The Ivy Coach Daily

April 25, 2011

College Admissions Trends

Students want to go to the best university they can get into. Sunny or not.

There is an article in “The Daily Beast” by Kristina Dell in which she cites ten college admission trends. From “2011 was the hardest year to get into college – ever” to “college applicants are more interested in southern schools” to “international student applications are surging” to the waitlist is huge this year,” Dell dissects “what’s in” for this year’s college admissions cycle.

Let’s examine some of these college admissions trends.

1. “2011 Was the Hardest Year to Get into College Ever.” We at Ivy Coach agree but also disagree. Yes, more students applied to colleges than ever before this past year. That’s the case every year. Admissions statistics at top universities reflect more difficult admissions rates as well as increased applications. But that doesn’t mean 2011 was the hardest year ever. More colleges joined The Common Application so applicants applied to more universities than they did in previous years. Colleges increased their recruiting efforts both domestically and internationally. These students weren’t necessarily qualified for admission to these top universities but by recruiting them, the admissions statistics will have a positive impact on US News and World Report. If you add a bunch of unqualified candidates to a job applicant pool, does that make it more difficult for the qualified applicant? Chances are, no.

2. “College Applicants Are More Interested in Southern Schools.” We don’t doubt this trend. Warmth attracts college applicants just as it does senior citizens and birds. But there’s a quote in the article that we at Ivy Coach don’t happen to agree with: “’I have heard anecdotally from students and parents that they are starting to pay attention to what Tulane looks like in February compared to Dartmouth,’ says Sally Rubenstone, a senior adviser at College Confidential. ’They might not want to go where they have to scrape snow off their windshields.’” But then why are applications up at Dartmouth? Why did they have a 9.7% admission rate this year as compared to 11.5% last year? Why did Dartmouth have 22,385 applications this year as compared to 18,778 applications last year? Anecdotal evidence does not trump accurate and appropriate statistics. While this trend may well be true, we’d love to see the data.

3. “International Student Applications Are Surging.” According to the article, “Of the almost 31,000 students who applied to Brown University, the largest number of applicants came from international students—a large proportion from China—and the state of California, says Jim Miller, dean of admissions. Adds Roberts of the University of Virginia: ’Over the past several years we have seen double-digit increases in international students, especially those from China.’” The statistics at so many universities support this definitive college admissions trend. So, yes, this is a no-brainer.

4. “Applicants From Technology Havens Have the Admissions Edge.” According to the article, “Schools like to say geography doesn’t matter, but if you’re from a technology haven like Seattle, Palo Alto, or San Jose, you just might have a subtle advantage.” Do the children of Larry Page and Sergey Brin have a competitive advantage over their fellow applicants? Absolutely! Every college wants the children of the founders of Google or other successful tech companies (check out our newsletter: Playing the Admissions Card). But a kid from Palo Alto doesn’t have a leg up on a kid from Nebraska. Let’s be real. The reverse is in fact true. Kids from Palo Alto have to compete against all the other kids from Palo Alto. The kid from Nebraska doesn’t have the same competition pool. Sometimes, colleges are so desperate to get a kid from all 50 states that they’ll take an applicant only if that applicant can read. We’re only half kidding.

5. “The Waitlist is Huge This Year.” So true. Check out our newsletter: The College Wait List.

6. “More Californians Are Applying Out of State.” According to the article, “’Students are applying to more colleges out of state, especially California students because of the strain on the higher education system there,’ says Eric J. Furda, dean of admissions at University of Pennsylvania. He notes that Penn saw fewer applicants from Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic area this year.” With California’s economy in flux, we don’t doubt for a second this college admissions trend.

7. “Homeschoolers Are on the Rise.” According to the article, “’We see a lot of homeschoolers now,’ says Miller, who notes that these students are often hard to compare to others because their curricula vary so much. ’It’s a big movement.’ Still, things can get a little bit awkward when teacher recommendations are requested and they end up coming from the student’s parents—something that happens all the time. ’I read one recommendation from a student’s mother that said, ’He is one of the best students I’ve ever taught,’ and I laughed because the kid is an only child,’ he says.” That’s very funny!

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