The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 7, 1999


Counselor provides update on college admissions

As of May 1, all seniors had to make a final decision about where to attend school next fall. Many people I meet on the street ask about how our seniors did.

The early-decision results in December and January gave the first sense of how the year was going. More CCHS students are applying for early decision each year, reflecting the national trend. Seventy-two students applied early this year while only 50 and 52 students did so in 1995 and 1996. No data was collected in 1997.

Of the 34 percent of this year's senior class that applied early, 56 percent were accepted, which is an excellent number given the intensity of today's competition. While the numbers of students applying early has continued to increase, the rate of acceptance has been relatively stable.

CCHS students are researching colleges earlier and better, which enables them to apply early with a measure of confidence that their decision is appropriate. A word of caution is in order for future seniors, however, because one in four of the respondents to a follow-up study of the Class of '97 graduates who had applied early do not feel that it was a good idea. I would venture that those who have been dissatisfied applied early as a strategy, rather than because they felt they had found the best match.

When students begin their search, counselors suggest thinking in terms of seven applications, a few to "stretch" schools, a few to "realistic" schools, and one or two to "safeties." Forty percent of seniors were able to meet their needs by applying to from two to five schools. Just under a quarter of the seniors applied to from six to eight schools. Fewer than 15 percent of the seniors applied to nine or more colleges.

The following information was collected by the CCHS guidance counselors from seniors just prior to April vacation. One hundred and seventy-eight seniors or approximately 85 percent of the class have applied to and heard from some or all of their colleges. The remaining 32 students are pursuing a variety of courses including applying late to college, entering career-related training programs, joining the military, working, or taking an alternative year before college.

The 803 applications led to 500 admits, 91 wait lists, and 212 rejections. Students are being accepted to three out of five of the colleges to which they applied. The high acceptance rate means that most students have a choice. There is no way to know now how many students got into their first or second choice. However, according to a Class of '98 survey, 78 percent of those seniors reported that their final-choice college had been their first or second choice.

The most competitive colleges remain extremely difficult to get into. The schools one notch down also have gotten much more competitive. Many students who once would have viewed these schools as "realistic" will have to look at them as "stretches." Once one gets below this fiercely competitive group of schools, it becomes a buyer's market. CCHS students are highly valued for their competence and relative ability to pay.

In the future, top students applying to the most competitive schools should begin their searches early enough to make a wise choice about early decision, as that option becomes more significant each year. Students will also have to be more and more careful about determining their "realistic" choice of schools.

Tom Curtin is the Concord-Carlisle High School guidance counselor.

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito