The college admission process wasn’t nearly as anxiety-producing thirty years ago. Parents who haven’t been through it yet have heard horror stories from friends and relatives, but they don’t understand why things are so different now.
For one thing, more students are applying to college. Thirty years ago, half of high school graduates applied to college, but today more than two thirds submit applications. Back then, those who did apply usually stayed closer to home, often only applying to public universities in their state. Today’s students apply more widely.
They also end up with more debt. The continuing increases in applications at expensive schools suggest that despite, or perhaps because of, an uncertain economy, families still see a college degree, especially from a brand name school, as important for their children and worth the financial sacrifice.