March Admissions Madness

Images of March Admissions Madness: Admit packets getting ready

When the phrase “March Madness” is uttered these days it evokes thoughts of brackets, upsets, Cinderellas, and Dick Vitale. In the corridors of Mason Hall, home to the Johns Hopkins University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, this phrase represents a much different type of madness. The Admissions staff is currently focused on the committee rounds of decision-making and finalizing the regular decision selection process for the Class of 2016. Just as the next three weeks are considered madness for the world of college basketball, in the realm of college admissions a hectic and feverish demeanor is commonplace. But unlike the NCAA Division I College Basketball champions which will be decided on April 2 in New Orleans for the men and April 3 in Denver for the women, we cannot wait until after the calendar turns to April to finish our process. This Admissions madness must end in March.

Thankfully, the end approaches. Monday, March 5 was a significant day as all the Admissions counselors returned to the office and we shifted from the first read process to committee review. I like to describe this as the end of our winter reading hibernation. Basically, beginning right after the release of Early Decision notifications on December 15, the Admissions counseling team begins evaluating Regular Decision applications in earnest. Since to review applications you need to limit the distractions as much as possible, the majority of the team decides to work from home most days. Therefore throughout January and February we don’t get to see each other much and our days and nights are filled with a common routine of cycling through applications, supplements, transcripts, recommendations, essays, and the like.

Images of March Admissions Madness: Rosters, yard sticks, and lots of paper.
Images of March Admissions Madness: Rosters, yard sticks, and lots of paper.

This winter has flown by though. Maybe because there have been so few days that actually felt like winter in Baltimore. If I am remembering correctly we have had just a few days with actual snowfall and the most accumulation ranged from a dusting to 2 inches maximum. (As a side-note, I know the reason for our mild winter. Back in early December I bought a brand new snow shovel at Target and so of course it wouldn’t snow and I wouldn’t get to enjoy me purchase. You are welcome mid-Atlantic residents.) The mild winter has continued as yesterday it was 81 degrees in Baltimore and the forecast is for near summer temperatures all week.  I know the students love it as they get to take a break from mid-terms and preparation for their spring break next week, by relaxing studying on the Beach.

Though the weather may be mild, the volume of work the Admissions staff still faces is like a monsoon. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) However, as I said, the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight. With just a few weeks left until we complete the application review process, I felt it was time to end the Hopkins Insider blog hibernation as well. We hope you enjoyed the “Meet the Admissions Staff” entries posted throughout January and February, but it is time to get back to new updates and content. There are a lot of common questions this time of year by Regular Decision applicants, and while I need to get back to committee and the “shaping of the class” with my colleagues, I felt it important to share answers to these frequently asked questions. I hope this information helps, and Shannon and I do plan to blog more frequently in the coming weeks.

Images of March Admissions Madness: Remnants of Committee - tons of caffeine
Images of March Admissions Madness: Remnants of Committee - tons of caffeine

How many applications were received this year?
This is always a common question and for some reason our total is constantly speculated by news sources. The official count this year is 20,407. This is the first time we have ever broken the 20k mark and is a 5.2% increase from last year. Of this total, 1,459 were Early Decision applicants and we accepted 561 students from that group back in December.

How many applicants will be accepted in Regular Decision?
Don’t know yet. That is the work we are currently doing right now. The committee rounds are when we “shape our class” and use predictive modeling to determine how many students we need to admit to yield the class we want. To determine our class and the number of admits we use an in-depth statistical system to help guide our numbers, but in making decisions we never veer from our holistic approach of reviewing complete applications. We will release such data after decisions notifications have been sent out.

When will Regular Decisions notifications be released?
Unfortunately at this time I do have an official answer to that question. I can let you know that we are currently targeting Friday, March 30 as a tentative release date but that has not been officially confirmed. We might need to go later, and we are hoping we might be able to go a day earlier. I can confirm that decisions will not go out sooner than March 29 and we must release decisions by April 1. When an official date is determined, and that may not be until the last week in March, it will be announced on the Hopkins Insider blog.

We wholeheartedly understand the anxiety our applicants are feeling this time of year and that you all just want to know the exact date when you will hear the news. Please do not assume we are dragging our feet and attempting to prolong this process. We are working morning, day, and late night to complete our work, finalize our class, and move on to enjoyable April yield events. We want to release decisions as much as you want to receive them, but none of us are willing to rush through a very delicate process. We are perfectionists at this time of year, and we need to be, especially in a year with such strong quality and a record applicant pool. When we know, we will let you know.

Images of March Admissions Madness: Materials for decision release have arrived
Images of March Admissions Madness: Materials for decision release have arrived

How will Regular Decision notifications be released?
Most likely just how we released them last year, just on a different date. I encourage you to read through this blog entry I posted last year regarding how our decision release process works: Breaking News: RD Notification Release Explained.

Can I check my application status online?
No. We do not have a portal system for checking application status online like some other universities. Our Operations staff contacted students with incomplete applications already and those students were provided a chance to submit their missing items. At this time if you were not contacted about missing application items, you can safely assume your application is complete.

Can I still submit application updates?
Unfortunately no. Since the Admissions Committee is in the process of rendering final decisions it is too late for additional updates to be added to an applicant’s file.

Images of March Admissions Madness: Admit packets getting ready
Images of March Admissions Madness: Admit packets getting ready

Now that you are more informed about what is taking place in the Admissions Office, back to the madness for me. Stay patient and know that my colleagues and I are working hard to create the best Johns Hopkins Class of 2016 as possible. We all have a great respect for our process and for our applicants, and the work we do over the next few weeks may be meticulous but it insures that we are diligent, accurate, and principled.

P.S. Do you like the new look of the blog? Thanks to JHU_Tess and JHU_Nick for helping Shannon and I re-design the top banner of the blog. The new look is in line with changes to our other University blogs: the Academics Blog, the Guest Blog, and the Blue Jay Buffet. I think the new headers give the blogs more personality.

5 thoughts on “March Admissions Madness

  1. I’m not sure what I’m more impatient about, the arrival of my daughter or decisions day :P Thanks for keeping us updated.

  2. Thanks for the very helpful information (all in ONE blog)!
    My fingers are crossed for good news on March 29th!
    Good luck with your own version of March Madness!

    Michael Nester
    Moravian Academy
    Bethlehem, PA

  3. Thanks for all the information in ONE blog. This answers most questions and we are keeping our fingers crossed for good news on the Decision day!

  4. I really enjoy reading your posts. Not only they answered most of my concerns, but also they made Johns Hopkins like a friendly “person” to me. Thank you for the insider pictures by the way!

  5. Thursday night has come and gone and I still haven’t received anything from Peabody regarding admission decisions for the dual degree program? I tried calling and just get voicemail. Any idea when the decisions will be emailed? Thanks

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