Tuesday, March 31, 2009

College admissions: waiting lists

Today is the day when the most highly selective (i.e. lowest percentage of admits) colleges will inform students who they have decided to admit in their regular admissions cycle. (The Ivies are due to announce at 5PM Eastern time, Stanford and some others tomorrow...most less selective colleges and universities have already announced...).

The prospects for college admissions this year sound a little confusing, at least in the NY Times: I'll start with a longish quote that gives the gist of their analysis, and then follow with some comments of my own.

For Top Colleges, Economy Has Not Reduced Interest (or Made Getting in Easier)
"Representatives of Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown, among other highly selective institutions, said in telephone and e-mail exchanges in recent days that applications for the Class of 2013 had jumped sharply when compared to the previous year’s class. As a result, the percentage of applicants who will receive good news from the eight colleges of the Ivy League (and a few other top schools that send out decision letters this week) is expected to hover at – or near – record lows.
"Bill Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard since 1986, said that the 29,112 applications Harvard received this year represented an all-time high, and a 6-percentage point increase from last year. He said the percentage of applicants admitted would be 7 percent, down from 8 percent a year ago. Dartmouth said that the 18,130 applications it received was the most in its history, too, and that the 12 percent admitted would be its lowest.
"Stanford said that the 30,350 applications it received represented a 20 percent increase, and that while it estimated a 7.5-percent admission rate, which would be its lowest, it declined to specify a final figure until later in the week.
"Yale, Brown, Columbia, Cornell and Princeton declined to release their final admission rates in advance of sending out most of their decision letters via e-mail at 5 p.m. eastern time on Tuesday. But Brown said it had received 21 percent more applications, overall, compared to a year ago; Yale was up 14 percent; Columbia was up 13 percent and Cornell was up 3 percent. Princeton said that, as of January, it had tallied a 2 percent increase in applications, but anticipated the pool had gotten even larger since then. At the University of Pennsylvania, the number of applications increased by 4 — to 22,939, from 22,935.
"However, applications to highly selective colleges were not up universally. Many of the best-known liberal arts colleges had fewer applications this year."

The reduced applications to liberal arts colleges are probably good news for the high school seniors who made those applications. But it is much less clear that the increased numbers of applications to selective universities will be such good news for those universities (or quite such bad news as the story anticipates for their applicants). In particular, while there may be record numbers of high school graduates this year, it seems likely that they are also applying to more universities than they have in the past.

This may be recession related, as people look for more competing financial aid offers. But it may also just be everyone's reaction to being told by their high school guidance counsellor that this year may be unusually competitive, so that no one can count on getting in at the schools they traditionally expected to go to. That is, if everyone else is applying to more universities, and if additionally, in reaction, universities are going to admit a smaller percentage of applicants, then a rational response is to apply to more schools yourself.

But if this is the case, and if universities' preferences are correlated (as they must be, since they all like high grades and exam scores), then many universities will be admitting the same applicants. Since applicants can accept only one offer of admission, this may mean that the percentage of admitted students who accept their offers ("yield") will be unusually low for many elite universities. (Maybe not for Harvard.)

If that is the case, there should be an unusual number of admits from wait lists this year. Universities have likely prepared for this by putting lots of students on their wait lists. But still, there should be some movement on those lists this year.

So, if you are a high school senior on a wait list, stay cool.

59 comments:

DRDR said...

Al - a huge part of the story here has to be fewer students willing to apply to places that still have "early decision" admissions, which involve giving up your right to receive competing financial aid offers in the regular admissions cycle. This means a lot of students who normally would complete one application are now completing several. So I'm more inclined to believe your "people look for more competing financial aid offers" hypothesis than your "high school guidance counselor" hypothesis.

DRDR said...

Hmmm... actually NYT says early decision applications were up this year, so that poses a challenge for the hypothesis of the previous post.

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Trying to get on waiting lists is a nerve wracking experience. Your best bet is to apply to at least 20 colleges you like to make sure you get in to several places on the list.

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Essay said...

There's another thing you got to do, use the internet or the college prospectus to study about the college you are applying to and the course you want to study. Then, You must mention in your abilities as to why you chose the college you are applying to.

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The College admissions waiting lists are those which so many students do depend on I think that the given information is really good to have for knowledge and it makes it good knowledge to gate.

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There's another thing you got to do, use the internet or the college prospectus to study about the college you are applying to and the course you want to study. Then, You must mention in your abilities as to why you chose the college you are applying to.

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Students now a days has good knowledge about the college and university because they know about which college is better to take them a head in there future but the College admissions waiting lists, is some thing that makes so many students disappoint.omed

Traduceri said...

It may be due to financial aid offers that there are so many applications...let's not forget that too

Anonymous said...

I'd personally apply to at least 10 colleges to make sure I get in to several places on the list. sex cam

Fire Sprinklers said...

I remember having to wait to find out if i had been accepted at Uni, got in eventually :)

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UK Commercial Insurance said...

It gets so obnoxious for student got admission but still in waiting list. Waiting list system should be closed.

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free auto insurance quotes said...

You would not expect them to be any different at any conditions. It is all about demand and supply. When the times are tougher it only highlight the importance of good education.

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Now a days for each graduation competition will happen each day.. its very difficult to get good college sheets. really your message will help & aware of join the college & waiting list.

online rn to bsn said...

Thanks for this great information. It is tough to be patient when you are on a waiting list. Nice to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

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That is the problem with waiting, you don't know how long it will be, so you need to just keep at it.

Sunburn Treatment said...

I hated waiting to find out whether or not I was going to get accepted to the college of my choice. It's never happened to me but I can only imagine how it would feel like to be put on a waiting list.

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I remember when I was on a waiting list. It scared me, but ended up turning out alright. Don't be discouraged if you get put on a waiting list..nothing a few diligent phone calls won't fix.

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I personally think college is overrated and a waste of time and money...but that's a whole separate article altogether.
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Steve said...

I hate waiting lists, it is just a nicer way of saying that "we thought about you, but you are not getting in."

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I wouldn't think it would make it any easier of affordable. People believe they need college when this is not necessarily true. health insurance maryland | roofing pennsylvania

Anonymous said...

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kevin Arnold said...

They should use new technology based signed up process to speed up College admissions: waiting lists.

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I wait a bit to see if I got a place, that place home. and so I did not have a lodging. difficult this year with accommodation.

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juliawells said...

well Think about it. The anticipated return on admissions offers in the regular decision process is relatively low given the fact that those students are likely to have compelling offers from other schools as well. It's not uncommon for a selective institution to admit four or five regular decision candidates in order to enroll one.
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Anonymous said...

I think calling is the best way to try and move things along. Thats what I did before getting my degree in web design philadelphia first

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there are even colleges scamming people these days. Charging them for sallie mae loans and the kids never get to go to school. horrible!

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these scams are out of control someone needs to do something

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funny and interesting interview. I really liked your article.. very informative... Keep going on nice blog.

Estetik diş doktoru said...

I hate waiting lists, it is just a nicer way of saying that "we thought about you, but you are not getting in."

juliangreenfield said...

Waiting for the results is one difficult thing to do particularly when you know you are among millions of applicants.

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Everyone dreams of going to Harvard but the other institutions are also equally good.

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Sometimes waiting is not really good. It takes a lot of patience and you need to find way to calm yourself. But if knowing if you pass to one of the best schools in the world then it's worth the wait.

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