This is the time of year when many high-achieving students come to us who have aspirations of getting admitted to one of the nation's top colleges. Reasons vary, but the bottom line is that there are 2,400 four-year colleges in the U.S., and only about 25 of them are the ones that many of these students "top load" their lists with.
So by the numbers, we have about 36,000 available freshman seats available at these 25 colleges, and the top 10 percent of the students who graduate from high school are applying. So 360,000 students are applying for 36,000 seats. Many top students are so top-loaded that we call it “Brand Name Paralysis.” This is heartbreaking when the rejection letters start coming in. Students don’t realize that there are also 36,000 high schools in this nation…so 36,000 valedictorians (except Capo USD, which rewards anyone with a weighted GPA of 4.0 and above), 36,000 salutatorians, 36,000 class presidents are applying to these schools. And these (and about 75 other top colleges) attract an international applicant pool.
We have grade inflation, re-centering of the SAT tests and students who are overly involved in the wrong activities. We have parents who believe the myths of the hairdresser or their neighbor, and don’t really do the research themselves or hire professionals.
But the main reason good students aren’t getting into top colleges is that they are not “tagged,” and don’t realize what the college considers an “edge” for admissions. For some “tags”, the student can get up to a 15-percent admission boost. Those tags might include recruited athletes (not self-recruits, or walk ons), overcoming obstacles (blindness, life or death experiences, extreme situations), or achieved merit. Often, students and parents have a much higher opinion of their merit than is realistic.
There are many tags, and the myth of colleges wanting a “well-rounded student” is usually not accurate. Colleges DO, however, want a well-rounded student BODY. Every year, the need for certain parts of the body change. Top colleges want passionate and teachable students.
Tell all your friends about our “Maritime College Series” at our office in the harbor—8/1 at 6:30 p.m. It's a chance to win a $1,000 software package. For free seminars, WEBinars, and useful tools to help guide the college planning process, please go to GetCollegeFunding.org and sign up for our "7 Mistakes Most Parents Make When Planning For College."