Should the College Application Process Be Revamped?

Should the College Application Process

 Be Revamped?

This week, U.S. News published a new piece about the college application process, and this time it had nothing to do about school rankings. In this thoughtful opinion piece by college counselor Danny Ruderman, he argues that the entire process of applying to colleges is broken, and something needs to be done about it. We’re dissecting Ruderman’s argument and asking you: do you agree that the college application process is broken? Would his proposed “fixes” improve this process?


college admissions process

The Problems

#1: The process is overwhelming and many students don’t know how to navigate it. Seriously, take a look at the Admissions pages on a few school websites and your head will start to spin! Some want the Common App, some what an application specific to their school. Some require one essay, others require three – and some even require essays specific to your tentative major. You can also expect to find different short answer questions and supplemental forms. If you don’t have anyone coaching you through the process, it can be a clerical nightmare. Plus, you’ll be swamped writing, re-writing, and editing all of this!

#2: Some schools don’t accept the Common App, and many that accept it still have additional requirements. Obviously, our Texas students know this all too well! Common App simplifies the process a bit, but it’s not accepted by every institution. Many that do accept it will require specific, supplemental material. Completing the Common App is a great place to start many applications, but it’s you’ll inevitably need to do more.

#3: Application deadlines are all over the place. Seriously, you might as well just purchase a blank planner solely for the college application process. Colleges ask for different materials to be submitted at different times, and send back their decisions in the same manner. If you’re applying for scholarships, financial aid, honors programs, and so on… well, hopefully organization is one of your strengths.

#4: College admissions counselors have too many applications to sort through. Application rates are steadily increasing, and counselors have more applications to review than ever before. While they do their best to find the most eligible candidates, they’re only human. It’s hard for them to make meaningful decisions when the apps are piling up and the clock is ticking.


college application process

The Proposed Solutions

Standardize the requirements and deadlines across all schools. Basically, reformat the Common App (or create a new one from scratch) that all schools can get behind. Don’t let schools have extra requirements, or limit them to one essay prompt. Make the deadlines a national rule so that every application for every school needs to be submitted at the same time. You definitely won’t miss an application deadline if it’s the same for every school and every student. Plus, high schools could potentially ease up on the work around this critical date, and they may be able to help students prepare more effectively, collectively!

Limit the number of schools that students can apply to 12. If there is a cap on how many schools that students can submit applications to, counselors won’t have to sort through applications from students who don’t have a shred of genuine interest in the school. It’ll also ensure that overachieving seniors don’t run themselves ragged by applying to every school under the sun.


What do you think about the issues Ruderman pointed out and the solutions he suggested? Did he miss anything? What would you change about the college application process if you could?