College admissions under scrutiny as increasing numbers of students apply

When your parents went to college, there were fewer factors that went into a college application decision. Things like test scores, GPA and the quality of an essay were some of the few considerations that were taken into account when a college was deciding if an applicant was suitable for their school or postsecondary degree programs.

Now, however, things are very different. There are more students applying to college than ever before. In addition, students filling out college applications are applying to more schools to maximize their chances of acceptance, meaning that schools are receiving far more college applications. Not only does this mean that waiting to hear back from a prospective college or university is taking longer, but that colleges are becoming increasingly selective about who is admitted to their programs.

According to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, some colleges are purposefully selective to maintain a prestigious image. Stanford University in California recently released figures that indicate that the class of 2014 will consist of just 7 percent of the more than 32,000 applications it received, making it the most selective class in the university's history.

By contrast, Syracuse University in New York has made access to its postsecondary degree programs easier for many students, including those from less-advantaged financial backgrounds and diverse ethnic groups.

"We’re at the point of needing to recognize that it isn’t just about the admit rate you have or the average test scores enrolled students have, because those measures are old measures," Donald Saleh, vice president of enrollment management at Syracuse, told the news source. "They don’t serve the institution in and of themselves. An admit rate doesn’t say anything about the student body you’re enrolling."

According to data from the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE), the number of Hispanic seniors graduating in 2014 could rise by as much as 54 percent. The WICHE projections also forecast an increase in the number of Asian and Pacific Islander graduates of 32 percent.

Although attitudes towards college admissions are changing, there's really not much that you as an applicant can do, besides study hard, and get the best grades you can. Don't be put off by selective college admissions processes – make sure you apply to several safety schools as well as your dream schools to maximize your chances of getting onto a degree program that interests you.

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