‘Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile or A Horse of a Different Color’

The reason the title of this blog is what it is comes from discussions with other Independent Educational

The reason the title of this blog is what it is comes from discussions with other Independent Educational consultants. These schools are no longer the same as when we went to school. Nor are these schools the same as five years ago, ten years ago or twenty years ago. The requirements are different, essays are different, admission officers are all the more wiser. The applications are more lengthy. Parents who say: I graduated from (put in a name of a school, whether it be a high profile uni, or small liberal arts), I can do this with my child and think it can be a bonding experience, think again. Admissions can tell who writes and edits/revise essays. They know what an 18 year old voice should sound like. As a matter of fact, admission reps are assigned geographical areas and become familiar with high schools. They know high schools. We as adults know what a ‘sophisticated’ piece of writing sounds like. We know what a high quality resume looks like. But there is a difference between an 18 year old’s resume and activities sheet and an adult resume. Which, in all actuality, we want our children to be just that, as long as possible. 

We have to remember, the lives of our children are gone in a blink of an eye. While we assist our children in the beginning of their lives with a close eye, as they get older we take baby steps back, until we know that it’s time to take a big step back.  College admissions is a big step back and one of a reality check. While I wish that things were the same as our childhood days, they aren’t. I remember as a child, we would come home from school (no homework in elementary school), we got on our bikes and roamed the neighborhood, played pick up ball games and by some miracle, we all were at the dinner table on time. Today, life is a bit more structured and quite a bit less ‘free roaming’. 

We can’t compare apples to oranges. 

These past few years have marked a change in college admissions. We know that since the start of Covid, there has been a change in the admissions process. The biggest change, of course, has been test optional, with some schools dropping the standardized tests completely. 

The result of this has been extraordinary, that being an influx of applicants to many high profile schools. Here are some examples: 

  • The University of California system received a record of 210,840 applications for Fall 2022. UCLA led the way. UCLA received close to 150,000 applications. UC Irvine received a bit over 119,00. 132,337 were California residents, 47,103 were out of state, and 31,400 were international (statistics from CBS Broadcasting, 2022). 

The big change for the UC system this year: they will take more instate students, fewer out of state and international students. 

A Few of the  Ivies:

  • Harvard: It is a well known fact that Harvard has an acceptance rate of 3.19% for the class of 2026. 740 were accepted early admission in December. What don’t I know- of those 740, did all those students attend? 
  • What I know: Applications jumped to almost 7% from the previous year-from 57,435 to 61,220. 
  • Harvard also covered fees for those admitted students whose families make under $75,000. 
  • Brown: Offered admission to 2,546 students, 1,651 through regular decision, the rest through Early Decision. A total number of 50,649 students applied, a 9% increase from last year. 
  • Yale: Admitted 2,234 students from a pool of 50,015, the acceptance rate was 4.46%, lower than any of the three prior years. 800 were through early action and 81 matched through QuestBridge. 

Penn and Cornell chose not to give rates, or just generalities. 

Other schools

  • Northeastern: received more than 90,989 applications, accepted 6,179 students-6.7%. The previous year, the acceptance rate was 18%. 
  • University of Michigan: Received more than 84,000 applications. 

This is a small sampling, but proves a point. Application numbers are up despite the fact that there we now have a shrinking student population (now that the baby boomer children are grown).  

So, what is the point? To make you feel bummed? No, on the contrary- to make you look further into the options of universities that are out there. There are many to think about. We are so lucky in this country to have thousands of options. I was at a National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) university fair on Sunday, September 25th, there must have been close to 300 colleges and universities represented. That is a fraction of the number of universities we have in our country. Think beyond the ‘name brand’ and you will be pleasantly surprised. 

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