Thinking of applying to one college or to twenty colleges this college admissions cycle? There’s a piece up on “Insider Higher Ed” entitled “Most Freshmen Apply to One College, Data Suggest” that we figured we’d write about on the pages of our college admissions blog. For loyal readers of our blog, they know our position on applying to colleges — apply Early Decision or Early Action. By applying Early Decision or Early Action, an applicant’s odds of getting into his or her dream college are so much stronger. Just take a look through our compiled Ivy League Statistics through the years. The data tells the full story, better than our analysis of it ever could.
So maybe so many students are applying to only one college because we’ve been successfully getting the word out over the years. Maybe. Maybe not. According to the piece, “Two-thirds of college freshmen who applied for federal student loans or grants last year indicated that they were applying to only one institution, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday. Sixty-eight percent of freshmen filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid during the 2014-15 academic year instructed the Education Department to send their information to only one college, the department said. That’s down from 80 percent in the 2008-09 school year. The Obama administration called the new data ‘troubling.’ ‘By focusing on only one school, students run the risk of being turned down for admission or losing out on better financial aid and educational opportunities from another school, with ramifications that can last a lifetime,’ Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement.”
If our Secretary of Education disapproves of the trend of students applying to only one college, the Secretary of Education should scrutinize misaligned incentives.
But Secretary Duncan, with due respect, have you considered looking through the statistics at the highly selective colleges — for the Early Decision / Early Action round as compared to the Regular Decision round? If you did so, you’d know that the incentives are misaligned. Just like in real estate, with brokers. The more you pay for a house, the more your own broker gets. “Freakonomics” taught us this. Well, the incentives are misaligned with respect to applying to one school as compared to many schools, too, if you think about it. Perhaps, Secretary Duncan, instead of lamenting the problem, you should propose a viable solution if you truly believe it to be a problem. That’s just our two cents.