Friday, September 22, 2017

Swimming with the Sharks - A Take on Selective Admissions


by Kathy Mahoney

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the National Conference for NACAC - the National Association for College Admission Counseling. My first session focused on how best to counsel students and families in a competitive and demanding admissions climate. There are thousands of students applying to each school, and colleges have the difficult job of building an admissible class. This task includes denying talented students, many of whom meet the admissions criteria and would make fantastic students at their institution. With the number of applications rising and admissions rates falling, it’s no wonder that students and families feel like they are left swimming with the sharks. Here are two big takeaways to keep in mind as you go through the process.

     1). There is no such thing as fairness in the admission process. It’s easy to compare yourself with others around you, but try not to fall into that trap. “I have a better GPA than Johnny, but Johnny got in and I didn’t. That’s not fair.” However, Johnny plays the oboe and the college happens to be short one oboe player. GPA clearly wasn’t the only factor in this admission decision. The following year, Sarah says, “I have a better GPA than Johnny did and I’m a better oboe player!” Well, the school doesn’t need an oboe player anymore; their institutional priorities have shifted. Fairness in college admissions just isn’t possible.

     2). Think outside the box! In this case, the box is the Northeast and West Coast. These schools have been hit by increasing amounts of applications, leading to tougher standards and lower admission rates. By contrast, there are hundreds of great schools everywhere in between that might be a perfect fit for you! Colleges like geographic diversity and may be more likely to admit a candidate from a state that has little representation at their school. Keep an open mind and look at schools outside of our region to increase your likelihood of admission. There are some real gems out there!

Remember to work with your guidance counselor to come up with a list of colleges that is right for you. We look forward to helping you!

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