Out of Control Admissions Hype

The Times article adds, from the CIRP survey, that the proportion of students who applied to 12 or more colleges increased by 50 percent from 2001 to 2005. The article does not go on to note that the 50 percent increase brought the percentage from 1.4 to 2.1. Most of the students who are using such strategies, and who turn up in such articles, are from a relatively elite background, educationally and financially.

Kevin Carey, research and policy manager at the think tank Education Sector, pointed out that the statistic would have been far less intimidating had it been presented instead as a 0.7 percent decline in the number of students who didn’t apply to at least 12 colleges.

“To me that’s a pretty good example of how you see all these stories that really only apply to a small percent,” Carey said. “For the majority, this whole phenomenon means nothing.”

Carey said that acceptance rate at the most elite institutions are down about one percentage point, but that even at those colleges it’s hard to tell if it’s truly more difficult to get in. Because more applicants in that pool are applying to more places, it could just be that there are just more applications, not more applicants. If that is the case, “it’s not harder to get in, it just seems harder,” Carey said. “It’s not that there are many more students going to college. It’s going up a bit.” —David EpsteinOut of Control Admissions Hype (Inside Higher Ed)

A good article that analyzes some of the statistics cited by media reports.

Shouldn’t that be “out-of-control” (with hyphens)?