Some of the surprises were:
- Merit deadlines. I had ED, EA, and RD down pat, even EA II, RD II, and Richard III, but some schools have an entirely separate application deadline to qualify for merit aid. Miss it at your peril.
- How uninformative post-graduation salaries were. They basically track SAT scores just above linearly, and large variances are usually explained by majors, so polytechnics have high salaries and LACs have low salaries.
- Admissions rates can vary dramatically by major, like between 3% and 63% at a school with a 30% admissions rate. The SAT scores and GPAs also vary considerably by major, and not always together. Look for more detailed data from schools when you can find it.
- Rankings are hard, bring a salt lick. School #25 isn't better than school #36, or #115 better than #150, but yeah, probably #36 is better than #115. You may or may not care about the criteria used by a given ranking (I'm looking at you, US News). Rankings within majors are typically looking at the graduate programs.
- Not that many schools consider interest (campus visit, request for info, virtual tours, admissions counselor contacts, etc.) as part of your application, but if they do, you should get the check mark.
- On a personal note, the availability of other majors of interest and travel time just didn't have much influence on the decision process. The kid ended up choosing a school with the second fewest options and the hardest to get to, among those he was accepted to.
Tier: reach, target, safety (actually split into 3+2+2 sub-tiers) ****
Status: rejected, gather [more info], consider [applying], apply, applied, denied, accepted ****
Reason: reason for the status *
Stack ranking: someone suggested doing this to make life less stressful in April and May ***
Name **** (duh)
25th percentile SAT ****
75th percentile SAT ****
Admission rate ***
Graduation rate (6 yr): **
Average Salary (2 yr): *
Average Salary (6 yr): *
Size: Number of undergrads ***
Programs: Which of the kid's seven majors or areas of interest are available ***
Freshman % living on campus: **
Undergrad % living on campus: **
% of in-state students **
Rankings (for the first 4: overall, CS, and engineering)
Princeton Review *
US News **
College Factual *
Dorms + Food (Niche) **
Applications (**** unless otherwise noted)
Early Action deadline
Merit deadline ********
Apply By: personal deadline, based on the above, teacher recommendations, and essay writing
Common App Mid-Year Update: ignored, self report, official, or unmentioned
SAT: optional, self report, official; essay; subject tests: no, recommended, required
SAT Code: four-digit codes were unused (*), but we noted official College Board submissions
Essays: N/A, ignored, optional, recommended, required, supplemental, honors
Teachers Recommendations: min–max [+ counselor recommendation]
Other Recommendations: min–max (coaches, employers, etc.)
Considers Interest: not considered, considered, important (color coded for status)
Applications: Common, Coalition, school's own (when required)
Source: mailing, email, family alumni *
Affiliation: public, Christian, Catholic, Jesuit *
Nickname: from the Engineers to the Dragons, just for fun **
Travel time and cost **