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Why is it so hard to get into college today?

Getting into college is becoming more and more competitive - and expensive. Here are five reasons that suggest why competition has increased so dramatically:

1. More international students
International students are applying to U.S. colleges and universities in record numbers. These students are often the best and brightest from around the world and many are willing (and able) to pay full-freight for a U.S. education. Imagine how enticing these candidates are for colleges. They deliver an admissions trifecta: (1) geographic diversity, (2) high-performing students, (3) paying customers.

2. Common Application
Back in the day, high school students thought long and hard about where to apply to college. Each college had its own application, unique essay questions, quirky formatting instructions, and different submission deadlines. Adding one additional school to the target list might add weeks or months of extra work. Students proceeded with caution. With today's Common Application, however, there is no such discipline. With just one click, a student can decide to apply to 17 schools instead of 7 (this is why UCLA now receives > 100K applications). Yes, it does cost money to apply to each additional school, but $50-80 per school usually isn't enough to dissuade a nervous student who's afraid they won't get in anywhere.

3. College Rankings
Ever wonder why your child receives so many marketing letters in the mail from colleges? It's not because they know or care about your child's education. It's because they want to maximize the number of applications their school receives in a given year. Why? Because the more applications they receive, the more students they can reject - which makes them look more "selective". The more selective they are, the higher they climb in the college rankings, the more prestigious they appear, and the more money they can charge. Students today receive "VIP" applications in the mail that are pre-filled-out with their personal information so all they have to do is sign it and send it in.

4. Free access to Standardized Test Prep
Thanks to Khan Academy, world-class test prep for the SAT and ACT is available to anyone, anywhere - for free. Doing well on standardized tests is no longer a competitive advantage reserved for students with access to private SAT tutors, classroom instruction, or parental support. The playing field has been leveled and thus the number of students posting outstanding standardized test scores has increased dramatically.

5. College is the new high school
A four-year degree has become a necessity to survive (and thrive) in today's knowledge-based economy. Technology, automation, and productivity gains have left little opportunity for those without higher-level education. College has become an extension of high school and thus the number of applicants has soared as well.

The early bird gets the worm
This is no reason to panic. It just means students should no longer wait until junior or senior year to begin working on the college admissions process. Preparation needs to start in freshman and sophomore year at the latest. This allows students to build their skills, experiences, and resume well before junior year. Junior year should be reserved exclusively for intense academic study, standardized test-taking, and leadership experiences.

PrepWell Academy was built to address this new imperative. We specialize in early preparation for the college admissions process. It's what we do. If you are looking for this type of guidance for your freshman or sophomore, enroll them in PrepWell Academy today.

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Author: PrepWell Academy's Founder, Phil Black, has spent a lifetime cracking the code on the world's most competitive programs: Yale University, Harvard Business School, Navy SEALs, Goldman Sachs, Entrepreneurship, Shark Tank, etc.

Inside PrepWell Academy, Black teaches students everything they need to know about the college admissions process in a series of expertly-timed, 3-5-minute, weekly training videos starting in 9th grade and continuing through 12th grade [Note: this program can only be joined in 9th or 10th grade]. My specialties include military service academies, ROTC scholarships, Ivy League, and student-athletes.

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