Elite College Admissions Isn’t Random

Someone you know has said it before to you. Maybe it was your child’s high school counselor or their baseball coach or your newspaper deliveryperson. Yet no matter who says it — or how vociferously that person says it — it’s simply not true. If a student plays their cards right, the admissions process to our nation’s elite universities is not only not random but it’s also fairly predictable. That’s right. Predictable. After all, year after year going on over three decades, why would Ivy Coach’s students so often earn admission to their dream schools, schools that often boast admission rates below 10%, if it wasn’t a methodical rather than incalculable process?

Lee Coffin leads Dartmouth’s admissions committee.

Perhaps it’s Dartmouth College’s Vice Provost for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Lee Coffin, himself the first in his family to attend college, who put it best when he stated in a Dartmouth news release entitled “‘Admissions Beat’ Podcast Returns for New Season,” “Especially in the Ivy League, there’s a dangerous misconception that the selection process is random and unpredictable. It isn’t. Applying to college—even in a highly competitive environment—should be a series of thoughtful, intentional steps, beginning with soul-searching reflection about who you are and what you want most out of the next chapter in your life.”

Amen. The elite college admissions process isn’t random. Rather, it’s anything but random. In our experience, it’s the people who don’t succeed in the process who dub it random — and for obvious reasons. It’s a cop out. Heck, it’s human nature. It didn’t work out for them, likely because they didn’t approach the process correctly, so the whole system must be flawed. Or random as they like to call it. So next time someoe tells you it’s random, just smile and nod. There’s no sense disagreeing!

 
 

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