Now that nearly all of my students have been accepted into one of their top 3 choices (phew!), it is time to reflect upon some of the trends this year…..
There are no “sure bets” anymore when it comes to safety schools. Students who seemed overqualified (as evidenced by GPA and SAT/ACT scores) are routinely being waitlisted or even denied at their safety schools. Colleges are more sensitive than ever about their “yields” (the number of students who say “yes” to their offers). As such, the concept of “demonstrated interest” is more important than ever.
Institutional need trumps everything. There seems to be no consistency in admissions anymore. You’ve likely heard of a student that was accepted to UVA and William and Mary and denied at American. Or accepted to Cornell but denied at Northwestern. A student who seems absolutely perfect on paper may still be denied through no fault of her own. If the institution needs an oboist for the orchestra, a debater or a budding neuro-chemist to please a professor, there just may not be a spot for a gymnast. It all comes down to the way the college is attempting to round out their class.
Acceptance rates at the “name brand” colleges will continue to fall. As universities continue to accept full-pay international students (and those students continue to apply in droves), domestic students will continue to feel squeezed out. Every one of the Ivy League schools except Brown saw a decrease in their acceptance rates this year. Stanford is now at an astonishing 4.7% acceptance rate (down from 5.1%).
What effect do these trends have on your candidacy?
(1) Remember that there are roughly 2,400 not-for-profit colleges and universities in this country. If you pull out 8 Ivy League schools, that leaves 2,392 schools that could be the perfect fit for you. Keep your focus on those.
(2) Visit your safety schools first! If you can fall in love with a few safety schools, you will find that this whole process will be less stressful.
(3) Continue working to be an interesting human being. Colleges love students with authentic interests. Leave room in your life to figure out what those are.