Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

College Reject Record Numbers

Now that people have finished mailing in their college acceptances, I felt I could now tell readers that this year colleges rejected a record number of applicants, making this the toughest year to get into an undergraduate program.

Take this passage, highlighting some of the most difficult schools to get into while pointing out three big reasons for the rise in, well, competitiveness:

Dartmouth College had a record 14,176 applications, up 2% from last year. It accepted 2,165, or 15% -- its lowest acceptance rate in history. Harvard University drew a record 22,955 applicants and accepted a record low 9%. At Stanford University, the number of applications rose 7% to 23,956. It accepted 10.3%, down from 10.9% last year.

Several factors are fueling the rise in applications. One is population trends: The number of students graduating from high school has risen each year since the 1995-96 school year, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The U.S. Department of Education predicts that the trend will continue until at least 2013.

Another is the growth in international students. At UNC-Chapel Hill, for instance, recruiters went abroad for the first time this year, making trips to Shanghai and other Asian cities to promote the college. UNC had 736 foreign nationals apply this year, up from 590 last year. The university admitted 167 of them, up from about 125 a year ago.

A third is the growing use of the Common Application, a form that can be completed online and sent to a number of admissions offices far more easily than paper-based applications. More than 300 schools accept it.

So this requires applicants to become "stronger" in their push to get into the best possible schools, but perhaps there are solutions on the side of the universities. Perhaps expanding class sizes (while hiring more faculty) would help solve part of the problem - the richest universities should have little problem expanding their faculty, at least on the economic side of things, while they should be able to avoid "diluting their product" with quality professors from the U.S. and abroad.

Maybe there needs to be a federal or private program to push for the training and education of more professors - it seems like there could be a crunch in the near future, solely based on my perception of supply and demand.

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