Preparing for College

Bizarro College Admissions

One of the more irrational exercises high school seniors undergo this time of year is trying to figure out why they and some of their peers did or did not get into the colleges to which they applied. Of course, college admissions may well be among the world's most subjective processes. There are no hard and fast rules and each college uses a different set of criteria and has ever-changing needs from year to year. However, over the past several (or more) years, certain patterns have begun to evolve that could be viewed as disturbing, if not bizarre, or technically illegal.

The epicenter of the bizarro college admissions world is the Ivy League. With all but two of the Ivies now sporting single-digit acceptance rates, the competition is ferocious. Again, the hot issue is why some applicants are admitted while others, with seemingly superior qualifications, are denied. First of all, it's clear that these top schools simply don't have enough room to accommodate everyone who is "qualified." Those quotation marks mean that what qualifies an applicant for admission varies from school to school. And then, of course, there's always the ever-popular "institutional priorities" at work, which no one ever really understands. Those are the various key needs from year to year that excite admissions committees: tuba players one year, basketball centers another year, and so on.

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