Getting Into College

Why is the competition for admission so fierce?


A college degree is no longer seen as a luxury reserved mainly for the rich and well-connected. The increasingly tight job market has made higher education a virtual prerequisite for career advancement, while sharpening the competition for admission to top-ranked colleges. At the same time, the declining number of traditional applicants has forced colleges to recruit older students and students from overseas, as well as members of underrepresented minority groups. With tuition and related expenses rising faster than the overall inflation rate, attending college often stretches the financial reserves of even middle-class families to the limit. But now many institutions are offering honors programs, merit scholarships and tuition discounts to high-achieving applicants to improve the schools' academic reputations.

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