If you are the parent of a college-bound high school senior, then you might know something about the college application process and its accompanying anxieties, but it is not as if there were no reason for the concern. The perception that colleges are becoming increasingly selective is pervading this country and inciting a kind of mania among applicants and their parents, who are more than ever before shelling out the money for the non-refundable deposits, sometimes for up to 10 colleges. The good news is the circumstance is not so dire as it would seem.
Highly selective schools are experiencing a record-breaking number of applications, double digits even. By the numbers, Harvard has recently observed a 19% increase in applications from the previous year, some 27, 278 applications in total. The University of Chicago - an 18% increase and Northwestern University - 14%. This is enough to raise more than eyebrows. It is raising blood pressure so to speak, but the worry is superfluous.
The factors are simple enough to understand. Many institutions have switched to online applications, enabling students to apply to more schools. The spectrum of students who hail from lower socio-economic backgrounds has expanded, as has their application numbers. What's more is the advent of the Common App, now an online general college application that is accepted by a few hundred colleges, including some of the selective ones. That being said, the natural response for students is to apply to more schools, but that is counterproductive and expensive.
Furthermore, the amount of high school seniors in America has peaked in 2011 and is now on the decline. Less seniors means less applicants. Many colleges are continuing to expand the freshman class in response to earlier inundations, which means the amount of accepted applicants is increasing for a decreasing amount of applicants. All things considered, it will be easier to get into a highly selective school than is has been in the past decade if the trends continue as forecast.