posttrib
SMOOTH 
Weather Updates

76 percent of freshmen get in first-choice college

Gerald Bradshaw

Gerald Bradshaw

storyidforme: 42195572
tmspicid: 833407
fileheaderid: 613572

Updated: March 15, 2013 1:19PM



In the hours before New Year’s Eve, many teens and their parents will be concerned about completing their applications before the Jan. 1, 2013 deadline.

The last-minute rush usually comes down to completing a plethora of essays designed to distinguish the applicants in some unique way from one another. Writer’s block turns into writer’s nightmare.

But hold on. There is good news to report. The majority of applicants are getting admitted to their first-choice college and I recommend that everyone simmer down and look at the statistics.

When I queried parents about what percentage of seniors they think get accepted to their first-choice college most of them say, “Ten percent?” A few of them hedge their bets and guess 5 percent.

They are shocked to find out that the actual number is 76 percent, based upon on a survey of college freshmen currently attending four- and two-year colleges and universities. This number has been consistent over the past several years.

Most parents base their thinking on the admission statistics for elite colleges in the Ivy League and other highly competitive schools. Harvard’s acceptance rate of 5.9 percent gains the most media attention, but according to recent studies only 2 percent of colleges reject 75 percent or more of their applicants.

Put in perspective, college enrollment has grown 37 percent since 2000. More students are applying to more colleges. Twenty-nine percent of students last year applied to seven or more schools.

Elite colleges like the University of Chicago and Stanford have experienced the biggest increase in applicants. Even though the odds of getting in to these schools are low, single to low double digits, students feel they might have a chance.

For students choosing elite schools, experience has shown that the odds are better if they apply using an early-decision option. This means that if you are accepted, you must withdraw your applications to the other institutions.

The slight advantage gained by applying for
an early-admissions decision is roughly 6 percent over regular admission applicants. The competition tends to be greater under early decision and I
do not recommend this approach to students who are not at the top of their class, or to those who have not distinguished themselves in some
unusual way.

If you are not admitted in the early-decision process, you may be placed on a waiting list. This means that you will get another admissions review along with the regular applicants.

If you are among the top students placed on this list, the odds are roughly 30 percent that you will be admitted at many schools.

If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that I highly recommend that students and their parents begin to familiarize themselves with the college application process as early as a student’s freshman year.

High school counselors typically spend about a quarter of their time on college counseling, and only one counselor for every 420 students is the norm in most high schools. So plan ahead if you want to avoid the last-minute panic to meet admission deadlines.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.