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Thu Dec 28, 2017, 12:35 PM

Thirty thousand applicants, one flagship: Inside admissions at U-Md.

Colleges are so much more selective than when I went back when. Further proof that I’d never be able to get into the school I got into now:



Education

Thirty thousand applicants, one flagship: Inside admissions at U-Md.

By Nick Anderson December 26

....
Across the country, major public universities have been inundated by applications in the past decade. The latest available federal data shows the 50 state flagships received 1.3 million applications in 2016, up 79 percent compared with 10 years earlier. The admissions frenzy intensified as the size of entering classes grew at a far slower pace. ... For the University of California at Berkeley, applications for the fall 2016 entering class surpassed 82,000. That total rose 123 percent in a decade. The numbers fed Berkeley’s reputation for being extremely selective. Its admission rate fell 10 points, to 17 percent. ... Berkeley might seem an outlier because it is known around the world as a leader in public higher education. But applications more than doubled at 14 other state flagships during that decade.

{See the details on surge in applications to state flagships}

Rising demand from out-of-state students, foreign and domestic, drives much of the growth. Universities often seek out those students because they pay higher tuition, offsetting erosion in state funding for higher education. But in-state students also are drawn to public schools that offer a prestigious degree at a substantial discount. Those from upper-income households who qualify for little or no financial aid at private colleges often find tuition at their state flagship is a relative bargain, saving as much as $40,000 a year.

The application surge strains admission teams. ... “We are really pressed,” said Philip Ballinger, associate vice provost for enrollment at the University of Washington. In 2006, the university in Seattle received about 16,000 applications, and two-thirds were admitted. Now the applicant pool is about 46,000, and fewer than half of that much larger pool are admitted. Ballinger said UW employs about 60 “readers,” including year-round admissions staff as well as graduate students and retired admissions officers who work part-time in the high season. On average, he said, a good reader can rate an application in about seven to eight minutes.
....

Nick Anderson covers higher education for The Washington Post. He has been a writer and editor at The Post since 2005. Follow @wpnick

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