Recently, I saw an article about why colleges deny applicants. Hoping to gain additional insight, I read the article. Turns out that I already possessed all the information presented there. It dawned on me that most families and high school students do not have this information, so this is the short version along with a story to help it make sense.
I hope that any applicant would expect a rejection letter after applying to a college if their GPA was a full point below that of the applicants typically accepted at the institution in question. The same holds true for colleges that require test scores. Grades and test scores are fairly black and white but there is more to the application than numbers. The essay and/or personal statement have risen in importance over the years. If you cannot express yourself effectively in the written word, the essay can work against you. There are many places on an application that might be left blank or could trip up the unsuspecting student but the chief reason that colleges reject applicants is that they simply run out of room.
Consider that when I was a student at Texas A&M; the Dairy Science Department shrank down to only 16 full-time majors. Eventually, Dairy Science was discontinued. At the same time, the University of Florida was experiencing a similar problem with their Poultry Science Department. These two universities made an agreement to accept each other’s students from the majors that were being discontinued. About now you are thinking, what does that have to do with getting a rejection letter? You can bet that the years leading up to eliminating those majors at A&M and the University of Florida that every qualified applicant requesting those majors got accepted. But popular majors can fill quickly. As each department accepts it maximum number of students, similar majors and their departments are also filled and eventually the university has all the students it can accept into their freshman class. To all the late-comers and many seeking the most competitive majors, there is only the wait list or a rejection letter.
My hope is that you have gained a bit of perspective about the college application process. Consider the position of the college when making your list, deciding when to apply, selecting your major and the amount of work you put into submitting the best application possible.