Likelihood of families sharing the Union experience shrinks with acceptance rate

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By Nora Swidler

In all of Professor Stephen Berk’s classes, when students do not answer his questions, he exclaims in mock agony, “This is mighty Union! Every year, the admissions people tell me that our students are getting smarter and smarter, but you fruitcakes are proving them otherwise!”

It used to be that every time I heard this joke, which has been many a time, I chuckled at Professor Berk’s exasperation. However, when I heard it again this term, I was not laughing anymore.

My younger brother was not accepted to Union. Not only was he upset when he heard the news, but I was shocked and fuming. My brother is smart, thoughtful, hard working and is on the dean’s list for his high school.  I am certain that his admissions interview went well and his extra-curricular activities are impressive. Given that I am an avid believer in the system of meritocracy, I believed that this would have been enough to earn him a spot.

Even if these elements did not convince admissions already, I thought that the fact that I attend Union and that my mother graduated in 1979 would have made a difference. I was wrong.

College admissions are more competitive than ever before. Union is receiving more applications than it ever has and holds the ability to be more selective than in previous years.

Grant Admissions Hall received 5,717 applications this year, which is way up from the 5,151 applications received last year. As a result, the 43 percent acceptance rate of last year went down to the 37 percent acceptance rate this year. The new incoming class of first-years will be of a higher caliber than we have seen in the past.

I was talking to one of my friends whose younger brother also did not get into Union and he enlightened me to the reality of our similar situations: Our younger brothers wanted to go to Union because we go to Union.

My brother may not have been able to thrive on this campus like I have been able to. He and I are very different people with different personalities and learning styles. And, as my friend pointed out, I would have tried to dictate my brother’s life if he had come here. I would have told him what classes to take, which sporting events to attend, who to be friends with and where to go. It would not have been my intention to be controlling, but I would have wanted to guide him as much as I could.

Ultimately, I know that my brother is going to have an incredible college experience at any one of the six other schools to which he was accepted. He will make his own decisions, find his own friends, choose classes that he wants to take, and become a more amazing man than he already is. I will always miss the idea of sharing my Union experience with him, but I know that wherever he goes, he will thrive.

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