Nothing to lose

Nothing to lose

This might not comfort some parents, but I found it heartening. The fact is, admission to many top colleges is, as my teens like to note with admiration, “random!”

National Public Radio shed light on this little-known fact when a reporter tagged along during admissions decision week, as the committee at one of America’s top schools tried to pick 1,000 students from the 8,000 who’d applied. That’s 12 percent.

The bad news? Even valedictorians begin to look run-of-the-mill in this hyper-competitive atmosphere.

The good news? One committee member noted that she was “especially moved by stories of disadvantaged kids who might have few other options. Amherst calls itself need-affirmative — it gives preferential treatment to kids who are first in their family to go to college or poor. The SP-31s, as they’re called in admissions code, face a lower bar, like this kid being presented by Dean Parker, who says he gets ‘an offbeat sort of bohemian sense here. He’s a thinker and a seeker. Still, it will be the SP-31s that will make the difference. Accept with it, wait list without.'”

The entire piece, available here, is worth listening to. It bears out my husband’s observation that our children had nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by throwing their names in the admissions hat.

Inside look at Amherst admissions committee