A Brief Trip to the Soapbox

This year, the nation’s most selective colleges got even more competitive.  Is anybody really surprised?  Every year they get more competitive.  And every year around this time, respected media like the New York Times run articles like this one about acceptance rates dropping, applicant numbers rising, and exceptional students failing to gain access to the highly competitive colleges of their dreams.  I’m a college counselor, and it’s gotten to the point I don’t know why I even bother to read these articles because I know exactly what they’re going say–the same thing they said last year and the year before that.  So while I’m on my soapbox, I’ve got a college-related suggestion for kids, parents and media. 

Rejections and rising competition make for sexy news, but it’s not really new news at all.  We know that Harvard and Stanford and Princeton and Yale are ridiculously competitive.  These articles just provide updated numbers, not updated news. 

Students and parents, if you want to put this news to constructive use, use it as a way to remind yourself that failing to gain admission to a school that accepts 9% of the best applicants in the world hardly qualifies as a life failure.   Don’t  abandon your dreams, but don’t restrict your definition of success to being one of the lucky 9%.  It’s just not fair to yourself.   

And for the media, how about giving us something that would surprise people?  Tell us about some highly successful people who went to colleges without an Ivy emblem.  Tell us about some of the hundreds of great colleges that have plenty of space available for B and even C students.  Tell us about the schools that accept 40 or 50 or 70 percent of their applicants and share some stories about the kids who go there.

Those stories might not be as sexy as record numbers of applications and lowering admit rates, but it’s still news that’s fit to print.

And now, I’ll get back off my soapbox.        


  1. says

    Yes! Get back on the soapbox! Those of us at the other 99% of schools in the country agree with you. Thanks for the post.