With the fall semester comes a truckload of new freshmen, starry eyed and excited to start their new lives at the U. I was one of those freshmen last year. I was so happy to be here because, through every step of the admissions process – from writing the essays, to visiting the school, to receiving financial aid – the University of Miami made me feel extremely welcome.
This is not the case with many universities, however. Admissions nowadays are wrought with competition. Prospective college tours are tainted by the unspoken disclaimer: “You can enjoy our school – if you get in.”
At top schools like Princeton, MIT and Harvard, merit aid has been eliminated. This leaves middle class kids feeling pessimistic about their financial future and discouraged about their expensive academic pursuits.
Even the schools that boast generous merit aid programs, like the University of Virginia, NYU and Duke, benefit too small a portion of the student body to make a positive impact on their students’ financial futures. While they offer need-based aid, the price tag of college is so expensive that this portion is often not enough to defray the burden placed on middle class families.
What’s worse is that Harvard, Yale and Princeton’s elite statuses bring in such huge endowments that the schools could afford to make tuition free for every student just off of the yearly returns from their endowment, according to a August article published by Vox.com. Harvard’s endowment is worth $1,240,548 per student, according to the Washington Monthly. Yet, they still charge the full price tag of $59,950 to any family making over $200,000 and a sliding scale portion of that price below $200,000.
What I gleaned from my angsty senior year of high school was that UM recruits new students differently. The Common Application for UM does not require students to write a supplemental paper on top of the common essay. Therefore, applicants don’t feel burdened by an additional barrier of entry when applying. In return, the university receives a much larger applicant pool to select from, just under 28,000, according to Cappex.com. Highly qualified students who otherwise would not look into UM do so because our process is so painless.
The Office of Financial Assistance then complements this admissions strategy by offering one of the best financial aid programs in the country. Naviance, a college preparation platform, cites that 78 percent of students receive need-based aid. Additionally, the University of Miami gives 24 percent of freshmen merit aid averaging $23,208 per student, according to the New York Times.
These strategies lead to the University of Miami welcoming intelligent students instead of seeming unattainable. It is unfortunate that other competitive private schools put good students through confusing admissions hoops and then admit them, only to cause more stress by making them choose between affordability and a school they love. UM’s choice to play a different type of admissions game will help the university continue to raise its academic profile and national reputation. So say goodbye to “Suntan U” and hello to the University of Miami, my favorite place to call home.
Annie Cappetta is a sophomore majoring in political science.
Featured image courtesy Pixabay user Heather Paque