The biggest difference I noticed between students applying to college when I did it (back in the dark ages) and when our son did it (a couple of years ago) was a weird game that some students were playing.  It’s a bizarre, ego thing:  apply to “prestigious” colleges and universities with no intention of attending. Keep in mind, that none of these applications are free.  So why do it?  Just to see if they could get in.   The lower the institution’s acceptance rate, the better the gets.  And by implication, the smarter you are.

One of our son’s best friends was one of these kids.  “Sam” had literally ZERO intention of going to at least 20 schools he applied to.  This is mostly due to the fact that even with scholarship money, financially these places were way out of his family’s league.  However, Sam is a really smart, over-achieving kid and was more than willing to basically set a thousand or so dollars on fire to prove to himself that he was worthy of more praise than he was already receiving.

The whole thing was/is bizarre.  What made it even more so was that when I asked Sam about this, he readily admitted the preposterous waste of time, energy, and money this exercise is.  No matter.

He eventually went where he always said he wanted to go, The University of North Carolina.  Sam was waitlisted at a couple of Ivy League Schools, flat out rejected a several other snooty institutions of higher education, and yes, accepted at a few others.  Included among his list was Duke University.

I was reminded of all this today when I saw that Duke was ranked among the most difficult schools to get into as it has one of the lowest acceptance rates of received applications in the country.

According to US News and World Report, “with the lowest acceptance rates among all undergraduate institutions that U.S. News surveyed, regardless of ranking category, the colleges and universities listed here are among the most selective, based on the fall 2021 entering class.”

Curtis Institute of Music (Philadelphia, PA)-2%
California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)-4%
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)-4%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)-4%
Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)-4%
Stanford University (Stanford, CA)-4%
Yale University (New Haven, CT)-5%
Brown University (Providence, RI)-6%
Columbia University (New York, NY)-6%
Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)-6%
Duke University (Durham, NC)-6%


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