Jill Haley: What we learned this year in college admissions | TheUnion.com

Jill Haley: What we learned this year in college admissions

Photo for The Union John Hart
Jorn Hart | The Union

The college admissions cycle is over for the year. On May 1, Seniors were required to notify the college where they will attend in the fall of 2019.

Many were elated in their decision and some were not. Here’s a few things we learned this year:

The University of California system was especially impacted. UCLA received more applications (111,000) than any college in the country. With a freshman class of just over 6,000 students, UCLA had to deny more than 95,000 applicants. UC Santa Cruz, once considered a safety school for students, received record applications from students whose GPAs averaged around 3.9.

The UC campuses are largely regarded as the crown jewel of public universities in the country, and are becoming more selective each year. Especially impacted are the majors of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It was not uncommon for students with near perfect SAT/ACT scores and GPAs of over 4.0 to be denied admissions to a UC in these fields.

Last year many students considered attending a public college outside of California. As part of the Western Undergraduate Exchange, students receive reductions in tuition at many colleges in neighboring states. In this tuition saving program, parental income is not considered, which makes it appealing to many middle-income families.

The most elite, and highly selective colleges, continue to see record applications. Stanford admitted just 4 percent of its applicants this year. What doesn’t make the headlines, is that there are hundreds of colleges who admit more than 50% of their applicants. These institutions are often overlooked because of the flawed ranking system. Many have stellar programs and low teacher to student ratios and can be generous with merit financial aid.

Applying early has its advantages. The use of early decision applications has increased each year at colleges and universities. Early decision requires that the applicant apply early, and agree to a binding commitment to attend the following year. Acceptance rates through early decision can be significantly higher at some universities. Barnard accepted 31% of applicants who applied via early decision versus 15% regular admissions. John Hopkins admitted 30% of early decision students, compared to 8% regular.

College Board, the company that designed and administers the SAT test continues to have problems with reliability and validity. A lawsuit filed on behalf of a student who took the SAT in August alleges that the test included questions that had appeared on a 2017 SAT exam in Asia and posted on Facebook.

And then there was the college admissions scandal. Fraud was exposed at some of the most elite U.S. colleges in the country. Parents and college officials have been charged with making payoffs and testing fraud. While college admissions have never been a level playing field, the amount of people involved in the scandal and the enormous amount of money involved is truly shocking.

As a college counselor, I am disturbed by the thought of “whose spot did these students take.”

Many hard-working and deserving students were undoubtedly overlooked to make room for students whose parents bribed college officials.

Jill Haley is a retired high school counselor who now works as an independent college counselor. She can be reached at http://www.getyouintocollege.com or jillncca@gmail.com.

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