Admissions decisions for the college class of 2016 were recently released and what many anticipated turned out to be the case — acceptance rates dropped even more at many selective schools, including five of the eight Ivy League schools (where more than 240,000 students competed for 23,000 spots). The truth is, these schools are reaches for everyone!
College admission at the nation’s most selective schools has become much more competitive over the past decade. To add some perspective, keep in mind that the parents of today’s high school students likely applied to college 20 or more years ago. In 1991, the acceptance rate for the University of Pennsylvania was 47 percent and this year it is down to just 12.3 percent!
According to the Department of Education, there are 3.2 million graduating seniors in the U.S. just this year and the number of international students in the U.S. has increased by 22.3 percent since 2007. More students are submitting more applications, and many colleges have seen an increase in numbers of applicants. Compared to schools like the University of Chicago (up 16 percent) and the University of Virginia (up 18 percent), Yale’s increase of 5 percent doesn’t seem so bad, right? To put it in perspective, that represents 1,379 applications. This year Yale welcomed 1,351 freshmen students, which means that this year’s increase in applications alone was enough to fill the freshman class, never mind the 27,000 other students who applied! Unfortunately, despite an increase in applications, many colleges are not expanding their freshmen class size.
Ultimately, there are no guarantees when it comes to college admissions. Many students get their hearts set on one school, and if they don’t get in, it’s the end of the world — this is exactly the wrong attitude to have! It is important for students to have a balanced college list of schools where they will be happy and successful. I usually recommend that students have three to four reach schools (prospect of admission under 25 percent), four to five target schools (prospect of admission 25-60 percent), and two or three likely schools (prospect of admission more than 60 percent).
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