Wednesday, March 27, 2013




now click.

36 of our seniors will hear back on 96 application decisions.

It's certain to be a mixed bag.

Or like my golf game - a combination of birdies, pars, and quadruple bogies.

My colleague at a prestigious independent school in the northeast recently texted me these macabresque four words:

"Regular admission is dead."

At highly selective schools, in particular, it seems that the sheer, absurd, colossal numbers are going to bury most applicants like an avalanche.

It seems that if a kid wants a school that admits 25% or less, their best shot, and in most cases, their only shot, in fact, is early admission.


Or nothing.

Recently, there was an article in Time entitled "College Admissions:  The Myth of High Selectivity."

The argument is that it is actually easier to get into a highly selective school.

Maybe not THE highly selective school of choice.

But A highly selective school of choice.

The argument revolves around the central idea that more unqualified students are applying just because they can thanks to the easy accessibility via the Common Application.

We call these applicants "profile negative" students.

GPA and test scores are below the 50% median.

I'm sure that cohort of applicants is growing.

But most deans of admission tell college counselors like myself just the opposite.

They are fomenting our anxiety with the growing cohort of qualified students.  

They are "profile positive."

Take this interview with Maria Laskaris, Dean of Admission at Dartmouth College.

At one point, Mrs. Laskaris said this about the overall quality of the admission pool:

"Probably 85 to 90 percent of the pool, if given the opportunity, would thrive, would excel, so we’re making very nuanced and difficult decisions, and it gets harder and harder, as you winnow the pool down, to figure out whom we’re going to admit."

85 to 90%.

So of the 8 out of 10 that are admissible, Dartmouth then will admit 1 out of those 8.

That's the same set of numbers I heard from Bill Fitzsimmons at Harvard.

Same number I just got on the phone from our rep at Vandy who told me that they got over 31,000 applications in this year's admission cycle.

Just today, in fact, The Times ran an article on tips for being accepted.

The thrust of the article is when you get your acceptance letter - be happy, relieved, jubilant...but don't go "Rod Tidwell" overboard and get flagged 15 yards by your peers.

My guess is that the Rod Tidwell touchdown dances will be far-and-in-between the crawl-into-the-fetal-position-and-spoon-down-ben-and-jerry's-ice-cream.

In other words, more of these cringing responses. 

Than the above.

So my final thought as the curtain lifts in the next 24 hours.

If you are one of the few who get in at highly selective schools  - count yourself lucky, because the truth is, that decision doesn't reflect as much your admissibility as it does the absurdity of the process.

And if you are one of the many who do not get in - know that the decision doesn't reflect as much your inadmissibility as it does the absurdity of the process.