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College Applications Are Up Sharply

November 22, 2002

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GLASSBORO, N.J. (AP) _ Chris Tumminia, an assistant in the admissions office at Rowan University, got a glimpse of the future the morning she received 61 online applications following the Veterans Day weekend.

Even more applications arrived in the morning mail.

``I wasn’t happy,″ Tumminia said. ``It was a lot of work.″

Tumminia and others in admissions offices nationwide might as well get used to it: Counselors and education experts are expecting a blizzard of college applications from high school seniors over the next several years.

The surge is attributed to a boom in the high school population, combined with a tendency among students nowadays to apply to more colleges.

``It’s the perfect storm of college admissions, all these forces coming together at the same time,″ said David Hamilton, director of college counseling at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Wheaton, Md.

An estimated 3.1 million seniors are expected to graduate next June alone, and the boom is expected to continue through the end of the decade.

As recently as five years ago, high school seniors applied to five or six colleges on average, said Robert Franek, editorial director of the Princeton Review, which publishes guides to colleges. Now the average is between six and 10 schools, he said.

Franek attributed the increase to the introduction in the mid-1990s of uniform online application forms that cut the amount of time students spend filling out personal information.

Competitive pressures may also play a role.

``The more selective colleges get, the more kids feel they have to cover more bases,″ said Linda Zimring, administrator for college and gifted-and-talented programs in the Los Angeles school system.

Sometimes, though, it is simple youthful indecision that has admissions offices bustling.

Until a trip to California this summer made her think the school might be too far from home, Emily Yu, a senior at the Ranney School in Tinton Falls, N.J., wanted nothing more to attend Stanford University. Stanford remains on Yu’s list. But so are the 14 other schools to which she has now applied, including Harvard, Yale and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

``I don’t know what I want to major in, I don’t know what I want to be, and I don’t know where I want to be,″ Yu said with a laugh.

The National Association of College Admission and Counseling said that 81 percent of the colleges responding to its annual application survey reported an increase in submissions from the Class of 2002 over the previous year. The trend appears to be continuing with the Class of 2003.

Rowan, a state-funded New Jersey liberal arts and engineering university with 9,600 students, said open houses for potential applicants have drawn such big crowds that the gatherings had to be moved from the school auditorium to the gymnasium. The school has also seen an increase of 3,000 requests for applications over last year.

``We’re expecting an avalanche based on that statistic alone,″ said Marvin Sills, director of admissions. Last year, Rowan had 6,886 applications for 1,272 openings.

Not only are students applying to more schools, they are doing so earlier in their senior years. The University of Missouri and California’s Pomona College said applications are coming in at a faster pace than they did at this time last year.

Susan Semonite Waters, director of college guidance at the Ranney School, attributed the rush to students wanting a break from the pressure to get into the right college. After spending the summer and early fall filling out applications and writing essays, Waters’ students are saying, ``It’s for someone else to worry about now.″

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On the Net:

Princeton Review: http://www.princetonreview.com

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