When Applying To College, You Always Need “Back-up” Schools!

Many incoming freshmen’s dreams are crushed when they aren’t accepted to Harvard or a like school and didn’t apply to a back-up school. Don’t let this be you!

Back-up schools are those institutions you apply to with more confidence in getting accepted. These should be the schools that you greatly exceed admissions standards for, receive scholarships from or are maybe closer to home.

The importance of applying to back-up schools is ever increasing and has been especially during the last few years. As college education costs rise and the economy falls, students are reconsidering schools for many reasons, and the “trickle-down effect” is becoming more prominent.

Here’s how it goes: You apply to Harvard, whose current tuition prices are listed at $36,305, and maybe you get it. But maybe you’re out of state, and even though you’re accepted, and may be on scholarship, you still can’t afford it or simply don’t want to leave the state anymore. You trickle down to a back-up school, maybe the University of Michigan for example.

The trickle down effect has occurred.

Now, as more and more students find the trickle down effect becoming their reality many other aspects are altered. The average admission requirements for the “trickle down” schools are raised over time and college tuition prices continue to increase, meaning more students are choosing their back-up schools, and thus the cycle continues.

So back to my point, as all of the previously listed factors are affecting admissions standards and tuition prices, and applicants are being more selective, students may find it more difficult to get into their dream schools.

I know a student from the University of Michigan who became the stereotypical victim of the trickle down effect. He applied to only two schools: Stanford University and University of Michigan. When he wasn’t accepted to Stanford despite exceeding their admission standard averages, he chose U of M as his “back-up” school.

Now I know what you’re thinking, neither of those prestigious universities sound like back-up schools!

You’re right, but that’s the trickle down effect in action.

So here’s what needs to happen: As you apply for colleges, apply to many. You may exceed the admissions averages for some of the top universities in the nation, but you still need back-up schools, and in this day and age, back-ups to your back-ups.

You would rather apply to too many schools and get a mix of acceptances and rejections, than not apply to enough schools and get all rejections, and then be stuck

Now, I’m not trying to make getting accepted to college sound impossible, my apologies. I’m simply trying to make you aware that getting acceptance letters from schools isn’t nearly as easy as it used to be. Average GPAs, standardized test scores and tuition prices have increased over the last 10 years, and especially in the last five years or less.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2009-2010, undergrad tuition, room and board costs rose 37% for public institutions and 25% for private institutions.

To couple that, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the last five years unemployment rates increased 5.6% from its lowest point to its highest point during this time period.

So when considering all of the economic factors as well as students’ personal choices and how it all affects the college admission process and the trickle down effect, it becomes more apparent that applying to back-up schools is a smart safety net.

During the college admissions process, anything can happen.

You could get accepted to all of the schools you applied to, you could get in to your dream school and then decide it’s too expensive or too far from home, or the unfortunate situation could occur where you open a rejection letter from some of your top schools.

In any case, it can never hurt to have a back-up plan. In general back-up plans are needed to get through life, and college is certainly no exception.

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Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying journalism and philosophy of law. Aside from reporting, Madeline enjoys tae kwon do, reading, writing, researching and traveling, and can be considered a music enthusiast. Madeline currently works as an intern for thecollegehelper.com, and is a banquet server at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. Perfecting the storytelling side of reporting is something she looks forward to in her future career as a journalist.
Madeline Fetchiet

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