For most, college has become a major source of stress. The funny thing is that the people most stressed out are those who aren’t even in college yet. As the years go on, the college admissions process becomes more and more competitive, inciting jealousy, tension and mass amounts of anxiety between applicants. The stress from the already, in my opinion, highly flawed college admissions process is only added to when other members of your class are factored in. There needs to be more done to reduce the animosity between students when it comes to college admissions.
As the college admissions process has become more rigorous and selective due to online applications making the process easier, students have begun applying to more schools than in the past. The prevalence of safety schools, colleges that students perceive as a school that they will not have trouble getting into and is essentially a backup option for colleges that they are not accepted to, has increased as a result. However, it is important to remember that what each student defines as a safety school changes for each individual.
All too often, people’s safety schools are other people’s top choice colleges. Many times, getting into a safety school takes away a spot for a student who does not have as great of a chance of getting in but determines that it is a school they really want to go to. While I understand that in this day and age, it is important to apply to many colleges and examine all of your options, I think there are better ways to go about it. I think you should be able to envision yourself attending the colleges on your list; otherwise, you are taking spots away from people who genuinely want to go there just so you can pad your acceptances and have multiple options as a last resort.
Many people forget that the ones benefiting from kids applying to multiple schools are the schools themselves. According to Edmit, an organization dedicated to making college more affordable, the average college application fee is $43. According to U.S. News & World Report, the average number of students who applied to each of the 10 most applied to universities in 2020 was 84,865. After a little math, the average amount that each of the top 10 schools made off of applications in 2020 was over $3.5 million. The narrative that people need to be applying to a lot of schools only hurts applicants and helps these colleges, especially when you look at how much money they make off of application fees every year.
Additionally, the automatic admittance of students in the top six to 10 percent of their class to top Texas schools can often cause tension. It is also worth noting that those students in the top six to 10 percent still have to apply to these schools. Yes, they automatically get in but only if they apply. Is it really worth applying to if you don’t see yourself there? I highly applaud those students that do rank in the top of the class and I appreciate the amount of work that is required to get there, but I also think that there could be a little more consideration as to whether or not they would actually go there. After all, being in the top six to 10 percent automatically means you have a better chance of getting in anywhere than those not included in that range because your grades are already that much better, making your grade point average higher, and therefore increasing the likelihood of acceptance.
A major way to reduce the animosity and disappointment that comes alongside the admissions process is to be aware of when you talk about it and who might be listening. Already this year, I myself have been upset by people bragging about the schools they have gotten into. Whether it was a quick conversation in the halls or a friend telling me about places a classmate has already gotten into. It doesn’t feel good to hear about people being accepted into schools that you feel less confident about, especially when these schools are considered safety schools for many who have already gotten in. I think being more cognizant of others is a big deal when talking about admissions.
I urge everyone to be mindful of how someone else might react to the news of you getting into a certain school before you make the decision to tell them. There is a good chance that it is just going to stress them out more or even make them upset.
Once you begin discussing college your junior year with your college guidance counselor, one of the first things they recommend is not telling many people about where you are applying. Lately, this piece of advice seems to have gone out the window. The lists of places that people are applying to have practically become common knowledge as it seems that everyone feels the need to discuss it. One of the most classic tales is the one where a student tells their friends that they are applying to a certain college and that they really like it. Next, the friends start looking at the college and begin to like it as well. In the end, the ones who get in are the friends and not the person who originally wanted to go there. In reality, keeping your application list close to your chest is the best move, especially if you are really interested in attending many of the colleges on that list. After all, you may make your friends feel pressured to apply to a college because they hear that many other people are applying to that college as well, which only sends in another application and lowers your chances of securing a spot. Also, by telling your friends and others about where you are applying, you are setting yourself up to be pressured to disclose whether or not you get accepted. This could become an awkward situation if you get in and your friend doesn’t, or vice versa.
In the end, everyone ends up where they are supposed to be, whether they end up there on their first try or after transferring once or even twice. The college admissions process is stressful for everyone that participates in it, no matter how many schools you are applying to. There are a multitude of ways to make it less stress-inducing for each other, something I hope everyone keeps in mind.