Wake Forest University

March 2010

Rethinking Admissions

Continuing the Conversation

Archive for March, 2010

Scheduling a College Admissions Interview? Check the Weather First

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Clipart_Weather_SymbolJust when you thought you had taken everything into account in the college admissions process, it turns out there is one thing you may not have considered: the weather. According to TheBookofOdds.com , students’  admissions interviews can be either adversely or positively affected depending by the weather outside.  A study by researchers at the University of Toronto found that medical school applicants who interviewed on sunny days did better than their rainy day counterparts.  Specifically, those who interviewed on rainy days received a 1 percent lower score than those who interviewed on sunny days. While the difference was modest, the authors of the study point out that “such small differences can be important in some cases because each year there about 100 candidates who receive a score within 1 percent of the admission threshold.”

Their findings were in keeping with a 2006 study by the University of Pennsylvania, which concluded that students who interviewed on sunny days had a higher predicted probability of admission. But turnabout is fair play, and studies also show that students who take a campus tour are actually more likely to enroll in the university if their visit takes place on a cloudy day. While there are no clear answers as to why clouds discourage admissions officers but encourage students, researchers generally agree that weather can affect moods.  For a few, the mood swings are so severe that they are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder.  But in light of the research, even those not suffering from SAD might want to check the weather forecast before scheduling their college admissions interview.

A College Prep Counselor's Top Ten List

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

college prep imageCollege prep counseling is a large and growing industry with many counselors charging anywhere from $95 to $375 for their advice. But SmartMoney.com suggests that parents and their high school age children consider a few key points before shelling out money for the services these counselors offer.

In an article headlined, 10 Things College-Prep Advisors Won’t Tell You the personal finance magazine, warns that many college prep counselors have no special credentials. While there are two major national associations for independent college counselors, neither offers formal accreditation. One of them, the IECA, questions the qualifications of many of those offering college prep advice.

“There are thousands of people calling themselves educational consultants. Most of them don’t have educational training or commitment to ethical practice,” says Mark Sklarow, executive director of IECA. “I hear almost every day from someone who says, ‘I got my daughter into Swarthmore, so now I want to help others do this.”

Since SAT scores and sophomore and junior year GPAs are often the two key deciding factors in college admissions decisions, parents who hire a counselor when their student is a junior in high school may be too late. And as for the all-important essay, hiring a college counselor to help may actually work against an applicant. Dan Saracino, assistant provost of admissions at Notre Dame, told the magazine he can spot a professionally-edited essay a mile away. “The essays that are not done in the authentic voice of the student are readily apparent,” he says.

But there’s no need to be discouraged. The magazine also points out that most high school counselors will do the same job as a professional counselor for free. “In many cases, paying for advice might be unnecessary, since the counselor at your teenager’s high school probably provides similar counsel–free of charge.” The only exception would be high schools where guidance counselors are assigned more than 50 or 60 students each.

Coming Soon to a Mailbox Near You

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

acceptance letterCollege acceptance letters are on their way to mailboxes across the United States, but instead of the traditional snail mail correspondence, you may be receiving an email, a link to an Internet video or maybe even a fancy certificate that you can frame and put up on your wall.  U.S. News & World Report recently provided a round up of the novel approaches universities are taking to notifying students that they have been accepted. Among the most unusual? Elon University emails students a link to a video entitled “Congratulations. You’ve been accepted to Elon!” complete with a cheering crowd and picturesque scenes from the North Carolina campus.  St. Bonaventure University mails out a college T-shirt with its acceptance letter, while MIT includes a poster and confetti in its package to applicants accepted under early decision.

Email also continues to be a popular way of notifying students about admissions decisions, but many schools are grappling with whether to follow up their, “no” with snail mail correspondence. While some students have complained that they do not need to hear the bad news twice, others have lamented the fact that a lack of a formal letter only makes them feel more rejected. “They say they won’t be sending you an actual letter because that would only make it worse. Ha ha like I didn’t cry enough,” said one student who was denied admission to Stanford.

Given that their news can elicit either cheers or tears, some universities are timing their emails to ensure they don’t disrupt the school day.  For example, Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., now posts its admissions decisions on Fridays at 8 p.m. so that “people have time before they see their friends,” admissions dean Monica Inzer told the magazine. But regardless of what time of day they email their news, universities are making doubly sure that they have their facts straight. George Washington University recently sent acceptance emails to 200 applicants who actually were rejected. What to do at that point? Follow up with another email admitting that they had made a mistake.

No More Senior Slump

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Now that college admissions applications are in and graduation is just a few short weeks away, many high school seniors may be tempted to start slacking off. But with a growing number of colleges now making admission contingent on final grades, senior slump can have serious consequences. According to the Associated Press, many universities now have a policy of checking with high school guidance counselors to see how students are doing just before mailing acceptance letters.

“We have a policy to do 100 percent verification to ensure that final high school transcripts are received and reviewed,” said Matt Whelan, assistant provost for admissions and financial aid at Stony Brook University in New York, told the AP. “While it has been the exception, unfortunately, I have had the experience of sending letters to students informing them that because they did not successfully complete high school, they could were no longer admitted, and we rescinded both admission and financial aid.”

While harsh action based strictly on academic grounds remains the exception rather than the rule, most universities do not hesitate to rescind their offers if students are involved in serious incidents involving violence, cheating or alcohol or drugs.”The colleges cannot afford to take students who are immature socially and morally,” says Don Dunbar, author of the book, “What You Don’t Know Can Keep You Out of College.”

So does that mean senior slump has gone away? Not entirely, says Andrew Selesnick, principal of Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, N.Y., an affluent suburb where 90 percent of the students apply to college. I don’t want to give the impression that it’s gone away. It’s not like it’s not there. We do see some drop-off in terms of performance and attendance, but we don’t see a lot of kids who go from 60 to zero.”

Is Truth Stranger than Fiction? You Decide

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Getting inAs any parent of a college-bound high school student can attest, truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction. In the process of applying to colleges, many families have experienced enough ups and downs to literally fill the pages of a book. Author Karen Stabiner has used some of those real-life stories as inspiration for her new novel, “Getting In,” which tells the story of five fictional high school seniors making the journey toward college.

 As the The College Insider columnist for The Huffington Post, Stabiner has plenty of material on which to draw. According to a review in the New York Times, the book presents “an unflattering and hyped picture of competition and cruelty among high school students and parents, with threats exchanged over valedictory standings, bribes extended to prospective colleges and lavish gifts presented to admission counselors.” One of the overriding messages in the book is that parents are overly involved in their children’s experiences and need to learn to let go. As for students, they finally learn that growing up is even more important than “getting in.”