Thoughts From Mr. Fiske (Or Calm in the Heart of Application Season)

Earlier this month I had the great fortune to attend a professional webinar with Mr. Edward Fiske, the man behind Fiske Guide to Colleges. It was so interesting to hear his perspective on colleges in 2020. His career began in the 1960s as a journalist and he still works on the annual publication of the guide that bears his name. I enjoyed learning everything from how they decide which colleges to include in the guide to what makes them different from other college books and how things have changed over the years. I put a few quotes from the webinar with Mr. Fiske below with some comments from me. If you are a senior or the parent of a senior, things are ramping up as the October 15th deadlines just passed and the November deadlines are approaching. I hope his sage words offer calm and perspective. Here are a few takeaways:

Too much information is useless information.-I have heard that getting information about college admissions is like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hydrant. I am a firm believer that students need to start early and take time to sort out what they want from their college experiences and which schools offer the best fit. However, at some point, there are diminishing marginal returns on the information.

The colleges’ ability to manipulate the applicant pool is astonishing.”-The truth of the matter is that colleges hold many of the cards in the admissions world. They can leverage institutional funds to recruit students and they can put application plans in place to increase their yield. (I am looking at you Colgate, with ED1, ED2 AND ED3) It is important to be aware of this so that you can chart your own course and take the steps that are best for your student.

The US diversity of higher education options is phenomenal.”-This statement speaks for itself. There are thousands of choices and more than half of them except more than half of the applicant pool.

There are dozens of schools that would be a good match.”-And this statement is why my mantra is “Love Your List”. When a student is only excited about their reach schools, it is a recipe for disappointment and heartache. I wrote a piece about this, here. Do not fall in love with one school.

Find a place where the personality of the school will serve your needs.”-I wrote a piece that I publish every year in February for my seniors that has a beautiful quote that speaks to this, called, “A Valentine for my Seniors”. It speaks to this very point.

The American system of higher education is a real treasure.-And at the end of the day, this is the point that I want to drive home. There is no other country in the world with the array of options that we have. I work with students of all academic ranges and there are schools for everyone. So if you are in the heart of the application season and feeling some stress, I hope that Mr. Fiske’s comments offer a calm perspective.

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