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Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
We Are the 6% - Elitism and College Admissions
As January slowly fades into February, the pulses of high school juniors all over the country begin to quicken. This is it. The year that really matters. Many students will have already taken the PSAT. Maybe more than once. The SAT, ACT and maybe some AP tests loom, and all of this falls on top of regular homework and basketball practice and worrying about that great albatross-the college admission essay. Then, of course, there is the anxiety about whether any of this will actually be enough to get into the college of your dreams.

The elite colleges are never helpful in fostering confidence amongst prospective undergrads. Last year UPenn admitted 12% of its applicants, Stanford 7%, Columbia 6.9%, and Harvard just 6%--prompting a student group to start peddling t-shirts boasting "We Are the 6%". To be sure, the students comprising that tiny syndicate of academic elitism should be congratulated. The other 90-95%, however, should not feel as though their futures are swirling down the drain. In fact, many of these same top colleges have posted downturns in the number of overall applicants over the past few years. Perhaps students are taking more conservative assessments of their odds, but if they're listening to admissions experts, they know that chasing rank is not the only key to a successful future.

In current politically-charged parlance, most students aren't "the 6%", and being part of the majority doesn't mean they aren't special. Instead, it means they aren't alone. Not by a long shot. And with that in mind, the daunting college application process should be viewed with a little perspective. Scores, admissions statistics, Ivy League pedigree-these things are only stepping-stones towards the future, not permanent, defining characteristics. So go ahead and reach high, but understand that this college admissions game isn't just about winning-it's about just stepping out on the field.


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