Forbes article: College Admissions Myths

<p>Yes, the message is loud and clear - it is hard to get into elite colleges these days. This Forbes article offers college application tips and debunks admissions myths replete with pictures.</p>

<p>"In the past, desperate college applicants would jazz up their applications with a little volunteer work--working in a soup kitchen or cleaning up trash in public parks. But nowadays, you'd be better off tidying up your own bedroom. Colleges are aware that many high schools enforce community service requirements, and they're especially wary of students who volunteer their time for the sake of transcripts. Says Bruce J. Breimer, head of college guidance at the prestigious Collegiate School: "One admissions officer told me, 'If I read another essay about kids building houses in Costa Rica, I'm going to scream.'" "</p>

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<p>The claim that sending in applications early won't help is potentially misleading because it doesn't take into account the possibility that the school might have rolling admissions. At rolling admissions colleges, the early bird does indeed have a better chance of getting the worm.</p>

<p>The first sentence is total BS. "It's hard to get into college these days". A more truthful opener would be, "It's hard to get into a few highly selective colleges these days but the overwhelming majority still accept more than 50% of all applicants. And complicating matters even more is that the nation's best students competing for a coveted place in the freshmen classes at the most highly selective colleges can be challenged and receive a quality education at any number of less selective colleges blessing our higher education landscape."</p>

<p>Good catch, originaloog. The lead sentence might as well have been, "It's never been easier to get into college," and then there could be an explanation of the crush of applicants at the top end of desirability, with a more realistic discussion of the trade-offs of various colleges.</p>

<p>I thought the below was interesting. How is it that so many students have such high averages now? I don't remember such high averages when I was in high school, an excellent public high. THere's got to be massive grade inflation now.</p>

<p>"Wrong. Admissions offices broke the record this year for the greatest number of valedictorian rejections. Today, approximately 41% of America's student population has a grade point average over 3.5. Yale has approximately 21,000 applicants annually and only 1,300 available slots. Ninety-seven percent of Stanford's new freshman class were ranked in the top 20% of their high schools, and 45% ranked in the top 1% or 2%. "</p>

<p>There is massive grade inflation now. And there is probably a broader array of high schools that have some students applying to the elites.</p>

<p>There is some self-reported data on the SATs that, IIRC, suggests that something like 45% of students believe they are in the top 20% o f their class.</p>

There is some self-reported data on the SATs that, IIRC, suggests that something like 45% of students believe they are in the top 20% o f their class.


<p>Well, if these data were collected from students who took the SATs, they might be correct.</p>

<p>Many kids in the bottom half of the class at some high schools do not take the SAT because they don't need to -- their plans after graduation involve work, the military, or open-admissions community colleges that don't require the SAT.</p>

<p>Because kids who don't take the SAT tend to have low class rank, it's possible that 45% of SAT takers might indeed be in the top 20% of their classes.</p>



<p>I have to agree with this. In my day, at the local public high school, it was a rare bird that applied to the elites (even though I am sure that by modern standards, some could have gotten in). No interest...Now there is always a handful at the top of the class who apply to at least one super-selective college.</p>

<p>katonahmom - No offense intended, but I hope this thread dies our quickly because it's VERY old news that grade inflation (and application padding) are rampant these days.</p>

<p>It's only old news to people who spend a lot of time reading boards like this. :)</p>

<p>It's not old news to the majority of college bound students and their parents.</p>

<p>...who are probably not reading Forbes.</p>

<p>o-oog, I disagree. The first sentence is perfectly consistent with the title of the article. In fact, the first sentence IS the entire article. Let me recap:</p>

<p>title: College Admissions Myths</p>

<p>first sentence (ie, first myth):</p>

<p>It's hard to get into college these days</p>


<p>Parents do you think college would differentiate between a students with lifelong volunteer works since childhood versus say someone with two year sudden found interests in volunteer work. </p>

<p>The reason I am asking because my kid has a long term involvement in volunteer work. Through early elementary school in scouting kid found out the value of volunteer work in the local community. These activities go as far as 11 years back and more than 1200 total hours. They are never intended for resume padding. If that so, the kid would have quit long time ago. Through volunteer work, kid learned so many skills that are going to impact through out the life.</p>

<p>That article mentioned something that I have been wondering about, since I'm encouraging (he might say nagging) my son every day to work on his essay. Several of the colleges he will apply to emphasize its importance, and we want to honor that. But ultimately, how much importance can colleges give to such essays when they are so easily "purchased or written by anyone" as one admissions officer says in the article? </p>

<p>Meanwhile, my wife and I don't even know whether it's kosher for us to read his essay or comment on it before he submits it, much less influence it or edit it. To us this seems like another example of how if you "play it straight" you may be put at a disadvantage. We had dinner with a visiting friend from out east the other night whose son just matriculated at a good school who told us he had hired a private "college counselor" to oversee the whole college selection/admission process. Good God! I thought we were doing well to buy our son an ACT prep book to review the week before the test.</p>

<p>Sorry if this is a side-track, but usalover, my experience is that yes, colleges <em>do</em> differentiate between students who clearly show a commitment long-term to a community service activity and those whose interest appeared suddenly along about their junior year in high school. ;) As an alumni interviewer, I usually ask some innocent questions about the student's reported volunteer work, and am astute enough to tell when someone mentions their "30 hours this year", compared to someone who's been committed for several years of their school career. I completely agree about volunteer work helping develop so many skills: I saw it in my own child. Your child's commitment will show through.</p>

<p>Regarding valedictorians rejected - grades are not the only inflated item. The number of valedictorians has been greatly increased over the last few decades. It used to be that only one student per class was a valedictorian. Now, some classes have twenty or even forty. The more that schools inflate the number of valedictorians, the more valedictorians will be rejected from top schools.</p>

<p>Interesting about the val question. On son's apps from last year, on the GC's rec it asked class rank and then asked how many others shared that same rank. At his previous high school it was in the 15+ (vals) range as it was for the rest of the district (district set up a weighted/unweighted GPA cap), so more than 1 reach the cap and thus there are more than 1 val.</p>

<p>Son's most recent high school had no cap, so he was the only val.</p>


<p>MilwDad - DW and I asked to read D's essay AFTER her English teacher did, and D was gracious to say "yes." ("Ignore that man behind the curtain with his daughter in a headlock!") Based on our experience I'd say a parental review is prudent. </p>

<p>PS, When you're done be sure to say "Nice essay, very nice."</p>

<p>MilwDad, It is more than OK to read over and comment on your child's essay, as long as you are not doing the writing for him. As a matter of fact, in numerous admissions sessions we attended the rep's advice to the students and parents was to be sure and have someone proof the essay for mistakes. They made it clear that as far as grammatical and spelling errors, they did NOT want to see those! At the same time they were careful to warn that it is the voice of the student they want to hear, and emphasized how they can differentiate between an essay that is written by an 18 year old versus one that has been "heavily edited." In addition, each student is required to sign a statement that the essay is their own work. So, to answer your question, yes, having someone read is more than kosher. </p>

<p>BTW, in the ranking of factors that are important to the admissions process of many of the selective schools, the essay is often ranked as of equal or greater importance than extracurricular activities, on par with teacher recommendations and just below GPA/test scores.</p>