Here's an excerpt from my book, If the U Fits: Expert Advice on Finding the
Right College and Getting Accepted
I. BASIC RETRAINING: HOW TO APPROACH THE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS PROCESS
I hate it, but I understand the frenzy. I have to understand it, because I watch the news, read the papers (and the books) that tell me that there is an education crisis. Except, I can’t think of one student I know or have ever heard of who wanted to go to college, applied, and didn’t get in anywhere. I’ve definitely heard students say that they didn’t get into their 1st choice college, which can be frustrating, but not the end of the world. Furthermore, I don’t know of a ‘bad’ college…There are some that might have nicer dorms, warmer climates, more access to professors, but it’s all a matter of the student’s taste. So what I’m saying is, there’s good news. YOU ARE GOING TO COLLEGE. There. The pressure is off. Now the question is: where?
Office of Admissions blog
Focus on the good news
“Harvard, Princeton post record low acceptance rates”
CNNMoney ran this headline on March 30, 2012, right on cue. Every spring, the major media outlets run features that suggest college admissions rates are dropping—again!
The doom and gloom headlines make my phone ring. The high school students and their parents who call are so disillusioned about their college prospects. They hear that competition is fierce, that students have to be perfect to get in and that the kid who built a satellite got rejected from everywhere!
Here’s the thing—the admissions squeeze is only true for a tiny percentage of colleges.
There are more than 2,000 four-year colleges and universities in this country, and the vast majority of them accept most of their applicants. In fall 2010, colleges, on average, accepted two-thirds of their applicants. According to Collegeboard.com, there are 383 colleges who accept every high school student who applies. Whatever your GPA and test scores are, you can go to college if you really want to go. The only question is which one.
Contrary to what the media report, it’s actually never been easier to get into college than it is today. A Stanford economics professor’s 2009 study found that 90 percent of colleges are easier to get into today than they were in the 1950s and 1960s. How can that be? Since 1955, the number of high school graduates has grown by 131 percent, but the number of college spots has risen 297 percent. That’s right—the number of available spots has outpaced the number of students vying for them.
Bottom line—there are more schools with more space for students than ever before.
Sure, Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, Yale and Princeton all accepted fewer than 10 percent of their applicants. You could have perfect grades, perfect test scores and a certificate verifying that it was, in fact, you who invented plutonium. You still might not get into one of those schools. That’s what happens when the highest-achieving applicants from all over the world apply to the same colleges. There are just too many applicants vying for a limited number of spaces.
How many colleges are highly selective?
I consider any college that accepts fewer than 20 percent of its applicants to be highly selective. I also consider these colleges the exception, not the norm. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator), only 40 colleges are actually that selective. Think Ivy League and Stanford. If you change the search variable on the website to include all schools that admit at least 30 percent of their applicants, the list more than doubles to 92 schools. Change the variable to 40 percent and it more than doubles again to 186 schools. And a 50 percent acceptance rate yields more than 350 colleges.
That leaves more than 1,600 schools that accept more than half their applicants.
I understand if you don’t take solace in the statistic that you’re virtually guaranteed admission to hundreds of schools you haven’t heard of (yet). We have a lot of ground to cover about how to find the right colleges for you and whether the most selective schools are among them.
My team and I have helped more than 5,000 students understand a fundamental truth about college admissions today: there’s a school out there for you, probably one that will make you very happy. You just have to care enough about your future to want that for yourself and commit to doing the work to get there.
This book will show you how.