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Is College Admissions More Competitive?

Each year, the media makes it seem that it’s getting harder and harder to be accepted to college. But is that really true? Is college admission today really more competitive? 

There is no denying that many parents wouldn’t be accepted at their own alma maters if they were applying today. SAT scores have inched up and acceptance rates have dropped.  Stanford rejected more than 96 percent of its applicants and many of them had perfect SAT or ACT scores. 

At the most well-known, prestigious schools, it’s obviously not enough to be a strong student with great test scores. Those objective characteristics will get you considered but it is the softer, subjective items that end up sealing the deal.

However, the frenzied college admission panic is among only the country’s most elite 50 to100 colleges and universities. Nationally, the acceptance rate for under-graduates is actually close to 70 percent. 

What is true is that is that thirty years ago only half of high school graduates applied to college. Today, over two-thirds of all high school graduates seek a college education. 

In addition, the number of students applying to multiple schools has increased dramatically. In 1975, only 3.2 percent of students applied to seven or more colleges. Today, seven or more applications is more the norm. 

Use of the Common Application makes it even easier. It’s one application used by over 900 colleges across the country. With a keystroke and the ca-ching of a credit card, students can spontaneously apply to more and more colleges. And they do. 

The current, welcoming test optional environment has  also led to students submitting more applications at many schools.

Because so many students are applying to multiple colleges, you have to make sure that the colleges you want to attend truly understand the depth of your interest. 

Many colleges track “demonstrated interest”. They are looking at your level of interest in them. They want to get a strong sense that if they accept you, YOU will accept them. This is especially true at the many, truly outstanding, private liberal arts colleges scattered around this country. Many of these colleges do an amazing job awarding students both need and/or merit based aid, sometimes making the cost of attending the school as cost effective as in-state public school.

So while the number of applications per school is increasing, most colleges do not have “highly rejective” admissions rates, and most students will have many wonderful options for college. 

If you want help putting together a list of colleges for your  student that are a great fit academically, socially AND financially, feel free to call me at 360-223-7813 or schedule a time to chat here.