Fellows Decisions Explained

It’s been a few weeks since we released invitations to Fellows and Scholarship Weekend.   Since that time, we’ve responded to countless inquiries about the selection process and why many very high achieving students were not selected to compete on March 2nd and 3rd.   Let me provide some all-important context that may prove helpful.

In short, Fellows are the value-added programs at Elon.  In the schools (Elon College, Business, Communications and Education) they are the honors programs.   Students must know they wish to study one of the majors within a given school in order to apply to a specific Fellows program.   For high achieving students with a variety of interests, Elon offers an outstanding Honors Fellows program.   For the student leader we especially seek to enroll, we offer the Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows program.   Our newest program is for international students so it is aptly named International Fellows.

Each Fellows program, requires a separate application that was due January 10.  This is  the date by which students interested in Engineering Scholarships had to apply as well.   This year, we received a record 1664 Fellows and Engineering Scholarship applications!   There are 205 Fellows in a first year class of 1400 and two scholarships for engineering majors.   The number of opportunities, along with the volume of applications makes the process highly selective.

As you know, Elon students are very bright.   Naturally then, the brightest students apply to be Fellows.   Fifty four percent of the Fellows applicant pool was invited to Fellows Weekend.  The average combined GPA was 4.57 with a 2046 SAT (32 ACT).

Some may question these statistics because either their GPA or standardized test score is above a statistic listed above.  Keep in mind that the programs receive varying number of applications.   The Honors Fellows for example, received 1028 applications alone!

The hardest thing we do is say “no” to students.  Remember, we’re the admissions office.  We like to admit students to the university and to the Fellows programs.  Each year, many students not selected for a Fellows interview enroll at Elon.  The education across the board is superior whether you are a Fellow or not.

We anticipate well over 600 students on campus on March 2nd and 3rd.  It’s a huge weekend for everyone involved.   Each year, students arrive nervous because they don’t know what to expect.   When I run into them 36 hours later, they’re leaving campus with a smile on their face and the confidence that they will contribute to this community regardless of whether or not they become a Fellow.

Before April 1, we will release Fellows and scholarship offers via On Track, e-mail and letter.   Each program offers significant benefits and a $1000 Elon Experiences grant.   Additionally, each offers varying amounts of scholarship money.  Be sure to visit http://www.elon.edu/e-web/admissions/Fellows/ for all the details.

We have great things in store for March 2nd and 3rd.  If you’ve been selected to interview, only a few days remain for you to register.   We’re looking forward to seeing you on campus again very soon!


Early Action 2011

In just over four hours here on the East Coast we will release our Early Action admissions decisions.   Like many of my colleagues across the country, I’m here to report a significant application increase this year over last.    In fact, just a year ago, I was writing about 5400 Early Action applications.   This year, the pool increased to 6330!  

Ultimately, I’m not sure I can explain the huge increase in our pool.  After all, we are not on the Common App which would make it that much easier to submit an application.   I do know that many people have commented to me this year (and last) that Elon is a school many people are talking about all over the country.   That’s very exciting and I’m convinced that most of that has to do with our students.   Simply put, they are amazing.    And they love it here!

You may recall that we admitted approximately 50% of the EA pool last year.    That is the case again this year.   Of course, there were more applications so that meant we had to be more selective.    The average core recalcuated GPA for the admitted pool is 4.22 and the SAT average is 1965.   The ACT average is 29.

Of course, the academic profile drives all admissions decisions.   If you have ever been part of one of my campus information sessions, you have heard me say that many outstanding students with these profiles apply.   So how do we identify candidates for admission among more qualified applicants than we can admit?   We look to the Student Index.   This is a composite of an applicant’s activities, leadership and service as well as the strength of the application essay.    My colleagues in the department and I agree that essays this year seemed stronger than last.    This may be a function of a new essay prompt or it could be a result of the new Elon Engagement Scholarship which is based on the essay itself! 

W e anticipate enrolling 150 students in the class next fall who are recipients of Elon Engagement awards.   These scholarships are US$3500/year plus a one-time $2000 Elon Experiences grant to use toward Elon’s signature programs including study abroad, service, internships, research or leadership development.  

At the risk of repeating myself from year to year, let me say a word about our Records staff.    Their work is always impressive.   They are accurate and thorough and this year, they raised the bar for all of us.   The 13 hour day operation paid dividends in allowing us to process, read and make decisions on the largest EA applicant pool in history!   Once again, just 3% of the pool was moved to Final Deadline because we didn’t receive the required information in a timely manner.   That’s beyond impressive and I cannot thank our Records team enough.

In Early Action, applications are admitted, declined or deferred. 

So what does Deferred really mean and what can a student applicant do to be more competitive in Final Deadline?   To begin with, we need the requested academic information.   If a student with a 4.2 is deferred and we ask for mid senior year grades, I know this sounds crazy.   But since the issue may be a standardized test, asking an applicant to register for another SAT/ACT when the deadline is three days from today (SAT) and January 7 (ACT) this doesn’t work terribly well either.  If your standardized test score resulted in a decision to defer, a strong academic record in your senior year along with demonstrated interest (contacting your admissions counselor via e-mail) may be helpful as the Committee re-evaluates a file in February.    Naturally, we cannot guarantee admission for everyone who provides what we request but every year we admit hundreds of deferred EA candidates in Final Deadline.     Still others are offered a place on our Wait List while some are offered Spring Admission.

The University will be closed from Wednesday, December 21 through Tuesday, December 27.    We will reopen for two days before closing again for the New Year holiday.   I hope this blog post provides some context for the decision making process again this year.

Moreover, I hope everyone has a healthy and safe holiday season filled with family, friends and rest.    Thank you for discovering Elon and for understanding the complexities of selective admissions.

Happy 2012!

Application Deadlines Extended

November 1.  Aside from a 12th birthday in our house, it’s important for other reasons.  Namely, today is the traditional deadline for Elon’s Early Decision and Gap Semester programs.  

Overall, applications are running 15% ahead of last year but given the extreme October winter weather in the mid Atlantic and New England states, we have extended the deadline for Early Decision and the Gap Semester to Monday, November 7.   We hope this will prove helpful to the many prospective Elon families who are dealing with so much so early.

If you have questions, contact the admissions office at admissions@elon.edu or 336-278-3566.  


The Arts are Alive in STL

The calendar may not say it’s fall but there are signs of it everywhere.  For starters, we welcomed our class of 1417 first year and 83 transfer students to campus a couple of weeks ago.  It was another great move-in experience thanks to the New Student Orientation program now in the capable hands of Elon alumna, Katie Hight.    We even managed to dodge Irene, though sadly a lot of people up and down the eastern seaboard were not as fortunate. 

Almost immediately following August 26th – and in some cases before – our staff hit the road to find next year’s class.   I spent last week in my second home of St. Louis visiting 14 high schools and of course, taking in a Cardinals game.     As MLB looks to the post season, the weather has finally cooled and today’s high of 70 degrees was a reminder that  later this week, fall will officially be here.   That means Phoenix football games in Rhodes Stadium, a couple birthdays in my house and the growing intensity of our Records staff uploading and scanning applications for the admissions committee to read when we are all back in the office in early November.

This was my eighth year visiting STL high schools.  By now I no longer need a map (although I am reminded that you can’t turn left onto Lindbergh off Conway between 7 – 9 a.m.).   The genuine highlight of the trip is meeting and talking with students who visited campus over the summer and seeing my college/guidance counselor friends and colleagues.   It’s all very rewarding.   

As I visited many of the same schools I do annually, it was quite evident that the performing arts are alive in well in the Mid west.    At SLUH I met students who worked at the MUNY with Elon acting and music theatre majors this summer.   At Ladue Horton Watkins, I entered the building closest to the new theater the school added a couple of years ago.  At Nerinx, Clayton and Crossroads I met aspiring actors interested in Elon’s nationally recognized BFA programs.  I visited Whitfield where one of their 2011 graduates sang and danced her way to a coveted seat in this year’s first year music theatre class.   And last but certainly not least, Chaminade’s new performing arts building blew me away.

Chaminade is an all boys school.   We’ve been fortunate to enroll many of their graduates at Elon over the years and I hope that will continue next year.    I know that many of the STL area schools are known for academic rigor and thriving sports programs.   It’s clear to me that many, many students are also incredibly talented in the arts as well.  We live in an age when many things are being cut from school budgets at  both public and private schools.    It’s exciting to see a place building facilities to meet the demands of students and needs of an outstanding cultural arts community.

As if I needed another reason to love St. Louis….

Hanging in Hollywood

August. Wow, that was fast!  Summer is winding down. It won’t be long before our 1428 freshmen and 75 transfer students arrive on campus. And if you’ve read my blog entries around move-in day for the last two years, you know how I will feel….

As I type, I am flying back from Los Angeles where I had the genuine pleasure of experiencing a taste of Elon’s Climbing the LAdder program. This nine week program is a value-added experience for students across the university who are interested in the entertainment industry. If it was a fantastic experience for me in just three days, you can imagine what it’s like for students.

This summer, 40 students participated in Elon’s fourth summer program in LA. The tagline – Live, Learn, Intern – says it all. Elon students attend class on Monday and intern Tuesday – Friday all across Hollywood, Santa Monica, etc. Each internship has a mentor who is an Elon alumnus. That’s how strong the network is out there!

I spent time visiting two internship sites – Digimax and Panavision – and learned just how little I know about how much is involved in the entertainment industry. From 180 and 360 degree HD camera data storage to literally hundreds of different camera lenses and equipment, all I could think of was how much the average movie viewer takes for granted.    Myself included.

The students live in a very nice residential community in Hollywood literally a stone’s throw from Warner Bros studios. They are responsible for their own transportation and four faculty members – only one of whom is from Elon’s NC main campus – teach classes ranging from Acting to the Business of Hollywood.   From my interaction with our amazing students, it’s clear that this program is life changing.

On Wednesday evening, Climbing the LAdder students premiered the films they’ve been working on all summer. They were fantastic – and the premier just happened to be at the American Film Institute (AFI)!  Over refreshments prior to the screening, I had a conversation with a favorite young alumae who graduated last December.    She participated in the LA program just last summer. “It was either study abroad or domestically and I chose this.” Earlier this year, she moved to LA and got a great job with a highly regarded entertainment company.   She even mentored two interns this summer!

Climbing the LAdder isn’t Elon’s only domestic summer program. A very different but equally enriching experience is available in New York City. It too, is available to students regardless of major.

The cost of Climbing the LAdder is $7000 which covers tuition and housing as well as a variety of industry related joint experiences. The result of such an experience is remarkable learning and transformation. Students develop expertise and independence as they Live, Learn and Intern. It’s another example of Elon’s commitment to Engaged Learning. Perhaps it’s the best…

For more information on Climbing the LAdder, visit http://www.elon.edu/e-web/academics/communications/eloninla/

Do You Work in the Summer?

No folks, I did not fall off the face of the Earth.  I can imagine it seems that way and I’m committed to far more regular postings in the future.  

It’s summer.    Back in the day (only a few years ago) summer – and particularly the months of June and July – felt like “down time”.   That’s not the case any more.   Don’t get me wrong, when people I see outside of the Elon community ask “do you work in the summer?” I respond immediately that I very much do.  In fact, we are constantly working on enrolling future classes.   

So what exactly does a university admissions office do during the summer months?   Well, the Elon staff is as busy as ever.  We had our annual undergraduate retreat June 8-10 at 7 Lakes just outside Southern Pines, NC.   This three day event was full of discussion and planning related to our departmental goals and objectives for the coming year.  Among them, implementing our new Elon Engagement scholarships.   We also discussed in great detail Elon’s new Gap Semester Program – a fantastic new opportunity for students planning to attend Elon but who wish to begin in a less traditional way.   We received a report from the Senior Staff retreat which preceded our retreat by about a week.  In addition, we talked about shifts in what we call our Hospitality programs which are generally held in January.   In between a lot of work we also had time to play games, eat (a lot) and even see a movie.   I’m incredibly blessed to work with extremely bright, conscientious and  motivated people so there was no shortage of conversation, ideas and fun.  We even played “Family Feud” as a way to make sure we knew one another’s specific responsibilities in the office.

Since our return to campus we’ve been busy retooling our communications matrix, advancing retreat conversations, hiring new staff and hosting dozens of families daily.  Many of these students will become members of the Elon Family come the fall of 2012.

Just this week we released the wait list.   We also offered Spring Admission to many of the students for whom we could not offer a seat in the fall 2011 class. 

So you see, we do work in the summer – quite a bit.   But we all find time for well deserved vacations.    There are truly four seasons in the Elon admissions office.  Summer is a time for strategic planning – all of which will make for a successful recruitment cycle during the coming academic year.

Happy summer to all!

Snow, School and Applications


Happy 2011 everyone!

Elon is actually closed today due to inclement weather.   The new year is off to an interesting start here in NC.  As of this morning, we are experiencing our fifth “snow event” of the season. As a NJ native but long time resident of NC, I’m going to call it. This is unbelievable!

The storm started in the South so many schools were closed yesterday. The forecast for the mid Atlantic and Northeast isn’t too good in the short term. With such unpredictability, we’re offering a 48 hour grace period for students to submit a Final Deadline application.   As usual, we received a lot overnight – but in case you were out of school yesterday and were planning on finishing up your Elon application, you have until midnight tomorrow, Wednesday, January 12th to have your application included in the Final Deadline program.    As is customary, applications received after the close of Final Deadline will be considered on a space available basis.

I’ll admit that I hesitate to share the news of our weather.  I know that a large number of students apply to Elon because of our location.   Let me be clear.    North Carolina has four beautiful seasons.    Our summers are long and hot.   Winter is generally short and temperate.   Fall is beautiful and long (students often wear shorts and flip flops into December) and spring is absolutely breathtaking.   It’s what we live for in NC.    How much snow have we had this winter?   Well, by NC standards, our total of five inches seems like a lot.   For those of you from Boston or up-state New York, you’ll find it amusing that we even refer to this as “bad weather”.

So take an extra day and feel free to submit your admissions application.    If we can be helpful, be sure to call or e-mail the office.     We’re looking forward to hearing from you and continuing to read applications in advance of our March 15th release.