April 10, 2018
My readers may get tired of me telling them how hard it is to get into the Ivy League and other elite schools in this country. It seems like the same old story every year.
Well, a new chapter in this same old story was just published and the story remains the same, but the plot has thickened. Things have gotten a lot tougher. In fact, they're now the toughest ever.
Therefore, I thought I would share the terrible tidings with you today as a continuing cautionary tale to all soon-to-be rising high school seniors who are aspiring Ivy Leaguers and other top-school applicants. Be warned … and prepare to adjust your thinking.
The “Wars" part of my title speaks to the incredible level of competition applicants face. You may think that the “Woes" come when the denials roll in. Yes, being “rejected" (I dislike that term's negativity) hurts, but it may not be the worst woe. More about that later.
Since I'm a big believer in objective quantification, let's take a numerical look at how hard it was to get into the Ivies and other top schools this year. Saying it was “the toughest year yet" doesn't quite cover it.
The best summary I've seen appeared in the Harvard Crimson's article, Admissions Rates at Record Low Across Ivy League, Stanford, MIT, which tells a shocking story. Here are some key excerpts:
The ongoing push for these schools to pursue diversity in their incoming classes is revealed in these statistics:
To provide impressive visual evidence of these surprising numbers, the Crimson displays a series of accompanying graphs that show the impact of these admission outcomes.
The message here is clear. These schools are looking to completely obliterate the accusations that they are havens for the wealthy and privileged. I think that's terrific. Of course, the wealthy seem to always have at least some influence when it comes to so-called “development appeal." Assuming that your academic record is not an embarrassment and you're free of felonies and related offences, if your family is willing to fund a new building, library wing or even some fancy tennis courts, your chances to beat the admission odds at these schools go up. It's not a guarantee, but your parents might look forward to a visit (or even a delicious lunch) with a development director.
Things at the top look rather grim for your admission chances, don't they? However, it could get even more negatively complicated, if that's possible. Being denied may not be the worst thing that can happen. There's always … drumroll ... the waitlist.
After spending quite a bit of time a couple weeks ago perusing the admission results postings on the College Confidential discussion forum, I was shocked to see how many applicants -- not only to Ivy/elite schools but also to other broadly “first-tier" institutions -- were neither accepted nor denied, but wait-listed.
This twilight zone outcome causes all kinds of misery. Mainly, it requires wait-listed applicants to play the safe percentages and enroll at a school where they have been officially admitted, in most cases sending an enrollment deposit by May 1. Then, keeping their fingers crossed for a trip into the admitted pile, wait-listed applicants hold their breath. They hope, ironically, that they lose their enrollment deposit at their admitted school when accepted off the waitlist, when they'll be required to send yet another enrollment deposit.
If this whole scenario seems ridiculous to you, not to mention unfair, you're not alone. Scott Jaschik, writing in Inside Higher Ed, asks, Are Waiting Lists Out of Control? His subtitle notes:
Should colleges have waiting lists with more names than makeup a class of new students? Open letter to colleges calls practice cruel and says "insanity needs to stop."
Then, happily, to provide a quantified anecdote to amplify the “insanity" comment, he opens with:
When I saw this article, I immediately wondered what the members of the College Confidential discussion forum community think about the waitlist situation. So, I posted a thread with a link to Jaschik's article. Let's sample a few reactions from that thread:
That's an interesting thread, with 61 posts so far. Read through it and get the pulse of students and parents out there. They're the ones directly affected by the waitlist.
So, that's this year's edition of Ivy Wars and Ivy Woes. I joked in a previous post that I believe there's a secret competition among the deans of admission at the Ivies and other top schools. Each is trying to become the first to have an overall acceptance rate of 0.0 percent, thus becoming the proud leader of the school where (as headlined on the student newspaper) “No one gets in!" Now that's what I call prestigious.
To all of you who have been wait-listed, good luck getting off of it. But, whatever happens, don't forget to enroll somewhere by May 1. To those of you who have been denied at the Ivies and other elites, take heart. There's a good-news email or fat envelope in your possession just begging for your acceptance. Make your visits, talk to your parents, check your finances and then make your pick. You're in for the time of your life.
Trust me on this. You'll be glad you did.
Don't forget to check out all my admissions-related articles at College Confidential.
Question: If I apply to a college through Early Decision or Early Action, but I am not accepted, can I apply again through Regula…
Question: Why should I consider an Early Decision or Early Action college application? What's the difference?
Your level of d…
Question: I am planning on applying early decision to my first-choice college. I will be notified of my status by December 31st. …