Tuesday, April 1, 2008

College Admissions Insanity

My jaw hit the floor when I read in today's New York Times what the college admissions statistics are for the class of 2012. No wonder the atmosphere is so intense in many high schools these days!

Harvard: 7.1%
Yale: 8.3%
Columbia: 8.7%
Stanford: 9.5%
MIT: 11.6%
Dartmouth: 13%
Brown: 13%

Things have gotten absolutely out of hand- it's high time these sought-after schools increase the size of their freshman classes. Demand next year is likely to be even higher given the recent financial-aid changes announced by many of the universities. If Harvard received 27,462 applications even before the new program was publicized, how many more are going to apply next year given the more generous aid?

The sad thing is, this admissions frenzy at the college level has a trickle-down effect because it ups the ante for each preceding level. High schools with a good college placement track record become more desirable, then middle schools with a good high school placement record, and so on down the line. You wind up with yuppie parents absolutely freaking out about nursery school acceptances for their toddlers who are often not even out of Pull-Ups :-(


JJ Ross said...

Lucky for younger kids though, the NYT also reports that
selective admissions are about to peak, and then decline into a "buyer's market"!

March 9, 2008
Math Suggests College Frenzy Will Soon Ease

High school seniors nationwide are anxiously awaiting the verdicts from the colleges of their choice later this month. But though it may not be of much solace to them, in just a few years the admissions frenzy is likely to ease. It’s simply a matter of demographics.

Projections show that by next year or the year after, the annual number of high school graduates in the United States will peak at about 2.9 million after a 15-year climb. The number is then expected to decline until about 2015.

Most universities expect this to translate into fewer applications and less selectivity, with most students probably finding it easier to get into college. . .

Crimson Wife said...

I think the key word in that second NYT article is "most". Most colleges today aren't particularly selective. Jay Matthews likes to quote a statistic that something like 75% of colleges in the U.S. accept at least 75% of those who apply (I forget the exact number but it's in that ballpark).

Only a tiny fraction of all college-bound students are applying to the elite colleges. So the overall demographics aren't as important as the demand for those particular schools.

I don't have any data to back this up, but it's been my observation that as the number of total college graduates has risen, there's been a "flight to quality". Simply having a bachelor's doesn't carry as much weight these days. Increasingly, it's not just whether someone has the degree but also where that degree is from.

Granted, this may be true in certain affluent metro areas such as S.F./Silicon Valley (where I live now) and Boston (where I grew up)...