College Application Figures

A “Fox Business” article by Emily Driscoll entitled “How To Make a College Application Stand Out” discusses how students are applying to more colleges than ever before. College application figures on the rise. Shocker! It’s not as though we’ve been writing about this topic for years or anything. Many folks wrongly assume that colleges are getting more and more selective but in fact, more students are just applying to more colleges. And colleges are encouraging even unqualified students to apply in the hopes of boosting their admission rates and thereby improving their “US News & World Report” rankings.

College App Figures, University App Figures, College Application Numbers

Students are applying to more colleges than ever before. This trend is nothing new (photo credit: Jawed Karim).

Anyhow, the article in “Fox Business” states, “The most recent data from the National Association for College Admission Counseling shows that between 2010 and 2011, the percentage of students applying to at least three colleges rose to 79% from 77%, and the percentage of students applying to at least seven colleges rose to 29% from 25%. By comparison, only 67% of students applied to three or more colleges in 2000, while 12% applied to seven or more.” Our students at Ivy Coach quite often only apply to one college. That’s right — one. It’s because many of our students apply Early Decision. We encourage our students to apply Early Decision or Early Action because students have better odds of getting into their dream college(s) if they apply through an Early policy.

We don’t envision the trend of applying to more and more colleges ending anytime soon. As more colleges have joined the Common Application, the trend has only gotten more severe. But we’ll say it again because people just don’t seem to get this — just because more students apply to a college and their admission rate gets lower, that doesn’t mean that school has become more difficult to gain admission to. It’s simple math. The more students that apply, the lower the admission rate will invariably be. In other words, unqualified students applying to a college does not make that school more selective — in spite of a dropping admission rate. Statistics can fool you in this way. Mark Twain would definitely back this up.


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1 Comment

  • Rosemary Laberee says:

    I think that the Common Application has created this problem, as you point out here. It has definitely helped to create the admissions “squeeze” but it has also resulted in many students transferring after the first year because they are in the wrong school (for them). Also, it has made the application process much easier for international students, who often outshine American students on standardized testing.

    A few years ago, while sitting in an info session at Amherst with one of my kids, I listened to one father boasted proudly that his daughter had narrowed her list down to 20 and would be applying to all. The Amherst counselor was not amused and said bluntly to him (and his daughter), “I don’t know how any student could possibly think that she would be a good fit at 20 different schools. Frankly, it is impossible.”

    We bemoan the difficulty of gaining entry to one of our country’s top schools, but then turn around and treat them like commodities, assuming they are mostly alike and that one would mostly fit the bill as well as the next.

    I totally agree – early decision or early action is the way to go, but first a student has to know the school. This takes time. Getting familiar with the target school should be viewed as mandatory homework.

    I love reading this newsletter !!

    Ro L

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