Tina Fey

Seniors: Listen to Spock, Not the Scary Stories!



March Madness! No, not basketball! It's that time of year when the headlines and hallways are ablaze with scary stories of record numbers of college applications, 6% acceptance rates, and financial aid letters leaving students confused and misinformed.

Yes, more students are applying to more colleges, competition for seats at some colleges has increased and the cost of college continues to rise. But reality runs counter to most of what you read and hear in the media. The number of colleges that are highly selective is TINY! The vast majority of colleges accept two-thirds or more of their applicants. In UCLA’s most recent Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) annual survey of first-year students at four-year colleges and universities, 79 percent reported being accepted to their “first-choice” college.

We know it's hard to resist the onslaught of scary stories. But if you've done the proper research and applied to a balanced list of eight to ten colleges, taking into account both selectivity and affordability, you will do well. Really.

And here's a mantra for you: It's not where you go, it's what you do when you get there. Just ask the head of Disney/Pixar Ed Catmull who went to Utah State, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who went to Washington State, 30 Rock creator Tina Fey who went to University of Virginia…. And the list goes on.


Jeannine Lalonde, University of Virginia

University of Virginia may well have the richest history of any institution of higher learning in the country. Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 -- the first class entered in 1825 -- the Founding Father, third President of the United States and principal author of the Declaration of Independence considered it to be one of his greatest achievements. The school was built on land purchased by the fifth President of the United States James Monroe. And when the cornerstone of the university's first building was laid, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and the fourth President of the United States James Madison were all in attendance.

Admission: The Movie

Admission opened nationwide on Friday and we all rushed out to see it. We mostly agreed with one College Admission friend, a high school college counselor, who thought the movie was fun and said, "There were many admission-related happenings in the movie that rang true, but of course it was dominated by stereotypes." We have one further criticism, but it's a spoiler, so we will keep it to ourselves for now. When you see it, we're sure you'll agree. The blogosophere and media are brimming with reviews this morning. We liked Inside Higher Ed's approach. They invited three college admission experts to view the movie on opening day and share their thoughts. You can read them here.

Admission: The Movie

Check out the latest trailer for Admission, an upcoming movie starring Tina Fey in the role of a Princeton University admission officer. Admission is based on the book of the same name by Jean Hanff Korelitz, who has said she has had a college admission fixation since she was rejected by Yale in the late '70s. In researching her book, she worked part-time in admissions at Princeton for two years. But the key to Fey's character Portia came to her in a conversation with former Middlebury College dean Bob Clagett. According to Korelitz, "... it took an interview with Bob Clagett, Dean of Admissions at Middlebury College, to give me my first real insight into the character who would become Portia. Was there, I asked Dean Clagett, a personality type you tend to see in people who chose to work in college admissions? I’m not sure what I expected. Judgmental? Bossy? Sadistic? But whatever it was, his actual answer was utterly arresting. He said: 'We’re all such do-gooders.'" The book is terrific. The movie opens on March 8.