Who’s Looking For You?
The typical question students ask themselves, and the one we ask them as they approach high school graduation, goes something along the lines of “where do you want to go to school?” But when one peels back the curtain on the world of college admissions we realize very quickly that this coin has two sides; schools themselves regularly ask “who do we want at this school?”
University admissions directors work very hard to craft a student population according to some ideal or another. Along with trying to attract academically proficient kids, most institutions also have certain demographic diversity targets. Herein lies our opportunity: find out who’s looking for you.
In this quest for meeting diversity targets directors wield tremendous power to entice the “right” students to fulfill the vision of what a “good” student body looks like. They can often bend basic admissions requirements or use the power of the purse to hook those they want to bring on board. This often explains a number of admissions decision mysteries and why the prices students pay at any given school varies so widely.
Surprising to some, these diversity considerations can benefit almost everyone. Sometimes the breakdown is as simple as trying to keep a balanced male/female ratio. Heads up, males – this is where the otherwise negative trend of declining male enrollments works in your favor. To quote author Andrew Ferguson, who researched this topic in his very insightful and enjoyable book Crazy U, “There are long-term trends for the director to consider. Over the last generation, for example, many more girls have been going to college. It’s not unusual for girl applicants to outnumber boy applicants by three to two. Folklore holds that a sixty-forty ratio in an incoming class represents a kind of point of no return; a school acquires a reputation as a girls’ school… a downward spiral kicks in, or so every college president fears.” (Note that this cuts both ways, with some predominantly male schools offering incentives to females willing to come balance things out).
Other collegiate diversity targets can include world or country region of citizenship, economic status, interests, religion, race, and ethnicity. If you locate a college where you would be a demographic minority in some fashion you may find it worthwhile to probe around for some negotiation room. If you sniff out schools where people like you are underrepresented, you may find yourself in a great position to get a bargain.