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Getting Into a Top College Gets Harder For Young Americans

I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English Education Report.

Some of America's best universities have accepted an unusually low percentage of students for admission this fall.

For example, the Wall Street Journal reported that Stanford University had a record low admission rate this year. The newspaper said the California school accepted less than eleven percent of the students who applied.

College admissions officers give a number of reasons for the higher rates of rejection letters this year. They say the main reason is that high school seniors are applying to more schools than in the past. Some colleges reported big increases in the number of applications.

Another reason is the general increase in students going to college.

Electronic forms make applying easier. For example, students can send an online form called the Common Application to many different colleges and universities.

Many students who apply to top schools are placed on a waiting list. They do not get a decision until the school knows how many applicants who are offered admission will accept the offer. Just as students compete, so do schools.

Wait-listed applicants might not find out until May or June, at the end of their senior year. Admissions officers say they use wait-listing because it is difficult to know which applicants really want to attend their school.

The increasing competition for the best colleges means more worry for students and parents. They wonder just what schools are looking for. They wonder why a top student is accepted at one school but not another.

The Wall Street Journal says some top schools are actively looking for students who have shown great interest in helping others. Other schools are said to be looking for students who have musical talent.

Some experts say it should be understood that the situation this year involves only the very top universities. They point to many other very good schools where they say students can be equally happy and successful.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Nancy Steinbach. Read and listen to our reports at And if you are a teacher and you teach with Special English, please let us know. Tell us how you use Special English in the classroom, and for what ages and subjects. And please tell us what country you are in. Write to I’m Steve Ember.