So says The Wall St. Journal in "Top Colleges Reject Record Numbers." The news from Penn, that I wrote about a couple of days ago isn’t limited to Penn. It’s a trend at all top schools. Here are some stats reported in the WSJ article:
- Penn (17.7%), Stanford (11%), Brown (13.8%) and Dartmouth (15%) all reported record-low acceptance rates.
- Many school reported a surge in applications resulting in record-high application volume.
The article attributes these record-shattering stats to:
- Students submitting more applications than they did in the past. Roughly 26% of students applied to six or more colleges, up from 18% a decade earlier, a study says.
- Colleges accepting fewer students and relying more on waitlists.
- The ease of online applications.
- Increased use of the Common Application.
- Rising numbers of high school graduates.
The schools also report receiving more applicants than they can accept from highly qualified applicants. Penn rejected 394 of the 1045 valedictorians who applied. It also rejected approximately 70% of the applicants who earned close to 800 on the math and critical reading sections of the SAT. At Brown, 94% of the admitted class comes from the top 10% of their class.
My take on this article as well as the experience of clients this past year is that it’s not exactly ground-breaking: Admissions at the top schools is gruelingly competitive. And unpredictable. Clearly stats count but do not control.
I just saw an email quoting a prep school president. He made the excellent point that college admissions is not a scorecard; it is a matching process. The point is not to acquire trophies, but to find a school that wants you and you want it. A school where you will be happy.
If you are facing some rejections, focus on the acceptances and delight in them. If you are applying next year, really look into the programs. Yes you can apply to a couple of stretch or dream programs, but also be realistic. Which schools meet your needs and will want to have YOU, not the person you could have been, should have been, or never ever wanted to be. Then make sure that your application represents YOU at your best.