March 22, 2006 in Michigan Wolverines

A First Choice, and 20 Backups

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During the Summer and Fall of 1987, I spent many hours obsessing and preparing applications to 8 Universities. At the time, I thought 8 was too many. But the wise college counselors I had access to via the Urban Scholars Program assured me that as the college admissions process was becoming more and more competitive, this was necessary to ensure I had choices. Partly because it wasn’t just about where I got accepted, it was also about who gave me the best financial aid package.
Now, here it is almost 20 years later and many students are applying to twice as many schools as I did. To me, this seems excessive. But then again, what do I know. I am far removed from the process. As such, I just thank the Lord that that period of my life is behind me. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED school. In fact, I consider my four years at Michigan to be some of the best years of my life. But the whole entrance process never mind the cost associated with getting the degree has just gotten out of hand.

In New Twist on College Search, a First Choice, and 20 Backups
Published: March 21, 2006
Michael Martin has done well in the college admissions sweepstakes, having been accepted by eight universities and rejected by one.
But he expects to hear from 12 more colleges in the next few weeks, including Georgetown, Wake Forest and the University of California, Los Angeles. Worried about the increasingly competitive race to get into the nation’s top universities, Mr. Martin decided he needed to apply to as many colleges as he could, 21 in all.
“Compared to my dad’s day and my grandfather’s day, it’s much harder to get into college,” said Mr. Martin, 18, a senior at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. “I just think I needed to get my name out to many schools.”
His strategy is no longer that unusual. A generation ago, high school seniors applied to three, four or five colleges. But now students aiming for the most selective universities frequently apply to as many as 10 or 12; a significant number of students, especially in the last three years or so, apply to many, many more, guidance counselors and college admissions officials said.
The main reason for this, guidance counselors and admissions officials say, is a growing anxiety about admissions, stoked by college ranking guides, the news media and, often, parents. Some students are desperate to do anything to get into a brand-name institution — including applying to many of them.
The growth of the common application, which more than 270 colleges accept, has contributed as well by making it easier to apply to a large number of institutions; so has an increase in the number of colleges that waive fees for online applications. Most colleges charge about $50 to $75 per application. And some students cast a wide net to increase their chances of snaring a substantial merit scholarship.

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