Monthly Archives: January 2012

January 30, 2012

The Smoother, Faster Common App

The Common Application began in 1975 with just 15 colleges.  Today, it is accepted and currently used by 456 colleges, where they all share the same mission to promote access through holistic admissions.  With 45 of them just signing on within the last application year, this now leaves the Common App membership association to handle over three million applications.

Last week the New York Times featured an article about the Common App revising and updating many of its overall features, so that it will have a smoother, faster, and more intuitive application for the 2013 admissions season.  The Common App has plans to have a feature where students can ask college counselors questions about their applications in real time while in the process of filling it out.  Other updates include being able to access and complete the Common App on iPads and tablets, which is predicted to be a huge trend for higher education technology this upcoming year.

There are still some colleges that prefer not to use it, and many believe that their school may lose its identity.  They would rather have their applicants complete a more unique and comprehensive application then the standard Common App.  Of the schools that did switch to the Common App, some of them had increased applicant numbers and a rise in the diversity of students.  Your school could experience these same improvements and lower acceptance rates if there is an increase in applicants from switching, but don’t forget about how it will affect your admission staff’s workload and the amount of increased student rejections.  The real benefit from the Common App depends on the particular school.  If your school uses the Common App, what other updates would you like to see that might benefit your school even further?

January 16, 2012

Change in Admissions Trend

Many schools have been aggressively marketing their school to a wider variety and number of students more than ever before.  According to the College Board, they sell 45 million more names a year to colleges now than they did in the early 1990’s.  This change in admissions trend has more colleges offering Early Action or Early Decision applications to students, which essentially allow students to apply early and get an admission decision from the college well before the usual spring notification date.  These terms vary by schools, but the official distinction and conditions are offered on College Board.

These trends have consequently created many changes for the applicants and schools.  Students are applying to college earlier and earlier in hopes of getting accepted, along with many applying by Early Action or Early Decision deadlines.  EA/ED applications give students a feeling of security, along with alleviating much of the anxiety that comes along with the long wait for a response.  However, students are usually inclined to believe that if they apply earlier then they will be more likely to get accepted into the college, which is not necessarily true in all cases.  This also may put pressure onto the students to make a decision before they have a chance to compare school options, so the EA/ED application may be a better option for students who know exactly what school that they want to go to.

Change in AdmissionsNot only have students been applying earlier, but there has been an increase in the amount of applications to many schools.  Colleges are continuing to switch over to the common application, which makes it easier for students to fill out many applications online quickly.  For example, Brown University switched to the common application in ‘07-‘08 and has had a 50% increase in applications over the last three years.  A school is able to look more impressive and prestigious if they have a lower acceptance rate, so what school wouldn’t want to receive more applications?  Looking at specifically a school’s admissions team and applicants, an increase in applications does have a downside for them.  The admissions team will have to put in a lot more work to go through the extra applications in a timely manner, which could increase student wait times for responses and give the admissions team a harder time to predict yield and commitment.  The schools may be happy about the increase but I am not so sure about the admissions team or prospective college applicants.

For percent of change in early admissions received and accepted, view NY Times article and chart for this current admissions season.

January 11, 2012

New Year Resolutions in Admissions

Recount what you have done in 2011.  Look at what stands out to you as achievements to you and your school. Why was it so successful?  Think about times that may have been more of a disappointment and what made them… not-so-successful.  Going over the past year’s events can be an easy way to come up with a feasible new year’s resolution list for your admissions or higher education department that everyone can actually keep to and progress upon this year.

Write the qualities and characteristics from the achievements into one column as a list to keep up with and involve into each day.  Don’t think too hard about this; it can be as simple as, ‘using post-it notes effectively’ or ‘making the most out of my online calendar’.  Make a second column with qualities from the unsuccessful events as items that could be changed and improved upon as you plan each daily measure.

New Year's Resolutions in Admissions

This is a really obvious and simple way to make your year better and more productive than the last.  Many times people forget to reflect upon the previous year, but taking the time out of your day to sit down and write out the specifics of your success can be a helpful tool when planning events and actions that you may take during the upcoming year.