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Friday, July 7, 2017

Dear Mr. Bradshaw,

I am putting together a list of colleges to apply to this fall and I have heard that I should consider a few backup schools in the event that I do not get admitted to one of my top choices. So far, I have 20 top tier colleges on my list, but I plan to pare that down to 10 or 12. Nearly all of them rank at or near the top in the college rankings. My guidance counselor tells me that even second-tier colleges are becoming more selective and she suggested that I take this into consideration when I select my backup schools. I would like to hear your thoughts.

Signed, High school senior

Think broadly about college choices



Dear High school senior

Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and the other Ivy League colleges are considered first-tier schools and are very difficult to gain admission to even with an outstanding academic record. Admission rates range from 5.2 percent at Harvard to 10.4 percent at Dartmouth.

Many students do fail to realize that second-tier colleges can be as admissions-competitive as first tier schools and that each year the gap in admissions percentages is narrowing. Northwestern and Georgetown are generally considered second-tier colleges with admission rates of 9 percent and 15 percent, respectively, but many students who apply to these schools as backups are rejected even though they have records similar to those of students admitted to the Ivy League. With the huge increase in outstanding international applicants at top colleges, second-tier colleges are now considered "the new Ivies."

Most estimates are that 30 to 40 universities like Northwestern and Georgetown actually benefit by admitting students turned down from schools like Harvard and Princeton because the academic records of these students have helped them climb in the overall rankings.

Students are often shocked when they are rejected or put on the waitlist by a second-tier college. Students who may not get admitted to Northwestern, Notre Dame, NYU, Washington University in St. Louis, Rice, Emory or Georgetown are grateful that they picked backup colleges where admission is all but assured.

While the number of students graduating from high school has been decreasing in recent years, more high achieving students continue to be interested in applying to top universities because of the career advantages they bring with a diploma. And, these students are also applying to more second tier colleges than in the past hedging their bets due to the uncertainty of admission.

Listen to your high school counselor and think more broadly about your choices in the college application process.

Gerald Bradshaw is an international college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting in Crown Point.
Tags: Colleges and Universities High Schools

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