The conventional perception of the college admission process is steeped in high drama. Folks usually consider it a white-knuckle affair. Ambitious high schoolers grinding through standardized exams, running themselves ragged with extracurricular activities, coaxing letters of recommendation from reluctant teachers, anxiously crafting the perfect personal statement -- such are the images commonly associated with this process, images that, incidentally, popular media only serve to reinforce.
You'll be relieved to learn, then, that the reality which these popular representations serve only to distort, is a bit less histrionic than you've been led to believe. This is not to say that college admission isn't a high-stakes proposition. Rather, the picture is a bit more nuanced and sophisticated than television programs and movies would have it be.
"In reality ... most students attend schools that welcome the vast majority of applicants," reports a September 2, 2011 CBS MoneyWatch article. "Very few students include Ivy League institutions on their wish lists and the schools that attract the most interest are community colleges."
To support this fact against the current of popular perception the MoneyWatch article goes on to list 12 interesting findings presented recently by The Chronicle of Higher Education:
The facts compiled by The Chronicle paints a picture of higher education that in many respects differs quite dramatically from that promoted in popular media. It appears that a postsecondary education is more easily had than you'd imagine. There'll always be overachievers and glory hounds who will pant after the Ivies and other elite institutions as a hart pants after fresh water, but the fact remains that college is about as universally accessible as it can be without being completely tuition free.