Letter from the Publisher

Admissions Anxiety

I applied to five colleges. All of them had the same vibe—small, private, liberal arts. Preppy Handbook approved. My wife applied to two schools. Her selections appear to have been motivated exclusively by the desire to attend college with one of her siblings. Mission accomplished.

Like my wife and me, our peers typically applied to a handful of schools. In contrast, our oldest daughter, Caroline, applied to nine colleges last year. Many of her friends submitted applications in the double digits. From time to time, you’ll even hear or read about kids who applied to 20 or more schools. What’s the magic number? The CollegeVine blog recommends 8 to 12. IvyWise suggests 12 to 15. The College Board advises 5 to 8. Caroline’s counselor recommended she apply to between 8 and 12 schools. What’s driving the increase in applications?

Test-optional policies and pandemic uncertainty appear to be main contributors. The jump in applications (the volume submitted by Arlington seniors alone has increased 28% over the past four years) is overwhelming admissions offices and has created an environment in which extremely accomplished students are landing on waitlists. Many are not getting into their top choices. In “Admissions Madness,” Tammy Lytle interviews local families and experts who weigh in on the numbers, the factors driving them and how students can navigate the process and reset their expectations.

Moving from a stressful topic to a heartbreaking one, we decided after Uvalde that it was time to assess local schools’ preparedness amid our country’s gun violence epidemic. In “Are Our Schools Safe?,” Kim O’Connell examines the current safety protocols in Arlington, Falls Church City and Fairfax County public schools. From “Run, Hide, Fight” to school hardening measures like locked doors and school resource officers, O’Connell shares the experts’ views on what we’re doing—and what we could be doing—to keep our students and teachers safe.

The sad truth (in my opinion, which is not necessarily the view of our editorial staff) is that as long as it is easy to get a gun—especially semiautomatic rifles with high-capacity magazines—we are going to continue to live with school shootings and other incidents of mass violence. Yes, schools can be more secure and, yes, we ought to increase investments in mental health services, but those measures don’t address the root cause of the problem. Simply put, we have a lot of guns. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. has more firearms than people (120.5 per 100 residents), far more than any other country.

I hope you find this issue informative and useful. As always, we’d love to hear from you. I can be reached at greg.hamilton@arlingtonmagazine.com. You can contact our editor at jenny.sullivan@arlingtonmagazine.com. I also want to extend a heartfelt thanks to our advertisers for understanding the value of the editorial product we produce and the audience we deliver. With the pandemic and now rising prices and interest rates, plus concerning market declines, we are grateful to our clients for continuing to advertise with us, which ensures that we can continue to grow and thrive as a business.

Greg Hamilton, Publisher