Elite Universities Report an Increase in Applications, Admission Rates Drop

Life has just become a bit more stressful for students hoping to study at elite private universities in the U.S.  Applications are up significantly at elite American universities. Harvard saw a 5% increase to 30,489 applications.  Stanford also saw a 5% increase to 32,022 applications.  Penn, a pioneer in international student admissions, saw an 18% increase to 29,000 applications.

For many applicants, this could be as close as they get to the Ivy League.

In short, the odds have gotten even worse.  How should applicants respond to this shift?  By taking a chance.  Every year, these elite schools are guaranteed a massive pool of applicants with 4.0 GPAs, 2400 SATs, class presidencies,  athletics, band, etc.  What these schools are not guaranteed are truly unique applicants, people who will stretch the thinking of their classmates in college and who will distinguish themselves in whatever arena they find themselves in after college.

Most of you applying to these schools are, in fact, the type of people who will stand out in life.  You do have unique abilities, opinions, and personalities.  Unfortunately, admissions officers cannot read your mind.  They can only read your personal statement.  The personal statement is your one chance to demonstrate those qualities that distinguish you from the 30,000 other model students.  So take a chance and show them them that you are more than just good grades and test scores.

When sitting down to write the statement, don’t feel the need to identify those qualities immediately.  After all, the most memorable qualities reveal themselves through patterns, and you cannot have patterns without a body of work.  So write freely and unabashedly for now, and  leave the editing for later.

“There is no such thing as good writing. There is only good rewriting.” – Justice Louis Brandeis

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