Does Applying to More Get You Through the Door? Why More Is Not Better in College Admissions | Doing College | Elizabeth LaScala | |

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By Elizabeth LaScala

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About this blog: I post articles to offer timely and substantive college admission guidance on important topics and issues. Originally from New York, I have a B.S. from Hunter College in NYC and advanced professional degrees from the University of...  (More)

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Does Applying to More Get You Through the Door? Why More Is Not Better in College Admissions

Uploaded: Jul 21, 2016
“If 10% of applicants are accepted to the most selective schools to which I apply, doesn’t that mean I will have a better than 1 in 10 chance of getting into any one of them if I apply to all of them?”

Many college applicants would like to think this was true, but unfortunately applying to many more highly selective schools (schools with ultra-low acceptance rates) does not increase your chances of being accepted to one of them. If we college advisors could dispel the ‘more is better’ myth and guide students toward selecting colleges that are their best matches, families would enjoy far less stress and far better results every spring.

College admissions rates have little to do with the probability you will be admitted to any school. If a college has a ten percent admit rate and someone applies with a 3.7 GPA or even a 4.0, middling essays, a few extracurricular activities but nothing remarkable, and no legacy, athletic or other ‘hook,’ he would not have a 1 in 10 chance of admission. This student likely would have a zero chance of admission. No matter how many schools with low admit rates that student applies to, there is very little chance of admission. A ten percent admit rate does not mean every applicant has a 1 in 10 chance of admission. It means that 100 (or slightly fewer) of 1000 applicants could be offered admission; 900 will not.

Each college application is unique. Each application to each college that a student has on her list is independent of each of the other applications submitted. Admissions officers at highly selective colleges will expect to see high quality as a foundation to any application. A serious candidate is expected to provide a very strong high school transcript, test scores that positively correlate with the excellence achieved on the transcript, well-written, well-conceived essays that show an authentic voice and respond fully to the prompt, sincere, consistent demonstrated interest in their school. Other factors include a very strong record of extracurricular involvements that build upon the applicants special abilities and talents (sometimes known as “hooks”) and/or personal and career-related interests. For the most selective schools, talents and achievements should be recognized beyond the local and regional levels.

It should be noted, however, that each admissions office considers how these achievements and strengths relate to the type of class that college is constructing that cycle. Most highly selective colleges craft classes with eyes towards having a diversity of students with a variety of academic interests and talents. When so many applicants have the same interests, for example, going pre-law or pre-med or pursuing a degree in engineering, it would not be surprising for an admissions office to choose those who present the best credentials as well as the strongest hooks.

College advisors can best help their students by analyzing and understanding admissions trends as well as the cultures at highly selective schools. They can also help them to understand that, even when their credentials are strong, they must present them well and with authenticity in essays and interviews. College advisors can help their students to understand the level of competition that they face from peers nationally and world-wide that they do not know. Most important, independent educational consultants can help their students to understand that their best matches will include colleges where the odds of gaining admission are far more in their favor, and they can enjoy four happy, successful and productive years.

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Elizabeth LaScala, PhD, brings decades of admissions expertise to personally guide each student through applying to well-matched colleges, making each step more manageable and less stressful. She has placed hundreds of students in the most prestigious colleges and universities in the US. Elizabeth attends conferences, visits campuses and makes personal contacts with admissions networks to stay current on the evolving nature of college admissions. She and her professional team offer resume development, test preparation, academic tutoring, value analysis, merit and need-based scholarship search and more.

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Posted by rosalindr, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 22, 2016 at 7:40 pm

rosalindr is a registered user.

I always enjoy reading Elizabeth LaScala's blog even though I'm not interest in applying to college again. I went from High School to College back in 1960. Here are some of my recollections from my several applications and experiences at the four colleges I attended.

College advisors were part of my High School's staff. I don't recall if there were private advisors like Elizabeth LaScala back then, but my HS Advisors usually recommended one "Safe School" to apply to so that students could expect at least one acceptance. My Safe School was Syracuse University, which was often chosen because it is a large University with a high volume of admissions; so it was easier to get into than a smaller or more specialized college.

I had a good record, a B average and a couple of extra curricula activities. I wanted to get into the Carnegie Tech Drama Department, but I knew this was very selective. So I applied to the Margaret Morrison Carnegie College (MMCC) for Women and was accepted.

In my sophomore year I transferred to the Drama Dept. as a Directing major, which was easier for acceptance than Acting, especially for a woman. Most women who were Directing Majors were planning to work in regional theaters where the needs and opportunities were better than Broadway. I did wind up volunteering for a regional theater in New Rochelle years later, but it never raised the funds needed to start one.

Ironically the MMCC offered a five year program in Technical Writing along with courses in the Engineering Schools. I wasn't interested in that at the time but I wound up doing Technical Writing and Training at Hughes Aircraft for 11 years. Strange how things work out.

My brother was in the top 1% of his graduating class, with an A average. He was a [Web Link Merit Scholar], played clarinet in the band and was on the track team. I forget which colleges he applied to but he was accepted at Cornell and was on the Cornell College Bowl Team in 1959.

If you have ever seen the moving "Diner," there's a scene where the guys are arguing about something and there's a TV on in the background with the College Bowl on it. My brother is the one chewing on his glasses.

I didn't graduate Carnegie Tech. I dropped out after three years and didn't finish my BA until 1972. I was living back home in New Rochelle and applied to Iona College to finish my degree. After Graduating Iona, I applied to UCLA for an MA in Film History. That's when I moved to California.

After finishing my MA I attended University of Southern California for my Doctorate in Instructional Technology. My first job after finishing that degree was to put together a closed circuit TV station for maternity patients at UCLA Hospital. So I went back to UCLA, but this time as an employee.

That program was on a one-year grant. They offered to extend it a few months for me, but I felt I accomplished everything I was hired to do and wanted to move on.

That's when I got the job at Hughes Aircraft producing instructional videos and writing user guides on IT systems. I stayed there for 11 years. I was laid off after GE bought Hughes. Most employees over 40 were offered a big severance package to resign. I took the money and left without any regrets.


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