College Admissions: Then vs. Now

Parents, you are in for a surprise if you think college admissions is anything like you experienced it.  The whole process has changed.  Colleges are more selective and students are more competitive.  Unsurprisingly, the Internet has led to big changes in the approach.

To fill you in, these are the issues we find ourselves addressing most with the students with whom we work at International College Counselors.

  1. More applications. Students are applying to more schools. While we recommend that students apply to 6-8 well-chosen schools, many decide to apply to 12 or more.  Applying to a larger number of schools likely means students have more options if they aren’t accepted into their top choices.  The Common Application and Coalition Application also allow students to apply to more schools much more easily.  (It was a lot harder to manually type on the given page!)
  2. Social media considerations. College admissions has been greatly affected by social media. The vast majority of schools use some form of social media as a means of recruiting applicants and communicating with them. Students can also use social media to showcase their talents with blogs, video and more.  On the flip side, schools are known to look at an applicant’s online presence as they make their admissions decision, so be aware of this.
  3. Independent college advisors. Many families from all over world hire independent college advisors. Families realize that to eliminate family stress, and to navigate the confusing process, an advisor is essential. Students have been using private college advisors to help choose colleges, review essays and applications, give advice on interviews, refine extracurricular activities and more. Students should seek the services of an independent college advisor like those of International College Counselors.
  4. Fast track degree options. Many colleges now offer combined programs where students can earn a Bachelor’s degree, and then proceed directly into another program like a Master’s or Doctor of Medicine without an additional application. Instead of applying separately to medical school or a Master’s program, a student would apply directly for the accelerated degree sequence in high school. Students may be required to submit additional essays or letters of recommendation, or go on a separate interview as part of this process.
  5. Declaring a major. Several colleges require students to declare a major or apply to a specific undergraduate division on the college application. Some students may find this a beneficial way to distinguish themselves, while others may find this daunting if they don’t know what they want to study.
  6. SAT / ACT (and other standardized test) seriousness. SAT / ACT review classes and private tutoring sessions are much better attended than in decades before. Many new test prep strategies and products exist to help students increase their scores.
  7. Information flooding. It has been said that there is almost too much information available for current applicants and their families. Students can learn about schools in hundreds of ways from websites and student reviews to virtual college fairs and numerous rankings from different sources that all give weight to different criteria. Students can also discover many schools they may never have known about back in the days of the 10-pound college guidebook, the primary (and in some cases only) college search resource of the “old days.”

It may not be as easy as before, but it’s not impossible to navigate.  For help with college planning for your middle or high school student, contact an expert college advisor at International College Counselors, http://www.internationalcollegecounselors.com or call 954 414-9986. The expert college counselors at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their families successfully navigate the college application process.