So you’re a senior in high school and you’ve just hit ‘send’ on your UMD application. You’ve spent weeks writing and rewriting your essay and statements. Now the hard work is finally over and you’re wondering what happens next. Well the review period begins. Two months of waiting before the results come back. Do you make the cut? Here are 10 things you should know about the wait process.
1. UMD is no longer a safe school
Sorry to burst your bubble if you thought UMD would be a school of last resort if you didn’t get into any other college. This is no longer the case. 30 years ago, UMD was pretty much open to anyone and anything with half a brain. Not anymore. The chances of you getting in is rated as ‘more selective’ now with an admission rate of around 45%. Now this isn’t to say UMD is the next Harvard or Standford or even Cornell (with its high 15% acceptance rate), but you’ll need to put in a lot more effort now than you would have in the past. Be above average and you’ll probably get in.
2. Not all grades are created equally
Sure, the ‘A’ on your report card looks good, but UMD, like many other schools, also takes into account something they call ‘academic rigor’. That is, how challenging are the courses you are taking? An ‘A’ in a regular English class might be equal to a ‘B’ in an AP Lang class for instance. The admissions people like to see you challenging yourself even if you can’t get top marks in all of those classes.
3. The essay isn’t that important
At UMD, the admissions office isn’t going to deny you entry because your essay isn’t up to par. It’s also not going to accept you nessesarily because your essay is a masterpiece. Why? Well in today’s competitive admissions process, the colleges all know you probably didn’t write the essay yourself. So to counter that, the colleges all decided to not weight the essay that heavily. Now don’t go out of your way to write a pathetic essay, just don’t stress over it
4. SAT scores also do not mean much
If you got a 2400 on the SAT congrats! It still doesn’t mean you’re going to get into UMD (although they’ll probably offer you a full ride to be honest). Research has shown that the higher income a family earns, the higher their child’s SAT score. And it makes a lot of sense. If you earn a high income, that probably means you care about education and you want your child to succeed. The children of those earning $200,000 or more per year score an average of 1700 on the SAT compared to only 1300-1400 for those near or below the poverty line. To eliminate wealth as a factor, many universities (not UMD) have now made the SAT optional. Even those with the SAT requirement still do not put too much weight on the SAT.
5. Class rank is useless
At such a large university such as UMD (population 20k+), it is really easy to only pick the top 10% of every school and declare them college ready. But UMD doesn’t do that because it wouldn’t be fair. If only the top 10% of people got in, there would not be any diversity on campus. Furthermore, if only the top 10% got in, does that mean the top 20% are failures? Of course not!
6. Recommendations play a major factor
This is the first thing that does play a major role. Recommendations from teachers and counselors are very important. It doesn’t matter if you are the best student in the world if you can’t interact with other people. Recommendations tell the college what the student’s work ethic is like. Do they get along with other students? What is their response to failure? Do they often participate in classroom discussion?
7. Don’t be fooled by high or low acceptance rates
Many schools pad their stats with incomplete applications to make it sound like they accept anybody who applies. Likewise, many so called elite universities will accept those who have something to offer like a division one basketball player. So looks can be deceiving! Maryland is particularly fond of getting division one football players!
8. Politics may play a factor into admission
Colleges don’t want to admit it, but politics do play a role into who gets in and who doesn’t. How so? Race can be a factor even though some public universities have banned the consideration of race as a factor. If the school feels there is a lack of diversity on campus and you happen to be a minority, you might be able to get in under the diversity inclusion initiative. Legacy admission students also get in easier. If the student is the child of a powerful lawmaker or of a significant donor to the university, the university will grant them special consideration.
9. UMD needs you more than you need UMD
Shocker right? You are paying UMD for tuition every year for the four or so years you are attending school, more for graduate school. But fewer people are going to college these days, which means UMD is scrambling to fill freshmen seats. This may lead to some price negotiations, which can be good for the average student.
10. Out of state or foreign nationals get priority
That’s not fair you might say, and it really isn’t. But the university has to get funded somehow and one way to do that is to force out of state and foreign nationals to pay more. For instance, at UMD, a Marylander will pay around 10k a year. If you’re from Kansas, you’ll pay around 32k a year. If you’re from South Korea, you’ll pay even more! So of course, that means a non-Marylander is worth 3 times as much as a Marylander. UMD loves filling its coffers with more money so of course they encourage more out of state and foreign nationals to apply.
After you send in your application to UMD, you’ll have to wait two months or so (if you applied early). During those two months, UMD passes around your application like its going out of style before making a decision in late January. Hopefully you can use these tips to get in to UMD! Go Terps!