College Admissions - does the number of applicants really matter?

<p>Here is my question. I've read everywhere that more and more kids are applying to top universities every year leading to a severe drop in acceptance rates. Here is an example from The Crimson, Harvard's student newspaper:</p>



<p>I doubt that the quality of students can change drastically from year to year. So, despite the ever increasing number of applicants to the most elite colleges and universities in the country, wouldn't the "real" acceptance rate for qualified students stay steady?</p>

<p>Of the increase in applicants from 2014 to 2015 there will undoubtedly be a portion that are qualified. As the number of applicants increase one could argue that this portion of the marginal gain are diminishing. However, there certainly is a decrease in the “real” acceptance rate, too.</p>

<p>What I am interested in comparing are the statistics in the common data set over the past 5 years.</p>

<p>Yes, the number of seats available stay the same, but the number of applicants increase. Do some critical thinking will you? Look, the same number of admissions officers and the same number of seats. Lets say, in a school with 10 admissions officers got 1000 applicants for 100 seats. Each officer reads 100 applications and picks on average around 13. The extra is to over shoot since not all with metricate. The next year, the same team receives 1500; they still can only pick around 13 per officer, but they have to read 50 more applications. They would have less time per application and less time to debate on who to accept. That in turn lowers the acceptance rate and the selectivity.</p>

<p>Yes, I realize that the acceptance rate obviously drops when more and more people apply to colleges. What you have just stated is the obvious and is the reason why I said


<p>By qualified I mean the students who actually stand a decent shot at HYPSM, not those who simply apply “just because”. </p>

<p>22955 people applied to Harvard in 2007-2008. 27462 people applied to Harvard in 2008-2009. That is a difference of 4507 students. </p>

<p>I realize that the number of spots stays the same. That is not the question that I was bringing up. My question is whether or not those 4507 students are really so qualified as to pose a threat to those students who actually stand a chance at Harvard. I’m sure that there are very qualified students within the bunch but I feel like they are in the minority. Thus, I believe that the majority of the additional 4507 students simply add to the applicant pool while only a small percentage of those students actually add to the pool of students who have a reasonable shot at Harvard.</p>

<p>Of course, I believe that the “real acceptance rate” drops a bit as well for the ideas mentioned in the fat’s last few sentences. All I am postulating is that the “real acceptance rate” does not change to the same degree as the official acceptance rate does.</p>

<p>For additional information:</p>

<p>2108 admitted 2007-2008.
2175 admitted 2008-2009.</p>

<p>* All information above was taken from Harvard’s common data set. *</p>

<p>If one person applies to Harvard, and happens to be adequately qualified, then Harvard will have a 100% acceptance rate for that year :D</p>

<p>Here is a relevant post by mifune (a student at Harvard).</p>