How college application has changed – the process has gotten more competitive across the board because applicant sizes are growing faster than seats.
How College Admissions Has Changed
Things have changed since 1980. Back then, if you had a good academic record and solid SAT/ ACT scores, you were likely headed to your first choice in higher learning.
In the 90’s, some sports activities helped; then outside activities; then you needed community activism.
You get the idea, it was plenty hard back then and for many parents, the current college admissions process seems far more competitive than they remember. Additionally, they now see admissions rates that appear impossibly low.
College admissions at top schools change every year and staying up to date is critical in order to be successful in the admissions process. At Admissions Accomplished®, we have helped thousands of students navigate the application process. While it’s safe to say everything has changed since 1980, there have been big changes even in the last few years.
How College Admissions Has Changed – It Starts in High School
One major factor affecting college admissions is the high school graduation rate. Back in 1980, the high school graduation rate was 70%. In 2010 it was 87%. In other words, even high school is much more competitive now. When translated into bodies, that means that the 1.1 million high school graduates that applied in 1980 has now swollen to nearly 2 million.
Yet another reason for the long term changes is that in 1980, less than 1/3 of high school seniors applied to 4 or more colleges, now that is closer to 2/3.
Yale University admitted just shy of 21% of its applicants in 1980. Thirty years later it sits at 7.9%
How College Admissions Has Changed – The Application Process
Today, two factors have emerged.
The college application process has gotten more competitive across the board because the number of applicants are growing faster than seats. In the last 10 years, many colleges have gone from a few thousand applicants to 30,000 or more, while their class sizes have only increased less than 20%. This has reduced admissions rates, causing students to apply to more schools.
Colleges are also concerned about yield. Yield is the percentage of students that accept their offer of admission and takes into account students with multiple offers to schools that are similarly ranked. Colleges look for higher yields each year by continually refining the application process to select students most likely to attend their college when given an offer.
Taken together, these two factors have caused admission rates at top schools to plummet.
Today, as a reaction to this, students apply to more colleges. The average student today applies to 5-7 colleges. Many apply to 10 ,20, even 30 schools.
The Reality of How College Admissions Has Changed
At almost any alumni meeting, it’s not unusual to hear “Chances are, most of us would never be here if we applied to this college today.” The message is loud and clear. If you applied here today with the same GPA and SAT scores you had a decade or two ago, you would not make it in.
Gaining acceptance into college is harder than ever before, and the odds are unlikely to improve anytime soon. The reality of college admissions, however, presents a more complicated picture. The bad news is that getting into any specific school is less likely than it was just a few years ago, and certainly more difficult than it was 15-20 years ago, because the number of strong applicants to selective schools has mushroomed.
The Common App and Globalization
The Common App is an application/ essay that works for multiple schools, so there is a smaller amount of extra paperwork to apply to more colleges. It went online in 1998 and the majority of “selective colleges” allow students to use it, driving up their own “selectivity”.
Add to that, American education has become a globalized consumer good and schools actively market themselves overseas. 10-20 years ago, if you were applying at Penn State, you were competing with high school seniors throughout Pennsylvania and the northeast. Today, you also compete with China, India, Korea and more.
In fact, state schools historically were much easier for American students to gain acceptance. They were the flagship campuses for a state’s most qualified students. Today they have earned international fame.
The one-two punch of the accessibility of the Common Application and increased global pressure of highly qualified students seeking higher education, has caused admission rates to tumble to historic lows.
Traditionally, students like yourself have sat a made a list. 2-3 “REACH” schools that are highly selective and less likely to choose you, 2-3 “MATCH” schools where you closely match the requirements and a couple “SAFETY” schools. Today, the issue high school students face is that schools that were once considered “safety choices” now have admission rates as low as 20%.
You need an edge.
One thing that has changed from the student prospective over the last 30 years. You don’t start thinking about college in the winter of your senior year. Admissions Accomplished® gets you started earlier for the very best chance at those top 2-3 choices.
At Admissions Accomplished®, our pre-admissions process covers;
- Selecting courses during high school that will reflect achievement in rigorous classes
- Selecting and scheduling standardized tests that will best demonstrate your accumulated knowledge
- Deciding the most appropriate method of test preparation based on your individual needs – private tutoring vs. classes (Admissions Accomplished® does not provide test preparation nor are we affiliated with any test preparation organization.)
- Choosing extracurricular and volunteer activities that bring personal satisfaction and emphasize your uniqueness
- Planning summer activities/employment
Because if you have schools in mind, you must plan ahead. The combination of our quality, educational credentials, insider knowledge, experience in education and personalized approach cannot be matched.