Students across the country are applying to more and more colleges annually, and Carmel High is no exception. According to a survey of 120 of this year’s seniors, the average number of colleges applied to was 7.51. However, about 21 percent of those surveyed applied to more than 10.
“When they release their admit or denial letters, the trend seems to be that every single college had the highest number of applications in the history of their admissions cycle,” senior counselor Darren Johnston explains. “Therefore, admit percentages are dropping. [This year’s seniors], I believe, applied to more colleges than any other class I’ve seen.”
For the seniors, this means more time spent poring over applications, but they say they are doing it to give themselves more options later.
“I think Carmel High kids apply to a large range of schools because they don’t really know where they want to attend, so they just go by name brand,” Johnston speculates. “They throw their hat in the ring of a dozen universities because they haven’t visited the schools, and they don’t know what they’re looking for. They’re trying to play the percentages game.”
Senior Tyler Hlasny, who applied to approximately 25 colleges, explains his decision with exactly those reasons.
“While they are mostly based on qualifications, a lot of them are just a crap shoot,” he says, “so I applied to a lot of reach schools just to see where I could get in.”
Hlasny, who intends to be a business major, is still deciding between NYU, Fordham University, Northeastern University and Boston College.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, senior Kyra Burns knew exactly what she wanted and only applied to two schools.
“It didn’t really make me nervous because I knew there was nowhere else I wanted to go besides UCLA,” Burns says. “I did a summer dance intensive at UCLA, and after that week of living and dancing there I knew I had to go there and would do whatever it took to go there.”
Things also fell into place for senior Emma Hewett, who got into all four of the schools to which she applied.
“From the beginning, because of my GPA and test scores, I thought I was in trouble,” she recalls. “So when I got into all of my schools. I was extremely pleasantly surprised.”
Hewett will be attending Seattle Pacific University to major in music therapy.
Even if college admissions work in an applicant’s favor, making a decision is still far from easy. Senior Jake Rainey plans to take a gap year to do Rotary Youth Exchange in Paris.
“The complicated part is that I have to commit to a college before I leave for Paris,” Rainey explains, “which, in the long run, may suck because, after being in such an amazing place, my aspirations and needs may change drastically!” Rainey is still deciding between three schools.
Conversely, senior Brittany File made her decision a long time ago. EmoryUniversity recruited her to play softball before she even sent in an application. Emory admitted her regardless of softball, though, so as File says, “I could play one year of softball and decide I don’t like it, and they can’t do anything about it.”
“In terms of what happened this year, by and large, this was a really successful year,” Johnston says. “This might have been one of the most successful years we’ve had.”
With nine admissions to Ivy Leagues, and 45 admissions to the top-25 schools, the class as a whole has certainly done well. But as Johnston adds, “It just depends on who you talk to.”
For senior Carli Hambley, who got into four of her ten schools, things didn’t go quite as she had hoped they would. Though she didn’t make it into the Ivy Leagues, she was waitlisted at Cornell and Duke.
Though waitlists can be frustrating, as an applicant must put in a non-refundable deposit at another school while waiting to see if she will be accepted off the waitlist, Johnston calls being waitlisted “a legit honor” and says that an increase in waitlistings is also a result of the higher number of applications.
“When I first heard back, I was really upset,” Hambley comments, “but then I realized this is a better thing.”
She is planning to attend U.C. Davis and major in environmental engineering, and she says she’s happy, particularly because private schools are so expensive.
“I want to take jobs because I love what I’m doing, and not have to worry about paying a monthly bill towards debt,” Hambley says.
Like everything in life, college admissions often don’t quite go as planned. But as Johnston tells students, “Understand that it’s much less about the name brand and much more about the fit and the program placement.”