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 “The craziest and most chaotic admission cycle in memory.

That’s the consensus in regard to the 2023-24 application season. Along with the Supreme Court Ruling banning racially preferential admissions and the botched rollout of the revamped FAFSA, the non-transparency of what colleges are looking for, and how they are reviewing applications, has continued relentlessly down its murky path.

 

Due in large part to tests going optional, applications were up another 6% this year and colleges are continuing to rely on more holistic application review. According to “Who Gets In and Why: A Year Inside College Admissions," and Future U podcaster, author Jeff Selingo, "Nothing is as ambiguous right now as how grades, courses, and test scores are used by colleges in the admissions process. No two colleges follow the exact same routine for evaluating applicants, and no one can adequately explain how the system really works without making an acceptance sound like a winning lottery ticket.” More now than ever a true safety is a guaranteed admission school where the student automatically meets the admission requirements. Schools using holistic criteria are focusing more on building a diverse class (as best they can in despite of recent rulings), playing the numbers game to increase applications and lower yield, and meeting their internal, opaque institutional priorities. The result: it's harder now to identify target schools.

 

So what is an aspiring college student to do?

1)Focus on their strengths, talents and passions and maximize their opportunities in those areas, rather than adding resume builders they think a college wants to see.

AND

 

2)Research the school's previous freshman class demographics and apply to a balanced list of schools, with at least one safety they are happy to attend.

 

There is a college or postsecondary opportunity for everyone, and it’s what a student makes of his or her time there that really counts. I like to remind my students that the school that wants and values them for who they are is where they belong.

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