if you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that it’s quite rare when we don’t have some criticism about an opinion piece that focuses on highly selective college admissions. So often, these opinion pieces contain incorrect facts, perpetuate widespread misconceptions about the admissions process, and further confuse already stressed out parents and high schoolers. And so, with that said, we came across an editorial in “The Los Angeles Times” authored by The Times Editorial Board that we completely back. The piece, entitled “Students lose out in university numbers game,” focuses on how highly selective colleges market themselves to students who are utterly unqualified for admission simply to boost their application numbers, drive down their admit rate, and boost their all-important “US News & World Report” ranking.
As the editorial so states, “Schools are now lowering their admit rate by inveigling more students into applying — thus the shower of mailers, as well as hundreds of emails and the occasional telemarketing call. And it works, to the detriment of parents’ wallets. Today, partly because of all the marketing and recruitment, students are applying to about twice as many colleges as they did 15 years ago. As admission rates have dropped to as low as 5% among the most elite colleges, students have applied to even more of them. It’s no longer very unusual for a student to file applications to 15 schools, at $80 or so a pop. (Though a few colleges are upping the number of applicants further by making the process free and pushing their deadlines later.)”
It’s all true. When parents tell us that a certain highly selective college is interested in their daughter because they’ve been sending brochures to her just about every day of the week, we can’t help but break it to them that this means absolutely nothing. They just want her daughter to apply. They want her to complete an application. That doesn’t mean they have any intention of admitting her daughter. That doesn’t mean she has any shot of getting in. There is zero correlation between the number of college brochures one receives and one’s chances for admission. Zero, zero, zero.