The Forgotten Element Of Success In Admissions

We know that High School GPAs, A Challenging High School Curriculum, Standardized Test Scores, Focused Extra-Curricular Activity, and The College Essay are the key ingredients for acceptance to your top choice schools.

But here is a dirty little secret and the forgotten element of success in admissions that should be kept in mind. Ability and Willingness to PAY for a portion of your Cost of Attendance (COA) can be a key factor. This would run counter to many school’s claim that they are Need Blind. Colleges want to know that you are able and willing to pay the Gap between COA and the grants that you may receive.

This is a business decision and Enrollment Management has become big business. Did you ever wonder while the kid down the street was accepted at a top school and you, with an identical academic record was not. Yes, it could be a brilliant essay on his application, a great interview, and demonstrated interest in the specific school. However, in many cases it may merely be the ability and willingness to bring in cash as part of your tuition. A school wants to balance its incoming class between talent and cash. This came to be when schools began having financial difficulties and realized that they needed to bring in enough funds to hit an average per student.

So, say we have an institution where generous grants are offered to numerous students. This must be offset by additional applicants who may not be quite as strong, but will bring in enough funds, so that the average out of pocket cost of all incoming Freshmen equals a pre-determined number the school wants and needs.

Think of a grid with the academic achievement on the Y-Axis and the Family’s ability to full pay on the x-axis. The box at the top left is for students who have the qualifications for the school and the means to pay for it out of pocket. Those individuals “are in”. Now think of the far right box. These are students who the school wants in their incoming class, but have full need to receive 100% of the COA. This student will probably be accepted also. And receive a “full ride”.

But the lines get much murkier as we drift towards the center of the grid. This is where a student who may be less qualified is taken over by a student that is more qualified because he is more able to pay for part of or all of his Cost of Attendance. That is the forgotten element of success in admissions.

It may not sound fair, but it definitely takes place.