Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Elite Numbers Game~Spike in Applications to Top Schools

The Elite Numbers Game~More College Applications Than Ever This Year [reposted from my blog] 

The New York Times just posted an article that paints a troubling picture of this year's applications and admissions numbers - more applicants are applying for the same number of spaces than ever, with Stanford's 5% admission rate leading the pack. Who gets in and who doesn't?

"Admissions directors at these institutions say that most of the students they turn down are such strong candidates that many are indistinguishable from those who get in."

The article includes numbers for UCLA as well as several Ivies, suggesting higher levels of competition for spaces across the spectrum of universities and students. There is nothing simple in these equations. There are many forces at work that drive up these numbers and drive down the percentages, from the recruiting done by many colleges and universities - enticing students to apply who don't have a chance of getting in - to the increasing numbers of wealthy foreign students applying and being accepted, in part because they do not need financial aid, to the ease of applying to many schools through the Common Application.

Universities engage in marketing. The schools present themselves as meritocracies, or we want to believe they are, but given the impressive qualifications of so many of the students, and the other factors that go into admission decisions, including athletic ability and legacy admits, merit is only one consideration.

Rather than try to summarize the article, I urge you to read it - and to read some of the top reader comments, which add many more dimensions to this complex story.

Here is an excerpt:

"Enrollment at American colleges is sliding, but competition for spots at top universities is more cutthroat and anxiety-inducing than ever. In the just-completed admissions season, Stanford University accepted only 5 percent of applicants, a new low among the most prestigious schools, with the odds nearly as bad at its elite rivals.
"Deluged by more applications than ever, the most selective colleges are, inevitably, rejecting a vast majority, including legions of students they once would have accepted. Admissions directors at these institutions say that most of the students they turn down are such strong candidates that many are indistinguishable from those who get in." READ MORE

Friday, April 4, 2014

Teachable Moments: Kwasi Enin

I've pulled together my thoughts on the Kwasi Enin phenomenon for Huffington Post- and especially after reading the draft of his college application essay obtained by the New York Post. Here is an excerpt. 

"There are simply not enough places at these few schools for all the students with perfect grades and perfect scores. Which brings me to Kwasi's essay, what it reveals about him, and what it reveals about what top schools seem to be looking for.
"It is necessary to have good grades and high SATs for admission, and often a lot of AP courses, and extra curricular activities in abundance -- but in 2014, it is no longer sufficient for these schools. But you might be asking, what else is there that a high school student has to show? How about these? Intellectual curiosity. The ability -- the hunger -- to translate the lessons of one subject to other subjects. A craving for knowledge." READ MORE

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Morning After: Ivy League Hangovers, College App Essays & SATs

My thoughts here, the morning after all the Ivy League schools announced their decisions.... a stressful time for families who had Ivy hopes, and some thoughts about those who are looking ahead to applying this fall.