A Tougher Race
College Application Numbers Increase
By Claudine Vainrub, Principal of EduPlan
So you’ve always dreamed of going to Harvard or Penn? Recent news from the college admissions offices all over the country show that you need to work twice as hard to gain admission, as continue to soar in double-digit-percentage increases. The Washington Post reports, “Harvard received nearly 35,000 applications, a 15 percent increase over last year’s 30,489 — and a 50 percent increase in four years”.
Consider this: Around 1.5 million students apply to four-year colleges on a yearly basis. Simply put, about one of every 50 students this year sought a spot at Harvard. Last year, Harvard accepted 6.9 percent of its applicants. The record numbers come even as the nation’s number of high school graduates begins a slow decline from its peak year of 2009.
“The boom is fueled by generous financial-aid policies at the elite schools, an improving economy, and an influx of candidates from other countries,” pointed out ZA Shafiq of MottoEducation.
“Getting into a top college is like winning the lottery twice,” said George Coetze, an executive with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers. “You’re getting into Harvard, and if you don’t have the adequate resources, you’re getting into an institution that has the financial resources to package you properly.”
David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, explained that there really are no clear-cut reasons behind increases in applications to a given school in a given year and consequently behind yield numbers.
“It really is a crapshoot from year to year from the number of applications to the yield percentages,” he said. “It’s hard to know what might be behind any institution’s effort and the overall destabilization of the process.”
The general rise in college applications could partially be attributed to the ease of the application process facilitated by the increased popularity of the Common App. The application process has become more automatic through this standard online application, which counts with the participation of over 400 colleges and universities in the U.S.
While lots of highly qualified applicants now submit more applications because of the uncertainty and competitiveness of the current admission processes, the increase in applications has fueled uncertainty within admission committees about whom to accept. “ I have no doubt in my mind that the number of applications will level out when it reaches “that point of diminishing return” at which it is too hard for committees to decide whom to accept. This situation will provide an impetus for colleges to lessen their active recruitment,” pointed out Rakshat Shahni of Career Planner.