Myths About Changing College Application Trends Require Further Examination

Lauren Williams's picture

Carl Hudson, who has spent many years in the education industry, has issued comment on a new story detailing changing trends in higher education. Many parents now believe that their children will not get into selective colleges due to increasing competition. They feel that dropping acceptance rates from top schools and more applicants in general makes an acceptance letter harder to come by. However, a new article works to debunk these myths and explain what is really going on in the higher education field.

While schools such as DartmouthVassar, Williams, HamiltonPrinceton, and Amherst actually did see a slight decline in the number of applications for the fall of 2013, other schools are not changing their acceptance rates. Though parents' and students' fears are not totally correct, many individuals still believe that acceptance rates are dropping. However, it is important to note that the number of applicants does not dictate a person's likelihood of acceptance at that institution. Rather, these figures just illustrate changes in the behavioral patterns of high school seniors.

Lately, more students who are not qualified to get into these programs are still applying to competitive schools. This inflates the application number of that particular institution, without actually seriously impacting acceptance rates. This trend may actually make it easier to get into a selective school, though it depends on the actual educational facility in question.

The reason for the inflation is due, in part, to the Common App. This is a single application and essay that is accepted by multiple learning institutions. It was unveiled in 1975 as a pilot program and only had the participation of 15 schools. Now 488 colleges and universities accept it. This includes a wide range of selective schools. In 1998, the Common App became available online, making it even easier to apply to a large number of schools at once.

Figures from the National Association for College Admission Counseling illustrate that between 2010 and 2011, the percentage of students applying to at least three colleges jumped from 77 percent to 79 percent. The number of pupils who applied to at least seven colleges rose from 25 percent to 29 percent. In 2000, only 67 percent of students chose to apply to more than three colleges, while just 12 percent applied to seven or more.

Carl Hudson comments on these findings, stating, "While it's certainly wise for students to make sure that they are applying to a diverse group of schools, a pupil should also send in an application for the right reasons. If an individual is just fearful about getting rejected and does not actually want to go to that school, they are spending time on an application for no real purpose. Students should understand that good schools will always be competitive, but these numbers are not unusually high, as some currently believe."

While highly selective colleges and universities are forced to send out a fair number of rejections, there are 2,000 universities in the U.S. that frequently accept more than 50 percent of those who apply. Carl Hudson encourages individuals to apply to a broad group of schools, and to have confidence that they will get the acceptance they had hoped for.


Carl Hudson is a teacher who focuses on achieving excellence in his career and helping others to do the same. He earned his bachelor of science in applied economics and statistics from Cornell University. Hudson also holds two master's degrees. He utilizes his extensive amount of education as a teacher and administrator in the New York City Public School system.