A dirty little secret at some of the most elite colleges in the U.S. is an admissions practice called “recruit to deny.”
In recent years, high school graduates have often been surprised to find themselves bombarded by mailings inviting them to apply for colleges they have never had any contact with. Some of the mailings, which include lavish brochures, even come from Ivy League schools they know they’d never get into if they applied.
What gives here? Well, one of the key measures that schools are ranked on by U.S. News and other college rating services is percentage of applicants accepted. The lower the percentage of applicants a school accepts, the better it looks in rankings. College marketing departments have responded by spending considerable money and effort to invite more and more people to apply, even though they have absolutely no intention of accepting them.
Under practices that “border on dishonest” according to a high school guidance counselor interviewed for Business Insider, schools go so far as to offer “VIP” for fast application processes, often sending the student an application with all their information pre-filled. But in many cases, the student will ultimately get a rejection letter from the school, which is exactly what the process was designed to produce.