I read an interesting piece in the New York Times that looks at application inflation in today’s collegate world. It seems that on top of all the anxiety of raising tuition rates, SAT prep and writing the perfect admissions essay, prospective students also need to worry about an escalating arms war of rejections.
The scale of rejection worries Karl M. Furstenberg, dean of admissions and financial aid at Dartmouth from 1992 to 2007.
“It’s a classic arms race — escalation for not a whole lot of gain,” he says. “I don’t think these larger applicant pools are materially improving the quality of their classes. Now what’s driving it is the institutional self-interest factor, where bigger pools mean you’re more popular, you’re better.”
Many colleges argue that the bigger their pool of applicants the better they can make their school. But they also admit that a flood of applicants makes their school look better, giving it a feeling of exclusivity. This trend has become so powerful, schools have directed marketing solely to increasing the number of applications they receive.
I was struck by how many top name schools (such as Stanford, Colombia, UCLA, ect.), dont just try to advertise like one would a car, hoping people like the brand, they actively recruit students only to turn them down. Colleges send out half-filled in applications and “VIP applications,” encouraging students to apply.
Clubs love to have long lines out the door because it gives the impression of popularity and exclusivity. I think this can be damaging to my generation because it forces an enormous amount of pressure on students to be perfect when they graduate high school. Perfect GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and life experience.
Is it really reasonable for a kid to be studying for the SATs in middle school? I don’t know about those of you who are reading but I was so far from perfect in high school I’m not sure how I got into college. But college is where I found my stride.
Perhaps I am wrong but this seems like a lousy way to treat students. Universities exist to serve students not the other way around, and expecting every student to be perfect is an example of this wrong relationship.