How a fierce college admissions process is destroying us as students (and what those in charge should do about it)
By Tate Evans
To any up-and-coming high schooler cursed with the dreams of attending a select college when they graduate high school, the statistics are truly gruesome. Roughly speaking, selective institutions—schools which only accept half of all their total applicants—regularly accept 1/5 of the nations incoming freshmen, but are the end destination for 1/3 of our collective applications. Top schools such as Harvard and Stanford regularly report admission rates hovering around 5%, or numerically, just a measly 2,040 incoming students out of a hefty 47,450 applicant pool (2018) in the case of the latter.
In what is essentially an academic battle royale with an ever-increasing pool of competitors, it is easy to see the inherent flaws in the system. There are hundreds of thousands of students, from the quaint DHS to top-tier prep schools 7,233 miles over the pacific in China, who all yearn for the exact same prize. Stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and depression are all logical conclusions of this system, where emotionally inexperienced teens are thrust wholeheartedly into an international arms race of extracurriculars, GPAs, and SAT scores. To people who have barely scratched the surface of what life really means, this slog for prestige represents their only means of true validation, the ultimate path toward true social acceptance in our society.
Arms races usually revolve around overreactions, and in college application terms, that is represented by the ever rising amount of applications the average student sends out each year. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 36 percent of first-time freshmen applied to seven or more colleges in the fall of 2015, roughly 19 points higher than in 2005. Within that same timeframe, most selective colleges saw their acceptance rates decrease. It seems as competition increases, students feel incentivized to apply to as many colleges as possible, as to widen their chances of getting into an agreeable school. Ironically, this over applying is what has caused the plummeting acceptance rates, with school inboxes becoming flooded with letters that only years before would never have been sent. Continue reading “The Academic Battle Royale”