Seniors: Listen to Spock, Not the Scary Stories!

 

March Madness! No, not basketball! It's that time of year when the headlines and hallways are ablaze with scary stories of record numbers of college applications, 6% acceptance rates, and financial aid letters leaving students confused and misinformed.

Yes, more students are applying to more colleges, competition for seats at some colleges has increased and the cost of college continues to rise. But reality runs counter to most of what you read and hear in the media. The number of colleges that are highly selective is TINY! The vast majority of colleges accept two-thirds or more of their applicants. In UCLA’s most recent Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) annual survey of first-year students at four-year colleges and universities, 79 percent reported being accepted to their “first-choice” college.

We know it's hard to resist the onslaught of scary stories. But if you've done the proper research and applied to a balanced list of eight to ten colleges, taking into account both selectivity and affordability, you will do well. Really.

And here's a mantra for you: It's not where you go, it's what you do when you get there. Just ask the head of Disney/Pixar Ed Catmull who went to Utah State, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who went to Washington State, 30 Rock creator Tina Fey who went to University of Virginia…. And the list goes on.

 

For more information about handling media madness, including specific advice about decisions, waitlists and denials, see Chapter 17, “Notification and Making the Decision" in College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step. And check back with the blog in a few weeks when psychologists, counselors and seasoned parents offer their best advice and strategies for dealing with decisions.

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