The College Admission Condundrum of 2023


Lizzie Graff, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The college admissions process is known for being unpredictable. It is no secret that standards have risen for applicants, and colleges continue to get more selective over the years. 

My experience as a Class of 2027 student was surprising, enlightening, disappointing, and relieving all at once. But, what is the deal with college applications this year? Are there some major differences, or does it just feel more real now that we have applied?

According to Forbes Magazine, this year, early applications have increased while deferral rates are also rising. For example, according to the New York Times, University of Wisconsin-Madison deferred 17,000 of its 45,000 early action applicants, and Clemson University deferred 15,000 of its 26,000 early applicants.

This is no surprise, as many colleges and universities are looking to reduce their yield rate, or the number of students admitted to the school who decide to not attend. By sending deferral letters, universities offer prospective students the chance to rethink their interest in the college and decide whether or not they would like to switch to a binding early decision or improve their application further in order to impress admissions officers. 

Additionally, ChatGPT has thrown a wrench into college admissions. Artificial intelligence. is now capable of writing complex essays based on any prompt, which some students could use unfairly when completing college applications. According to Inside Higher Education, although the essays can be generic and superficial, they are not easily detected as AI created.

Casey Zielke, Adams senior and projected valedictorian, applied to eight schools: Holy Cross, Purdue, Georgia Tech, Duke, Notre Dame, Stanford, University of Texas Austin, and Texas A&M. He received admission to Holy Cross, Purdue, Notre Dame, UT Austin and Texas A&M. 

Zielke commented on the unpredictable and inconsistent admissions process.

 “I was fairly surprised about getting into Notre Dame but not into Georgia Tech as they have similar acceptance rates … I wasn’t too surprised about the decisions from Stanford and Duke though because they are so difficult to get into, especially for engineering, though I did love my Stanford application.”

Diego Cubillo, Adams senior and IB Diploma candidate, also discussed the competitive 2023 admissions after applying to eight schools

“I think [admissions] were definitely more competitive than what I thought they would be. I had the idea that the acceptance rate was what the actual percentage is on google for example, but it is usually lower than that.

This point is completely valid. Although a simple Google search can bring up a result for any school’s acceptance rate, it does not take into consideration many aspects. Some schools average their early and regular decision rates which makes the data skewed depending on which path a student takes.   

Cubillo cited his experience at a recent college visit.

“I was at an admitted students day for Notre Dame and they told us that it was the lowest admission rate in history which was surprising to my knowledge.”

Ultimately, the college process is completely out of our control, and differs significantly for each applicant. It is not always a matter of GPA, test-scores, extracurriculars, and essays. It is often left up to chance. It is important to give yourself a little bit of grace and not beat yourself up over rejections.