One of the purposes of our college admissions blog is to demystify the highly selective college admissions process for our readers. We’re also all about debunking common misconceptions about the process. And so we thought we’d respond in a bit more detail to a Comment on a recent post. The Comment was in reference to a statement we made that highly selective colleges — including Duke University — recruit students to apply that have no shot of getting in. They do this to boost their application numbers, lower their admission rate, and improve their all-important “US News & World Report” ranking.
The Comment read as follows: “Your suggestion that ‘they (Duke) sent more brochures to students who don’t have a shot of getting into Duke’ is patently rediulous [sic]. While the University highly values ED candidates, the fact is the tremendous workload created by almost 3,200 (a single year 26 percent increase) early decision applications — probably with no Undergraduate Admissions staff increase — also causes great internal administrative and processing difficulties, from November and through mid-December. The far more logical — and simple — reason is this: serious, qualified applicants know their opportunity to attend Duke is substantially enhanced through Early Decision, the [sic] ardently wish to do so, and they therefore opt for ED.”
To put it in this Commenter’s words, this suggestion is patently ridiculous. Do you really think the Duke admissions office would prefer fewer students apply Early Decision so as to lower the “tremendous workload” or decrease the “great internal administrative and processing difficulties”? What difficulties exactly? Do students who apply Early Decision to Duke have better odds of getting in than do those who apply Regular Decision? You bet. But what does this have anything to do with the fact that Duke — and just about all highly selective colleges — recruit students who don’t have a shot of getting in simply to boost their ranking. That “US News & World Report” ranking has a major impact on a school like Duke.