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2009 College Admissions Update - What Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors Need to Know

Posted Apr 20 2009 11:37pm

If you are the parent of a high school senior who applied to attend college, the next few weeks will be hectic. The colleges will be hosting visits for newly accepted students and the college financial aid offices will be hearing a record number of appeals. All of this activity culminates on May 1st, the date students must tell the college they will be attending.

The students who did not get accepted to their first choice school have more work to do.

In my post, “Was Your Son Or Daughter Rejected By A Top College?” I suggested strategies and resources to help your child adjust to rejection from a top college. Many more students will be opting for alternatives this year.

If you ask family members who lived during the Great Depression why they did not go to college, most will admit wistfully that there wasn’t any money for college. They went to work to support the family. My Dad and Mom were both in that situation.

Many educators were expecting college applications to drop off this year because of the current financial turmoil. But, that did not happen.

Applicants came out in force.

The plight of the colleges is described in a March 29, 2009 article in the New York Times. Despite the economy, students are applying to top colleges in record numbers. These schools are digging deep to provide financial aid to as many students as possible. But, the sheer numbers of applicants means the percentage of students admitted to each school is smaller than ever.

A few days ago, I was talking with a counselor at our local community college. Our state budget crisis is causing a huge problem for the most prestigious campuses of the University of California. The UCs won’t be able to accommodate all of the eligible freshmen in the Fall. The admissions officers for the UCs will be offering “creative” admissions plans to even more students than before. They are also encouraging students to considered beginning college at a two year school, then transfer in the third year.

The University of California isn’t the only institution of higher learning to be affected. Budget woes are impacting every college and university in the United States. Where they can, colleges are choosing to cut parts of the budget other than financial aid. They are postponing or canceling new construction projects on campus.

But, it is the worst possible time for this financial crunch to happen. Record numbers of children were born between the years of 1988 - 1995. Just look at these birth statistics:

Year        Births           Year of College Graduation

1988 — 3,913,000  - Class of 2010
1989 — 4,021,000 - Class of 2011
1990 — 4,179,000 - Class of 2012
1991 — 4,111,000 - Class of 2013
1992 — 4,084,000 - Class of 2014
1993 — 4,039,000 - Class of 2015
1994 — 3,979,000 - Class of 2016
1995 — 3,892,000 - Class of 2017

Unless you plan to start your own company (like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs), a Bachelors from an accredited university or college is the minimum education required for most decent paying jobs. There is competition to get into “safety schools” these days.

No, I’m not saying not to apply to any of the top schools. Princeton, MIT and Yale are still in business. It’s just that they can only accept 7% or less of the number of applications they receive. You need to find less well known schools that you can happily attend if you don’t make it into your top choices.

Now the need to stand out from the crowd is greater than before.You may have higher than a 4.0 GPA (thanks to AP and Honors classes) and perfect scores on the SAT or ACT.  That’s not enough.

The college counselor I talked to suggested that the summer between Sophomore and Junior years is a great time to get involved as an intern with a company, as a volunteer with an organization or cause that ignites the student’s passion, or

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