Photo: Annie Spratt on Unsplash
For most growing up in 21st-century American society, having a college degree is a necessity, and teenagers all across the country each year complete the long and difficult college application process. In my own experience, I have heard people say that it is more difficult to get into college today than it was several decades ago. Unsure as to whether this was true, I decided to look further into the subject.
I came across a statement that Jacoba Urist from The Atlantic made in 2014: “The myth of selectivity, that college admissions gets harder with each passing year, is both true and untrue.” This statement hardly provides an answer to my question and suggests that the topic is rather complex. The explanation for the myth being “true” comes from a claim made by Dan Edmonds, the vice president of research and development for Noodle, an education company, that it is less likely to get into a specific college than it was ten years ago. The reason for this stems from the increase in strong applicants, and with more people applying to selective schools, there is a limit to how many applicants can be accepted. This increase in applications is not simply due to an increase in population or even an increase in the number of students applying to college. Today, students are able to apply to over ten schools because of the Common Application, compared to thirty years ago, when applying to under five schools would have been the norm. As many college-applying teens know, the Common Application streamlines the process of applying to more than one school. In sum, the ability to apply to more schools has caused the number of applicants to each school to double or triple, lowering the odds of getting accepted to a specific college.
Although this situation does not sound like a positive one, there is an upside. Even though there are more applicants applying to schools, the number of qualified applicants has not necessarily increased by the same amount. According to Edmonds, this means that it is now easier to get into a selective school, but it is more difficult to get into a specific selective school. Essentially, if you apply to all of the Ivy League schools, there is a higher chance that you will get into one of them but a lower chance that you will get into the specific one that is your dream school.
Knowing all this, we can try to increase our own chances of getting into college. According to admissions experts, the best strategy is to create a portfolio of ten to fifteen schools that you would be happy at and apply to all of them. The portfolio should have a mix of target, reach, and safety schools. However, if you are applying to all selective schools, you want to maximize the number of selective schools you apply to in order to increase your chances of getting into one of them. Of course, there is no magical solution to getting into college, but just remember that you are not alone! There are tons of us going through the exact same thing, trying to plan out our futures and figure out where we belong!