College Application Madness Continues

This year was the first time in almost two decades that the number of students graduating from US high schools did not increase. There are a number of factors affecting that statistic but it comes down to the number of students of graduation age.

There were a few smaller colleges that did not reach their admission goals this season, but the popular education destinations are still turning applicants away by the thousands. In the coming years, we can expect to see the colleges that struggle with attendance goals, consolidate with similar colleges or close their doors altogether. We can also expect to see the most popular colleges continue to accept a small fraction of their applicants.

Much of the annual application frenzy is caused by families buying into the hype that acceptance to the “right” college will set their children up for a successful life. What many families fail to explore is cost. This can stop the trip to college in its tracks and cause the student to begin their education with an attitude of disappoint. Adjusting to college is hard enough when you are excited to be there. Attempting to begin a new chapter in life while sulking about a dream school can spell disaster.

Families need to look under the hood of the colleges they consider. That shiny brand name on the college should not be enough to land them at the top of the list. It boggles my mind when considering the enormity of the investment made for college, that the institutions do not receive intense scrutiny. The best option could well be one of the least expensive choices.

Taking multiple characteristics under consideration helps with making better choices. There have been situations where the dream school on a college list did not offer the student’s intended major. How much thought could have gone into that decision? Other important consideration should be distance from home, the weather, campus culture, supplemental programs and opportunities outside the classroom to learn and grow. Not only will doing more homework result in a better list of colleges, the list will likely not consist of a double-digit number of colleges. If more families will take a sensible approach to college admissions, then sanity can once again enter into the process.

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