The New School of Nursing at Providence College

Artist’s Rendition of Providence’s New School of Nursing Scheduled for Completion 2025

Providence College (PC) is a private four-year Catholic college located on an urban campus two miles west of downtown Providence, RI. It has a total undergraduate enrollment of 4,298 and admissions are selective, with a 2022-23 acceptance rate of 47%. The college offers 72 bachelor’s degrees, has an average graduation rate of 85%, and a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. All classes are taught by full-time professors and half of all classes have fewer than 20 students. PC is ranked #1 by U.S. News & World Reports in Regional Universities North.

The School of Nursing

PC made an major announcement last September. For the first time in its 105-year history, the college will offer academic programs in nursing and health sciences, which will be offered through the newly established School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Last year, the Rhode Island Board of Nurse Registration and Nursing Education granted formal approval to the college for a bachelor of science degree program in nursing. PC began accepting applicants for the program during the 2022-23 admissions season and the first students will matriculate in fall 2023.

This summer, PC will begin construction of a new School of Nursing and Health Sciences facility on the current site of Fennel Hall. The five-story, 125,000-square-foot School of Nursing and Health Sciences will be the largest on campus when it is completed in 2025.  

The facility will include space to support technologically advanced clinical simulations and health assessment laboratories. It will have a 7,000-square foot suite that simulates a hospital floor for acute-care patients. Under the supervision of instructors, students will learn how to use medical equipment, perform diagnostic tests, and update records on digitally controlled mannequins, which are full-body patient simulators that mimic human anatomy and physiology. The Clinical Simulation Suite will make it possible for 50% of a nursing student’s required clinical experience to take place on campus.

The building also will feature a 100-seat auditorium-style classroom, student study areas, research labs, and “makerspace” for collaboration. There will also be a student advising and career center, faculty offices, a chapel, a plaza and pavilion, and a dining facility. The School of Nursing will anchor the eastern end of the campus and serve as a center for all PC students. 

For the first year of the nursing program, enrollment will be limited to 50 freshmen. Fifty current health science majors will also be included, increasing the size of the class to 100 students. Enrollment will be capped at 75 students per year for each of the two programs, making it a modest program at first compared with peer institutions. The focus will remain on the academic excellence of the student body and faculty in order to raise the school’s reputation. Upon graduation of the initial class in 2027, the School will receive full accreditation from the state. PC then plans to increase enrollment at a faster pace.

Upon successful completion of PC’s bachelor of science in nursing program, graduates will be eligible to enter professional nursing practice as Registered Nurses (RN’s) after earning a satisfactory score on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Graduates will also be well-prepared for advanced study in nursing at the graduate and doctoral level.

The college’s administration has stated that the plan for the School of Nursing fully conforms with the college’s mission of service, but notes that other factors also contributed to its development. The largest generational cohort in American history, the baby boomers, now demands more and more from healthcare institutions at a time when college enrollment is declining. PC is seeking to draw students from a shrinking pool of applicants by attracting them to the fast-growing health care field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in healthcare is expected to grow 13% from 2024 to 2030 — faster than any other major employment field. The Department of Labor forecasts about 2 million new jobs in the field over the next decade.  

PC’s Commitment to the Liberal Arts

PC places a high value on a liberal arts education. The majority of undergraduates declare majors in the liberal arts. Regardless of major field of study, undergraduate students are required to complete a core curriculum of Mathematics, Philosophy, Theology, Natural Science, English, Fine Arts, Social Science, and the Development of Western Civilization — the program that best exemplifies PC’s commitment to a sound education in the liberal arts.  

The Development of Western Civilization is a two-year program of courses for all underclassmen at PC. The class meets three days a week, with one day for seminar work or exams. It is taught by a team of professors who specialize in literature, art, theology, philosophy, or history. The program has three semesters of standard lecture with topics ranging from ancient history to the modern world. The fourth and final semester of the program is organized into colloquia and specialized courses that focus on each student’s interests.

Although the School of Nursing will be a center for the study of the biological sciences, PC will remain a citadel of the liberal arts. Dr. Kyle McInnis, the inaugural dean of the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, noted that, “The School of Nursing and Health Sciences will not define the college. PC’s culture, mission, and commitment to academic excellence will define it. PC nursing program graduates will be set apart from others in their field because of the liberal arts education they will receive.” 

What the Squeeze on College Budgets Means

Long-established patterns of college admissions have been disrupted. This has been attributed to the impact of COVID-19, but the pandemic only accelerated trends that had been building for a decade. One outcome of the disruption is that, while most colleges struggle with declining enrollment and budget pressures, elite institutions have seen a sharp rise in demand. Two models of admissions have arisen — one for the 60 or 70 most elite colleges and one for the other 4,300 colleges in the country. Students planning to apply to the other colleges should learn about the current state of admissions and use this knowledge to achieve their goals.

In budgeting for academic/fiscal year 2023-24, administrators of tuition-dependent private and public colleges can no longer postpone dealing with declining revenue. The $80 billion in Federal aid that helped them through the pandemic is gone and the hot economy that helped to absorb tuition increases has cooled.

Maintaining enrollment and tuition revenue is the most daunting task confronting colleges today. Total undergraduate enrollment fell by 4% in the fall of 2021 from a year earlier, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Enrollment at public four-year colleges declined by 4% from 2020 to 2022, and community colleges were hit even harder. Enrollment at these colleges was down 25% in the fall of 2020 compared to 2019, then lost another 7% by 2022.

The decline in enrollment is the result of seismic changes in American demographics. Simply put, there are fewer high school seniors every year. According to Lee Gardner, writing in a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“Traditional-age college students were becoming increasingly scarce before Covid-19 complicated matters. More than half of the states are projected to lose as many as 15% of their college-bound high-school graduates by 2029, creating even more intense competition among colleges for the dwindling number of first-time, first-year students available. And the recent national conversation over the price, and worth, of a degree has made college a tougher sell for some students and their families.”

Public Institutions

The public institutions under the most pressure concerning enrollment are small regional and community colleges, which typically receive less state support per student than public flagship universities. Yet these schools serve the majority of first-generation and low-income students — the very students who are the most difficult to retain. This is a particularly vexing problem because state appropriations and tuition revenue are both tied to enrollment levels. The colleges being forced to make the largest budget cuts are those facing the most acute need to provide more and better student support services to reduce the attrition of enrolled students.

Private Institutions

Many private colleges are in even more precarious fiscal circumstances than public institutions. Schools that rely solely on tuition revenue face a future of increasingly expensive competition for a shrinking pool of applicants. In the past, these colleges often relieved financial pressure by raising tuition, but this a become a risky and  impractical tactic in 2023. There is widespread awareness of the burden of college debt along with the rising perception that an education at many colleges would flunk a cost/benefits analysis.

Adding to the dilemma is the rise of inflation. In the previous decade, inflation was flat at about 2% per year, which made planning and pricing easier. This remained true until 2020, when pandemic-induced shortages began to cause prices to rise by more than 6%. As costs rose, faculty and staff pressed for higher compensation. Other college operating costs also rose. Although inflation has fallen, it’s expected to be about 4% this year. But most colleges don’t foresee having sufficient revenue to be able to cope with upward pressure on labor and operating costs.

Near-Term Solutions for Colleges

Many colleges have too much physical plant in proportion to their enrollment, too many layers of management, and too many majors for which student interest has waned. Yet colleges still formulate budgets using last year’s budget as the base rather than adopting the zero-based budgeting methods of many large businesses.

Colleges are spending heavily to enhance their appeal. A better solution would be to increase spending on programs that raise student retention rates, such as academic-support and mental health. Retaining students will yield a better return on investment than fighting for marginally more enrollees than peer colleges.

Colleges should also consider aggressive partnerships, including agreements with other institutions to share back-office operations and aggregate purchasing power. Pooling operating resources among colleges offers huge potential for cost saving. Colleges should also seek to form new academic consortia. There are several consortia in the U.S. that have succeeded in protecting member’s enrollment levels by enhancing their collective appeal to applicants. College administrators should also pursue the potential benefits of merging with or acquiring other colleges.

Advantages to Applicants The grave fiscal condition of many colleges can work to the advantage of applicants. College’s need to increase enrollment will relax admission standards at many schools, so applicants with less than outstanding credentials will be accepted by schools that would have rejected them in the past. And, paradoxically, a well-qualified applicant is more likely to be offered a large tuition discount as an inducement to enroll. A college will prefer lower tuition revenue over none at all if there are a freshmen seats that might go unfilled

Common App Essay Prompts Remain the Same for 2023-2024

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February 2023
2023-2024 Common App essay promptsIn case you missed it, Common App announced that the 2023-2024 essay prompts will remain the same. Past research shows that overall satisfaction with the prompts remains high among students, counselors, and member colleges. Moving forward, we want to learn more about who is choosing certain prompts to see if there are any noteworthy differences among student populations. We hope that by sharing the prompts now, students will have the time they need to reflect on their own personal stories and begin thinking about what they want to share with colleges. As you assist students with their planning, feel free to share our Common App Ready resource on approaching the essay (in English and Spanish).

Early Decision Has Advantages at Top-Tier Colleges

In the last three years, long-established patterns of college admissions have been completely disrupted. This is often attributed to the impact of COVID-19, but the pandemic only accelerated trends that had been building for a decade. Perhaps the most significant change is the fact that, while most colleges struggle with declining enrollment, top-tier colleges have seen a sharp rise in demand. Two distinct models of admissions have evolved — one for top-tier colleges and another for all the rest.  

There is one aspect of the new admissions environment that is of special interest to students aspiring to attend a particular top-tier college. It is the growing disparity in the percentage of early applicants admitted in the fall compared to the percentage admitted in during regular admissions in the spring. Strategically, applying early is an advantage to a student if they seek admission to a top-tier school.

Early Admissions Programs

Top-tier colleges review some applications ahead of most of them through programs referred to collectively as Early Admissions (EA). The most popular EA program is  Early Decision (ED), which has clear advantages for both students and colleges.

Over 450 colleges offer ED programs, including many of the nation’s most highly selective institutions. Students applying via ED submit an application to one college between mid-October and early November and receive a decision in mid-December. The applicant agrees to a binding commitment to enroll in the college if accepted. This arrangement enables college administrators to admit highly desirable, well-qualified applicants to their freshman class  before other colleges have an opportunity to admit them.

ED’s advantage to students is that there is usually a far greater probability that they’ll be admitted via ED than if they waited to apply in the Regular Decision (RD) cycle. This encourages students to apply to their “dream school” — one at which they have low odds of acceptance in the RD cycle. ED works best for highly qualified students who strongly prefer one school over all others and for whom affordability is not an issue. This last factor explains why ED admissions skews wealthy and white from a demographic perspective.

Trends in ED Admissions

In the 2021-22 admissions cycle, top-tier schools were deluged with ED applications, even more so than in 2020-21. As a result, they admitted a smaller percentage of ED applicants than in prior years. The reason that ED admission rates declined was the huge number of applications received. The low percentage of ED admittees drew attention away from the growing disparity in the percentage of ED admissions compared to RD admissions.

Institutions such as Vassar, Middlebury, Wesleyan, and Smith admitted over 40% of ED applicants and Hampden-Sydney, Skidmore, Tulane, and Villanova admitted over 50%. Holy Cross admitted 82% of ED applicants and Fairfield admitted 87%. The differential between the rates of ED and RD admissions has become so substantial that it can no longer be explained as a pandemic-related phenomenon.

Information about ED is useful to students because ED can double, triple, and even quadruple their odds of admission to certain schools compared to applying RD. Table A, below, shows the order of magnitude of ED over RD admissions in 2021-22. For example, at Washington University in St. Louis, the ED admissions rate was 27% compared to 8% for RD, a multiple of 3.4 times. Therefore, the probability of an ED applicant being accepted was 340% higher than that of an RD applicant.

Table A

Top Colleges with ED Admissions Rates 2+ Times RD Rates


InstitutionED/RD MultipleAdmit % (ED)Admit % (RD)Yield %
Colorado College8.726358
Tulane University8.568868
Grinnell College7.358861
Northeastern Univ.6.030550
Amherst College*5.332647
Barnard College4.829661
Northwestern Univ.4.824553
Williams College*4.431746
Claremont McKenna4.330768
Duke University4.221549
Middlebury College*4.1451163
Dartmouth College4.020546
Swarthmore College4.024652
Cornell University3.819552
Brown University3.815452
Univ. Pennsylvania3.815449
Bowdoin College*3.726753
Vanderbilt Univ.3.618556
Hamilton College*3.4411250
Pomona College3.417567
Washington Univ.3.427876
Davidson College3.3431364
Pitzer College3.1471546
Johns Hopkins Univ.3.015563
Washington and Lee3.00481657
Haverford College2.9431548
Fairfield University2.8873116
Babson College2.5381542
Univ. of Virginia2.5321330
Smith College2.5492056
Wellesley College2.4291244
College of Holy Cross2.4823433
Howard University2.349218
Worcester Polytech2.3773313
Colgate University2.3251158
Skidmore College2.1512452
Vassar College2.1401944
Wabash College2.0944615
Boston University2.0261353
Rice University2.018939
Villanova University2.0603043

(*) The ED admissions rate for liberal arts colleges in New England is skewed high at the colleges indicated. They are among the 11 highly selective schools in the New England Small College Athletic Conference. The others are Bates, Colby, Trinity, Connecticut, and Tufts. The ED acceptance rates at these schools is high partly because the applicant pool includes recruited athletes, who are almost always admitted. Students with exceptional talent in a performing art, especially music, are also admitted to these schools at a high rate during the ED cycle.

Yield is Important to Colleges

The outcome of applying to a college that matters most to a student is whether they are accepted or not. The outcome that matters most to college administrators is whether an accepted student adds to their yield by enrolling in their school. Yield is the percentage of admitted students who enroll in the college. If a college accepts five students and three of them enroll, the college’s yield is 60%. If only one enrolls, the yield is 20%. 

A high yield has a positive effect on a college’s reputation, rankings, and revenue. A high yield improves the efficacy of a college’s operating plan for the next academic year. It indirectly  encourages more applications from high income, well-qualified students because it raises a school’s profile, enabling the college to be even more competitive in the future. Aside from the Ivies and a few other schools that always produce excellent yields, colleges work hard to sustain as high a yield as possible.

ED Admissions Policies Are Counterintuitive

There is one aspect of ED admissions that is counterintuitive. Based on the college’s own analysis, the lower the odds that an applicant will enroll if admitted during the RD cycle, the higher the odds of them being admitted during the ED cycle.

If an ED applicant has the right qualifications, the probability of their early admission depends on the propensity to enroll of past admittees with similar credentials and attributes. To assess this probability, colleges develop a mathematical model and use it with a database that includes factors such as demonstrated interest, geographic location, financial need, yield from the high school, likely peer college competitors, and student’s potential for merit scholarships and tuition discounts.

Depending on their model’s output, a college may defer an ED applicant who is strongly inclined to enroll because he or she will remain likely to enroll in the RD cycle. On the other hand, if an applicant is a highly desirable addition to the freshman class but, as indicated by the model, has a low probability of enrolling in the RD cycle, the college is more likely to admit him or her in the ED phase because the seek to prevent the possibility that the student might enroll elsewhere. Colleges prefer to snag great students as soon as they can. That’s why ED is advantageous for students who fit a certain profile.

Welcome To Digital Testing – The New SAT

The PSAT and SAT soon will be taken by college-bound students only by computer. The  transition from paper-based to digital testing affirms the continuing relevance and usefulness of standardized tests in the test optional, post-pandemic era. 

There is likely to be a significant increase in the number of SAT-takers when conversion to the digital model is complete. According to a survey taken by the College Board as part of its pilot program, 80% of test-takers indicated that they preferred digital tests because they found them to be less stressful.

Although less than perfect, standardized tests are a pragmatic means of leveling the playing field for the students of nearly 27,000 American high schools, ranging widely in curriculum options, academic rigor, and grading systems. The tests enable students to demonstrate their ability beyond what’s indicated by their GPA and curriculum — the most important factors in admissions. Although submitting test scores is now optional at many colleges, most still use standardized test scores as a way to identify promising students. 

  1. Facts About the Digital Tests

The pandemic caused students and educational institutions to adapt to learning and testing in a digital environment. The College Board is taking advantage of this fact  by adopting digital testing. Below is an overview of their digital PSAT/SAT products:

  1. Who Will Take the Tests

Students now in tenth grade, the high school Class of 2025, will be the first to take the digital PSAT in the fall of this year with the same three variations that are offered in the paper-based test: PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9.

Most high school students take the SAT for the first time in spring of their junior year. The first digital SAT, set for the spring of 2024, will be taken by current tenth graders as well as students in lower grades who wish to take it. Students can take only the paper SAT through the end of 2023.​

  • How and Where Students Will Take the Tests

Digital tests will not be taken by students in their home via the Internet. They will only be taken in a test center. Students may use a Chromebook, a MAC or Windows laptop, or an iPad tablet. They may use their own device or one provided by the test center​ if they make a request in advance through the test registration process.

An Internet connection is required for the test. Test-takers will need to connect to the test center’s Wi-Fi with their personal or test center-provided devices in order to allow for online communication to and from College Board.

Students will use the center’s network link to download and install a personalized software program from College Board for the test. The program prevents the test-taker from using other features of their device while working on the test.

Because each test-taker receives their own personalized program for the test, security and privacy are better in the digital system than the paper-based system.   Question #10 on one student’s test is different than Question #10 on another student’s, making cheating more difficult and testing more secure.

A calculator integrated within the downloaded program will be available for the duration of the test. There will no longer be a Math subsection that prohibits the use of a calculator. A hide-able integrated timer will be displayed at the top of the page on which the student is working. If there is a disruption, the timer will pause and can later be reset by the proctor so that the test-taker does not lose time. A set of annotation tools will be included within the program so students can take notes and highlight or cross out text.

  • Scoring Range Remains the Same but Test Timing Changes

As in the current system, PSAT scores will range from 320 to 1520​ points and the SAT from 400 to 1600​.

The time allowed for the PSAT and SAT digital tests will be 2 hours and 14 minutes, which is more than an hour less than what the current tests allow.​ There will be two distinct Verbal subsections, each lasting 32 minutes and having 27 questions. Only 25 of the 27 questions will be scored. The other two are experimental questions used for research purposes by College Board in developing future tests. There will no longer be a break between Reading and Writing in the Verbal section.

There will be two separate Math subsections—each will last for 35 minutes and have 22 questions. Only 20 of the 22 questions will be scored with the other two being experimental. Grid-in questions, which call for student-produced responses, will be mixed in with multiple choice questions, unlike the current SAT in which there is a distinct subsection for grid-in questions.

  • Question Formats Will Change Slightly

In both the PSAT and SAT, the subject matter of the Math and Verbal sections will remain the same. The full range of problem-solving and data analysis topics that are covered in the Math section of current SAT will be on the digital test. However, there will be fewer problem solving and data analysis questions (which cover percentages, probability, organizing data, and basic statistics) than there are on the current test. 

In the Verbal section, there will no longer be long passages with multiple questions to answer about each one. Each question will have its own short passage, and the question will be for that short passage only. Passages will be standard prose comprehension with poetry and logical completion items. In the latter, students will read a short passage, the last line of which has been left blank. The student will then choose from among four options the one that best completes the passage​. Reading and writing items will be clustered—several reading, followed by several writing (either grammar or expression).

  • Multistage Adaptive ​Methodology

A significant innovation on the digital SAT is its Multistage AdaptiveMethodology, which is enabled by the flexibility inherent in computer systems and software. Students will begin their initial Math and Verbal sections with questions researched to be at an average level of difficulty. The student’s device scores these questions immediately using the College Board’s downloaded program. If the student scores high on them, he or she will be given more challenging questions for the rest of the section. If the student does not perform well, he or she will be given less difficult questions. Performance on the first few questions dictates the range of possible scores that a student can receive​.

  • Accommodations for the Digital Tests​

The same accommodations available under the paper-based system will be available  for the digital tests. Most are integrated within the student’s personalized, downloaded program. When a student signs in at the test center, their program will recognize previously approved accommodations and will provide them for the test. The timer, for example, will be extended for those students who have been granted extra time. A screen will indicate if an extra break has been scheduled. A student’s screen will have larger print if that accommodation has been approved.

As is the case now, students must be approved for accommodations by the Services for Students with Disabilities panel at College Board. This is done in advance through the test registration process so that the Board can include the accommodation(s) in the student’s personalized program.

  • Paper Test Content and Digital Test Content

There are no differences in content scope between the paper and digital tests for either the Verbal or Math sections of the PSAT and SAT. The level of difficulty is equivalent. The only differences are in the media and technology used to take them.

  • Superscoring

College Board is recommending that colleges superscore between and among paper and digital versions until the conversion to digital is complete. For example, if a student takes a paper SAT in December 2023 and receives a higher score in Verbal than in Math and then takes the digital SAT in May 2024 and gets a higher score in Math than in Verbal, College Board encourages colleges to combine the two high scores into one superscore.

  • Practicing for Digital Tests

Four full-length adaptive digital practice tests are available through Bluebook, College Board’s test delivery platform. Students who have downloaded Bluebook will be able to take the practice tests using the same interface, format, and scoring methodology that they will use for the actual digital SAT starting in 2024.

  1. Practice Test Tips

Students should guess on practice tests if they don’t know an answer because incorrect answers will not be penalized. They should refer to the scoring guide after the test because it has explanations of answers and is designed to guide students in identifying areas for study.

In traditional testing on the SAT, the total number of correct answers corresponds directly to a score. In an adaptive test like the digital SAT, scoring is more complex because individual questions have different weights. The term used for differential weighting is Item Response Scoring. This is the method used to score digital tests.

  • Insights on the Math and Verbal Sections

Jed Applerouth, an educational consultant, has researched the digital SAT by administering practice tests to his student-clients. He concluded that the structural changes adopted to make the test shorter, adaptive, and slower-paced will make it more popular with students and educators.

Regarding the Math section, Applerouth’s summary is, “At 44 total problems, down from 58, the math section feels more manageable. There are fewer word problems, which is great for non-native speakers. On the digital SAT only 30% of math items will be in the context of science or social studies or real-world applications. The remaining 70% of items will be pure math problems.”

Regarding the Verbal section, Applerouth summary is, “Reading is shorter, but tougher on the new SAT.Short passages are not necessarily easier passages. The reading level on the practice tests is as high, if not higher, than other SATs in recent years. Switching to a new topic, voice, and style every question requires a bit more mental agility. Counterbalancing this, the predictable grouping of questions by type (all vocabulary at once followed by all craft and structure questions), allows a student to get into a particular problem-solving mindset for a stretch of time.”

  • SAT vs. ACT

For several decades, the SAT and ACT have essentially been different versions of the same thing. Both have measured the cognitive abilities and readiness for college of test-takers. However, this similarity will end with the advent of the digital SAT.

The College Board is advancing technologically in an effort to change with the times. ACT’s strategy is to continue on as a paper-based system. Since almost all colleges that accept tests will accept either one, the divergence in testing technology will afford students the option to choose which approach suits them best.

Best Undergraduate Business Schools

People tend to associate the term “B-School” with MBA programs, especially those at prestigious universities. But it’s the qualitative distinctions among undergraduate B-Schools that are of more interest to high school students planning to pursue business as a major and career.

A Controversy in Business Education

B-Schools are not vocational schools. Some believe it is a mistake to fetishize job preparation for specific business fields. This orientation might demand more hours from students, but it doesn’t provide well-rounded educations, says Henry Mintzberg, a professor at McGill University who is a critic of the traditional approach to business education. He says it’s wrong to offer vocational subjects like finance and marketing to 18-year-olds. Instead, in support of a humanistic, multidisciplinary model of management education, he states that “The object of undergraduate business education is to educate people, not to give them a lot of functional business stuff.”

A report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching praises 10 American undergraduate business schools as models for integrating the liberal arts and practical training. One of the institutions is Babson College in Massachusetts. Its president, Leonard A. Schlesinger, says that concrete business skills tend to expire in five years or so as technology changes. History and philosophy, in contrast, provide the kind of contextual knowledge and reasoning skills that are indispensable to success in business.

Since 2003, a prestigious business accreditor, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), has driven business departments to set learning objectives and adjust their curriculums to expose students to the liberal arts. AACSB’s goal is for its member B-School’s to provide what employers want. According to national surveys, they want to hire graduates who can write effectively, think creatively, and analyze problems logically, and they’re perfectly happy to hire English, philosophy, and history majors if that what it takes to satisfy their needs.

Rankings of Undergraduate Business Schools

Business and the related fields of finance, economics, accounting, and management are currently among the most popular areas of study among undergraduates, representing about 20% of enrolled students. Many colleges have developed excellent programs to compete for the best qualified B-School applicants.

As part of their research into which school fits them best, aspiring business majors should review the rankings of undergraduate B-Schools published by two sources: U.S. News and World Report (U.S. News) and Poets&Quants, a resource for business students. A comparison of these two sources is beneficial because their ranking  methodologies differ significantly.

  1. U. S. News: “Best Undergraduate Business Programs

The U.S. News ranking is based solely on the judgments of deans and senior faculty at peer institutions. They conduct a survey of the undergraduate business programs accredited by the AACSB. In 2022, they surveyed 842 schools and had a 47.7% response rate.

The survey’s respondents – two at each AACSB-accredited program – are asked to rate the quality of the business programs with which they’re familiar on a scale from 1 (marginal) to 5 (distinguished). U.S. News then computes an average score for each program. Undergraduate business schools are ranked according to these scores. 

  • Poets&Quants: “Best Undergraduate Business Schools

Poets&Quants analyzed 93 business schools this year. Their methodology is more data-driven than that of U.S. News. It assesses what Poets&Quants considers to be the three core components of a high quality undergraduate business education. These are:

  1. The quality and diversity of students enrolled in a program,
  • A school’s ability to nurture and challenge students, and
  • The response of top employers to a school’s graduates.

In summary, admissions standards, student experience, and career outcomes are the three aspects of a business school education that Poets & Quants measures.

Comparing the Outcomes of the Methodologies

The results of the U. S. News and Poets&Quants methodologies are compared in Table A, which lists the top 10 institutions under each approach. State universities listed refer to the main campuses. Three ties are indicated on the U.S. News list.

Table A: The Top 10 Undergraduate Business Schools in 2022

 U. S. News Poets&Quants
1University of Pennsylvania – Wharton1University of Pennsylvania – Wharton
2Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Sloan2Georgetown University – McDonough
2University of California at Berkeley – Haas3University of Southern California – Marshall
4University of Michigan – Ross4Washington University of St. Louis – Olin
5Carnegie Mellon University – Tepper5University of Virginia – McIntire
5New York University – Stern6University of Michigan – Ross
7University of Texas – McCombs7New York University – Stern
8Cornell University – Dyson8University of Notre Dame – Mendoza
8Indiana University – Kelley9Villanova University – VSB
10University of North Carolina – Kenan-Flagler10Georgia Institute of Technology – Scheller

Key Metrics

A key factor in the ranking of business schools is admission rates. The rates for 2021-22 were extraordinary. Ten schools reported rates of less than 12%. The previous year, only three schools reported rates under 12% — UPenn’s Wharton with 7.6%, Cornell’s Dyson with 7.9%, and the UNC’s Kenan-Flagler with 11.5%. In 2021-22, Cornell’s rate dropped to 5.4%, Wharton’s fell to 6.0%, NYU’s Stern School had a rate of 7.2%, the Washington University Olin School’s rate was 8.4%, and USC’s Marshall School was 9.9%.

Another important metric is the percentage of students who find suitable employment within three months of graduation. The University of Richmond and Marian University both reported placing 100% of their 2021 graduates into full-time positions. The Miami University of Ohio’s Farmer School and the University of Miami’s Herbert College reported employment rates of 99%. The sky-high rates at these and other schools were boosted by full employment in the U.S. economy.

Starting salaries is also a key measure of a B-School’s efficacy. Wharton led in salaries at first jobs with an average for their graduates of $85,345. Georgetown reported an equally impressive $85,213, making it #2. NYU’s Stern School was #3 with average starting salaries of $81,669.

Finding a Major or Specialty

Students considering a bachelor’s degree in business must not only identify the right school for them, but the right major or specialization as well. The best business schools offer programs that build upon a comprehensive set of survey courses, including liberal arts, and then focus on majors in specific subject areas.

The University of Connecticut’s undergraduate business program, for example, includes majors in Accounting, Business Administration, Business Data Analytics, Management, Finance, Financial Management, Health Care Management, and Management for Engineering & Manufacturing. Other majors commonly available to B-School undergraduates include Marketing, Sales, Human Resources, International Business, Information Systems, Supply Chain Management, Entrepreneurship, Health Care Administration, and Project Management.


As an experienced Certified Educational Planners and Independent Educational Consultants, the professionals at The College Planner, LLC understand the new landscape of college admissions. We guide our students through the maze of admissions all the way to enrollment in the college that fits them best. The College Planner, LLC has helped students place in a wide range of excellent schools including Tufts, Northeastern, Catholic, UConn, Skidmore, Boston University, Boston College, Brown, Fairfield, Fordham, Holy Cross, Colby, George Washington, William & Mary, Penn State, Villanova, Wake Forest, UPenn, Bates, and many others.

The Rights of Disabled College Students

Students with disabilities in public K-12 schools are entitled to special services that will engender a successful educational experience. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) specified these rights in 1973 and continues to protect them. The IDEA mandates that public K-12 schools identify student’s disabilities and accommodate their needs. It calls for Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s) for disabled K-12 students.

Unfortunately, the IDEA doesn’t apply to college students. However, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 also protects the rights of disabled students. This is a civil rights law that, among other things, prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in Federally funded schools from K-12 on up. Colleges receive Federal funds, so they must comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by developing a 504 Plan for disabled student.

The Transition to College

The rights of disabled students change when they enter college as they transition from IDEA to Rehabilitation Act protections.  The differences are shown below in Figure A:

Figure A: Differences Between IEP’s and 504 Plans

                                                                                                   Source: A Day in Your Shoes

IEP’s only cover disabilities that  fit into one of the IDEA eligibility categories. An IEP includes specially designed instruction, has goals, monitors progress, and provides accommodations. Parents are involved in the development of an IEP and meet annually with the school to review progress and consider improvements.

504 Plans are intended to provide accommodations that give disabled students access to an education that is the same as mainstream students. Plans cover all disabilities, but they are not special education programs. They do not include goals or progress monitoring. Colleges do not need to obtain parental input into the development of a 504 Plan and they may change it without parental approval.

Qualifications Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Section 504 defines someone who is qualified for a 504 Plan in college as an “Individual with a disability … which substantially limits one or more of such person’s major life activities.”  Colleges solicit input from the student’s doctors, family, teachers, and service providers in determining if a 504 Plan is justified, and if so, what it should entail.

Generally speaking, a student qualifies for a 504 Plan if they have physical or mental impairments that affect or limit their ability to:

  • Walk, breathe, eat, or sleep
  • Communicate, see, hear, or speak
  • Read, concentrate, think, or learn
  • Stand, bend, lift, or work

Accommodations Under 504 Plans

There are no specific requirements for what is to be included in a 504 Plan. The goal is for disabled students to be accommodated in such a way that they can be educated on equal terms with other students.

Examples of accommodations that a college may provide include the following:

  • Preferential seating
  • Extended time on tests and assignments
  • Reduced homework or classwork
  • Verbal, visual, or technology aids
  • Modified textbooks or audio-video materials
  • Behavior management support
  • Adjusted class schedules
  • Adjusted grading methodologies
  • Verbal rather than written testing
  • Excused lateness, absence, or missed classwork
  • Pre-approved nurse’s office visits and accompaniment to visits
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy

Colleges develop 504 Plans that they think are reasonable. Each college defines reasonable as they see fit. Some offer the bare minimum while others are more generous.

The 504 Plan Process

A disabled student meets with a coordinator in the college’s Disability Support Services (DSS) office. The coordinator determines if the student meets the requirements of Section 504. If so, he or she develops a 504 Plan for the student.

When the 504 Plan is finalized, a letter stating the accommodations to be provided is given to the student. If the student and their family are dissatisfied with the Plan, they may appeal to the U.S. Office for Civil Rights or the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

Under a 504 Plan, a disabled student is not guaranteed to progress satisfactorily, as is the case with an IEP. However, at its discretion, a college may pursue a different approach under a new 504 Plan in an attempt to remedy the student’s difficulties.

Disabled college students must become their own advocates in order to ensure that they receive the accommodations to which they’re entitled. Therefore, it’s to their advantage to understand Section 504 and its compliance options.

Support for Students on the Autism Spectrum

The independence of college life creates many decisions that students must make for the first time. This is a challenge for all students, especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who face difficulties such as impaired social and communication skills, repetitive behaviors, and narrow interests. These are compounded by the general lack of understanding of ASD among faculty, staff, and peers. As noted above, disabled students are burdened with the need to advocate for themselves, a task that is particularly problematic for ASD students.

Disabled students should research and identify colleges with reputations for welcoming disabled students and providing exceptional support for them. We advise disabled students to apply mainly to colleges that fit this description. In the case of ASD students, at least 60 colleges offer autism support programs such as social skills training, support groups, mentors, tutors trained in working with ASD students, and time-management workshops.


The College Essay

Amid the stress of application season, one task gives seniors more anxiety than any other — their essays.  Unfortunately, some level of anxiety is justified. After an applicant’s academic record, essays are one of the most important factors in admissions, often serving as a tiebreaker among applicants with similar records. But the anxiety is manageable if applicants treat the essay as an ally in their campaign for admission. For this to happen, they need to understand its true role.

Self-Focus is Essential

In writing an essay, applicants should be self-focused and be in tune with what is important to them and what they are passionate about. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s the right way to approach the task. To write a strong essay, students need to look inward. They must tell a story that has their inner thoughts as its core. Admissions Officers (AO)s evaluate essays for what they reveal about the student’s maturity, character, personality, and motivation.  It’s an opportunity to learn something about the student that may not be evident anywhere else in the application.

The essay is a way for applicants to introduce themselves to a college as a person rather than merely a set of numbers. But applicants need to be aware that AOs also expect essays to be intriguing, entertaining, and persuasive rather than erudite. In an essay, applicants are subtly selling themselves through the power of their message. If the message forms a gut-level connection with the reader, the applicant may have an advantage over the competition.

Essay Readers Seek Authenticity  

Applicants should understand that the majority of AO’s are recent graduates only a few years older than they are. They have a similar frame of reference and the same cultural touchstones as applicants, so informality is appropriate.

Essays are not necessarily grammatically correct. Leeway is granted in the use of creative sentence structure and euphemisms. AO’s want to see that the applicant is genuine and is speaking in their authentic voice. The essayist should write as she speaks.

Sometimes, the applicant needs to disregard the conventions of proper English to ensure that their true self is communicated. Remember “Nobody Doesn’t Like Sara Lee”?  OMG! A double negative! But it might be the most successful tag line ever written.

An AO for Tufts who contributes to the university’s blog has this to say about authenticity.

“As the admissions officer reading your application, I need proof – in the form of a written tone that matches your spoken one. As I read through your essay, I am crafting an image in my head of the person who will arrive on our campus in the fall if admitted. Your job is to arm me with examples of who this person is. Do this not just in what you say but how you say it.”

The best essays are often based on the student’s ordinary life experiences and point of view. Just as Seinfeld was famous for being “A show about nothing”, a student essay about nothing is more apt than an attempt at something profound.

Will Geiger, a former AO, has this to say.

Essays don’t have to be about fancy, expensive programs. Often, students write great essays about unimportant everyday things. A strong essay reveals the student’s authentic voice and unique perspective through storytelling.”


There is no magic answer when it comes to topic of the main college essay.  The same topic can produce both a great essay and a lackluster one depending on who is writing it.  The key to success in choosing a topic is finding one that is meaningful to the writer and allows the writer to showcase his/her personal style and what’s important to him/her.

In the case of college specific supplemental essays, it is important to spend the time understanding what a prompt is asking.  It is critical to formulate a response that answers the question in a way that is clear and also reflects the personal style and voice of the student writing it.

Is Humor Appropriate?

Essays are serious business. Even so, an applicant can include a humorous bit; a sentence or two that gets a smile. The AO may remember the line and it will help set a genial tone. Self-deprecating humor is safest. It’s the least likely to be considered offensive to someone, somewhere.

Though it can be beneficial to include humor, it’s not for every student or every essay.  If a student is naturally witty than humor will likely work in getting a point across in an essay.  If not, the humor may seem forced or at times inappropriate. It must also fit well within the essay. If the essay is about a grave topic, it’s best to skip the humor. The applicant must be confident that the bit will help their case and not harm it. If there’s any doubt, it should be omitted.

Who Should Edit?

An applicant can use a copy editor without concern about a breach of ethics. A copy editor proofreads for errors in spelling, punctuation, and word usage. Even the best journalists and authors use a copy editor.

But who should an applicant rely on to critique their essay’s theme, message, and execution. The advice of the Tufts AO is as follows.

Show your essay to two people, and no more: Often the worst thing that can happen to an essay is editing. When you have many different people giving you feedback, you often lose your own voice. You’re hidden behind perfect grammar, sterile language, and phrases thrown in because ‘It’s what admissions officers want to hear.’ Let me demystify something for you: I hate the things you write because it’s what admissions officers want to hear. They’re boring. And forced. And misguided. Show your essays to only two people — one who is a strong writer, and one who knows you very well.”

Start Early

Starting early is a good idea for essays and, for that matter, all tasks related to admissions. The end of junior year is about right for essays. This gives ample time to brainstorm ideas over the summer and to make sure that the chosen theme is consistent with the core message of the entire application.

Most of the colleges’ supplemental essay prompts are not available until August so it is great to have the main essay done by then so students can use the month of August to begin work on college supplements.

Procrastination is especially disastrous in essay writing. No semi-decent essay was ever written during an all-nighter before a deadline. The writer needs sufficient time to be able to walk away from a draft and return to it later, maybe even much later, with fresh eyes. Another great way to see if the essay is ready is to read it out loud – it’s amazing how different something can sound when listened to rather than read.


As part of our comprehensive consulting services at The College Planner, LLC we coach applicants through their essays from brainstorming, theme development, drafts, and editing to final versions. Laura Cubanski is our Essay Specialist who helps students with their main college essay. Laura is highly qualified and truly enjoys assisting seniors in all stages of the essay writing process.

Reviewing the 2021-22 Admissions Results

In only two years, the long-established patterns of college admissions have been completely disrupted. This is widely considered to be a result of the pandemic, but the pandemic only accelerated trends that had been building for a decade.  

A notable effect of the last two admission cycles is that, while the majority of colleges struggled to reverse declining enrollment, top-tier institutions enjoyed a sharp rise in demand. Two distinct models of admissions have evolved — one for top-tier colleges and another for all the rest.  As admission season approaches again, we at The College Planner,LLC advise that high school seniors and their parents understand and plan for the new status quo in admissions.

The Boom in Applications to Top-Tier Institutions

Although college enrollment is down in general, the most highly selective institutions are thriving. Since colleges accept about the same number of freshmen every year, the rising volume of applications submitted to these schools has resulted in plummeting admission rates. As evidence, the number of colleges that admitted less than 10% of their applicants rose from 9 in 2019 to 28 in 2022.

A main cause of this rise in applications is the shift to test-optional admissions policies. The test-optional movement was well underway prior to 2020, but the closure of test centers caused by the pandemic prevented students from taking the SAT and ACT exams that year. This forced even the most prestigious colleges to drop standardized test scores as a requirement for admission. Most colleges have indicated that they will retain their test-optional policies at least through 2023-24 if not indefinitely.

As a result of the adoption of test-optional policies, students aspiring to attend a top-tier school who didn’t perform well on tests saw an opportunity to rely more heavily on other aspects of their academic record like GPA and strength of curriculum. Many of them joined the already high number of applicants seeking admission to top schools. But this simply meant that more applicants would be disappointed, making admission rates fall.

Top-Tier Colleges Are More Selective Than Ever

Table A shows a set of top-tier schools that reported their Class of 2026 admissions data prior to June 30. They are all ranked among the top 50 schools on either the National Universities or National Liberal Arts College rankings in the College Edition of U.S. News & World Report for 2022.Table A shows their increasing selectivity over the last two years.

Table A

Admission Rates at Top-Tier Institutions

2019-20 and 2021-22 Compared

Institution  Number of Applicants  Number Admitted  2019-20 Admit %  2021-22 Admit %
Boston College40,4776,6782416
Boston Univ.80,79211,4341914
Emory (Oxford)20,8322,9322314
Georgia Tech50,6018,6732017
Harvey Mudd4,4405761813
Johns Hopkins37,1002,40896
Notre Dame26,5063,4121713
UNC Chapel Hill57,1984,400258

The Decline in College Enrollment

Despite the upturn in applications at the most highly selective schools, there has been a steady drop in general college enrollment that began well before the pandemic. This decline is the primary reason for the turbulence in admissions at many colleges. Data released in May by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows that 662,000 fewer students enrolled in college in spring 2022 than a year earlier, a 5%. Figure A, below, shows that undergraduate enrollment peaked in 2010 at 18.1 million students and fell to 15.9 million in 2020, the last cycle before the pandemic.

                                                                                                         Source: Education Data Initiative

The Financial Condition of Colleges

All indications are that top-tier schools will continue to thrive, but they represent less than 5% of the nearly 4,000 post-secondary institutions in the country. Declining enrollment has devastated the financial stability of many small and mid-sized public and private colleges.

A number of colleges were forced to cease operations prior to and during the pandemic. Another 20% are expected to close their doors in the next few years due to the combined impact of changing demographics, state government disinvestment, unrealistic tuition rates, the lingering effects of the pandemic, and inadequate endowment funds.

Making matters worse is the fact that, for the first time in generations, many Americans are questioning if college is still the path to a secure, well-paying career. According to Stephanie Saul, writing in the New York Times on May 22, “The ongoing enrollment crisis at U.S. colleges and universities deepened in spring 2022, raising concerns that a fundamental shift is taking place in attitudes toward the value of a college degree.”  

According to Inside Higher Education, the outlook for enrollment looks even dimmer as we approach a “demographic cliff” in 2025, when a 15% drop in high school seniors is expected as a result of the reduced birth rate during and after the 2008 recession.

The precariousness of the finances of many schools should concern students and families who are now researching colleges. To the intimidating set of variables already involved should be added the financial condition of the schools on a student’s College List.

Do Admission Rates Matter?

Trends in admissions aren’t something that families can afford to ignore. Admission rates are a key factor in the calculation of college rankings. Although rankings are an imperfect measure of a college’s quality, they serve many people as a proxy for quality. Since rankings affect the level of demand for a college, they also impact its financial viability.

Students shouldn’t throw more than a couple of applications atop the pile at highly competitive “dream” schools. Instead, they should seek admission to sound, reputable, colleges that must increase their enrollment. In addition to a more welcoming set of acceptance criteria, these schools are strongly inclined to provide financial aid in order to increase their tuition revenue. 

As experienced college admissions consultants, the professionals at The College Planner understand the new landscape of college admissions. We guide our students through the maze of admissions all the way to enrollment in the college that fits them just right. The College Planner has placed students in a wide range of excellent colleges including Tufts, Northeastern, Catholic University, Skidmore, Boston University, Boston College, Brown, Fairfield, Fordham, Holy Cross, Colby, George Washington, William & Mary, Penn State, Villanova, Wake Forest, and many others.

Common App 2021-2022 Essay Prompts Announced!

2021-2022 Common App Essay Prompts

By Scott Anderson – February 16, 2021


The Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2021-2022 with one exception. We will retire the seldom used option about solving a problem and replace it with the following:

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

We will also retain the optional COVID-19 question within the Additional Information section.

The new prompt is inspired by scientific research on gratitude and kindness, specifically the benefits of writing about the positive influence of other people in our lives.

This mindset resonates with Common App President & CEO Jenny Rickard. “Particularly at this challenging time, we can help students think about something positive and heartfelt in their lives,” she explains. “And we can do it explicitly.”

“Particularly at this challenging time, we can help students think about something positive and heartfelt in their lives. And we can do it explicitly.”Jenny Rickard, President & CEO, Common App

In crafting the new option, we relied on the expertise of counselors and admission officers on our Outreach and Application Advisory Committees, along with input from psychology and gratitude researchers. Together, these educators understand the ingredients of a successful essay prompt. The final language they helped to shape balances flexibility with direction. They believe the new choice will generate stories that students are inspired to write and that colleges are excited to read.

An essay prompt can’t erase the loss and anxiety of the last 12 months, but it can validate the importance of gratitude and kindness. We hope students see the new prompt for what it is intended to be: an invitation to bring some joy into their application experience.

Below is the full set of essay prompts for 2021-2022.

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

“As a member of the Common Application Advisory Committee, I appreciated learning about the careful and deliberative process, involving a variety of counseling and student stakeholders, to recommend these revisions to the essay prompts. During these difficult times, it will be encouraging for students and those reviewing these essay responses to be reminded of the joy and hope that generosity and gratitude can foster.”Sacha Thieme, Assistant Vice Provost & Executive Director of Admissions, Indiana University