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College application process complicated by higher expectations

Posted on December 11, 2012 | by Noah Eckstein

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NYU is one of the most selective schools in the country. More than 42,000 students applied for spots in the Washington Square Campus of NYU’s class of 2015, but only 13,731 were admitted. NYU has consistently ranked among the Top 10

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Dream Schools for the past 10 years, according to Princeton Review. The rush of a Manhattan lifestyle and the prestige of NYU obviously and understandably drive students from all over the world to apply.

I am a high school student in New Jersey currently looking to go to NYU. I have just begun the global tradition of burying myself in university statistics and approaching application deadlines. I have been simultaneously intrigued and repulsed with tuition fees, acceptance rates and the mere pressure to succeed. The process that involves hours upon hours of completing applications, studying for SATs and ACTs, asking teachers for letters of recommendation, all while maintaining good grades, is now the standard.

Balancing a social life filled with parties and time spent on the Internet while maintaining high grades is a very difficult task. High school administrators constantly stress the necessity of juggling a healthy social, academic and athletic life, but how is this possible? After a seven-hour school day, sports, homework and the recommended dose of a social life, there is no time to sleep. I intern at the New York Post, and I’m constantly juggling work with school, which is very difficult.

The millennial generation of teens that I am proudly a part of is being overworked. Our predecessors in the Generation Y and X era have been known to expect much more from us than previous generations. My dad, a graduate of the Stern School of Business, compared the SAT score he earned to the average SAT score of incoming NYU students today, and his was much lower.

The drastic improvement in expectations and performances over the past 50 years is greatly admirable. As the new Millennial Generation, we are multitaskers; we simply get more done in less time. The evolution of technology is the main reason for higher expectations on the field, in the classroom and at home. But technology is both a major hindrance and advancement for our generation. Since we are able to do so much with technology in such little time, more is expected.

As a high school student, I always need a backup plan for time management purposes — a good habit to have when the application process comes around. No matter how perfect a student is for a certain college, there is never complete certainty that he or she will be accepted.

I recently went to my guidance counselor, and she recommended that I make a chart of my reach, realistic and safety schools. I was persistent in getting across the point that I only want to go to NYU. But after listing the pros and cons, I realized that it is always good to have a safe option to fall back on. Backup plans are necessary, but applying to safety schools means more work, making the application process even more daunting. Everyone loves to have things finished and finalized with closure, but the application process creates constant worry.

Whatever it may be, NYU is a place where I would be honored to study. I hope the conclusion of my application process ends with a relieving and welcoming walk through the arch at Washington Square Park. No matter what, as a driven young person who has experienced the modern college application process, I will be well on my way to overcoming my most difficult obstacles.

Noah Eckstein is a contributing columnist. Email him at


  • Annie McGreal

    Very insightful and well thought out article. As a mother of 3 children and a graduate of Cornell University, I see how difficult the content has become for teenagers today in comparison to when I was in high school. The success criteria has drastically changed and the pressure created for young children commences earlier than it should. In essence, their childhood which should be filled with “fun” is taken away from them in part, due to stress from teachers and parents.

  • Kerry China

    How true! My daughter is currently buried in the process of applying to schools and it is truly overwhelming to her and us. We wish you all the luck in your college search and hope that your NYU dream comes true–after reading your article, we feel they would be lucky to have you!

  • Kevin Walter

    decent article.

    • John Rosenberg

      I believe you mean “descent”. Great Article!

      • John Rosenberg

        Just Kidding. However, well thought out article.

        • Kevin Walter

          not that well thought out.

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