HomeArticlesCollege Media Hype Shakes Parent

Dear Estelle. Daily, we’re bombarded with media hype about college acceptances? It appears that most of the selective colleges and universities in the US accepted fewer than 20% of their applicants this year. If this is true, what options does a terrific student (like my son, Brad) have to be competitive for the good colleges? Shelley R. Denver

All kinds of new records were broken this year for the class of 2010 and it doesn’t show signs of any let up in the near future. Adding to the sheer numbers of applicants was the impact of gender, athletics, and minority recruitment. George Mason’s advance to the Final Four in basketball made it a popular choice for many students; Increases in the number of females applying to college “weighed down” the gender balance and caused some schools to reject qualified female applicants; MIT and Harvard, in an effort to increase diversity, accepted a record number of minority students (MIT doubled the number from last year).

For students pursuing the Ivies, at Harvard nearly 2,600 scored 800 on the SAT verbal, 2,700 scored 800 on the SAT math and nearly 3,000 were valedictorians of their high school class. Yale’s acceptance rate was 8.6 percent. It accepted 1,823 students from a pool of over 21,000, 8.5% more than last year. Closer to home, Colorado College received over 4,000 applications, accepted 1,534 and waitlisted 771.

The numbers in the newspaper appear overwhelming especially to those who are exemplary students and concerned they won’t be accepted anywhere. However, these figures are really a non-issue for the majority of students. Of the 3,500 colleges in the US, only about 150 accept fewer than half of the applications they receive. Parents and students should not be discouraged by the hype. Rather, they should identify schools that are “good fits” and pursue those diligently. The quality of learning at an institution is far more critical than attending what’s considered the “best school” because it accepts so few.

If your son has the grades and a strong sense of self, have him apply to an Ivy or two but plan to visit and apply to other schools where he would be content and satisfied with his choice, if rejected by the Ivy.

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