With admission rates lower this year than last year, and lower last year than the year before, the college application frenzy is at an all time high. As applications were up at all University of CA campuses, admission rates decreased and the same is true for many elite, highly selective colleges and universities including Stanford and the Ivies. See this recent post by College Kickstart.
How does one create a balanced college list given this trend toward more and more selective
Here are a few of my recommendations:
- Keep the college search in perspective—it’s about a four-year period in a young adult’s life, an important launching period, of course, but there is no one correct path or best school.
- Read Frank Bruni’s book Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania for myriad reasons and examples why going to an elite institution is not a prerequisite for success in career or life.
- Balance your list realistically—consider selectivity, type of school, location.
- Look for fit vs. prestige—do the schools on your list offer the academic majors and programs as well as extracurricular opportunities that you seek?
- Consider EA (Early Action) and ED (Early Decision) applications but be careful not to apply ED if financial aid is a consideration. Remember that ED acceptances are binding.
- Focus on target schools and consider reach and lottery schools as outliers—possibilities not probabilities.
- Prepare for rejection and waitlist notifications that may arrive in the spring. It’s good to be positive and hopeful but it’s also important to prepare oneself for at least some disappointment.
- Make sure every school on the list is one you want to attend.