Wednesday, August 17, 2011

College admission needs strategy

Dear Mr. Bradshaw:

I will be a senior this fall and I am in the process of selecting colleges. I’m in the top five percent of my class, and have scored 750 or higher on each section of the SAT.

I have taken three SAT II Subject Tests and scored 800 on math level 2, 780 in biology and 775 in literature. I know that even with these scores it will be hard to get into the Ivy League or other top colleges. Is there a strategy I should look into that might increase my chances of admission?

Signed: Student

College admission needs strategy

Dear Student: You have accumulated a great academic record, which means you will likely get a foot in the admissions door at a college of your choice.

After that you’ll be compared to all of the top students in the world because nearly 12 percent of all college students studying in America today are international. There will be several hundred applicants with similar grades and test scores and no matter what anyone tells you it is impossible to predict who will get in to the nation’s best colleges with any certainty.

Harvard and the other Ivies often reject applicants with perfect grades and test scores, so you are right in thinking that you need to have a strategy in mind if you want to apply to top schools.

This means that you should spread your bets among several colleges and have a backup school in mind in case you are rejected by all of them. Since you are from Indiana I would suggest Indiana University or Purdue as backups since both are good schools and admit about 75 percent of their in-state applicants.

At the Ivies the admission rate falls drastically to 6.1 percent at Harvard, nine percent at Brown and 10 percent at Columbia University

How do you increase the odds in your favor? I recommend that my clients, instead of applying to colleges only in the Midwest and on the east coast, also apply to a few top colleges on the west coast.

While Stanford and CalTech are as selective as Yale and MIT, they have fewer applicants’ from the Midwest than do the east coast schools. It is important for these schools to have geographical diversity so take advantage of this fact in your planning.

Students from Indiana are welcomed in west coast schools. The University of California at Berkeley and the entire University of California system is in dire financial straits and to help make up the shortfall each year they admit more students who are willing to pay full out-of-state tuition.

So by combining the advantages of applying from out-of-state and paying full tuition you gain a significant advantage.

Discuss this strategy with your parents. Applying to UC Berkeley, UCLA or other top college on the west coast may be your best move.

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