Building a College Class or Why You Didn’t Get In

University of Alabama

Its almost spring and there are many disappointed college applicants wondering why Perfect College didn’t want them.  Rejection wasn’t about the applicant or the application they turned in: the decision really was all about the college.

Colleges have two goals in building a college class.  They admit students who they believe will choose to attend if admitted and to craft a well-rounded class.  Note that it is a well rounded class, not a class of well-rounded students.

Yield is the term applied to the per cent of admitted students who choose to enroll.  Ivies and Tier One colleges have a yield near 100%. Some colleges have a yield as low as 25%.  The number of admits has risen and yield has declined as students apply to increasing numbers of colleges.  More applications for the same number of seats means more students both denied and admitted to retain a steady yield.

Here’s a look at some factors in building the well-rounded class.


  1. Increased admission of students living abroad
  2. Attracting students from all states or out of state for large state universities
  3. Minorities and under represented groups
  4. Gender.  Most colleges are 60% women so perhaps a guy might have a better chance


  1. Many students from the top of the applicant pool
  2. Students below the top of the applicant pool
  3. Intended major: filling seats in a new or under-subscribed major
  4. Recruiting women in male-dominated majors like engineering and men into nursing or education
  5. The rigor, challenge and academic risk-taking a prospect shows


  1. Legacies-applicants who have relatives who attended
  2. Recruits for music, sports
  3. Talent: concert musicians, published authors, science contestants, chess prodigies, research experience, celebrity kids
  4. Students who have overcome significant hurdles
  5. Applicant who surprised and delighted the reader beyond amazement

Priorities at a college can change from year to year.  No, we don’t know what they are and can’t predict what they will be next year.  Changing your application material or timing may not make any difference to the outcome.

Life is uncertain and this is just one, perhaps the first, roadblock that you will encounter.  Maturity is, in part, being able to live with uncertainty and using it to demonstrate your flexibility.  Grieve for the dis you’ve received and be happy that there are other choices that may prove to be more beneficial and fulfilling.

Let me show you how to maximize your chances of receiving a YES to your college applications. or 610-212-6679.

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