• Beth & Tim Manners

Where You Live Can Affect Where You Get In

Updated: Sep 21, 2019

Quartz: “No one state offers its students a leg up on elite admissions nationwide. But being from a place that’s typically underrepresented in the school’s applicant pool can be a big advantage for prospective students.” For example: “Brown accepted 8.5% of all applicants in 2015, the lowest rate in its history. It took that same percentage from California (5,062 applicants), Texas (1,197), and New Jersey (1,620). But 17.1% of both Alaska’s 35 applicants and Mississippi’s 41 got in. So did 20% of the 20 applicants from North Dakota. Of the 23 students who applied from Montana, seven were accepted—a success rate of 30%.”

“Sparsely-populated states aren’t guaranteed big acceptance rates. Brown sent fat envelopes to just 1.5% of 68 applicants from Iowa, and to 5.7% of the 53 from Nebraska. But generally, it appeared to be a major advantage to students if few other people from their home state applied.”

“… Students from California and the Mid-Atlantic region are often overrepresented at elite institutions. New Jersey has less than 3% of the nation’s 15 to 19-year-olds, but contributes roughly 6% of the freshman classes at Caltech, Duke, and Yale, and 12.5% of first-years at Penn. New York is home to 6% of 15 to 19-year-olds nationwide but almost 10% of freshmen at Duke and MIT, and 15% of those at Yale. California, the most-populous state, has 12.5% of 15-19-year-olds but represents 14.2% of first-years at Yale, 18.4% at MIT, and 37.7% at Caltech.”

“But when it comes to admissions … no geographic location can make up for a thoroughly underwhelming application. There are too many qualified candidates. Schools simply don’t admit students who don’t deserve to be there.”


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