Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What's a kid gotta do to get into college? 

I was always told extracurriculars. So I sang in a chorus that toured Romania, was president of the state Methodist youth organization, and played on a chess team. It turns out that wouldn't help much any more. Nor will good SAT scores.
Admissions offices broke the record this year for the greatest number of valedictorian rejections.

Today, approximately 41 percent of America�s student population has a grade point average over 3.5. Yale has approximately 21,000 applicants annually and only 1,300 available slots. Ninety-seven percent of Stanford's new freshman class were ranked in the top 20 percent of their high schools, and 45 percent ranked in the top 1 percent or 2 percent. Harvard has an abundance of candidates with strong credentials, but it now accepts an estimated all-time-low 9 percent of them.
Two points emerge to me in this piece (sent by loyal reader jw.) First, it appears grade inflation in high school is catching up with students, as even an A- average is not going to guarantee admission to elite schools. Second, since many schools are putting service learning requirements in their curricula, students "going to Costa Rica on a project" can't stand out any more.

And the killer essay? Fuhgeddabouddit. "We never base our decisions on essays. We read them carefully, but we understand how easily they can be purchased or written by anyone. They can certainly illuminate a case, but we'd be foolish to base our decisions on them." Their advice instead? Tell the truth. Most admissions people want students of all types, so the more you can tell of yourself, the more possible it is that you have the part their lacking in that freshman class.