Halloween may be around the corner, but many students are facing a far more frightening date: the college application deadline. From the unknown to the unexpected, many elements of college admissions can give even the most self-assured student the chills. However, spooky season is the perfect time to uncover the spine-tingling truths about college admissions so that students can face their fears and navigate the process with confidence.
Here are five of the spookiest facts about the college admissions process and ways students can fight their fright this application season:
1. There are nearly 4,000 degree-granting institutions in the U.S.
Do you want to go to a small liberal arts college or a large state school? A rural or urban campus? Do you want to be far away from home or stay close? With so many options, it is easy for students to be overwhelmed by the prospect of narrowing a college list. However, with intentionality, research, and self-reflection, it is possible to craft a balanced college list. For everything you need to know about sorting through the options and finding the right school(s) for you, check out our comprehensive guide!
2. Ivy League acceptance rates are dipping below 5%.
Top colleges often have acceptance rates that resemble ghostly apparitions, hovering at single-digit percentages. Many Ivy League schools have hit historically low acceptance rates, with Harvard’s acceptance rate dipping to 3.41% and Yale’s to 4.35%. In light of these numbers, the looming fear of rejection can be paralyzing for students. It is important to set realistic expectations and prepare for any outcome, especially as the competitive nature of the college admissions landscape means that rejection is a possibility for even the most driven students. However, becoming wrapped up in negative thoughts about the future can have a negative impact on students’ mental health, so it is imperative to remember that college admissions do not define an individual’s worth, and many paths can lead to success.
3. Top schools are receiving more applicants than ever before.
The last few years have also seen sharp increases in the number of applicants, with pools topping tens of thousands of college hopefuls. At the same time, students should keep in mind that many schools have implemented test-optional and test-blind policies, so the swelling applicant pools can be attributed in part to an increased number of under-qualified students choosing to apply.
4. Even if a school is “test-optional,” students tend to fare better if they submit their scores.
The SAT and ACT can be a source of nightmares for many students. The pressure to perform well and the ever-evolving test policies can be a source of stress and anxiety. Many students assume “test-optional” policies at top schools (which have remained in place since the pandemic) relieve them of the burden of test-taking—but this is not necessarily the case. Generally speaking, students who report their scores have better odds of admission, regardless of the school’s submission policy. Students should submit their scores if they fall within or above the 25-75th percentile of test scores earned by admitted students. When it comes to standardized tests, practice makes perfect—beginning the test prep process early and taking the test during the spring of sophomore year will give students the opportunity to assess their progress, become more familiar with the testing format, and work toward their goal score.
5. Over the course of the last two decades, the cost of private college tuition has increased by 132%
The soaring costs of college are a cause for concern for students and parents alike—and the concern is justified. Students who wish to mitigate the cost of a college degree should not only focus on maintaining top grades and using their passions to help their communities, but also being proactive in looking for scholarships and grants.
This Halloween, acknowledge these spooky facts about college admissions—but don’t let them frighten you away from pursuing your dreams. With proper guidance and a fearless attitude, you can conquer the admissions process with confidence. The real terror would be missing out on an opportunity because of fear. Happy Halloween!