Everyone knows students have to compete for admission to selective colleges today. More high school seniors are applying to more schools, more international students want U.S. educations, yet the number of seats available at top colleges and universities has barely budged. But where college websites tend to make the process appear straightforward (fill out the application, submit a transcript, supply one recommendation), the reality is a little more complicated. Selective c
The internet is filled with college searchers, finders, matchers and comparers. Just type in a few pieces of statistical data, and your perfect college list emerges!
But does it? While websites can provide valuable information, let's remember that statistics alone can't fully represent either the college or the applicant. Just to take three examples: Class Size: This can be one of the most misleading statistics, because many people don't really understand statistics!
The world of college admissions has become increasingly complex in the last 25 years. Students used to attend whatever college was within a couple hours' drive from their home. Now, the US News rankings have increased awareness of institutions across the country, encouraging colleges to compete for applicants both nationally and internationally. At the same time, the advent of the Common Application has made it that much easier for students to apply to these far-flung inst
It's human nature: If we have a list, we want to rank it. US News and World Report took full advantage of that tendency when it first published its college rankings in the 1980s. While its goal might have been somewhat laudable at the time (to encourage students to consider colleges beyond their local area), the publication wasn't content with an alphabetical list. It had to rate one college against another. And that is where the trouble started. Below are three of the gr
When starting to research colleges, some students immediately turn to the internet. And there's no question that college websites and social media can provide up-to-date information and real-time student views of an institution. But today I want to plead for three books (physical books!) that deserve a look. 1. The Fiske Guide. This directory of selective colleges was revolutionary when Edward Fiske, a New York Times education editor, first put it out in 1982. It still
Many seniors have finally sent off the last of their applications, but for underclassmen the flurry of mail is just starting. They receive fistfuls of glossy brochures showing the same happy and diverse group of clean-cut students on the grass under an autumn sky, extolling the virtues of this or that college in strikingly similar terms. Sometimes the brochure is even accompanied by a letter, “personally” addressed to the student, “congratulating” him on his “accomplishment
Maybe you're too young to recognize the quotation from singer Elvis Costello, but everyone concerned about getting into college knows the truth contained in this title. "Passion" has become almost a term of art for admissions officers. No longer simply denoting strong enthusiasm or excitement, it has come to mean an area of intense focus and achievement on the part of an applicant. Colleges are looking for students who demonstrate that they care deeply about something, whe
Child Psychologist Ellen Braaten addressed the Independent Educational Consultants Association at its conference in Boston a couple weeks ago. Her topic: “The Curse of the Average Child.” She began the program describing a couple who had brought their daughter in for testing, “hoping” that some type of diagnosis would explain her lackluster grades. They were shocked at the outcome the therapist reported; their child was “perfectly normal. “ Perfectly average. Parents d
The headlines are similar every year: "The Unlikely School Where Students Sweep the Ivy League" "This Essay Got a High-School Senior into 5 Ivy League Schools and Stanford" "Twins Offered a Combined $1.6 Million in Scholarships After Being Accepted to 56 Colleges" I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that these headlines are very misleading! Let's start with the assumption that getting into all the Ivy League colleges should even be a goal. For most students, elements of
It seems like an innocuous question -- What are you carrying in your backpack? But on some campuses, you or a fellow student may be legally carrying a handgun. The Second Amendment might make a great topic for a philosophical discussion, but for students (and parents who worry about them) the implications are all too real. It is important to know exactly what factors might affect your safety on campus. While private colleges are able to implement their own standards, publi