by Doug Sept, Director of the Upper School and Director of College Counseling
As we approach the end of another school year, it is a perfect time to pay tribute to the Class of 2017 and the fruitful work that they have done in preparing for the next stages of their education. These thirty-eight students submitted a combined total of 326 applications to a variety of colleges and universities across the nation. Each of those applications included a transcript, standardized test results, thoughtful personal essays, and genuine faculty recommendation letters.
As a result, these students were accepted to 219 of those schools, or 67%. When I look back over the past five years, this acceptance rate is slightly above average, although we usually fall close to the ⅔ mark each year. Some may wonder why the acceptance rate is not higher, and our philosophy is that we want our students to take risks and apply to schools with high admission standards and low acceptance rates, and we do so with the knowledge that there will likely be some rejection letters as a result. These "reach" and "far reach" schools often have single-digit or under twenty percent acceptance rate. In schools of this caliber, our seniors had an acceptance rate of well over 33%.
We also encouraged each student to explore schools that are "target" and even "safety" schools. This increases the number and diversity of options for each student. When it came time for all seniors to declare their final school of choice, they had taken into account such factors as majors and programs, distance from home, setting, campus community, school size, and cost. While many of these items can be quantified, most seniors and graduates will still say that their final selection also includes an unquantifiable "feel" that they experienced while visiting campus.
Our senior class was also very successful in being awarded merit-aid, which are scholarships given on the basis of academic performance. As of now, this class has received over five million dollars in merit-based offers, and many of our graduates will be attending their colleges for a fraction of the advertised tuition. We collect this data each year with a goal of tracking financial aid patterns at different schools so that we can continue to support future seniors in determining where they wish to apply.
There are many people who take part in helping support our seniors each year achieve their goals. The faculty in all divisions have guided this class through numerous years at EA, helping them grow academically and discover passions through class and co-curricular activities, providing leadership opportunities along the way. These experiences have allowed the Upper School faculty to write personal letters of recommendation in support of our students. Dan Raffety, in his role as college counselor, has personally guided each senior through the process, offering sage advice while allowing the students to take the reigns of their own futures. Kelley Fluegel has provided a key point of communication with the colleges. In her role as registrar, she is the person through which all of the supporting materials for each of these 326 applications has passed. The parents have had perhaps the most difficult role, one that involves helping their children explore passions and dreams knowing that the end result is that they are leaving home. And finally, I wish to recognize the Class of 2017, who so admirably blazed the thirty-eight trails that are now leading away from Elgin Academy with the understanding that they have a home-base on our campus for a lifetime.
Here are the list of the luckiest colleges and universities - the ones that are welcoming one or more members of the Class of 2017 to their campuses!
California Polytechnic State
Columbia College - Chicago
Eckerd College (2 students)
Elgin Community College
Illinois Wesleyan University
Iowa State University
Kansas State University
Miami University (OH)
New York University
Rochester Institute of Technology
St. Olaf College
University of Alabama
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of Denver
University of Florida
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (3 students)
University of Kentucky
University of Louisville
University of Miami (FL)
University of Notre Dame
University of Richmond
University of San Diego
University of Tampa
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeWake Forest University