College Admissibility

By Allison Luhrs, College Counselor

It often shocks people to learn that over 80 percent of ranked colleges accept at least half their applicants, according to US News; there’s a tendency in our society to focus on the few institutions that accept only a small sliver of their well-qualified applicants. Our job as college counselors is to help students develop a balanced list of schools that includes some to which they feel confident in their admissibility—and all of which they would be excited to attend following their time at EPS.

Predicting admission is not a precise science. Ranges of selectivity and admission patterns at individual colleges can vary from year to year as applicant pools increase and decrease in size and as colleges modify enrollment targets or admission criteria. Most colleges publish freshman class profiles that provide useful statistics about their applicant and admitted student pools. These profiles often make it possible for a student to compare their test scores and GPA with typical statistical ranges to get a general sense of where their credentials might fall in a college’s applicant pool. Criteria such as legacy status, athletics, demonstrated interest, and special talents can also affect the admissions decision.

When thinking about admissibility, the most important things to keep in mind are that nothing is a sure bet, and that most colleges look at a number of factors when deciding whether to admit a student: grades, test scores, letters of recommendation, essays, and interviews can all play a role, along with other factors such as activities, interests, and geography. Ultimately, colleges are interested in creating a class to meet their institutional needs, not in ranking applicants by merit. Assembling the strongest application possible and applying to a broad range of schools is the best way for a student to make certain they have choices come springtime. Then the real work of deciding where to enroll can begin.