Bay Area College Admissions Dynamics

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Greg Barto
Greg Barto

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College admissions has become tougher than ever. Having worked with hundreds of students in the Bay Area through the process, we have developed some unique data-driven insights into the careers and interests of local students. In this blog post, I wanted to uncover some of these trends and what they mean for future applicants, job markets, and universities. Read on for more information about Bay Area college admissions, from the counselor point of view.

Trend 1: STEM dominates in college admissions

Given the rise of startups and the study of computer science, many high schoolers in the Bay Area already have their sights set on starting or working at an early-stage company. Many have started to learn how to code, build robots, or use mathematics to model markets.

In our cohorts of students, we find immense interest in computer science and engineering. However, we also see equal interest in medicine, and a reduced but significant interest in business and the liberal arts. This mix of interests occurs across all the top schools in the Bay Area, including:

American High
Mission San Jose
Washington High
Irvington High
Kennedy High
Newark Memorial High (Newark)
James Logan High (Union City)
Moreau Catholic High School
Cupertino High
Monta Vista high
Homestead high
Fremont High (Sunnyvale)
King’s Academy (Sunnyvale)
Lynbrook high
Archbishop Mitty High School
Bellarmine College Preparatory
Notre Dame High School
Saint Francis High School (Mountain View)
Presentation High School
Harker School
Los Gatos High (Los Gatos)
Saratoga High (saratoga)
Santa Clara High (Santa Clara)
Prospect High (Saratoga)
Mountain View High
Burlingame High
BASIS Independent
Ann Sobrato High (Morgan Hill)
Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton)
Menlo-Atherton High (Atherton)
Gunn High
Palo Alto High
Castilleja School
Carlmont High
The Nueva School
Hillsdale High
Los Altos High (Los Altos)
Woodside High
Dougherty Valley High (San Ramon)
California High (San Ramon)
Amador Valley High School
Foothill High School
Dublin High (Dublin)
The Thacher School (Ojai)
Christian High School (San Diego)
Plainview – Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School
North Carolina School of Sciences and Mathematics
Ravenwood High School
Plano Senior High School

Trend 2: Bay Area bias towards West Coast colleges

We see many students hoping to attend UC, USC, Stanford, Claremont, or a number of other schools like Pepperdine that are located on the West Coast. Many students apply early action or early decision to these schools. We do notice that these students often get in at higher rates at their East Coast peers.

Trend 3: Starting younger with college admissions preparation

Many students and parents are starting to think about college admissions earlier and earlier. Several parents of students in the 4th and 5th grade ask us for advice on how to position and prepare. Although we think this is too early to being any formal preparation, general guidance and high-level advice from a Empowerly counselor can help parents select a high school and students find an interest.

These three trends shape a lot of the applicants we are seeing in the Bay Area. Based on our extensive experience and connections with the Bay Area college admissions landscape, we like to stay informed on how these changes translate to the broader scope. If you are interested in more insights, please contact us.

Questions? Let us know!