Keeping Up With The Times: The Changing College Application Process


Since the late 20th century, the previously simple process of applying to college has slowly transformed itself into a highly complicated business. The “good old method” of applying to only one college and being accepted no longer works.

In the 1970s, the competition of getting into college grew tremendously. There were simply too many students who wished to attend college, but not enough colleges to serve their needs. And now, in the 21st century, there has been an additional change to the college application dynamic. In the post-baby boom era, the overcrowding of students is no longer an issue.

A new problem that has arisen,however, is students’ increased focus toward a select minority of renowned schools. As a result of the invention of the Common Application system, Students now have the ability to apply to multiple schools, without going through the hassle of filling out another college application. The students nowhave the opportunity and time to apply to more “safety” schools and more “reach” schools to increase their chances of admission.

As a result, more applications have been received by the Office of Admissions for many Ivy League Colleges in the past decade. Brown University, for example, saw admission rates decrease from
16% in 2005 to 8.6% in 2014. Another prestigious school, UC Berkeley, had a 9.3% decrease in their rate of admission for the 2014-2015 school year from the previous school year. With the influx of applications from all across the country and globally, the admissions counselors must raise the bar when deciding on whether or not to accept a specific student.

Another major shift that has occurred in the college application process is the increase ininternational students applying to American universities. Over the course of the past 50 years, it has
become increasingly common to meet an international student on campus. About 49% of these students are from China, India and South Korea in 2013, about a 7.3% increase from the previous year. As the world around us has changed and evolved, the college application process continues to adapt. This has, as history shows us, often resulted in both convenience and confusion for high school seniors.


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