By Tony Lopez

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Way before the “pomp and circumstance” of high school graduation comes the worry and the wonder of what happens next.

In recent years, college competition has never been fiercer. It hasn’t been unheard of – as a student takes those SAT – for a student to apply to more than a dozen schools, hoping for just one bite.

But this year that’s all changing; 2014 will see the smallest group in years applying to college. The reason? A population dip.

The Department of Education reports the number of high school seniors in California this year will be nearly 4 percent smaller than last. It’s a trend they’re watching at Future Stars, a Sacramento-based college prep program which touts a high-success acceptance rate.

“We’re very happy that 98 percent of our students are accepted to their top three colleges,” said Future Stars counselor Marlena Norman.

But while Norman tells students to take advantage of the turning tide, she urges them to still swim aggressively toward their goal.

“What we’re doing is we’re preparing them to just be competitive for admission overall,” Norman said.

Experts point out that many colleges are also kicking up recruiting efforts, trying to woo “out of state” applicants with sweeter financial aid packages.

“We’re very excited to have learned that the UC’s are going to be making an effort in increasing financial aid for students as well based on their income,” Norman said.

There’s more good news: a recent survey found close to 80 percent of colleges say they’re worried about meeting their enrollment numbers. And all of these numbers and factors might just add up to a better start for this year’s high school seniors, who right about now are waiting for those acceptance notices – waiting to find out if they’re in-luck graduating this year.


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