“College Is Harder than Ever to Get Into!” – Latest Misleading Shock Headline?

Stressed studentMany admissions blogs -- and, even more unfortunately, local news outlets -- are taking the following statistics and coming to the conclusion that "college is harder than ever to get into:"

Universities across the country are announcing record low admission rates this year. Yale University set the Ivy League record by accepting only 8.6 percent of its 21,099 hopeful applicants. Other record lows include Brown University (13.8%), Columbia University (9.6%), Dartmouth College (15.4%), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (13%), Stanford University (11%), and University of Pennsylvania (17.7%).

However, the leap from "record low admissions" to "college is harder to get into" is misleading. As I have previously discussed (with regard to Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale), while there has been a massive increase in 2008 applications, the selectivity of each college remains comparatively unchanged. The sudden drop in admissions statistics per college may be accounted for by the fact that students are applying to, on average, three times as many schools as students did just a few years ago.

However, there's no denying that there are more students than ever looking for college admission. Not only is a higher percentage of graduating high school seniors looking toward university life, but the number of graduating seniors is also increasing. With 3.2 million graduating in 2009, the largest in US history, it is undoubtable that the volume of applications will continue to rise.

I want to remind future applicants again, though, that the bar for a 'qualified student' has remained consistent at almost all schools. If your 3.9 GPA and 2340 SAT would have gotten you into Yale last year, it will probably still get you into Yale next year. That is also true, by the way, of smaller, local schools and state universities -- selectivity has remained steady. Application volume may have gone way up, but that does not mean that qualified students will suddenly be turned away.

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