Too Many Choices?

by | Jan 7, 2020 | College Admissions, College Planning | 0 comments

College Selection

In a recent opinion piece, “College Choice Overload,” Nicholas Soodik discusses the trend of growing numbers of applications as students throw their hat into every ring they can find.  Citing a Washington Post report from 2016, Soodik reminds us that UCLA became the first school in history to receive 100,000 freshman applications in the Fall of 2016.  Other schools’ application tallies are catching up; last year Duke and Boston University boasted 30,000 and 60,000 applicants, respectively.  Why so many applications?  Demographics would tell us that the number of applicants has not increased significantly–there aren’t proportionately more 18 year olds entering college to account for these burgeoning numbers.  Instead, these applicants are casting their nets wider than ever before.  As Soodik explains, “36 percent of first-time freshmen applied to seven or more colleges in the fall of 2015. Just 10 years earlier, in the fall of 2005, 17 percent of first-time freshmen applied to seven or more institutions.”  Traditionally, students would consider three or four schools (a “reach” school, a “reasonably competitive” school, and a “safety” school).  Currently, students are shopping for more options and, with all of the choices available, they are finding it more and more difficult to narrow their field.  Soodik blames our consumer culture and the ubiquity of the marketplace.  He argues that “contemporary culture’s framing of college as a consumer product” created this consumption trend. He worries that the additional emotional stress and financial burden (most applications average $50 a piece) are taking their toll on students.  Students ultimately need to focus on their best fit rather than worrying about how many schools will accept them.  Narrowing the field of choices ultimately gives the student a greater sense of control and confidence in the decision they eventually make; the student has more time to carefully consider each institution and its programs.  With all of the stress and pressure of their Junior and Senior years, these students do not need to add more applications and more work to an already full plate.Our Amazon Picks

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