As you seniors begin the process of applying to college this year, you might want a look at the playing field. You are entering an era of record selectivity in top-tiered colleges, colleges such as Stanford, Yale, Harvard, Middlebury, and Duke. Other colleges with very low admittance percentages this past year are Princeton, the University of Virginia, Columbia, Boston College, and Penn.
Before you freak out, however, it might be wise to stop and consider what is happening. The major reason for high levels of competition is because of more applicants. There has been a bubble in the population of teenagers which will not be over for the next couple of years. Other reasons for more applicants include schools aggressively recruiting applicants, easy online applications, and expanded financial aid from schools such as Dartmouth, Harvard, Swarthmore, and Tufts.
But, nationally the acceptance rate is about 70%, not at all lower than the acceptance rate 20 years ago. What this means is that at the top level schools, competition is cut throat, but because students are applying to several schools at once, they are still getting accepted, raising the quality of the student population at many second level schools. That means at third-tiered schools, there are still many applicants, but the rates of acceptance are averaging out. Throughout this cycle, each level of school is getting better.
So, unless you want to go to the best of the best, your chances for college acceptance are about the same as they have been for twenty years! And, the schools you are getting your acceptance letters from are improving.
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