and/or Early Action this year, each with deadlines of Nov. 15 or earlier. Every one of our seniors had applied to multiple schools by Nov. 30, the deadline for the University of California and Cal State University systems.
There’s plenty of debate about whether such early programs are equitable or, in the end, in the best interest of stressed-out seniors trying to make one of the biggest decisions of their young lives.
While the debate rages on, what’s clear at the Upper Campus is the growing need to make sure our students are well prepared, as early as is reasonable, to take on the college application process, and this year’s high number of early acceptances proves that the Class of 2020 was up to the task.
However, what’s best about these early offers is that they represent our mission to help students select and apply to their best-fit colleges.
So, the early offers have come to our students from small private liberal arts colleges and from large public universities, both in California and beyond. They include offers from schools with outstanding programs in robotics, aeronautics, computer science, engineering, forestry, and the arts – all of which are fields our students intend to pursue.
What’s also true is that this early list represents a small fraction of the college offers that will pour in to the Upper Campus in coming months, leading to the May 1 National College Decision Day, the deadline for seniors to pick their colleges.
We will celebrate each acceptance from now until then, and remind those students who are denied admission that those decisions don’t define who they are, what they have contributed and where their college explorations will take them. And then we will celebrate again in late May, when our head of school announces the college choice of each of our seniors as we gather at graduation to launch them into the next phase of their lives.