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Are College Applications Getting Out of Control?
Applying to college has never been more challenging. Selective
colleges are receiving more and more applications every year
while only accepting the same amount of students. Other public
and private colleges are facing the difficult task of selecting
among a pool of extremely qualified students who all seem to be
on the same academic level. The rise in applications is due in
part to the increasing population; the growing cultural value
placed on college; and the ease with which students can now
apply to multiple schools simply by clicking one button.
This is why the functionality and sustainability of the entire
college application process needs to be revisited. As it is now,
students can apply to schools they know nothing about, simply
because selecting extra check marks next to the name of
different colleges comes with only a small cost, if any. If this
trend continues, it will be humanly impossible for college
application boards to sift through their thousands of applications
and to use their own personal judgment to determine which
students to admit. Quite simply, the college application process
is an example of the human mind not being able to keep up with
the speed at which technology is increasing.
To make matters worse, many colleges continue to feed into this
process because it allows them to earn money. Colleges will
begin to persuade high school students - even from the time they
are juniors - to send an application their way. Schools will often
send shiny posters, toys, memorabilia, or other materials in an
attempt to make their school seem more fun and welcoming,
when in reality it is a simple attempt to increase the level of
applications received, and thus, to increase name recognition
and revenue.
This is why the decision lies in the hands of the student whether
or not to continue feeding into this process. Students can take
small steps to ensure that colleges are not inundated with
applications to the point that they can no longer make the right
decisions about who to admit. This includes a more careful
selection: only apply to schools in which you know you would
thrive and be happy. Too many students send out applications
simply to see where they can get in. But if you know from day
one that a college doesn’t make a good fit for you, it should not
even be worth applying there. Furthermore, if you have done a
fair amount of research on a top school and find that you are
drastically under-qualified, it is in everyone’s best interest that
you skip applying to that school. It saves you time and money,
and gives more qualified students more of a chance to shine
when their applications are reviewed.
The most important step to take before applying to colleges is to
sit back and truly ask yourself whether you know enough about
the college in general, and whether you believe it will fulfill all
of what you hope to gain from a college experience. Many
students who impetuously decide on a college simply because
they were accepted there find themselves transferring later on
because they were unhappy. This is why it is crucial to put some
serious effort in to the research aspect of college applications:

get to know a school very well before you even consider
applying there, and you will make the process easier on
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