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Why getting into college is getting easier

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert 492 replies2905 threads CC Admissions Expert
"... While schools such as Harvard and Stanford accept less than 5% of all applicants (both universities hit a record low last spring), the average admit rate across all institutions is more than 50%, according to Pew.

Of the more than 1,300 four-year colleges and universities Pew analyzed, only 17 admitted fewer than 10% of applicants in 2017, according to the latest data available.

On the flipside, more than half of the schools admitted two-thirds or more of their applicants, Pew found." ...

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/01/17/why-getting-into-college-is-becoming-easier.html
11 replies
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Replies to: Why getting into college is getting easier

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 81177 replies728 threads Senior Member
    edited January 18
    That page refers to https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/09/a-majority-of-u-s-colleges-admit-most-students-who-apply/ , which has a table showing that the percentage of colleges admitting 40-69.9% of applicants increased from 2002-2017, while the percentage of colleges admitting 70-89.9% of applicants decreased from 2002-2017.
    edited January 18
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  • bloomfield88bloomfield88 331 replies0 threads Member
    edited January 18
    While an acceleration in the number of college closures is expected this decade, admission is still getting tougher at the top. Two years after the Pew analysis, in 2019 at least 20 colleges have acceptance rates of <10% and perhaps there are more than these 20 colleges:
    Stanford
    Harvard
    Yale
    Princeton
    Brown
    Columbia
    Chicago
    Juilliard
    Caltech
    MIT
    Duke
    Vanderbilt
    Swarthmore
    Dartmouth
    Northwestern
    Penn
    US Naval Academy
    Pomona
    Alice Lloyd
    Bowdoin
    edited January 18
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  • disorbeddisorbed 21 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Does anyone know where/how to get a breakdown of the specific colleges included in each “acceptance” band? Assuming it would be helpful to create a lists of matches and safeties.
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  • Muad_dibMuad_dib 917 replies25 threads Member
    edited February 18
    People who only consider "top" colleges worth their while will find this truth hard to swallow.
    edited February 18
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  • coolguy40coolguy40 2757 replies8 threads Senior Member
    @disorbed You could go to a local Barnes and Noble store. They have college books with acceptance stats.
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  • ChillDadChillDad 258 replies20 threads Junior Member
    Demographics are driving up the acceptance rate at less competitive schools - there are fewer kids graduating from high school (2008 recession low birthrates will only accelerate this). Simply put, it is a feeding frenzy - especially at private colleges - scrambling to fill seats.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2078 replies33 threads Senior Member
    The entire “harder to get into top schools” story is simply false.

    Freshman sizes have gone up. The number of high school students has gone down. Therefore, a higher percentage of high school students are being admitted to pretty much every one of the top schools.

    The fact that more and more students are applying doesn’t make it “harder”. If I generated 50,000 application from unqualified applicants to my local 50% acceptance school and the same exact kids were admitted as part of a 10% class instead of a 50% class, are they suddenly going to an “elite” or “ultra selective” school that’s now so much harder to get into?

    No.

    MIT is going to admit 1400 students. It’s probably going to be the same 1400 students whether 5,000 or 50,000 other students apply. And if some of them don’t get in due to more applicants, then that means HS students would wouldn’t have been admitted now have been admitted. The opposite of “harder”.

    Marketing so lots of kids apply so you can show how “selective” and “elite” and “hard to get into” a school is simply takes advantage of mathematical incompetence and a lack of critical thinking of the public, IMHO.
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  • sherpasherpa 4857 replies96 threads Senior Member
    Bear in mind that as students apply to more and more colleges, some of those students will end up with a high number of acceptances, but will only attend one school, meaning the colleges “rejected” by these students will have lower yields. As their yields drop, they’ll react by accepting more and more students in subsequent years.

    Every school will run their own projections and it’ll all work out in the end.
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  • Data10Data10 3299 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited February 18
    ChillDad wrote: »
    Demographics are driving up the acceptance rate at less competitive schools - there are fewer kids graduating from high school (2008 recession low birthrates will only accelerate this). Simply put, it is a feeding frenzy - especially at private colleges - scrambling to fill seats.
    RichInPitt wrote: »
    Freshman sizes have gone up. The number of high school students has gone down. Therefore, a higher percentage of high school students are being admitted to pretty much every one of the top schools.
    According to the National Center for Education Statistics at https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_219.10.asp?current=yes , the number of high school graduates has been increasing every year since the 1990s and is projected to continue increasing. However, the rate of increase has slowed since 2008-09. The total overall first time enrollment has decreased slightly, but those decreases are primarily in for-profit colleges and 2-year colleges (see https://nscresearchcenter.org/current-term-enrollment-estimates-2019/ ) . The NCES report at https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_305.10.asp suggests public 4-year colleges have had a noteworthy increase in first time enrollment over the past decade.

    A comparison of number of applications in 2012 and 2017 is below. The largest increase in applications occurred at both selectivity extremes -- colleges with admit rate <25% and colleges with admit rate >75%. I realize that number of applications is not a good representation of how easy it is to get in to college for a variety of reasons, including increases in number of applications per student. It's best to review the admission history for the specific colleges that interest you, rather than make assumptions based on the aggregate of hundred/thousands of colleges.

    Number of Applications to 4-year Colleges
    Public, non-profit, 4-year: 4.7M in 2012, 6.0M in 2017
    Private, non-profit, 4-year: 3.9M in 2012, 4.6M in 2017
    Private, for-profit, 4-year: 160k in 2012, 90k in 2017
    edited February 18
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  • bloomfield88bloomfield88 331 replies0 threads Member
    edited February 18
    @RichInPitt "MIT is going to admit 1400 students. It’s probably going to be the same 1400 students whether 5,000 or 50,000 other students apply. And if some of them don’t get in due to more applicants, then that means HS students would wouldn’t have been admitted now have been admitted. The opposite of “harder”. Marketing so lots of kids apply so you can show how “selective” and “elite” and “hard to get into” a school is simply takes advantage of mathematical incompetence and a lack of critical thinking of the public, IMHO."

    I don't understand the strong derogatory statements in your post, however I will confirm the statistical facts do not back your narrative.

    Data10 pointed out the obvious annual rise in high school students over the past three decades.

    In addition to the rise in the number of high school students, you can verify the test scores (both SAT and ACT) of admitted students are rising at most, if not all, of those colleges with acceptance rates < 10%. Although SAT scores at MIT have been rising rather steadily, the SAT test format has changed. Therefore, to be fair to your statement it is better one compares ACT scores. MIT's 25th percentile and 75th percentile admits ACT scores have been on the rise from 2010 to 2015 to 2019. Yet, the national average ACT scores have remained very stable from 2010 to 2015 to 2019 at 21.
    edited February 18
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  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 1116 replies107 threads Senior Member
    edited February 18
    IMHO, Academically rigorous colleges like MIT, CIT, Johns Hopkins, Rice and CMU get a more self-selective high achieving applicant pool as academically unqualified fear they can’t survive but lots of unqualified and under qualified students take a gamble at schools like Ivies and LACs known for inflated GPA and life changing miracles.

    These Ivies and LACs market themselves as holistic and dedicated to fulfill all financial and academic shortcomings. Everyone wants to try their luck, application numbers stay high, acceptance rate stays low, donations keep pouring, some seasonal income from application fee is a bonus on the side.
    edited February 18
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