Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

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Our counselors answered:

Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Hometown

There is no simple answer to the question of whether a hometown could affect a student's chances of admission, but the state of residency certainly does. There are some private colleges which allot a certain number of spaces to its own state; Brown does that for Rhode Island residents, and many state schools establish quotas that clearly favor their own. Conversely, there are colleges which favor geographic diversity. I can say with certainty that here in the Northeast, admission can be mighty tough because of the great numbers of qualified students. Sometimes they do better by applying at a distance. There are also particular schools which have a good reputation with admissions officers (e.g., a magnet school in an inner city) and that could be a competitive advantage. Yet that is the school, not really the hometown.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

It could, but just because you were born in Sarajevo or Kalimantan won't assure it. There are just too many variables to answer this question definitively .

Patricia Krahnke
President/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

Short Answer: Seasoned admissions officers who have spent years working at colleges in the same state will know your hometown and/or high school fairly well. However, this can cause them to prejudge your application. Detailed Answer: There is a great deal of prejudice in college admissions – as many different attitudes as there are counselors -- so the fact that an admissions officer knows your school can work both for or against you. Hometown and/or high schools that are in socioeconomically challenged areas are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to college admissions. Counselors who have personal prejudices against certain ethnicities or economic backgrounds will lean toward not admitting students from those hometown and/or high schools. I remember a student from a high school in Jersey City, a famously poor, urban, multi-ethnic area. Her academic record was straight As in a strong academic program. She had maxed out everything she could take. She was Valedictorian. However, her hometown and/or high school did not offer SAT prep courses, and clearly her family could not afford to pay for individual coaching. Her combined SAT verbal and math score was 900, well below minimum admissibility. I pushed her file up the line and said to the associate director, “YOU be the one who can’t sleep at night for denying this student.” Eventually we admitted her, but the discussions about it revealed the deeply held prejudices of individual staff members. Conversely, students from high income communities are expected to have benefited from all the privileges and advantages afforded to their high school students. This can make it difficult for a student whose academic record is weak. The assumption is that the student is either 1) too dumb to make it at the college, or 2) lazy. The fact is that any number of issues can play into the failure of a student’s academic record. These factors can make it difficult to see the student’s real talent – hidden traumas, family or personal illnesses, divorce, abuse, romantic disappointments, late-blooming maturity, etc. The counselor may assume that the student had all the advantages in the world, so there must be something wrong with this student to not have achieved at a level similar to his/her peers. The bottom line is this: Admissions counselors that know your high school and community may base their opinion of YOU on past students who have applied from your school – which has very little to do with who you are or who you will be. A final story: At the NACAC conference this past September, the Princeton rep on the College Interview seminar panel blurted out that Princeton simply “never takes students from West Virginia.” Then she stumbled all over herself trying to take back her words. It would have been funny had it not been so smug and disturbing. Talk about your entire home STATE working against you…

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

Geography can pay a role in college admissions. Colleges are looking for diversity on many fronts including where you are from in the world. I would doubt that it gets down to the town you live but which state or country is taken into consideration.

Zahir Robb
College Counselor The Right Fit College

Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

While your hometown shouldn't make a difference, your school can. Colleges establish relationships with particular schools and know what it means to graduate from XYZ high school. They may recruit more heavily or less from yor school based on the reputation of the school. If your school has a favorable relationship with a particular college make sure you pay a visit when the admissions officer is in town.

Angela Conley
College Admission Expert VentureForth

Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

Quiet as it is kept, diversity is more than race. If one derives from a small town, or place off the beaten track, it may impact your admission decision. Keep in mind that this includes the assumption that you've evidenced stellar achievement academically and otherwise. In discussions with students, I often cite the "big fish, small pond" example as a way to bring positive attention to your gifts. At the same time, those whose origin includes communities known for less than positive characteristics, may similarly be impacted.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

Your hometown could impact your chances of getting in, both positively and negatively. If you are from an area that is underrepresented at the college, you may be pursued by the institution because they want the geographic diversity you would supply to their stats. Conversely, if your high school or surrounding high schools tend to see a lot of students applying to the same colleges, your chances decrease. Universities want a variety of students in their classes, so they won't automatically take every student who applies from the same area. In this case, you are not only competing against the applicant pool as a whole, but against your current classmates as well.

Lisa Carlton
Owner www.collegematchpoint.com

Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

Yes! Your hometown could help or hurt you depending on where you are applying. Let's look at few (made up) examples. Example One: You live in San Diego, CA and you want to attend your parent's college- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Sadly, UNC takes very few out of state students. In this case, your hometown is likely going to make getting admitted much more challenging. Example Two: You live in Little Rock, AK and you want to attend Franklin and Marshall. You may have a geographic advantage over students from the east coast and middle atlantic states. The reason for this is that Franklin and Marshall wants to boast that they are a geographically diverse college and they may not get a large number of students from Little Rock. Example Three: You live in Scarsdale, NY and you want to attend University of California, Berkeley. If you can afford out of state tuition, you may have a slight advantage over CA students as CA has increased the percentage of students it accepts from out of state to increase revenue. I think you can see that your geographic location, can be a positive or a negative depending on where you live and where you want to attend college.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

Yes where you live can affect your chances of getting into a particular university. Colleges are looking for geographic diversity each year for their incoming freshman class, and look forward to offering enrollment to students who represent a different part of the country or international location to create an interesting and relevant dynamic in their classrooms.

Tira Harpaz
Founder CollegeBound Advice

Does your hometown have any effect on your chances of getting in?

Your hometown should not have a direct effect on your chances of getting into a college. However, certain colleges are interested in having a geographically diverse student body and the state or country where you live can have an effect on your admissions chances. In addition, it is generally easier to be admitted to a public university if you are an in-state applicant.