Is Getting Into All Eight Ivies A Good Thing?

In short, no.  Receiving acceptance letters from all eight Ivy League schools is precisely what is wrong with the college admissions process.  Our current system, fueled by the Common Application, encourages students to apply to dozens of schools.  Each school, like each college applicant, is so completely unlike each other it is confusing to understand how an applicant would thrive at all of them. 

Let’s start with the size of the student body.  Cornell has over 22,000 students, University of Pennsylvania has over 28,000, and Harvard has a student population that swells to over 35,000 students.  Where as Yale has less than 13,000 students, and Princeton, Brown and Dartmouth all have less than 10,000 students.  

Big, small, and in between. Brown and Yale have campuses that are situated in smaller cities smaller cities.  Cornell, located in Ithaca, has a rural campus. University of Pennsylvania’s campus is in the heart of Philadelphia and
Columbia calls its home the LARGEST metropolitan city in the United States!  

Campus size?  Columbia’s entire campus has 32 acres, while Cornell has a botanical garden that spans 2,800 acres in comparison.  Yes, Cornell’s garden is 87 times bigger than the entire Columbia campus.  

Specialties vary as well.  While the academic prowess of any Ivy League institution is not in question, University of Pennsylvania emphasizes its business expertise, Harvard is the “go to” source for Economics majors and Brown is lauded for its unmatched writing disciplines.   

Why would a student apply to all 8 ivies with each one being so distinct, their offerings so disparate, how could one student thrive at all eight schools?  Unless you answer yes to the following questions, you need not apply to all 8 ivies.  

Are you planning on simultaneously majoring in English, Pre Med, Business and Hospitality? 
Are you politically liberal and conservative?  
Do you love and hate Greek life?  
Are you interested in both a big and small school?  
Are you attracted to a small town college feel and an enormous big city experience?  
Are you both an introvert and an extrovert? 
Do you worry about the environment and think that global warming is a hoax?
Are you a spender and a saver?  

The reason behind anyone applying to such completely diverse schools is the Common Application.  With the click of a button, students can apply to dozens (or more) of schools without ever considering the disparity among their choices.  Quantity is certainly nothing that the Ivy League caters to, and with acceptance rates reported at 5 and 6%, these schools are clearly not throwing caution to the wind and blindly accepting applicants.  Why then would students adopt this lottery style thinking as their college strategy?  The Common App?  I think so.  

Jamie Finch