The College Conversation: Particularly tough times for admissions

March 26, 2011|By Lisa McLaughlin

The effect of the state's fiscal crisis in higher education tore through cyberspace this week, landing painfully into the e-mail inboxes of many hopeful high school seniors. The University of California and California State University decisions were brutal.

Think it's tough to get into UCLA? Cal State Long Beach was even tougher.

It's true. We know of a student who was accepted to UCLA but denied admission at Long Beach.

You will certainly hear more stories like these in the hallways next week and at dinner parties this weekend. Many top students were denied admission, and not just to the premier University of California institutions like Berkeley and Los Angeles, but across the entire California public university system.

Many selective private universities also sent a clear message to applicants. Thousands of students were placed on waiting lists.

And next week, when the Ivy League schools and other top-tier universities send out their offers of admission, we expect far more students will have to wait it out in a state of limbo. Students will be forced to reflect on what they really want, sending in their intent to register at one institution, while waiting to hear from their top choice where they were waitlisted.


These lists are implemented when colleges feel they cannot accurately predict the number of students who will actually accept their admissions invitations. Universities need to provide enough resources to accommodate the new freshman class and be careful not to over-enroll.

So, here is how I am reacting and explaining this new reality to families.

I surprised myself when I told a high school junior that her 4.2 grade point average, full load of IB classes, strong extracurricular involvement and high test scores might not be enough for admission to UC San Diego. It's the truth.

I went even further explaining that now, more than ever, it will be crucial for this student to apply broadly, find many colleges and universities that are the right fit, and keep an open mind by exploring institutions she's never considered or even heard of before. We will be encouraging all of our clients to consider and apply to both public and private out-of-state colleges.

We blasted this quote yesterday in our monthly e-newsletter taken from the UCLA Admissions and Relations with Schools FAQ section for applicants:

Daily Pilot Articles Daily Pilot Articles