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Sunday, April 8, 2012
How to Beat Falling College Admissions Numbers
Everyone loves a statistic. No matter how little bearing it has on reality. It is hard to get numbers out of our head-especially if we're already filled with anxiety on the topic. This year, some of the Ivies posted the lowest college admissions rates, ever. Harvard accepted fewer than 6% of its applicants; Yale, 6.8%. Who cares? Why is this important?
Probably because it is human nature to want things that are just out of our reach. Colleges-like any other marketing institution-know this. Never mind that the Common Application has increased the sheer volume of applications to all universities. If more people apply for the same number of spaces, admissions numbers (as a percentage) will be down. Never mind that there are nearly 4,000 colleges and universities in this country; the Ivies comprise a sum total of eight of those. Never mind that increasing competition from foreign students has changed the landscape of college admissions.
Spring is the time of year when high school seniors wrestle with rejection. Like any other Big Life Decision, college admission is an event that can help teach a student how to reevaluate want they want from their future. It is easy to get stuck on a single track ("I will die if I don't get into Georgetown"), and be stymied if that train doesn't leave the station.
Enter the growing market for Gap Year adventures. Let's face it, most high school seniors haven't had much of an opportunity for adventures. I have seen more than one student try to spin a two-week European holiday into an intense cross-cultural experience and it doesn't really work. But how about taking an entire year off to go live and experience something truly different?
For students at an impasse following college rejection, taking a year off may sound crazy, but why not? If admissions odds are down, it may just be time to change your game plan. Even preparing for something other than the fast track to college can help students place the race to college in better perspective.
After all, nothing in life can really be reduced to a statistic.
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