By Charlene Liebau|April 11, 2011|8:07 a.m.
College Admissions Editor
College admission decisions are out. Given the reports of the record breaking number of applications received by colleges this year, the admission decisions cannot be all that good for many, many well-qualified students. Consider Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford reporting admit-rates in the single digits: 6.2%, 7.4%, 8.4%, and 7.1% respectively. True, not all colleges are reporting such statistics but enough are which only serves to underscore the ever increasing anxiety surrounding the college admission process.
What to do? Let’s begin with current seniors. What does one do if “deny” is the word from first choice college? To share the news that this year, for a variety of reasons, was the most competitive ever is of little comfort. The numbers are staggering: UCLA received 61,000 applications for a freshman class of 5,250; Stanford received 34,348 applications for an incoming class of 1,725; and Harvard received 34,950 for a class of 2,158. Columbia University announced it received 32% more applications this year than it did last year. Colleges and universities across the country, public and private, are reporting increases in application numbers–all of which adds to the competitive, anxiety producing nature of the admission process.
For the high school senior who did not receive a “fat envelope” from first choice college there are several things to do. First, recognize what really matters, is what you do–wherever you go. Keeping that thought in mind, what are your options? You applied to several other colleges and you applied to them for a reason.
If, however, you find you are on the Wait List of a favored college–now is the time to be proactive. Inform that college you not only choose to accept a position on the Wait List but also make a full-court press: bring the admission office up to date on your achievements and activities since you submitted your application.
Now, my message for high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and their families: All the reports on admission rates and the increasing competitive nature of the process serve as a call to do your homework. The college planning process first requires thoughtful consideration in determining one’s priorities in a college–what are you “looking for”?
My advice as you begin the college planning process: broaden your horizons as you develop your college list. Come to think of it, broadening one’s horizons is what a college education is all about.
Charlene Liebau is the former director of admissions for CalTech and Occidental College. She is also a finalist judge of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.