“…Colleges could alleviate the congestion and stress they created—and provide relief to both schools and students in the process, even at selective schools—by reforming the application system.”
by Jeffrey Selingo
With the last of the college-admissions decisions for the high-school class of 2022 arriving in the coming days, we’re likely at the end of another record application year. According to the organization that runs the Common App, application volume through the middle of February increased nearly 10 percent from the preceding year—which itself was up some 10 percent from the year before that. Over the past two decades, the number of applications submitted to colleges has increased more than 150 percent, even as the size of high-school graduating classes has remained fairly stable.
This might sound like good news, but the growing volume of applications hurts colleges and students alike. Flooded with applications and crunched for time, admissions officers quickly scan the files of most students who have no prayer of getting in and spend just minutes reviewing those they ultimately accept—something I witnessed the year I spent embedded in three admissions offices for my latest book. While piles of applications and an ultra-low acceptance rate are certainly marks of popularity, these things are in truth indications of a poorly designed system in need of long-overdue improvements.
Much of the dysfunction stems from a misperception about how hard getting into college is…
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