Colleges are looking for kids who can pay up:
In a sure sign that college tuition rates are out of control, more than half of public universities and one-third of private ones are focusing on students who can pay their entire tuition without assistance, according to Inside Higher Ed. Ten percent admitted that such students were let in despite sub-par academics. A quarter of those surveyed said they had been pressured by higher-ups at their schools to let in certain students.
A large senior class works against you:
Admissions counselors often look at “clusters” of students, which means students have to be desirable compared to their peers. So if you come from a big high school, it’s possible that you and all your classmates applying at one school could get in, but you’ll be sized up against them right off the bat. The state you live in can also be taken into consideration.
Waitlists help them as much or more than they help you:
Some may call it a myth that getting into exclusive colleges is all about connections, but the same can’t be said for the waiting list for getting into college. It’s common for schools to assign the children of donors or alumni a spot on the waiting list out of courtesy, even if their grades don’t merit it. Wait lists are also used to keep the admittance level low on the first go-round, helping the school appear ultra-exclusive.
Colleges check your Facebook:
To get a clear picture of who you really are, many admissions officers simply log onto Facebook and check your profile. They may not tell you they’re going to do so because obviously you could whitewash your account first. They’re looking at your profile pic to see if it’s appropriate, reading your wall posts for signs of a negative attitude, and even checking how much profanity you use.
Admissions officers are people too:
All the volunteer work you did in locations around the world is very admirable and you are to be commended. However, you should keep in mind that many people will never have the privilege of visiting some of those places, so be humble. As one enrollment director put it, “I’m so tired of reading about 15-year-olds going to Tanzania to save the chimps or whatever … My dream is to tell some parent, do you understand that I will never get to go to Tanzania on my lousy salary?”
If you want to pay less, find the school that wants you:
The conventional wisdom from colleges is to check them out first and see if you love the environment, then worry about paying for it. Unfortunately, student loan debt is at $1 trillion, and that scenario is no longer feasible. The best decision from a financial standpoint is to figure out which college wants you (and your particular talents) and is willing to give you financial aid to secure your attendance.
You can be recruited by a school that has no intention of admitting you:
Schools buy standardized test score info and mail students in a certain range of scores packets urging them to apply to their school. However, admissions officers also look at school GPA when considering a candidate. If they see a high SAT score but low grades, they assume they’re looking at a smart but lazy student who did not apply him or herself in school, and they’re likely to send a rejection letter.
You can probably get away with lying about your ethnicity:
Although a subjective assessment might be possible by checking Facebook, most colleges do not have an official system for verifying what race a student checks on his or her application. This reduces the process to basically an honor system, and with a student’s academic future possibly riding on it, it’s easy to see why many are tempted to falsify the information.
Being put on the wait list is not cause for hope:
As cheery as the letter notifying you of your wait-listing may sound, based on the numbers, your prospects for getting into that particular school are not good. Only 28% of wait-listed students made it in in 2010. The portion shrinks to 11% at more selective universities like Yale and Harvard. It definitely behooves you to cast your gaze elsewhere once you’re ‘listed.
If you’re Asian, you might not want to check the box:
The open secret that colleges hold Asian applicants to a higher standard may not even be a secret of any kind soon, now that the Department of Education is investigating it. They could never admit it, but admissions officers are likely to compare Asian students’ grades to other Asians on applications, so leaving the ethnicity box blank raises the odds of getting in.
You can miss the cut for being boring:
We repeat: admissions officers are people too. It’s a staggering thought, but if you’re simply unlucky enough to catch an officer on a bad day, they might put you in the reject pile just because they can. An officer got food poisoning in your town? Rejected. Your essay’s boring? Rejected. Red Sox lost last night? Rejected.
You shouldn’t pick a college based on a certain department:
Colleges work very hard to become known as having the best department in a certain area of study. These schools hope you don’t realize that on average, college students change their majors three times, meaning you’ll end up in a different department than the one you went to that school for.
Getting off the wait list is about more than grades:
According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, after weighing academic factors, schools pick candidates off the waiting list by considering: a) the interest a wait listed student has shown in attending the school, and b) ability to pay. At least one school doesn’t even put a student on the wait list until he or she declares that school as the first choice.
Contacts and sources: