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Rethinking Admissions

Continuing the Conversation

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Admissions and Campaigning Are Alike In Many Ways

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Now that the 2012 elections have come to a close, this is the perfect time to reflect over the campaign season. Last week, The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Head Count blog discussed just a few of the ways that the political campaign cycle could be likened to the college admissions process: both create intense emotion on either end of the spectrum, create frenzy among analysts who attempt to predict outcomes, and invoke a desire to put bumper stickers on cars.

Burke Rogers, the director of college counseling at St. George’s School, shares a few more of the metaphors between admissions and political campaigns here.

College Admissions: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Your essays are written, your recommendation letters are mailed, and your college applications are submitted. Now what? Well, college admissions counselors suggest there are some things you can be doing while you’re waiting for the fat envelope. U.S. News & World Report talked to a few of them, and here’s what they suggest:

  •  Follow up with your high school: You requested your transcripts, but were they actually sent? This is a busy time of year for high school counseling offices, and it’s important to check so you don’t accidently fall through the cracks.
  • Market yourself to colleges: Now is the time to visit to the school of your choice and see if you can get an interview with someone from the admissions office. But once you’re there, be considerate of people’s time.
  • Consider your options: If you really like a school, but are undecided about your major, consider choosing a program with lower enrollments.
  • Think about finances: Now is the time to complete those lengthy financial aid forms, and talk to your parents about your options. Don’t wait until you’re accepted to apply for financial aid.

Those are some do’s, and you can find more tips here.  What about the don’ts? Greg Roberts, dean of admissions at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, says that’s pretty simple. Don’t “send mountains of unessential supplemental information, or e-mail or continually contact the admission representative during the time when they are reading applications 60 hours per week.”

Are you working to make yourself a better person or just a better applicant?

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

In a new study released this week, researchers found evidence that it is indeed more difficult for students to get into selective universities today than it was for previous generations. But the study also delves into what students are doing about this heightened competition.

In their working paper, entitled Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition, John Bound and Brad Hershbein of University of Michigan and Bridget Terry Long of Harvard University, report that some students are responding by taking more advanced placement courses. But others are simply focusing more attention on test- preparation courses and other strategies for improving their scores on the SAT or ACT. Read more about their findings in Inside Higher Ed or access the study online.

The working paper is available from NBER at a cost of $5.

Food for Thought from the Supreme Court’s Newest Justice

Friday, August 14th, 2009

When the Senate confirmed federal Judge Sonja Sotamayor last week as the first Hispanic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, it marked the biggest milestone in a life already filled with remarkable achievements. But would Sotomayor ever have reached the nation’s highest court if her SAT scores had been the determining factor in her Ivy League college admission? Sotomayor herself thinks not. In a video circulated widely on the Internet, Sotomayor describes herself as a “product of Affirmative Action” and concedes that she never would have been admitted to Princeton and Yale based solely on her standardized test scores. Why? According to Sotomayor, there are “cultural biases” built into the tests that work against someone like her — a Puerto Rican woman raised in a “socioeconomically poor” family in the South Bronx. Click here to watch the video. Whether we agree with Sotomayor or not, her historic Supreme Court nomination gives us all food for thought. Are those of us in higher education turning away highly qualified applicants strictly based on test scores that may or may not reflect their true ability?

Media Blogs on Rethinking Admissions

Monday, April 20th, 2009

The New York Times and Chronicle of Higher Education have been doing a great job blogging about the Rethinking Admissions conference. The Times’ education writer Jacques Steinberg wrote about the conference on his new blog called “The Choice,” which examines all facets of the college admissions process. Steinberg is also the author of a book on the topic, “The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College.” The Wake Forest conference is also popping up on the Chronicle’s News Blog, and generating plenty of comments from readers. Be sure to check out both blogs.