Students overwhelmed by college chaos apply to more schools than ever

There is a surge in the number of high schoolers applying to colleges this year, driven by concerns over campus antisemitism, changes in testing policies, and the Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling.

Prior to the pandemic, the average student working with college admissions consultant Christopher Rim would apply to 12 schools. This year, 90% of his clients are applying to 20 or more schools.

Rim, the CEO of Command Education, described this increase as unprecedented and likened the application process to a lottery where students are trying to increase their chances by applying to as many schools as possible.

Many students, including one Rim advises, are applying to over 30 schools, each with application fees that add up to nearly $100.

While previously students focused mainly on Ivy League schools, this year they are also applying to “Ivy-plus” schools, which are considered elite institutions just under the traditional Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale. Schools like NYU, Duke, Emory, and Washington University in St. Louis have become particularly popular choices.

With the acceptance rates plummeting at non-Ivy League schools like NYU (from 35% to 8%) and Duke (from 12% to 7%), these institutions are now as competitive as the traditional Ivy League schools, according to Rim.

Some students are even turning down Ivy League acceptances to opt for Ivy-plus schools for various reasons, such as concerns about campus antisemitism.

Meanwhile, recent changes in the college admissions landscape, like schools reinstating standardized testing requirements and the Supreme Court overturning affirmative action, have added more confusion and stress to the application process.

Rim emphasized the heightened stress and uncertainty among applicants, reflecting the current chaotic state of college admissions.

He concluded by noting that colleges benefit from the confusion and mystery surrounding admissions, as it drives up applicant numbers and allows them to maintain their prestige and exclusivity.

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