What implications do they have on us?

By Claudine Vainrub, Principal of EduPlan

The National Association of College Admission Counseling – NACAC recently published their “2009 State of College Admissions Report”. Although reporting that college admission trends are relatively steady, there are many implications to newfound increased application numbers as well as the impact our economy has had in the industry. Some of the statistics reported include the following:

1-      The average acceptance rate at four-year colleges has declined from 71.3% in 2001 to 66.8%. This means that overall it is getting more competitive to gain admission to four-year colleges. We have suspected this for a while, upon seeing how worthy students sometimes struggle to get accepted at colleges and universities all over the U.S. Reports have come to us that universities which were originally not too competitive admissions-wise, have become more so. We are talking about Florida International University and the University of Central Florida, for example, schools that in the last few years have become more selective in their admissions.

How do we prepare to enhance our chances to gain admissions? #1 and foremost – become a great student while enduring a demanding high school curriculum. Grades are very important in the admissions process. We find that sometimes, schools are not willing to look at a candidate if the grades are not where they expect them to be.

However, just being a good student is not enough – we need to become good in tough courses. The U.S. high school curriculum allows for many elective courses and some students believe this is a license to take easy courses and get by. This bargain does not pay, as taking easy courses will disable these students from becoming outstanding candidates – colleges know what students are thinking, this decision will not go unpunished. Aside from this, the student relinquishes their chance to learn a topic that will provide an important academic base to succeed at college.

2-      60% of high school counselors report an increase in the number of student planning to enroll in public as opposed to private colleges. This also means more competition for students aiming public schools. This posses yet another problem – if public school admissions become more competitive, we need to prepare to be able to fund private schooling. This measure serves the student that might not be able to directly enter a public university or college, but wants to achieve an education.

There are many alternatives to public education, however, not many as affordable. We must be conscious in that a student might not be admitted to a top public school, but yet admitted to a top private school. Do we want to support them in taking advantage of this opportunity? Most surely. However, if the funding is not there, it will be merely impossible between subsidizing high education costs and not having taken this thought process under consideration. Families will benefit from early planning especially in this situation, allowing students to have open doors to various alternatives, as opposed to just one.

Another good alternative, sometimes even great, in the case of an unprepared student who is not accepted into the public school of their choice is Community College. Miami Dade College, for example, provides an outstanding educational opportunity to many not able to subsidize high education costs. Being able to complete an Associate’s Degree at MDC makes transferring to a top school easier. In this way, the student will end up receiving their Bachelor’s from a top public university, at a lower expense for the family.

The new data provides opportunity for thought and analysis of what we expect will happen in the future. We can draw many conclusions, but the one most valuable is: early preparation and planning is invaluable in the college admissions process. With this in mind and at task, the student and family will get closer to all educational goals.

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