Admission Updates: Dartmouth, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, Princeton and Vanderbilt

This morning I attended the Coast 2 Coast Counselor breakfast with admissions from Dartmouth, Northwestern, UC Berkeley, Princeton and Vanderbilt. Here is what I learned:

UC Berkeley

  • Will have a new student center on campus
  • Introducing a new student information system, which will allow prospective and current students to access everything on one portal (financial aid, viewing and registering for courses, keeping track of updates and alerts from campus)
  • As of last year UCB has an admit rate of 17% with an average unweighted GPA of 3.91 and weighted GPA of 4.41
    • (if you are wondering how to calculate your UC GPA appropriately check out the following resource: UC GPA Calculation Guide
    • Remember the UC GPA is your 10th and 11th grade A-G courses, that would exclude classes like PE, Yearbook and Teacher’s Assistant and gives an extra weighted point to UC approved AP/Honors courses.
    • For a complete A-G list of Malibu High School (and for any other school) visit: University of California A-G Course List
  • For the 2016-2017 application cycle letters of recommendation are not required or universal to each applicant. If admissions would like a letter of recommendation they will contact and let the student know after applying (not required initially).
  • Letters of recommendation are being considered for all applicants (either recommended or required) for the 2017-2018 admission cycle


  • A mid-sized private school in the heart of Nashville!
  • Music programs are at a conservatory level (although they are not a conservatory school)
  • If you are thinking of applying to engineering or chemistry majors a Subject test in Math level II is helpful (subject tests are not required but recommended in some majors)
  • Students live on campus all 4 years (a residential feel in an urban setting)
  • A new major offered this year is Environmental Sociology
  • Vanderbilt is need-blind (they do not take financial aid into consideration when admissions decisions are being made) and will meet 100% of need with no loans.
  • If Vanderbilt is a top choice for you, consider applying through the Early Decision program (Early Decision is binding and you would withdraw all other applications if admitted) Applying Early does not make a student more competitive, but it does showcase your application in a smaller pool of applicants (can help you stand out!)
  • Vanderbilt brings in about half of their class through Early Decision and they do not ever defer


  • Need-blind in admissions (except for international students, in which case they are need-aware)
  • Burn Scholarship (contributed by a donation) is bringing resources and enrichment grants for the top mathematical students.
  • Dartmouth does not read by intended major (in other words, applying to Dartmouth, no matter what major choice you have, you will be considered the same as any other applicant, must gain admissions to Dartmouth in general)


  • Located in the first suburb north of Chicago, Illinois, Northwestern has about 8,000 undergraduate students.
  • Offers an Honors Medical program (7 year program, selective)
  • Top-ranked school of journalism (but some students shy away thinking they will not get in and may try to gain admissions through English/Creative writing…if you are interested in Journalism and are academically competitive…APPLY!)
  • New visitor center and new facility for music/arts
  • Conservatory level for music, but not a conservatory
  • New funds available to back bio-medical research programs and global initiatives.
  • New major this year: Neuroscience
  • Admissions: Admits just under 13% of its applicants and admits just under half of their students through Early Decision.
  • Will meet 100% of financial need.


  • New Center for Energy and Environment (research spaces, labs, accessible to students)
  • New major this year: Neuroscience
  • Need-blind admissions
  • Two subject tests are now recommended (if subject tests are affordable and accessible to you, you should take them, if you qualify for a fee waiver and have a hard time paying for extra subject tests they are not required)

Tidbits to consider

All colleges will take either the old or new SAT. There is not one that looks better than the other.

Some conversations happening inside admission offices when reading applications and considering students:

Will this student be a good roommate?

What kind of new experience will this student bring to our campus?

We want good community members…we cannot have all leaders, we need followers as well who can work well in teams.

When reading a college essay, it is better to understand 10% of a student really well, rather than a vague understanding of 100% of that student.

I hope you find this information useful! Remember, do not stress. If you have put in the hard work, and have done your research as to where you want to go (beyond just knowing the name of the college or because your friend said it was a “good” school) you will be fine!

Messy notes from this morning.
Messy notes from this morning.

Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

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