Application Inflation

Seniors apply to more colleges than in the past


Photo: Aidan Lee

Director of College Counseling Kelly Herrington works in his office. Herrington reported that on average, University Prep students applied to more colleges this year than in previous years.

Many colleges and universities across the United States are reporting a record number of applications this year. Meanwhile, some news outlets have been pushing the story that it is now much harder to get into any college.

Schools such as Colgate University, and others located in U.S. coastal regions, have reported a surge in application rates.

According to Director of College Counseling Kelly Herrington, University Prep students are partially responsible for the spike across the country.

“I’ve been doing this 16 years at UPrep, and the average student [usually] applies to eight to nine schools,” Herrington said. “[This year] I’ve seen, even in our own institution at UPrep, [students applying to] anywhere from 12 to 16 schools. For us, that’s a record number.”

With the surge in college applications across the country, Herrington feels news reports are embellishing the true nature of college admissions.

“My frustration with [news outlets] is that they focus on 10 schools or 15 schools. They’re not telling the whole narrative that’s out there,” Herrington said. “I worry that people pick up the newspaper and they think that college admissions is a bloodsport and nobody gets in when that’s not the case. The vast majority of colleges in this country are going to admit students.”

Colgate University is one of those schools.
According to Inside Higher Ed, Colgate had the largest percentage increase in applications across the United States. The university, however, was more excited than swamped by the prospective students, as the changes made to their admissions process paid off.

I really want [students] to understand, this is not about you. This is about institutional priorities.”

— Kelly Herrington

“Colgate responded very quickly a year ago when schools and college campuses were closing, and we were rapidly able to offer a wide variety of virtual programming for prospective students,” Vice President of Admissions at Colgate University Gary Ross said in an interview with The Puma Press. “We also increased the number of prospective students we were reaching out to early in the college selection process, and we were, and continue to be, more thoughtful about how we engage with them once they have expressed an interest in Colgate.”

However, the application surge has had a profound impact on some. While not all applicants will apply to a school that experienced an application surge, the idea of competition can be unnerving.

“I feel really confident with my college applications, but the idea of increased competition and the reports of unfair rejections really hurts that,” senior Helen Bergstrom said. “At an age where confidence is really hard because we are beginning to grow into who we are, rejection is really hard to deal with.”

Ultimately, Herrington says students shouldn’t take rejections personally.

“At some of these highly selective places, there are so many factors beyond the student’s control, and students don’t always know that,” Herrington said. “I really want [students] to understand, this is not about you.”