Admission Season

ADMISSION SEASON….I happened to be talking to a friend about this the other day, but I still don’t get it:

A generation ago, high school seniors applied to three, four or five colleges. But now students aiming for the most selective universities frequently apply to as many as 10 or 12; a significant number of students, especially in the last three years or so, apply to many, many more, guidance counselors and college admissions officials said.

The main reason for this, guidance counselors and admissions officials say, is a growing anxiety about admissions, stoked by college ranking guides, the news media and, often, parents. Some students are desperate to do anything to get into a brand-name institution ? including applying to many of them.

Aside from the expense and time it takes to fill out all the forms and write all the essays, who writes the recommendation letters for these kids? Do they really have teachers who are willing to write a dozen letters each? Or don’t they do that anymore?

The reason I applied to only three universities during my senior year was because (a) I had a pretty good idea of what I was after ? though I turned out to be completely wrong about that, of course, and (b) one of my choices was a safety school that I knew I’d get into. I just didn’t see the point in applying to a dozen schools, and I still don’t.

And what’s up with top schools being so much more competitive than they used to be? That really does seem to be the case, but why? Are there really that many more kids applying for the same number of slots? Are there a lot more smart kids than there used to be? Or what?