Monthly Archives: August 2012

August 31, 2012

Admissions Problems Tumblr : Entertainment or Bad Ethics?

Fall semester is upon us, which means that your admissions department can breathe a sigh of relief… for about 2 hours. So, we invite you to take a little break from your workload for a laugh or two!

We want to share with you an interesting, relatively new Tumblr page – Admissions Problems. These anonymous admissions employees have been sharing their battle stories since May of 2012. One of our favorite posts:


Johnny Carson Admissions GIF

This tumblr is as controversial as it is hilarious. Most posts poke fun at the everyday situations that arise in an admissions office and on the road, but some posts have drawn ire and criticism from the admissions community.

The most incendiary posts have included excerpts from actual admissions essays, poking fun at the poor writing skills and topic choices. A recent post bashed a student’s essay on the topic of racism, citing it for lack of professionalism and factual evidence.

Are the posted essays hilariously ridiculous, offering value to a satirical blog? Yes. But this raises the issue of ethics; is it OK to use student essays, emails, and Facebook comments as comedic fodder on a public forum? Many higher education employees would respond with an emphatic “NO,” and I tend to agree.

As of now, the admissions employees who submit student’s essays to the site are protected by anonymity. The administrators of “Admissions Problems” have enthusiastically defended their right to post whatever they please, stating…

You may not like this blog. You don’t have to read it…But here’s the equation that leaves us confused:

You judge us publicly for judging others publicly.

Hmmm. We think we’ve written about this before. It’s called hypocrisy… Surely you don’t think we’re the first to explore the concept of exploiting stupidity for humor and satire? We’d be flattered!

What are your thoughts on the Admissions Problems Tumblr?

August 21, 2012

The Shopping Sheet: Know Before You Owe

In a past post, we discussed the increased attention on the costs of college and the ever-increasing default rate for education loans. Since then, the Department of Education has unveiled a new tool for informing prospective students about the real cost of college: the Shopping Sheet. While the Shopping Sheet is not a requirement for schools, it is considered to be a new “best practice” in the world of higher education.

The Shopping Sheet seeks to provide transparency in financial aid offers and clear cost comparison between schools. This is a direct response to a common criticism heard from students; that financial aid letters often mislead the reader about the true costs of accepting aid, are confusing and euphemistic in their descriptions, and/or omit key information regarding costs of attendance. “Right now, colleges are not required to provide the full cost of attendance … or even to provide the contact information for a financial aid office,” says Lauren Asher, president of The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) of the Shopping Sheet.

“Countless students I meet across the country feel like the first time they really understood how much student loan debt they were in was when the first bill arrived,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “We must unravel the mystery of higher education pricing by giving students and families the information they need to make smart educational choices. The Shopping Sheet is a positive step in that direction.”

The main goal of the Shopping Sheet is to educate and inform borrowers so that they can make an educated decision before committing to a large loan package. This is achieved through the clear communication of the following information:

  • The total cost of 1 year’s schooling
  • Clear differentiation between the types of aid. Namely, between loans (which need to be repaid by borrowers) and grants (which are free money and are not repaid)
  • Net costs after loans and grants have been applied
  • Statistics on the school’s graduation rates, default rates, and median borrowing rates.

Schools that opt to use the Shopping Sheet will begin implementation during the 2013/2014 school year. Many universities have already pledged their support of the new system, including (but not limited to):

  • Syracuse University
  • Vassar University
  • Arizona State University
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Texas

While it is disappointing that the Shopping Sheet will not be universally implemented, it does provide a blueprint for the information needed to make an informed decision. Diligent students & parents can use it as reference when comparing aid offers and when doing research.

Senator Al Franken fully supports the Shopping Sheet, but also recognizes the limitations to offering it as a non-mandatory tool. “The White House’s introduction of a shopping sheet, also known as a universal financial aid award letter, is a step in the right direction, and I want to thank them for recognizing that this problem needs to be addressed. But unless a universal financial aid award form is made mandatory, colleges will still be able to use whatever form they want, and families won’t be able to compare apples to apples when evaluating financial aid offers.”

Hopefully the Shopping Sheet will start a new trend of clear and transparent financial communication between schools and students. I predict that more & more schools will jump on the bandwagon in being up front and honest about the true costs of education. What do you think?

Has your school decided to adopt the Shopping Sheet? Why or why not?

August 8, 2012

YouTube and Admissions

“More than 400 universities across the United States and Canada already have a presence on YouTube, with sample lectures, student speakers and campus tours posted on their personalized channels,” says YouTube representative Annie Baxter to NY Times’ The Choice Blog.

There are many admissions offices that try to entice prospective students to apply to their school through their YouTube videos. “Topping the list of most effective tools for recruiting undergraduates were Facebook and YouTube, at 94 percent and 84 percent, respectively,” quotes a Campus Technology article. Regarding that statistic, schools have created various types of videos serving different purposes in their recruiting efforts.


Informational videos usually consist of Q&A sessions, whether it is a current student discussing dilemmas they face throughout college, fellow alumni going over their steps and successes, or even one of the admission officers reiterating important application and admissions information. Showing off different parts of campus to give the student a better feel of the culture and area is another way to create a useful video for the applicants. The video shown above is from Dartmouth’s admissions office.


College raps are becoming increasingly popular from schools, particularly the admissions departments, where they involve current  students to help with the recruit of their school in a fun, social way. Above is a rap from the University of Rochester, entitled ‘Remember oUR Name’.


There are also plenty of videos on school’s YouTube channels involving students sending admissions offices their videos in a pursuit to get an interview or acceptance into the particular school. Many students have opened up in this unique way to hopefully win the admissions committee’s hearts over. Above is a video with a selection of different applicant videos.

How do you increase recruiting from your admissions office using YouTube?