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College Applications Up By How Much (and does it matter)?

Apparently college applications as of January are up by 22% compared to last year.

High school seniors are applying to more schools, according to one college consultant (not me, but I'm also seeing the same trend in my anecdotal, micro-universe).

Does that mean that it will be harder to get into college this year? Permit me to make a few comments.

First, more applications does not mean more APPLICANTS applying to college.  The number of kids applying is actually trending down, partially due to predicted demographics, and partially because of the pandemic, economy and outrageous cost of college, which has risen every year since the beginning of time.

(Side prediction:  next year's increase in college costs will again outstrip the current, also outrageous inflation numbers reported this week.)

Second, as the Common App data weenies point out, more applications does not equate to more enrollments.  Colleges will still have to scrap tooth and nail to convince admitted students to actually plunk down housing deposits and enroll.

(Side prediction 2:  this dynamic will put a lot of smart families in the driver's seat when it comes to playing merit and need-based financial aid offers from different colleges off each other, ruthlessly and mercilessly.  See my book on this topic, and note that it's great holiday gift/sleep aid.)

Next, there are not more QUALIFIED kids applying to college either.  Last year was a bloodbath for many families in terms of college admissions, but my experience -- supported by most of my colleagues around the country -- was that most students got into where they should have gotten into.  

But here's the rub, my definition of "qualified" and "should" are probably different than yours.

Plain and simple, college admissions officers and admissions committees have different agendas than we do.  It's no secret, getting to college is not a pure meritocracy.

GPA, standardized tests (still), rigor of course load are the Big Three factors considered in admissions.

However, my best guess is that these considerations -- in the aggregate -- amount to 60% of the factors that get thrown into the mix.

What's in the other 40%?  I'll leave that for another day.

Kidding, how annoying is that? 

The other 40% consists of several items, some of which are out of the applicant's control (race, ethnicity, parent income), and some in your control (leadership, character, activities in and out of school).

My point;  when YOU consider what admissions officers consider, you'll get more clarity on your actual, bona fide odds of admission at a given college.

This of course is the opposite of what most parents and kids do:  mainly because they lack the proper context to evaluate their true, realistic odds of getting in.

I'm not only talking about helicoptering mommies who believe their genius son with a 1480 SAT, 6 APs and a 94 average is a slam dunk to Penn and god's gift to colleges everywhere.

I'm also talking about rampant, misleading advice at high schools, specifically, based on Naviance and the guidance counselors who unwittingly and perhaps lazily rely on it.

This time, I will save the Naviance flaws discussion for another day, but if you want to discover the cure for Admissions Armageddon, I suggest you hustle on over to take a gander at our Inner Circle membership, which you can do here: 


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