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Acceptance Based on Location

How much does the location of a student apply to the decision process when they are applying to more prestigious colleges? If two students with very similar applications applied to a prestigious college and one was from out of state and one lived near the college, would the further away student have a better chance of being accepted?
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Replies to: Acceptance Based on Location

  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert 3184 replies1122 threads CC Admissions Expert
    College folks do like to boast about their geographic diversity, but this mainly means that they’re trying to get as many states (and countries) as possible represented in their student body. It DOESN'T mean that they simply want students from far away. It really depends on exactly where these kids are coming from. My son’s alma mater, for instance, is Tulane University in New Orleans. Tulane’s student body includes loads of Californians. So I suspect that the admission officers at Tulane might be more excited by applicants from nearby Arkansas than by yet more Angelenos.

    In addition, admission officials often tend to bend over backwards to accommodate local students. There may even be special scholarships for applicants who grew up in the town, city, or maybe state where the college is located. So familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt!

    Almost all admission offices have “institutional priorities” that are rarely advertised but will help determine admission decisions. Sometimes these priorities can be geographic, if the college numbers-crunchers notice that students from, say, the Southwest are falling off. Thus, in such cases, geography might tip a borderline candidate into the IN pile.

    But when it comes to the most sought-after institutions (the Ivies and their ilk), SO many students apply from SO many places that it takes a pretty obscure home town to turn an admission officer’s head. All things being equal (and they rarely are), a candidate from Wyoming probably has a better shot at Yale than one from Long Island, and North Dakota will beat out New Jersey. But there are many other factors that are considered well before zip code when admission decisions are made.
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