top of page

Some thoughts for my juniors who are working on their lists, trying to figure out what “the right fit” means.

Start to build a great lifetime skill…tune out the noise in the media, disregard peer pressure, groupthink, and rankings.

This will serve you well the rest of your life as a student, in your career, and someday as a parent (if that’s in your future).

Instead, chart your own course–determine what’s real for you.

It’s the foundation of good decision making.

What will you study?

If you don’t know, that’s fine–colleges keep adding exploratory programs because they are honest fits for so many students.

It’s ok to sit in uncertainty…most college students change their majors at least twice.

Tweaking, adjusting, and changing dreams doesn’t mean failure, but mature decision making.

It is not negative to leave a relationship, a major, even a school, when that choice is thoughtfully made.

Be honest about what you need and who you are.

Figure out what centers you in your learning.

If you are confused, will you approach a chemistry professor when you are in a class of 400?

Colleges are not the quad and the buildings-they are the people, the mentors.

Will you be open to finding mentors who help you in school and give you career direction?

Finally, stay positive as we start the process of essays and applications.

Just do the next right thing, one thing at a time.


I ask parents to sign the “LCS Essay Contract” before we start the essay process. They agree that they will not write the essays because admissions officers can discern the difference between parent and student writing. The other reason is that parents often focus on what a student has done rather than convey a reflection of what the experience meant. That can only come from the student.

Does that mean there is no role for parents in the essay process? No! Help by asking the right questions. Students often say that they cannot write. I respond, as I learned years ago in a writing workshop, “Can you think?” That answer is always yes.

The purpose of the essay is to show how students think and reflect about their actions more than what those literal actions are. If your student can share those thoughts and reflections with you, your input absolutely matters. Asking the right questions helps more than telling them “what to write about.”

We start with the video. Writing down what you love to do, what you know, and your defining qualities is just a springboard. The essay is not simply about fishing, doing puzzles, or playing hockey. Nor is it about resilience, compassion, leadership, or any other quality. Instead, it expresses what students glean from experiencing those traits when they reflect on them later in the essay.

This isn’t always easy, because students are not always comfortable talking about themselves, especially to their parents. But who knows them better than you? Now, as we begin the process, is the time to ask these questions (if you want to–I will if you don’t).

The LCS Essay Contract states that the student is welcome to share an essay we’ve agreed is effective with anyone they like. However, I will not re-edit the essay after it goes through other hands. Though the student’s reflection matters, one thing matters more. Before hitting “submit,” the student will check a box stating “this is my work.” Making an ethical choice is the most important lesson of the college application process.


There has been a 7% increase in applications submitted, but that number is down from 11% in the pandemic years. So growth has slowed down, and here’s an interesting trend: more total applications have been submitted as opposed to more applications per applicant. That means that more students are applying to college than they did during the height of the pandemic, and some students are applying to fewer colleges.

Who’s applying, and which colleges are they applying to?

International applications, which came to a near stop during travel bans, are back to pre-pandemic levels. Applications from underserved populations are up 55 to 66%. The biggest jump we are seeing is 60% growth of applications to public colleges. And while this number includes very selective institutions like the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia, 80% of this application growth is due to applications to colleges that admit 50% + of their applicants. I certainly see this trend in action with the wave of northeast students applying to large southern public colleges.

A natural result of more applications is more deferrals. USC received 40,000 EA applications and deferred most; the same was true for Clemson and the University of Michigan. Restricted Early Action, generally a benefit at Georgetown, did not pan out that way this year because most deferred students ended up on the waitlist.

When colleges offer an ED option, we see the gap continue to widen between ED and RD admission. As they admit a high percentage of ED applicants, both Boston University and Northeastern (74% in 2022-23), general admit rates have plummeted. Both of these schools were significantly overenrolled and are now addressing that.

How should 2024 grads approach this scenario? By the time-honored formula: apply to a balanced list of schools. Reach for those “unlikelies” if you have the numbers and extracurriculars to support your application, but make sure to have targets and likely colleges on your list that you would be happy to attend.

Subscribe to the LCS Blog!

Thanks for submitting! Look for updates about today's college landscape.

Search By Tags
bottom of page