Monday, June 6, 2011
Elite colleges cash in by ‘selling the dream’
BY GERALD M. BRADSHAW
Bradshaw College Consulting
Dear Mr. Bradshaw:
I am completing my junior year in high school and I am receiving dozens of requests from top colleges, asking me to apply. Does this mean I have a good chance to get admitted? I would like to apply to all of them, even though it would be very expensive. Is this a good idea? — High School Student
The deluge of requests that students receive each spring urging them to apply to colleges should be taken with a grain of salt. Typically, students apply to 10 to 12 colleges and, at about $75 or more per application, that adds up quickly.
Before you apply, you need to be realistic and ask yourself this question: Are your grades and test scores good enough for you to qualify for admission?
Harvard and Yale may send letters and other correspondence, but unless your grades and test scores are in alignment with their admissions requirements and statistics, you may not gain admittance.
If your grades and test scores do not measure up, then why spend the application fee money? Soliciting applications is a way for colleges to make money, and they make millions of dollars on the process.
Elite colleges send out thousands of requests for applications and, in most cases, it raises false hopes that they are interested in you. Unless you are a high school valedictorian with almost perfect test scores, the chance of being admitted to a top college is minimal.
Colleges take it as a sign of status that so many students apply, even though it is unlikely most students will get admitted. But they still sell the dream.
Meanwhile, the College Board, which owns the SAT and its competitor, the ACT, is making millions of dollars by selling the information it has gathered on students when they register to take the tests. The College Board says on its website that more than 2 million students in grades nine through 12 take the SAT each year. One report showed that the College Board earned more than $60 million from selling its “enrollment services” to prospective colleges and universities.
For example, Duke University in Durham, N.C., was reported recently to have solicited more than 50,000 students whose names were compiled from their PSAT registration, which also is owned by the College Board.
With Duke’s 13 percent acceptance rate, most of the 30,000 students who apply will be disappointed.
Many parents are not aware that they do not have to give their consent to their son or daughter answering the search service questions while registering for the PSAT.
When it comes time to apply to colleges, doing so guarantees a plethora of materials will come your way.
My advice is to compare your academic qualifications to the students who were admitted to the college soliciting you.
See Are My SAT Scores Good Enough? for an easy comparison and save yourself a lot of application fees in advance.
Below is a list of the 26 universities that have high application fees for incoming college applicants. These application fees are nearly double the national average cost.
Stanford University: $90
Columbia University: $80
Boston University: $75
Brown University: $75
Duke University: $75
Drexel University: $75
George Mason University: $75
Harvard University: $75
Massachusetts Institute of Technology: $75
University of Delaware: $75
University of Pennsylvania: $75
Yale University : $75
Boston College: $70
Carnegie Mellon University: $70
Cornell University: $70