News and analysis from The Center for Michigan • http://thecenterformichigan.net
©2015 Bridge Michigan. All Rights Reserved. • Join us online at http://bridgemi.com

Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2012/01/common-app-hits-star-student-with-uncommon-adversity/

Talent & education

‘Common app’ hits star student with uncommon adversity

Danny Schrage is cruising into the home stretch of his high school career with an impressive resumé in hand. He scored a 30 on his ACT and earned a 3.91 grade-point average through his junior year, with 17 honors-level or Advanced Placement classes. He’s president of Grosse Pointe North High School’s National Honor Society, and has been elected class president all four years.

Principal Tim Bearden describes Schrage as a student “I would literally rank in the top 1 percent of all high school students I have known in my career.” In other words, the sort of student made for a top-tier university. But when he applied to the University of Michigan during the early-admission process last fall, he received the most unexpected of responses: a roadblock.

Schrage’s application was deferred.

U-M’s decision was not a refusal, more of a tabling of his request. Still, for a student like Danny, it was an unexpected turn of events as he makes a decision with long-lasting implications for his life.

The culprit in this little academic drama is as unexpected as Danny’s difficulties: A document designed to make the college application process easier for students and their families — the common application.

The common app, as it’s known, is just what it sounds like — a single application widely accepted among American colleges and universities, sometimes with supplemental material. The common app makes it easier for students to apply to multiple schools without starting from scratch with each campus. The first year it was accepted at the University of Michigan, for the 2010-11 academic year, applications jumped 25 percent.

Such a surge has made already-selective U-M even more selective, with close to 40,000 applications for about 6,000 spots in the freshman class. In such a crowd, it’s hard for a student armed even with Danny’s bona fides to be noticed.

For its fall 2011 enrollment, U-M started with 39,584 applications, from which 16,073 admissions were offered. Out of those, 6,251 people actually enrolled as students; 59 percent of the 2011 freshmen are Michigan residents. The in-state share of U-M’s freshman classes has ranged between 60 percent and 66 percent since 2007.

U-M publishes guidelines for prospective students, outlining what sort of academic, extracurricular and other standards they expect in serious candidates for admission. On paper, Danny has it all, which makes Bearden, who saw several other of his top seniors deferred, frustrated.

Bearden stresses that university staffers have been helpful to him and his counselors. Still, “we’re worried when a student with a record like Danny’s can’t get in, after taking the most challenging courses and doing exceptionally well in them.”

U-M spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said that while the school won’t speak to individual cases, the fact is U-M continues to grow in popularity for applicants; even without the boost from the common app, U-M has set records the last five years in applications. (And in fact, top schools all over the country are seeing applicants rise, particularly during the early-admission window in the fall, as this New York Times story about similar students from New York City’s private schools also being deferred.)

As a Michigan resident, Danny still has an excellent chance of admission; about half of all residents who apply get in. But while he waits for the school to say yes, he’s using the common app to extend his own college search, to the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Cornell. He thinks he has a good chance at Penn, knows that Harvard is a long shot and admits that Michigan is still his first choice, even if he wasn’t welcomed with open arms on his first try.

“(Getting deferred) was a humbling experience,” he said. “But it is what it is. I’ll hope for the best.”

But if he does leave Michigan for college, he’s more likely to stay there than if he enrolls at U-M. Half of all Michigan college graduates already leave the state within a year of receiving their diplomas, and the loss of one like Danny is something the state can ill afford as it tries to boost the share of college graduates in its population. But the common app, whether it helps or hurts him, is here to stay.

“I wouldn’t have applied to Harvard without (the common app),” he said. “I still think it’s a great idea.”

1 comment from a Bridge reader.Add mine!

  1. John Czarnecki

    Instead of the legislature getting involved in who is married and who is not it should deal with the need to require our universities to accept more in state students. While many of our Michigan students do leave for job opportunities else where the number is no where near that of non Michigan students. Almost all leave. Michigan and Michigan State University brag about how many non Michigan students they take in. That unfortunately benefits only the university and not the state.

Leave your comment...

Your email address will not be published.

Currently on Bridge

Will we be better off if Proposal 1 passes? Former treasurer says yes

An Earth Day pitch: When you hang up the phone for good, toss it the right way

Michigan’s roads affect everyone, so a 'yes' vote on Proposal 1 makes sense

‘Diplomacy Begins Here’ conference aims to illuminate international relations

What NOT to post on Facebook: Jokes about prison rape, when you’re in charge of preventing prison rape

A program to give young offenders a second chance is sending many to prison

Similar accounts in suit over alleged teen prison rapes pose challenge to state's defense

‘New fish’ ‒ One teen inmate’s account of alleged sexual assault

Early learning summit in June could impact Michigan’s children

Money Smart Week: Be penny wise, and pound savvier

Plan B or no Plan B, here’s what happens if road proposal fails

The political tale behind the selling of Proposal 1

A Bridge primer: Untangling the pothole promise of Proposal 1

Who supports, and opposes, Proposal 1

Let's rebuild Michigan through its greatest asset: its water

Could a public boarding school model work in Detroit?

Coalition supporting Detroit schools a step in the city’s road back

Chasing fads? Today’s schools are struggling too much for that

For one Michigan legislative staffer, an hour or two in the spotlight

A cull is a kill, and it’s an overreaction to deer ‘problem’

Lack of college guidance keeps poor and rural students from applying

Those who can, do – and get their hands ‘dirty’ in the process

For one Detroit mom, a complicated path to employment

Detroit by the numbers – the truth about poverty

Michigan should require dental screening for all children entering kindergarten

Where in the world is the Center for Michigan?

After two years, hard to call ACA anything but a success

Bridge’s Academic State Champs emphasizes all the wrong measurements

A graying population poses challenges for Up North counties

Up North, isolation impedes health care for seniors

Enbridge oil pipes and the Straits of Mackinac: Too risky to ignore

Not bigger government, but better services when Community Health and Human Services merge

Two Michigans gaze across a widening gap

In northern counties, workers and business find each other lacking

Hidden poverty stalks a Pure Michigan setting

Postcard: How a git-’er-done spirit helps one rural school district

Postcard: When elk is for dinner

Postcard: Luxe life at Bay Harbor reflects changing economy

Postcard: A roof and a bed

Invest in non-partisan journalism.

Donate to The Center for Michigan. Find out why.