College Admissions Advice
My first three posts will touch on topics of primary interest to college students, future college students, and their parents – admissions, financial aid and financial planning.
Although there is much publicity about how our high schools are failing to prepare students to do college work, things are much different at the other end of the scale. The competition is fierce among the best students for spots at the top colleges.
Never in its history has our nation had more high school graduates seeking to attend college. But, unfortunately, the number of college seats has remained the same.
- Don’t expect the competition to decrease in the near future. The number of students seeking to enroll in college will not diminish until 2014 at the earliest.
- The admission acceptance rate will continue to go down. Acceptance rates at the Ivy colleges for the Class of 2010 dropped 3% compared to the Class of 2008.
- This trend is not limited to private colleges. Most of our nation’s leading public universities are striving to raise their academic profiles by recruiting and enrolling more top-notch students than ever. In the last 10 years the University of South Carolina has seen their admit rate decrease from 76% to 63% while Rutgers experienced a drop of 9%. In the last 5 years, the admit rate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill went from 38% to 35% and from 54% to 44% at the University of Florida.
- If you are thinking of applying to a public university other than one in your home state, be careful about comparing your academic credentials to the published averages. Typically, an out-of-state student will need to fall in the top 25% of all applicants to be admitted.
- When it comes to high school course selection, not all history courses are created equal. For high achieving students with aspirations to attend a top college, it is important to take hard courses like Honors and Advanced Placement, or enroll in the International Baccalaureate program.
- Admission staff will often “rework” an applicant’s transcript to eliminate non-academic and routine courses while paying special attention to higher level courses. If you ask an admissions person at a top college “Is it better to get an A in a regular course or a B in an Honors course?” invariably the answer will be “It is better to get an A in the Honors course.”
- A 4.0 GPA isn’t what it used to be. When grade inflation is combined with “weighted” courses (higher level courses graded on a 5.0 scale), the average high school GPA is about 3.4. Most successful applicants for competitive colleges have GPAs above 3.4, and more often than not they fall in the 3.8 to 4.0 range.