My cousin Adele returns to regale you with more words of wisdom about life, the universe, and everything. And yes, even the kitchen sink. In other words, she’s not afraid to give you her Two Cents and tell you what’s what. After all, she’s my cousin and quite adept at spinning a web or two herself. So read on!
It’s Springtime! Easter for me, Pesach for my cousin, Monica, and panic time for thousands of high school seniors! I recently read some alarming stats re: college admission rates and that prompted me to write this piece today.
95%. Ninety. Five. Percent. That’s 100% minus 5. That’s the staggering percentage of applicants for admission recently rejected by Stanford University. That means that of the more than 42,000 applicants, just over 2,000 were offered The Golden Ticket.
I have a better chance of reproducing cold fusion in my bath tub or learning Latin in a weekend.
When did being admitted to a top college become a near impossibility and why are so many schools eagerly jumping on the exclusionary bandwagon? Not so long ago, the acceptance rate at top schools was closer to 20%. But as those rates started heading toward the single digits, students (and their parents) started heading for the panic button.
Back in the day (Class of 19None-of-Your-Business), I was fortunate enough to attend one of these picky picky picky institutions (I don’t want to name names, but it rhymes with Schmarvard). And just because I’m a Latina, I don’t want you to think I only got in as some politically correct, affirmative action freebie, because I’ll have you know that I got in the old fashioned way: I slept with the Dean of Admissions. (Hey, don’t judge – she was no picnic!)
Sure, I had all the usual qualifiers – grades, sports, orchestra, musicals etc. But today that wouldn’t even get me a space on the waitlist for Jiffy Lube Junior College. Apparently current applicants need a 12.9 GPA, a handful of Olympic medals, and it helps if they’ve cured cancer and solved the crisis in the Middle East. All by sophomore year.
But there’s a downside to being surrounded by students who have aced every exam since the Early Pregnancy Test. I know how it feels to think that in the world of overachievers, I’m the one bringing down the curve. After all, during my undergraduate years in the Holy Land of the Pink Polo Shirt, my classmates included the students who have gone on to become the richest man on the planet, the foremost cellist in the world, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the executive editor of the New York Times and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. See what I mean?
Thankfully my children are years past this adolescent crucible and each went to excellent schools that suited their different personalities and passions. But I worry about the students (and their parents) who believe that not being admitted to a top tier school is a crushing personal failure and sure fire résumé killer. As if their fate is sealed by age 17 and they are now doomed to a career asking “Do you want Biggie Fries with that order?” (And yes, yes I would!)
Listen, I knew plenty of classmates who were unhappy and unsuccessful within the Ivy covered walls. I also know that the most brilliant and accomplished person I’ve ever worked with went to a local college and law school (night school, no less!).
So lighten up, you Super Stressed applicants, there are so many different ways and places to succeed. And open up, you Oh So Exclusive schools, there are kids out there with so much to contribute that doesn’t show up on a standardized test.
Do you remember what your college application experience was like? Did you wind up at the right school for you?