Have College Admissions become more Difficult?

I think if this question were asked of the general public, we would hear a resounding, “Yes!”  But in reality, I don’t think this is true.  Let’s look at a few facts: 1) according to census data, the population of students in the college-bound age bracket is actually going down.  2) While the admit rates of elite colleges continue to get lower and lower each year, the same for colleges not in the elite category is actually rising.  And, 3) evidence that colleges are “hurting for students” is that many colleges are offering merit aid to incent students to choose them over another college.

The truth is, there are more college seats than there are students to fill them. (Please don’t forget this!) The problem remains that thousands of students are trying to get into the same 50 to 100 brand name colleges.  Also adding to the problem, is that students are each applying to too many colleges.  Hysteria about the difficulty of getting in, ill-advised students and parents and a lack of open mindedness toward certain colleges all are fueling the fire of the long apply-to-list.

I can’t emphasize enough that a thoughtfully crafted and relatively short apply-to-list is the way to go.  The key is to have at least two colleges from each of the difficulty categories of Likely, Target and Reach.  If you would like to add more colleges to your apply-to-list, I would advise still having at least two Likelies and increase the Targets and Reaches to three or four in each. The number of colleges that ultimately wind up on a student’s list is an individual’s decision but remember that with each additional college application comes more work, more writing, more money, and more stress (and possibly more rejections!).