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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Good News for College Applicants?

According to a recent survey by Inside Higher Education, 59% of responding colleges had not met their admissions targets by May 1 of last year. This may have many colleges re-thinking their admission strategy; and indeed, 76% of the admissions directors surveyed indicated that they were "very concerned" or "moderately concerned" about meeting admission targets this year.

Perhaps the rankings game is not working very well for colleges looking to turn accepted applicants into new students. In the race to woo high school seniors with glossy mailers, carefully crafted emails and postcards promising free flights for a visit, colleges seem to be increasing the applications of students who might just be fishing. With the average senior now applying to 8-12 colleges, students may begin to find that they have more control in the admissions process. 

While we may start to see the college market landscape shift, the old rules for applicants are still important:
  • forget about rankings and prestige. Apply only to colleges where you can see yourself living and learning for the next four years. It's all about the right fit.
  • make sure you have a good mix of colleges on your target list. This includes schools where you meet or exceed their average profile, and some schools where you may be stretching to meet their profile.
  • applications and essays must be flawless and on time. Proofread and then proofread again. 
This year's admission cycle will be interesting to watch to see if colleges make adjustments to their enrollment strategies. Prospective college students may benefit as admissions offices carefully weigh the likelihood that an applicant will say "yes" to their acceptance letter.