• Joel Brown

    Staff Writer

    Joel Brown

    Joel Brown is a staff writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. He’s written more than 700 stories for the Boston Globe and has also written for the Boston Herald and the Greenfield Recorder. Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 20 comments on BU Admissions More Selective Than Ever

  1. If I’m honest I don’t really view “increasing selectivity” as necessarily a positive thing. There are many many schools out there now that attempt to raise their stature by admitting fewer students. But that doesn’t make it better school, it’s merely a way to increase institutional competitiveness for US News and other publications. It also passively encourages those who are super-concerned with school status to apply. And these applicants are probably the children of the already wealthy and have access to tutors and test prep and on and on. So it’s not really a meritocracy in that case and increasing selectivity has done little to improve the quality of the students or institution.

    Maybe BU should not try and be the most selective institution (doesn’t Boston have enough extremely selective institutions?). Maybe BU should find good students who are professionally focused and will fit in well in COM or ENG.

    1. Until recently BU offered an environment similar to a good state flagship but at two or three times the cost. Top students do not want to be sharing a dorm or classroom with a distracting minority of students who are there just to have fun on mom and dad’s dollar. Those students can flunk out at a state school for a lot less money.

      1. As a current student, my experience at BU has been a far cry from those of my peers who attend state flagships. The culture, urban environment, wealth of opportunity, and rigorous academics that BU provides are just not comparable. While there is extreme wealth at BU, I have yet to encounter a student whose work ethic and intelligence has not inspired me to better my own. I am personally not here “to have fun on [my] mom and dad’s dollar,” and it was actually BU’s financial aid that made my cost of attendance here less than that of the “good state flagships” at which I gained admission. In sum, please be cautious not to make inaccurate blanket statements about experiences you cannot personally speak to.

    2. There’s almost 2,000 universities in the US. What’s significant for people is the total access to education, and the quality of across across the board. It’s really not that significant if one school becomes more or less selective over time.

      If the average university in the US becomes more selective, and access is restricted, then you have an issue. I’m ususre how that’s changed over time, though

    3. I am CAS grad 1977 under John Silber. BU had been underrated despite the wide variety of courses available. It was always much better than the state flagship university as well as BC and tufts. The students back then were more indepe
      Indepenment and not coddled like the other schools. I do worry that some brilliant students will not be admitted because they didn’t have the same scores. The college of general studies used to be for these type students by now the grades for this school are very high. People like Howard Stern who h

      would not have opportunity to study at BU had it not been forCGS

    1. They will be – and that’s true at literally every university. Even for the most elite universities, a higher percent of students in the bottom half of their admitted student class will choose to enroll vs. the top half. The top half of an admitted class has a lot more options (including different scholarship opportunities).

  2. I have a feeling that college admissions will eventually get so competitive that only those who have created companies by the age of 13 or found the cure for cancer by the age of 16 will be able to get it. While it’s great to have a competitive school, I’m not sure it’s a good thing to get more and more competitive every year.

  3. Students apply to so many schools nowadays that selectivity data get exaggerated. More and more arbitrary and puzzling decisions arise: a student does get admitted to university A but does not get admitted to university B even though its status and profile are essentially the same as university A (maybe even lower). Students now routinely apply to a dozen schools, inflating the application pool for all of them and necessitating lower admissions rates. Yes, BU attracts better students (on paper at least) than it did fifteen years ago, but exactly what these admissions ratios mean is open to question. Selective college admissions amounts to an inflationary economy. Qui bono? Universities like the extra bit of application-fee income and they like to use the data to hype themselves.

  4. For those who feel bad about students applying to BU 10 years later: The biggest issue to worry about is not the increasing selectivity; it’s the increasing monthly rent at Allston. The rent increases at a much higher rate than the acceptance rate.

    To be honest, why do we see a higher selectivity as a bad thing? Accept fewer kids, reduce the demand for housing and thus the rent, so those who are really excellent won’t suffer housing issues.

  5. As a 1969 graduate, I attended alumni weekend last year. I made a point of asking everyone I met how they felt about Boston University. I was struck by how enthusiastic everyone was: without exception they sang their praises of the university. “I love it here!” was a common reply. I was surprised, honestly, with how everyone expressed their passion for the school. It appears applicants are getting the same message that this is a wonderful place to spend their undergraduate years. It is up to alumni like myself to increase the financial aid resources of the university.

  6. On one hand you boast of admitting first generation students, low income, and those from Trump’s banned countries, and on the other hand you boast of being more selective and excluding more applicants. Why not be more inclusive across the board? Building a higher “border wall” to your institution in the name of “exclusivity” is no different from Trump, even if you have a small opening for the “disadvantaged”.

    1. Paula: According to your logic, Harvard and MIT which accept less than 6-10% of their applicants, are no different than Trump – whatever that means.

      Open admissions was attempted by City college of New York in the 1970’s. It turned a fine institution that provided a first class education to sons and daughters of poor immigrants in NYC into a third rate remedial institution.

  7. Will you be publishing an article on the makeup of the final 2021 class? I’d love to see the representation official students bring to campus in addition to these potential students

  8. Interesting… I saved a copy of the admitted student stats from the year I applied/enrolled (fall 1996) and it said 50% were accepted. As someone who has followed this stat from afar since then, I always thought the acceptance rate had never gone above 50%, so it’s interesting to see it up around 70% for the early 2000s. The other thing that is not mentioned in the article is, most schools are accepting a far lower % of applicants now, because students apply to so many schools – a dozen or more now, vs a half dozen back when I was looking into colleges 20 years ago.

  9. Graduated in 1981.
    Could not “afford” but had work, scholarships, loans.
    Experiences of education, environment, more real life being in large city, large school, student work experiences set me out on a good foot. And yes, difficult to get employed at time. But “work study” gave me head start on work experience.

    Went on to doctoral professional health degree from UNC-CH (accepted to all 5 schools I applied 1985, from BU degree), completed Executive Masters (2002). So, my degree “held” water for many years. Employed in leadership positions along the way. Active in both the Arts and Sciences which was my goal as a BU student.

    Thus, it is respected and of practical good to gain a BU degree. But, need to leverage and take advantage of opportunity, like most of life. Means, BU provides a chance to learn those skills. The degree is well respected by other institutions and business. Students need to be bright industrial individuals to best take advantage. AS they used to say: BU!

    Good luck!

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