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Monday, February 23, 2015
College Admissions: Not as Scary as You Think
As March s l o w l y rolls into April for college hopefuls, I can't help but think two things. First-I'm glad it isn't me. I remember how excruciating the waiting game was. Second-I wonder if, like me, many students will actually be pleasantly surprised with their acceptances. Is college admissions really the nightmare it's made out to be?
It is stressful, for certain. And it is no doubt more competitive than it was when I did it a couple decades ago. However, so many of the "impossible odds" news stories and blogs center around the most elite colleges in the country. Those schools boast admission rates of under 10%, and suddenly, it seems like college is out of reach for everyone.
Actually, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) reported in 2013 that the mean acceptance rate for four-year universities was 64%. That same report noted that 80% of colleges nationally accept 50% of applicants. Additional surveys have noted that the majority of those applying to college get into their first choice schools.
For those that don't apply to or get accepted to a four-year university, community colleges are always an option, and they shouldn't be viewed as just a fallback. Many community colleges offer outstanding curriculum and faculty. Some argue that community colleges boast a richer learning environment, since they are also filled with older students, those with families, and those who waited longer to pursue third-level education---in other words, people who have an even greater incentive to succeed.
Finally, most students know their limits. Before you ever send an application off to Harvard, you know whether or not it is a reach school or a total impossibility. Sure, Harvard has to turn away some pretty qualified candidates, but those students are highly unlikely to be turned away at every prominent school to which they apply.
The envelope or email should not be a complete surprise. And while college admission in general is not a slam-dunk, it certainly isn't the nightmare you might think.
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