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College Admissions

Admission Trends/News

Big Changes in College Admission

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

There are changes in the world of college admission every year. But in 14 years as an independent college counselor, I have never seen more changes coming at the same time.

In standardized testing, we have the new SAT, which debuted last month. While the exam is now much more similar to the ACT, there are still differences. Test planning has been complicated by the fact that the College Board did not release scores from the March administration until May 10 and the May test scores will not be available until mid-June.

The good news is that more colleges join the test-optional list each year. Skidmore College announced a new test-optional policy a few weeks ago, and there will certainly be more announcements from colleges in the coming months. Students who are anxious about testing should include at least one test-optional college on their college list.

The financial aid application timeline is also changing. High school seniors applying for financial aid will no longer need to wait until January 1 to complete the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Students can apply beginning October 1, using prior-prior year (PPY) tax data. Seniors who will be applying to college in the fall will be using 2015 rather than 2016 tax information. The new policy should enable colleges to provide earlier and more accurate information about what kind of financial aid a student will receive from a college.

There are also changes in college applications. Several popular schools that previously required their own applications have joined the Common Application, including Indiana University and University of Wisconsin. This will make it easier for students to apply to those schools.

But the biggest change will be the new Coalition Application. The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success was started by a group of colleges to enhance access to an affordable education and provide early engagement to help under-resourced students. Coalition members are required to meet several criteria, including a minimum 70% six year graduation rate. Private schools must meet all demonstrated financial need for each domestic student they admit. Public schools must have affordable tuition and provide need-based financial aid for in-state students. More than 90 institutions have joined the Coalition. The list includes the Ivies, Stanford and other highly selective schools, as well as more than 35 public schools including University of Florida, University of Maryland and University of Washington.

The additions to the Common Application and the introduction of the Coalition Application mean that students who apply to a number of public universities outside of California may find they will have to complete fewer applications. But new systems usually have glitches, and students should not be surprised if the Coalition Application tests their patience during this first year. In fact, concerns about the new technology have led some Coalition members to delay using the Coalition Application for a year.

The UC has its own changes, and will no longer have a personal statement where students respond to two required prompts with a total of 1,000 words. Instead, students will choose four of eight personal insight questions, and can write up to 350 words for each question. While students may end up doing more writing for the new UC application, the more targeted questions will provide flexibility, and should enable students to provide a more complete picture for UC application readers.

The Coalition has released essay prompts, but not all member institutions will be requiring essays. Prompts for the Common Application essay will be the same as last year. Supplemental essays required by many colleges may change and will become available over the summer. Students who are eager to get started on application essays should verify that they have the correct prompts before writing their essays.

College Application Update for California Students

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

At the recent University of California counselor conference, admissions directors from each UC campus provided updates, and the numbers continue to be daunting. It’s easier to understand why admission has become so competitive when you look at a graph showing that applications at Berkeley have more than doubled over the past 10 years. Berkeley received over 73,000 freshman applications last year, and more than 34,000 of those applicants had a grade point average of 4.0 or above. The total number of students admitted to Berkeley was below 13,000, so it’s clear that the vast majority of excellent students were denied. The admit rate to the campus was below 18 percent, but it was even tougher for prospective engineering majors, as the admit rate for Berkeley’s engineering school was just nine percent.

UCLA admitted 16.3% of California freshman applicants. Since UCLA plans to maintain a stable enrollment target and will probably receive more applications next year, admission will be even more competitive. Even campuses that have not been highly selective in the past are becoming much more competitive. At Irvine, the admit rate dropped from 41 percent to 35.4 percent in one year. Santa Cruz had a very high number of students accepting an offer of admission, and the admissions office is predicting a lower admit rate for the next freshman class.

While the UC certainly has become less accessible in recent years, the good news is that more colleges around the country are actively recruiting California students. In the last few weeks, I’ve attended meetings with admissions officers from more than 25 colleges that are eager to increase their enrollment of California students, and that’s a small fraction of the schools looking for California students. Some will even subsidize airfare for admitted students who want to visit the college before making a decision. Many schools offer scholarships that can bring the cost down, so that in some cases, families are paying no more than the cost of attending a UC campus. Even if the cost is a little higher, it can be worth it for smaller classes and more personal attention, along with a guarantee of completing a degree in four years.

You don’t need stellar grades and test scores to get into college. It’s true that competition for admission at schools that are in the top 25 of the US News rankings is intense, but these rankings don’t provide meaningful information about the quality of education or the experience a particular student will have at a college. There are hundreds of colleges that offer strong academic programs, as well as great internship and study abroad opportunities. Since so many strong students are no longer able to access the most selective schools, those students are attending and raising the caliber of other colleges. If you are willing to look beyond the usual suspects, you will find colleges where you can get a good education and have an enjoyable four years on campus.

As college application deadlines approach in the next few months, high school seniors and their parents are vulnerable to extreme admission anxiety. It helps to find at least a couple schools that you like and that would be clear admits. If you have good grades but just don’t do well on standardized tests, be sure to apply to some test-optional colleges. You can find a list of test-optional schools at www.fairtest.org. It is also important to make sure you have colleges that are financially accessible. The net price calculator on each college’s website will give you a preliminary estimate of the cost for your family.

Admission Decisions & Wait-Lists

Monday, March 24th, 2014

It’s that time of year.  High school seniors around the country are celebrating or commiserating as college admission decisions are released.  Application numbers at highly selective schools continue to break records.  Despite a predicted decline in the number of California high school graduates this year, applications from residents of the state were up at the University of California. UCLA’s freshman applications jumped from 80,000 last year to over 86,000 this year, resulting in the admit rate dropping from 20 percent to 18 percent.

With more students applying to more colleges, it’s difficult for colleges to predict how many admitted students will actually enroll.  Many schools are being conservative with offers and using wait-lists to round out the freshman class.

This year, all UC campuses except Merced are using a wait-list.  Private colleges use them as well.  The number of students offered admission from a wait-list varies from one school to another, and can be dramatically different at the same school from one year to the next.

California students are a priority at many colleges, and if a school does not receive enough enrollment deposits from California residents, that could mean good news for some local wait-listed students.  Colleges that are primarily need-blind in admission decisions can become need-aware when they go to the wait-list.  If financial aid resources have already been committed, they can only bring in students who don’t need aid.

Schools have other institutional needs, which can change.  At a recent meeting with an admissions officer from a highly selective university, he said the school is building its athletic program, which means recruiting athletes.  The school has a new art building and would like to bring in more aspiring art students.  So there is an element of luck and timing in applying to college.  If you happen to apply in the year that a college is starting a new bioengineering program and that’s your field, you may have better prospects for admission.

Some colleges ask wait-listed students to write a brief essay about why they want to attend the school.  Even if a college does not ask you to do anything other than opt-in, it’s essential to let the admissions office know that you are very interested in attending the school.  There may be thousands of students on the wait list, which can be bigger than the size of the freshman class.  If an admissions officer is able to take two students from the wait-list, he will choose them from the 30 who emailed him rather than the hundreds of students who made no effort to convey their interest.

If you are certain you would accept an offer of admission, write that that in the email.  If you cannot honestly say the school is your first choice, you can still cite the reasons that you are excited about attending the school.  Rather than focusing on how that college will help you get into medical school or help you get a job, focus on the experience you will have at the college.  Mention an unusual academic program and describe how it meshes perfectly with your interests.  Perhaps there is something about the campus culture that especially appeals to you, like a student run honor code.

Once you have made your best case for admission, send the email and turn your attention to the colleges that have admitted you.  Once you invest emotionally in a school, you will find much to love about it and could very well end up turning down any offers that come from a wait-list.

Fear and Uncertainty Can Lead to Bad Behavior on All Sides

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

At the same time that many families are in a state of high anxiety over the competition to get into college, admissions staffs at the majority of colleges are worried about enrolling enough freshmen.

According to the recently released 2013 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Directors,  more than half of private, bachelor’s degree granting colleges and public, bachelor’s or master’s degree granting institutions had not met their fall enrollment goals by the May 1 deadline for students to accept an offer of admission. Schools offering doctoral degrees were more likely to reach their enrollment goals.

Some schools, including St. Mary’s College of Maryland, the public honors college in the state, and Loyola University New Orleans, were significantly short of their enrollment targets this year, and will have to make budget cuts because of the loss in tuition revenue. Colleges that don’t have large endowments and are very dependent on tuition are especially vulnerable to fluctuations in enrollment. Nobody wants to lose faculty and staff, and every college will be working hard to meet enrollment targets this year.

Admissions offices at many colleges are likely to be dealing with enrollment pressures for a while. In many parts of the country, the number of high school seniors has peaked, and for the next few years, there may be fewer students applying to college.

Families are no longer so willing to take on big loans for expensive colleges, and this has impacted private colleges as well as nonresident enrollment at some public universities. Some schools are trying to reassure families worried about the costs going up every year by guaranteeing that tuition will remain the same for four years. However, residence hall and meal plan costs can still increase each year.

International recruiting has become more important as colleges seek to broaden the applicant pool. In 2011, the majority of admissions directors backed a National Association for College Admissions Counseling draft policy that would prohibit colleges from using recruiting agents who are paid at least in part by commission. Just two years later, at last week’s NACAC convention, members approved a new policy that will allow the use of these agents, who enable colleges to bring in more applications from international students. Many admissions offices already send their representatives around the world and fly in high school counselors for campus visits. I attended a campus visit program at one highly selective university, where counselors were flown in from Greece, China and even Nepal. This, despite the fact that the university already has an admit rate below 15 percent.

Fear and desperation can bring out the worst in people. When students feel the pressure of competition for college admission, they sometimes resort to exaggerating or fabricating their achievements. Some students even have someone else write their application essays.

Admission offices are not immune to the temptation to cheat. There have been several cases in recent years of colleges reporting higher average SAT scores to the US News rankings, and in the survey, while very few admissions directors say their school reports false data to US News and other rankings systems, the vast majority believe that other schools engage in this practice.

In recent years, as fear of competition and the desire to compare costs motivates students to apply to more colleges, it has been increasingly difficult for colleges to predict how many students will accept an offer of admission. According to the survey, 29 percent of admissions directors admitted to recruiting students who had already committed to other schools. Doing this after the May 1 decision deadline is a violation of NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practice, and the fact that it was not uncommon this year is a sign of how desperate some schools were to meet their enrollment targets.

While some colleges may be engaging in unethical behavior, that doesn’t mean students get a pass to violate the rules. If knowing that you have conducted yourself honorably is not enough motivation to complete your applications in an ethical manner, be aware that dishonesty could jeopardize your admission. Some colleges may ask for proof of your community service hours or extracurricular activities, especially if the hours you claim on the application seem excessive. Admissions officers will be suspicious if the “voice” or the quality of writing in an application essay is not consistent with the essay you wrote as part of the SAT or ACT, or does not seem to match your academic performance in English classes. Parents who are tempted to provide too much help with essays should know that admissions officers are quite capable of recognizing essays that were written by 45-year-olds.

It can be challenging to stay on an ethical path, especially when other people, and institutions, may stray from that path. But applications that are authentic stand out, and there’s nothing better than getting an acceptance from a college and knowing you earned it.

Keep Working On Applications While Waiting For Early Decisions

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

Many students are anxiously awaiting the results of their early applications before they invest time in other applications.  This is a big mistake.  Many colleges received more early applications this year, and competition for admission will be intense.  Early Action applications were up 14 percent at Northeastern and 25 percent at University of Chicago. Schools with binding Early Decision plans also saw significant increases.  Early Decision applications were up 15 percent at Northwestern, 17 percent at Emory, almost 20 percent at Boston University, 23 percent at Duke and 33 percent at Pomona.

Not all colleges had more early applications. Yale saw an 18 percent decrease in Early Action applications, which is probably because Harvard offered an Early Action option this year, and these schools don’t allow students to apply early to other colleges.  The new Harvard early option probably also accounts for modest decreases in Early Decision applications at Columbia and University of Pennsylvania.  But all of these schools may see increases in Regular Decision applications.  Students need to submit their strongest applications.

That’s why it’s important to keep working throughout this month.  Getting a rejection in mid-December can be a crushing disappointment, and it is very hard to recover from that emotional blow and do your best work on seven other applications when you have just two weeks till the early January deadlines.  While it may be difficult to push yourself to work on applications now while you’re waiting to get into your favorite college, it will be much harder after a rejection.  If you have finished your other applications and you are denied or deferred by your early school, you will be very relieved that your applications are ready to submit.  Best case scenario is that you are accepted at your early school, and in that case you will be so excited that you won’t care about the unnecessary work you did on other applications.

Students who did not submit early applications really have no reason to wait, and if they haven’t completed an application yet, it’s especially important to get started.  In addition to writing essays, you need to complete the activities/community service/work experience section, and you want to write those descriptions concisely and accurately.  Admissions officers appreciate an application that is clear and easy to read.  Print out the application so you can proofread it.  You may find that some of your activity descriptions are cut off, requiring you to rewrite them.  All of this takes time.  Add the stress of rushing to finish seven supplements in the last few days and you are more likely to make mistakes.  You also risk your computer or the server crashing, or a winter storm that knocks out your electricity right before the application deadline.  

Once you submit the Common Application to one school, you cannot make changes to that application.  If you applied Early Decision/Early Action and now want update your awards, activities or test scores, or would like to tailor your application to one college, you can create an alternate version.  After you log in, go to the Instructions page and scroll down to “Application Versions” for step by step instructions.  The alternate version will have all the information from your first version and you can edit as you wish.  However, any documents you uploaded will not transfer to the alternate version, so be sure to upload your essay to the alternate version.

Remember that with the Common Application you need to submit the application, supplement and payment separately.  Students sometimes think that once they submit payment, the application automatically follows.  Since it can take up to 48 hours for your payment to be processed, waiting until the day of a deadline means your application might not be submitted in time.  Check the My Colleges page to confirm that your applications have been submitted.  You can also see if your counselor and teacher have submitted their forms.

If you have questions as you’re working on the Common Application, the “Help” button at the top of the Common Application will take you to the Applicant Support Center.  If you don’t find the answer to your question there, you can contact technical support.

Application Numbers Up Again This Year

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Yesterday, I was at a luncheon with admissions officers from 34 colleges, all actively recruiting California students. That’s the good news that I hope will help reduce the anxiety so many students and parents feel when they read about the increasing competition for admission to college.

When you look at the numbers, it seems like we’re in for another very tough year. Some highly selective private schools have been reporting significant increases in applications.

Applications are up 15% at Harvard, and the admit rate will likely fall from last year’s record 6.9% to a new low of 6%. Yale is also having another record year, with applications up 5% over last year.

With more than 30,000 applications, Northwestern is up 11% this year, but what’s even more daunting is the fact that this is double the number of applications the school received just five years ago.

My alma mater, University of Pennsylvania, has also crossed the 30,000 mark this year, with applications up 14% over last year.

New York City remains a popular destination. Columbia’s applications are up a whopping 32% this year. Applications increased more than 11% at NYU.

But rural New Hampshire is also drawing students. Dartmouth’s applications are up 16% this year, and California is now the most represented state.

Duke is up 10% over last year, and the school’s applications have risen 50% in the last three years.

In California, applications are up almost 7% at Stanford and more than 6% at USC.

The increases are not limited to the most elite schools or to schools of a particular size. Applications are up more than 13% at Northeastern University, perhaps in part because students concerned about job prospects after college appreciate the school’s co-op program, which provides work experience that enhances resumes.  

American University’s new test optional program may have contributed to the 10% increase in applications at that school.

Some small liberal arts colleges saw big gains, including a 22% increase in applications at Colby and a 28% increase at Dickinson.

Of course, not every school received more applications this year. Tulane’s applications are down 13%. Colgate and Cornell had small decreases in applications.

And since much of the increase in applications can be attributed to anxious students applying to more schools, colleges may end up accepting additional students from waitlists when students who have multiple acceptances choose other schools.

On the public side, despite concerns about budget cuts impacting the quality of education at public colleges in California, the University of California has received 6% more applications this year, with some campuses reporting double-digit gains. Freshman applications are up 11% at San Diego, close to 8% at UCLA, 6% at Davis, and roughly 5 percent at Berkeley and Santa Barbara. Irvine and Santa Cruz had more modest increases in freshman applications. With continuing budget problems, UC won’t be able to admit larger freshman classes this year, so competition for admission will be intense.

Much of the increase at UC was driven by applications from high school students outside of California. Applications from in-state students were up 3.6 percent over last year. Freshman applications from international students were up by almost 23 percent over last year, and out-of-state freshman applications climbed nearly 11 percent. These numbers are in response to a new push by UC to recruit nonresident students, who pay much higher tuition.

The good news is that while there may be more competition for students applying to UC, public universities in other states that are also experiencing budget problems are recruiting out of state students as well, creating opportunities around the country. Honors programs at some public universities can offer the small classes, personal attention and sense of community of a small, liberal arts college. Many of these schools offer merit scholarships to out of state students, which can bring the cost down considerably. Some schools lock in tuition for four years, so families can plan on relatively stable costs, though room and board will still go up each year.

So when April comes around, and you read about the record low acceptance rates at colleges, don’t panic. As the admissions officers at yesterday’s meeting made clear, there are many great schools that remain accessible and affordable.

Early Application Update

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

A number of colleges have seen record numbers of early applications this year. At some highly selective schools, more early applications resulted in lower admit rates. Stanford’s early action applications were up 6.5 percent to a record 5,929 applications. The admit rate fell from 13.5 percent to 12.7 percent, with 754 students admitted and 500 deferred. Georgetown’s early action applications were up nine percent, with the admit rate falling two percent, from 19.1 to 16.9 percent. Early action applications were up 13 percent at MIT, 18 percent at University of Chicago, and 25 percent at Villanova. Yale held relatively steady, with just four fewer early action applications this year.

Schools that offer the binding early decision plan also saw substantial increases in applications. University of Pennsylvania had an 18 percent increase in early decision applications this year, and the admit rate dropped from 31 to 26 percent. Duke received 13 percent more early decision applications. Northwestern had a whopping 26 percent increase and Vanderbilt’s early decision applications were up more than 30 percent. While these elite schools promise to meet full financial need, even schools that do not guarantee to meet full need, like Brandeis and George Washington, received more early decision applications. But not all early decision schools saw their numbers go up. Brown and Cornell had small decreases in their early decision applications.

There are several likely reasons for the increasing popularity of early admission programs. Early action applicants can have an acceptance before winter break, which lowers stress. Early decision acceptance rates are higher at some colleges, which may fill more than a third of the freshman class early. Students who are hoping to get into the most selective schools feel pressure to apply early, even before they have thoroughly researched colleges, because they don’t want to miss out on the admissions edge they could get by applying early decision. Families see a diploma from an elite school as job insurance, and are often willing to commit to one of these expensive schools. More generous financial aid policies at the most selective schools enable needy students to apply without worrying about comparing financial aid packages. 

There are benefits for colleges too. Admissions officers lock in a healthy percentage of the freshman class and don’t risk losing top students to other colleges. They see students who apply early decision as excited about attending the college and likely to contribute to campus life.

But there are other reasons for the high ED admit rates, including the fact that the early decision applicant pool is stronger. These are the most motivated students, who often have strong transcripts and test scores as well as impressive extracurricular accomplishments. Recruited athletes are also in the early pool, and there may be a good number of legacy applicants, and both of these groups can boost acceptance rates. 

While applying ED can be helpful, it does not guarantee that you will have better prospects for admission. Sometimes it makes more sense to take the SAT or ACT one last time, earn top grades during fall semester and apply regular decision.

Juniors who want to apply early should start preparing now. That includes setting up a standardized testing schedule and earning the best possible grades this year. Winter break is a good time to think about what you want in a college and to research the schools that seem interesting. Once you have a list of schools that you would like to visit, you can plan a college tour for spring break. If you find one school that you love, you will be ready to apply early.

UC Admission Update

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

Officials at this week’s UC Counselor Conference confirmed that after two years of reduced enrollment targets, it will be another tight year for freshman admission. Most UC campuses will have enrollment targets that are similar to last year, but UC Santa Cruz is over-enrolled by about 100 students and will be more selective this year.

Four campuses – Davis, Irvine, Merced and Santa Barbara – will again guarantee admission to students who are Eligible in Local Context (ELC). Students who are in the top four percent of their class will be notified of their ELC status in the next month.

Students who want to try the SAT or ACT again can take the tests as late as December. You only need to send scores to one UC campus and they will be available to other campuses.  

Most UC campuses will use waitlists again this year to manage enrollment, though only Davis and Santa Barbara actually took students from the waitlist last year.

While students who will be applying to enter UC in 2012 (current juniors) won’t be required to submit Subject Test scores, some campuses may recommend Subject Tests for students applying to certain majors. For example, engineering schools are likely to recommend the Math 2 exam.

The average cost of attendance at UC this year is $29,450.  While this is still less than the sticker price of most private colleges, merit scholarships can reduce the difference. Families that can afford it may find that the personal attention at a small college is worth the additional expense, especially for students who thrive in a more nurturing environment.

Gearing Up For Applications

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Summer will be winding down in the next few weeks, and as high school seniors begin their college applications, there are a few things to keep in mind.

More colleges, including Columbia University and University of Michigan, will be using the Common Application this year, making it easier to apply to those schools. This means they are likely to see increases in applications.

A number of colleges received more enrollment deposits than they expected and are likely to to exceed their enrollment goals. It may sound like a good problem for colleges, but not having enough space in classrooms and residence halls is a major headache for everyone, so those schools may be more conservative with admission offers in the next admission cycle. That always makes me more cautious and conservative in assessing a student’s prospects for admission. Check out the latest statistics for your colleges, and make sure to include at least one or two schools that are attainable and affordable.

The 2010-2011 Common Application is now available, so students who want to complete a college application before going back to school can go to www.commonapp.org and get started. Some schools already have their supplements online and others should post them in the next few weeks. Applications for schools that don’t use Common App will be available by early September. 

Make sure you register with all your colleges, so you will be notified of admission events this fall. If you won’t be able to visit a college, attending a local information session is an opportunity to learn more about the school and demonstrate your interest, which is a factor in admission decisions at many colleges.

If you are applying to more than four or five colleges with supplemental essays, it’s especially important to pace yourself. Senior year grades are used for admission decisions at many colleges, and if you are taking the kind of rigorous curriculum that admissions officers like to see, the work will pile up quickly. Once school starts, you will be very glad to have some of your college application work out of the way.

Despite Application Increases, Colleges Worry About Enrolling Enough Students

Monday, May 10th, 2010

I recently sat down with the admissions dean at a liberal arts college who told me that she and many of her colleagues at other schools are worried about the possibility of serious summer melt this year. Summer melt occurs when students who submitted enrollment deposits decide over the summer not to attend the college. This happens because students who are admitted to another college from a waitlist cancel their enrollment at the school where they submitted a deposit. Also contributing to summer melt is the  practice of sending enrollment deposits to more than one college. Despite the fact that double depositing is not allowed and can result in both colleges withdrawing an offer of admission, more families may be doing it, which means colleges will lose additional students who have promised to enroll.

Summer melt lowers a school’s yield (the number of accepted students who enroll) and adds to the challenge of meeting enrollment goals. Too many students result in overcrowded residence halls and classrooms, and too few students mean not enough tuition dollars to meet the college’s expenses. While the most elite schools will easily fill in any gaps by admitting students from their waitlists, less selective schools may have a more difficult time meeting enrollment goals.

Applications were up at many schools this year, but the number of high school students graduating high school and applying to college was not expected to be higher this year. The increase in applications was more likely a result of students worried about the competition for admission and about their ability to pay for college. These students applied to more schools so that they would be sure to have choices and could compare financial aid and scholarship offers.

When students submit more applications, they will need to turn down a lot of admission offers, so that even though a college saw an increase in applications, it can end up with fewer incoming students. The pressure to maintain or improve their yield has led admissions staff to reach out to newly admitted students early and often to get students to make a commitment, and concern about summer melt may lead some schools to look for more ways to keep students emotionally invested in attending the school. At least one college is considering assigning roommates earlier in the summer, probably because getting incoming freshmen feeling more connected would make them less likely to change their minds about attending the college.

A number of colleges are still accepting applications. Admissions deans at these schools hope to fill their remaining slots over the coming weeks with additional freshman and transfer students. For students who were not admitted to any colleges, or who are not happy with their college choices, being able to submit additional applications means they still have options if they want to attend a four-year college this year. As of May 4th, there were 240 four-year colleges still accepting applications for the fall 2010 term. While you won’t see any Ivies on the list, there are many fine schools that have openings. Choices range from small liberal arts colleges like Lewis and Clark to huge public universities such as University of Arizona. While financial aid may be limited at some schools, 239 colleges indicated they do still have financial aid available to students. Housing is available at 236 of the colleges. Some of the schools are open to transfer but not freshman students. The initial deadline for the Space Availability Survey was May 4th, but waitlist activity has started, and as students shift from one college to another, some schools will be added to the list and others will disappear over the summer, so if you are looking for a college to attend this fall, be sure to check the list regularly at http://www.nacacnet.org/PublicationsResources/Research/SpaceAvailabiltySurvey/Pages/SpaceSurveyResults.aspx. Students who are interested in applying should contact colleges directly, as admissions offices will have the most up-to-date information about space availability and application procedures.

Efforts to increase yield and avoid summer melt are likely to continue next year. Some colleges are paying more attention to demonstrated interest as a way to gauge the likelihood that a student will enroll if admitted. If you haven’t visited a college or attended a local information session, and don’t put the effort into preparing an application that communicates a real understanding of what the school has to offer and why you would be a good match, you could find yourself waitlisted at colleges that will accept students who may have less impressive grades and test scores but who seem more likely to enroll.

That doesn’t mean you should feign interest in schools you really don’t care about. Instead, take time to research and choose your colleges carefully, so that you can prepare an authentic application for each school. Rather than applying to 15 or more colleges, limit your applications to those that you really know and are excited about. You will have a less stressful and more satisfying college application process.

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