Number of CHS Ivy League applicants doubles

By Rebecca Jackson, News Editor

During one fateful day in March dubbed “Ivy Day,” CHS seniors anxiously chattered in the hallways about who got accepted to which colleges. On that day, eight of the most selective schools in the country sent out their acceptance and rejection letters. Who applied? Well, almost everyone.


During the 2017 college application season, more seniors than ever before applied to top-tier schools.


“I think that every class that graduates from CHS opens up more pressure on future graduates from CHS to keep up,” senior class sponsor Evan Rosenthal said.


Although a smaller class than the 2017 senior class, 2018 seniors applied to more high-ranking schools.


According to Naviance, at CHS there was an increase in transcripts sent to each of the eight Ivy League schools, with Brown University and Columbia University increasing by more than 50 percent.

It is impossible to say which colleges are the “best,” because people apply to schools for specific reasons, one of which may include a simple feeling they get when there. However, competitive CHS students often turn to the ‘Ivies’ if they do not know where they want to go.


According to an Observer survey of 100 students, 57 percent of seniors applied to more than one Ivy League college. In addition, seven percent of students claimed pressure from parents affected their decision and 10 percent of students claimed name recognition affected where they applied to college.


Pressure comes from outside and inside the classroom because legacy (where your parents went to college) can come to your aid when applying to that school. Even if the child does not want to apply, they may be coerced to because of that advantage.


“There are a lot of students that I have spoken to who are applying to schools way out of their range simply because of the name of the school,” Rosenthal said. “At the same time, there are students who are actually uninterested in applying to Stanford or Michigan but feel like they have to keep up with their classmates so they apply anyways.”


Overall, the 21st century high school environment, in which students feel judged for applying to certain colleges, results in more applications and more stress. Although the rise of application websites such as Common Application and Coalition Application has consolidated the application process, writing essays and interviewing with college alumni prove to take up much of an applicant’s time and energy.


“One application can be overwhelming, let alone [more than five to six],” Rosenthal said. “I spoke with a student a while ago about this and when asked whether they would go to their ‘number 12 school,’ the student said ‘absolutely not.’ Why are you applying to a school you wouldn’t go to?”


The college application process is widely-known as being a stressful burden, but applying to more than five to six schools can mean more than 20 essays to write in addition to filling out forms.


“I applied to 17 schools, while I knew Stanford was a huge long shot,” said Stanford-accepted senior Emily Stein. “I spent about 200 hours just on the Stanford application. I would go to my moms office in DC every day from 3:15-10 or 11 p.m. and work on the application for like a month.”


Students like Stein may be applying to a large number of schools, but applying early decision to their dream school.


According to Cornell University-accepted senior Ian Mackey, the application process was also exhausting.


“I had a good story but tinkering with my writing took actual months,” Mackey said.

Student athletes often create their college list around where they can play their sport and which schools have the best teams.


“[Cornell] was familiar, I could join the swim team easily, it’s not impossible to get into, and it’s also not super easy to get into,” said Mackey. “I’m trying to make the Canadian Olympic team so I think this’ll be pretty helpful.”


The CHS counseling office suggests that students apply to around two “reaches,” schools that are the hardest of the student’s list, and the rest are “target” and “safety” schools. The key is that students should only be applying to select schools that they know they would be happy attending.


“There are students in this school who feel pressure starting in ninth and tenth grade to take classes that they may or may not be unprepared for or interested in,” Rosenthal said.


However, many students apply to competitive schools simply because they feel it is the best place to further their education.


According to the Observer survey, when asked what influenced them the most in applying to competitive colleges, 75 percent of students voiced positive reasons, including wanting a high level of academic rigor, specific academic/other programs and a genuine love for the school.


According to Brown University-accepted senior Jamie Cheng, she did not feel particularly pressured to go to an academically rigorous college but chose to apply to Brown because of the opportunities, specifically the Program in Liberal Medical Education. She felt most suitable there.


The top three schools that CHS students sent transcripts in to and applied to are The University of Maryland, College Park with 312 transcripts, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with 116 transcripts, and Cornell University with 86 transcripts. In addition to these competitive schools, 70 students applied to both Duke University and University of Pennsylvania, which have around a nine percent acceptance rate.


According to the Observer survey, 39 percent of students applied binding early decision to a college or university, and of those students, 51 percent were accepted.


Most regular decision applications have not sent out acceptances or rejections yet, but many CHS students applied early decision to colleges and therefore already know where they will be attending this fall.


“CHS is no different from any other competitive high school in the country,” CHS college counselor Luana Zimmerman said. “When I visit colleges and meet college public high counselors from other geographic locations I find we have similar patterns to those schools, such as Scarsdale High School (New York),  Shaker Heights (Ohio), New Trier (Illinois) to name a few.”