How hard is it really to get into college nowadays?Answered
Apparently it’s harder to get into colleges nowadays than it was fifty years ago. Is this true, and why?
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Yes, it's exponentially harder to get into some top colleges these days than it was 50 years ago. But you don't have to look that far back at some schools to realize that the Class of 21', 22' and 23' will be the worst.
Cornell acceptance rates dipped below 10% to 8.68% the last cycle. Just 10 years ago to 2011 that was 17.9% (twice as easy) and if you go back to the period between 1980 and 2004 Cornell had a rather steady acceptance rate of 30-34% (about 4 times easier). I will tell you that 50 years ago it was over 40% or 5 times easier.
So whoever says it wasn't so is just talking gibberish. I got into Columbia 3.7% acceptance rate and 10 years ago it was 11% so 3 times easier.
The drivers that make college acceptance rates so low today are the following.
- More qualified applicants
- UWGPAs are close to 4.0 and many public and religious private schools use grade inflation making it difficult to tell who actually is a top achiever
- More students spend time on SAT/ACT prep pushing scores higher
- More students take more AP/IB classes and get 4s and 5s
- More students take more dual enrollment courses.
- More students take online college classes
- More students do community service and volunteering
- More students have completed independent research and internships
- More students have high honors and awards that are legit like US Presidential Scholars
- Spikey applicants are now a dime a dozen so you need to be a Super Spikey applicant with a sword coming out of your head.
At the same time, all the Top schools have the same incoming class size even though the US has more than doubled in population in the last 50 years. So even if the quality of students was the same, there would be twice the applicants based on population alone making even the most basic State school twice as hard to get into. But that's not the case, since HS students today who want to go to top colleges know the competition is brutal, they prepare 4 years early to get in. Our parent's generation, maybe spent 1 year prepping to get into college because if they were top of their class, they knew where they stood. These days you can be top 10% of your class, apply to all the Ivys and Elite colleges and get into zero of them.
So my message to anyone reading this who is in 9th or 10th grade is don't assume that you are going to get into your dream college or even your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th choice. You have to do more than your competition at school and don't pick ECs and essay topics that everyone else has, be bold, brave, and unique. That will serve you best.
First, kudos on all the extracurricular activities you have under your belt! I hope you know that your parents are right--it's not just about the grades--but it's good to know you've been putting in effort since middle school. Regarding your stats, they look around what your colleges are looking at (I'm looking at G-Tech because that's in my state, so call me out if I'm wrong). Try to raise your SAT score to around 1300 like you did in 10th grade and then raise it a little higher. I'd suggest Bold.org or ScholarshipPoints for websites that let you do easy scholarships (some even have no essays! gasps in shock and awe), but if you're connected with College Board there's a program to receive $40K (assuming you complete the 6 mini-scholarships before and they choose you). Aside from that, just know this--you're definitely going to get into college. Don't stress because you're capable of more than you think. Quick breathing exercise--imagine all the worries are bubbling in your chest, and expel them as you exhale. Now inhale and imagine you're taking in all the good about you--your successes, lessons you've learned--and let it settle.
Now exhale again--this time, it's bravery and confidence flaming out.
Don't stress, kiddo. The best is yet to come!
I wouldn't necessarily say it is harder to get into college nowadays. I mean of course more people go to college now more than fifty years of go but there are thousands of schools with very high acceptance rates. So from that standpoint no it is not hard to get into college, just depends on which ones you want to attend, especially if they're more prestigious. However even schools with high acceptances dont just want to see grades look at the full picture with your ec's, awards, sports, & grades
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