What We Learned From the 2016 Admissions Cycle
Now that colleges have released the majority of their admissions decisions, and students are reconciling their application triumphs and defeats, it’s time to take a step back and assess the trends and surprises from this year’s admissions choices. While not all of these findings are special to the 2016 admissions cycle, they are noteworthy enough that all college certain students – especially those wrapping up their junior year – ought to pay careful attention. And if you count number yourselves among the thousands of hapless elderly people who didn’t earn a spot at your dream college, perhaps the rationales below will help explain why you were the particular recipient of a “thin envelope, ” while your neighbor/best friend/classmate was not.
New Rule #1: There are no “sure things” any more when it comes to safety schools. Overqualified students (quantified primarily by GPA and SAT/ACT) are routinely being waitlisted or denied at “no problem” colleges because the admissions committee feels doubtful these students are likely to register if accepted. When fewer accepted students choose to enroll, that college’s “yield” goes down, as does their particular perceived desirability. Given the weight of college rankings in publications such as US News and Planet Report , colleges are hesitant to admit students who did not demonstrate adequate curiosity in attending. Juniors, don’t be perceived as a “yield buster. ” Visit your safety institutions as well as your dream schools to show your intentions are sincere. (You might even find the best school for you any of your “safety schools. ”)
New Rule #2: Did you hear the one about the student who was admitted to Yale and Columbia but denied at Stanford? Or even who was waitlisted at Northwestern yet accepted at Cornell? Admission towards the most selective colleges is as unpredictable as ever. A student who is a remarkable candidate for every program she pertains to will stand out in some applicant swimming pools but not others. Different schools…different swimming pools. Juniors, as long as your final university list consists of a balanced mix of no problem, just right, and challenging schools, and you also follow Rule #1, you will have lots of options to choose from next year.
New Principle #3: Just because a student has top grades, perfect SATs/ACTs, and stellar essays doesn’t guarantee him a spot at an Ivy. A host of factors affect admissions final results, and students only have control over a portion of their completed application. Realize that a “perfect” applicant might have something within their file – perhaps in a required letter of recommendation – that raises some kind of red flag to admissions officers. Juniors, don’t make presumptions about why an acquaintance was admitted to a particular school or not. Except if you’re physically sitting in an admissions committee, it’s impossible to know what aspects of that student’s application had been deemed the most compelling.
New Rule #4: Although some state it couldn’t be done, the nation’s most elite colleges are becoming even more selective. All but one of the Ivies (Brown) saw a decrease in their general acceptance rates this year. Other colleges that announced an increase in selectivity are Barnard College (16 % from 19. 5 percent); Stanford (4. 7 percent from 5. 1 percent); and Tufts (14 percent from 16 percent). Juniors, try not to get caught up in the hype encircling the “name brand, ” ultra-competitive colleges. There are hundreds of exceptional colleges that offer outstanding students a top-notch education… that aren’t next-to impossible to gain entry to.
New Guideline #5: Domestic students aren’t the only ones feeling squeezed out by single digit acceptance rates. International applicants are facing increased competition, too. While some strong colleges still court well-qualified, full pay international students, various other elite colleges – most notably the particular Ivies and their peers – are seeing soaring numbers of full-pay international applicants, making it even harder for those students to distinguish themselves within the international pool. Juniors, it’s unattainable to know what a college’s institutional priorities are in any given year, so don’t obsess over factors (such because race, ethnicity, geographic diversity) you can’t control.
Looking ahead to the admissions season for the class of 2021, what trends do all of us anticipate? Despite the well-intentioned recommendations of Harvard’s “Turning the Tide Report, ” don’t expect prestigious colleges to unwind their admissions requirements any time soon. Since colleges like Dartmouth, Princeton, and Yale continue to target and entice larger numbers of applicants, their acceptance rates will continue to plummet. Earlier decision applications will continue to gain an edge in the admissions process since colleges seek to lock in “sure bets, ” while colleges can rely even heavier on waitlists for managing their unpredictable produces. It may sound daunting, but it can be done to embrace the college admissions process optimistically. Armed with a realistic college checklist, a strong organizational plan, and the support of your high school and family, your college admissions process can produce some pretty exciting results.