‘There are other good schools rather than Ivy Leagues’
NEW YORK — Getting into the best schools in the U.S. has become two to three times more difficult — literally. Hard numbers show that there’s no exaggeration here.
For international students, it doesn’t mean all bad news. For Ivy League schools, it means it is as tough as it has been to get in.
But for New York University and other good private schools, the doors have been opened wider.
What is more important though is for applicants to make themselves discernable from other students in the eyes of admissions officers.
Take the University of Pennsylvania, for example. The school accepted a generous 47 percent of its applicants back in 1991.
This year? Just 12.3 percent, the lowest level on record.
Brown University took 13.3 percent of applicants in 2008, but the rate dropped to 9.6 percent this year.
Other Ivy Leagues are no exception to this heightened selectivity.
The country’s eight Ivy League schools completed sending out their admissions decisions last month and the numbers show just how picky they were.
Harvard University posted the lowest acceptance rate of all Ivy Leagues, admitting only 5.9 percent, or 2,032, of the 34,302 who applied.
Yale welcomed 6.8 percent, Columbia 7.4 percent, Princeton 7.9 percent and Dartmouth 9.6 percent, all dipping below the 10-percent mark, according to data released by the schools.
“It’s tough and it’s only getting tougher,” says Jason Lee, a college counseling specialist at Recas Academy, a prep academy in New Jersey.
He says there’s a mix of reasons why these elite schools are turning away so many students.
“We’re seeing some schools becoming more selective, but the other big reason is that the number of applicants is simply going up by a lot,” said Lee.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are 3.2 million graduating seniors in the U.S. this year, while the number of international students in the U.S. has increased by 22.3 percent since 2007. Take into account the hundreds of thousands of students applying from overseas and you have a giant pool of candidates.
There’s a ray of hope, however, for international students.
Select private schools, such as New York University, and many public institutions are increasingly admitting more foreign applicants.
“It’s about money. They want students who pay full tuition so they can keep up with their finances,” says Yang Min, head of U.S. Edu Consulting, a California- based college advisory firm.
“This is good news for Korean students because their odds of getting in just went up.” The University of California admitted 43 percent more out-ofstate and international students this year. Other public schools are following in the same path.
“Private schools typically set the trend for public universities in the U.S., so we can expect to see other state schools welcome a higher number of international students,” he said.
Unfortunately, Ivy Leagues aren’t following this trend.
“Ivy Leagues continue to stick to their standards so Korean students shouldn’t expect admissions to get any easier,” says Lee.
In fact, the growing number of international high schools in Korea will only heat up competition among Korean students.
“Harvard only admits two to three students from Korea per year, so that means all those well-qualified applicants will have to compete for a limited number of spots,” he said.
So what should students focus on to stand out? Anything but what Korean parents think.
“Korean parents get too caught up with titles,” says Lee.
“It’s not about what you did, but how you did it. Failure is fine, as long as students effectively communicate what they learned from the process.” Yang says Korean students are all too similar in the eyes of admissions officers.
“Similar grades, activities and other qualifications. The only difference is whether they’re a Lee or Kim,” he said, adding that elite schools are looking for wellrounded students.
“They want super unique individuals that will collectively make up a well-rounded freshman pool,” he said. “Too many people are missing this point.”