Has College Admissions Become Laughable?

Frank Bruni’s Op Ed piece mocks the state of today’s college admissions, but while we chuckle as we read, the underlying truth to it all infuriates us.  Colleges and universities themselves have fueled the ever-increasing numbers of applications.  This year, some schools extended application deadlines simply to obtain even more applications.  Others market themselves by mailing students “priority” applications insinuating that such applications will offer students an edge (they won’t). 

Of course all of those applications translate into lower acceptance rates and lower acceptance rates translate into higher “selectivity” in the ever more crucial RANKINGS.  The ugly truth is that colleges and universities are completely self-serving.  As Bruni points out, the more selective a school, the more money seems to flow its way.  So for the colleges, it’s a win-win.  For applicants, it is much more often a lose-lose.

These days, prospective students must jump through more hoops than ever before.  Perfect scores, stellar GPAs, resumes that boast leadership and service, campus visits and overnights, correspondence with professors, deans, and researchers.  And despite all of the above, a good chance that the student will receive the thin envelope, not the fat one.

It is so disheartening for college counselors such as myself to share this harsh reality with students. We commiserate with our students who are rejected from their dream schools and empathize with the frustration they feel when they are deferred or waitlisted. Amongst ourselves, we disdain the  demoralizing process that college admissions has become.

I question (to be honest, I hope) if students will reach a point where they simply do not apply to a college with a ridiculously low acceptance rate.  Isn’t it time for the “tide to turn” and for colleges to receive fewer applications?  There are so many excellent institutions where students thrive academically and socially. We really don’t have to serve as accomplices to the misdeeds of self-advancing colleges and universities.

Please read Frank Bruni’s College Admissions Shocker!