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The student news site of Ward Melville High School

Kaleidoscope

The student news site of Ward Melville High School

Kaleidoscope

The Impact of Declining College Acceptance Rates

Image+Courtesy+of+Victoria+Heath+on+Unsplash
Image Courtesy of Victoria Heath on Unsplash

In recent years, acceptance rates at prestigious schools have steadily decreased. The acceptance rates of the top 50 schools in the U.S. dropped from an average of 35.9% in 2006 to 22.6% in 2018, and this decline has only worsened in the years following the Covid-19 pandemic (Business Student). These changes have led to concerning prospects for once-hopeful students, along with questions about the reasons behind the shrinking numbers. 

 

One major reason for the steady change in acceptance rates is an increase in applications. With the adoption of the Common App, a single application that students can use to apply to over 1,000 universities worldwide, teens have started to apply to more schools than ever possible before (Common App). This application inflation has led to the appearance of less acceptances in general, when in reality it relates more to the amount of people applying in total. 

 

Because the application process has become relatively simpler, students have begun applying to less realistic schools despite their low odds of acceptance. According to Connie Livingston, an admissions officer at Brown University for 14 years, around 75 to 85 percent of applicants from the pre-pandemic application pool were considered qualified. Recently however, Livingston estimates that only 60 to 65 percent of applicants are qualified and meet the recommended grades and test scores of the schools they apply to (NY Times). 

 

Despite the reasoning behind the dropping numbers, this phenomenon still has the ability to put increased pressure on high-achieving students who are determined to go to a top school. For many teens nowadays, going to an Ivy League school seems like an absurd and unachievable idea, which is due partly to the acceptance rates, but is also largely because of the immense financial burden associated with these universities. With the lowest Ivy acceptance rate being approximately 3% at Harvard, an acceptance letter is a highly coveted symbol, but not realistic for many.

 

Extremely low acceptance rates create stressed out students and encourages these students to overfill their schedule with challenging classes and little to no breaks. As students attempt to get into competitive colleges, they often need to overwork themselves with numerous extracurriculars piled on top of rigorous classes in an attempt to stand out from other applicants. Unfortunately, this toxic mindset can quickly lead to students experiencing burnout, which is an issue that will likely increase as colleges become more exclusive.

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