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Friday, December 29, 2017
When The College Admissions Bubble Won't Burst
How many applications is just too many applications? It's not news that technology and platforms like the Common Application have made applying to college easier. That's not a bad thing. Machines can be helpful in processing large amounts of data. Yet there are certain components of college application packages that can't be reviewed electronically. Things like interviews and admissions essays. As colleges become flooded with increasingly huge numbers of applicants, how can they expect to handle the new logistics?
The Washington Post tackled the subject recently, writing specifically of the increased number of applications at so-called flagship universities in each state (typically, the largest public universities). Over the past decade, these numbers have exploded. The statistics are astounding: only two of the fifty states-Alaska and Montana-have seen a downturn in applicants, and the drop was small.
Many other states have seen triple-digit percentage increases in applicants. At the University of Alabama, the numbers are up by 205%. In California, both UCLA and UC Berkeley have been hit with a veritable deluge: UCLA had over 113,000 applications this year, Berkeley, over 80,000.
Every school has different mechanisms for reviewing applications. The University of Florida, for example, promises that each essay will be read at least twice, by different people. The good news for colleges is that they are sure to fill all their empty seats, but at what cost? The processing of tens of thousands of essays requires a labor force; universities will have to pass the cost of that on to someone.
By many accounts, there appears to be no end in sight. As college admissions becomes more competitive, students will continue to cast wider nets, and universities will be forced to keep up. By nature, bubbles eventually burst. We may, however, be in this one for the long haul.
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