Every high school student aspires to make it into one of the top colleges like the California Institute of technology, Harvard, Dartmouth, Cornell or Brown. Their career dreams and aspirations are dependent largely on the university they get into. During the last half of the 1900s, the condition of the higher education system was relaxed and far less competitive. Students would chose a college based on factors like location, program cost, courses offered and how difficult the admission process was. Over the last 50 years, the admission process for top institutes across the country has progressively grown complex and highly competitive. The competition is so high that students have started to opt for illegitimate online law courses where you are asked to answer online legal questions as a part of the semester exam.
Why is the competition for admission so fierce?
The level of competition for admission into top rung colleges is quiet fierce. The Ivy League colleges accept less than 10% of applicants. Over the last 5 years, the admission statistics gathered from Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and a few other universities support this fact. Harvard announced that they had accepted fewer than 10% of the total number of students who had applied for the class of 2007. The applicants for the class of 2012 saw only 7.1% of the candidates being accepted by the university. Stanford University reported that it had accepted only 9.5% of the applicants for the class of 2012.
The simple reason behind this brutal competition is the economic concept of demand and supply. The number of high school students graduating every year has steadily gone up since the late 90s and currently the figure stands at 3.2 million high school graduates in the year 2011. The increasing number of high school graduates applying for college every year adds to the competitiveness of the admission process. Social changes have also contributed to the competition issue. A high school diploma was once held to be the minimum requirement for attaining economic success within the society. Today, college education is considered to be the key to prosperity or at least social and financial well being.
What are the options except for Ivy League colleges?
Competition is fierce and tuition fees are substantial. There may be a number of other factors which can prevent you from attending one of the Ivy League colleges. There is no need to be disheartened in case you couldn’t get into one of the top 20 colleges. You have a lot of options to explore as far as a higher education degree is concerned.
The 2 year college – Most people would agree that a 4 year college is not for everyone even though they aspire to get into one. The next best option to top rung 4 year colleges is a 2 year college, technical or business schools. Some career options don’t require a bachelor’s degree to start off with. Some 2 year colleges even offer law courses online and you can earn a certificate by answering online legal questions for the end semester exams.
Vocational training – Some career options don’t require class room educations or degrees to begin with. In place of theoretical knowledge, certain fields require technical and practical knowledge of a subject. Career intensive training courses arm students with the field knowledge they would need to be successful in their respective fields
Community college – This is another 2 year college option, after completing which you can think of transferring to a university for 2 years to complete your bachelor’s degree. You can even choose to join the workforce right after you are done with your two years. Community college is cheaper as far as tuition costs are concerned. There is no competition for admission simply because community colleges operate under an ‘open admission’ policy. Anyone with a high school diploma or a GED can enroll, regardless of SAT scores and prior academic status.
Applying for scholarship: A step-by-step procedure
Scholarships are the best options for both domestic as well as international students when it comes to applying for top of the line colleges. Scholarships cover a large portion of the education cost. It is also quiet prestigious for a student to have earned a scholarship from a highly praised educational institute. Here are a few pointers for your application process:
Apply for only those scholarships that you are eligible for. Check every detail thoroughly before you sit down to write your application. Check requirement details like gender, age, nationality, group restrictions, etc.
When you are writing your application, make sure that the content strikes a balance between both academic as well as personal information. Try aiming for quality, rather than quantity.
Include adequate reason for why you want to study in the particular institute. Marketing your motivations is key to having your application accepted. Take your time and write about your scientific endeavors, field knowledge and research experience.
Prepare your resume with care. List your work experience, educational qualifications, and your GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores (in case you are an international student) in an organized fashion. Draft your resume in such a way that it is easily readable and appropriately detailed at the same time.
Choose your referees carefully. Make sure that they know you and your achievements well enough to have formed a personal opinion of you as an individual.
If you can, include a letter of recommendation with your scholarship application. It can be a letter from your previous employer or your college professor which stresses positively on your academic or practical excellence.
Dos and Don’ts of the application process
Most applications are rejected or cast aside simply because the applicant makes a number of mistakes or forgets to include essential information. Here are a few pointers to help you along the way.
Do make sure that all your referees know you well. In case they don’t, their recommendations won’t add much weightage to your application.
Don’t include every little detail about your personal and academic achievements. Only include those bit of information which are relevant to the context and adds to the strength of the application.
Do stay focused on the subject when you write your application essay. Keep it short and simple. Explain only what your aims and objectives are and how the scholarship will help you achieve them.
Don’t turn your resume in a table full of figures and numbers by listing every academic transcript you ever received. Only include the relevant numbers like SAT scores and your high school graduation grades.
Do remember to double check your completed application and attach copies of all the relevant documents and score sheets before your finally mail the envelope containing the application.
Globalization and the betterment of the basic education system has led to an increase in the demand for higher education. Armed with the appropriate knowledge of the education system and the scholarship application procedure, international as well as domestic students can have their aspirations for a college education fulfilled.
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