Monthly Archives: May 2013

May 20, 2013

Connecting with High-Achieving, Low-Income Students

A recent study has revealed that top colleges are lacking in highly talented low-income students, even though many schools have implemented new programs that cater to this demographic. Many of these skilled students never attempt to apply at selective universities and, as a result, are missing out the opportunity to matriculate at elite universities even though these schools offer lucrative financial aid opportunities for low-income students.

Why don’t low income students apply?

The majority of high achieving middle- and high-income students have a set pattern of applying to a variety of schools – they apply to some schools that are on “par” with their GPA and test scores, some “safety” schools, and some “reach” schools. However, a majority of their low-income counterparts tend to stick to less selective institutions that enroll more low income students than the elite universities.

This trend can be traced back to the culture in which the low-income student grew up. Often, high achieving students from poor or rural districts do not have any role models who attended a competitive university; indeed, many of these students are the first in their families to consider attending college. For these students, there is no set path, and no experienced guide to let them know how, when, and why they should apply to a selective university.

True – There are some low-income students applying and being accepted at top-tier universities, but the study found that the majority of these students are coming from a “highly concentrated” group of selective high schools. These high schools have GPA requirements and staff that specialize in helping their students prepare for college. Inner city and rural public schools are largely unrepresented in these low-income applicant pools.

How can you connect with these students?

In a follow-up project from Stanford University, about 40,000 students from low-income, non-selective high schools were tracked as they made their college decisions. These students come from districts and schools where few, if any, graduates apply to elite colleges. These students then received a number of low-cost interventions to advise and educate them along the way, and to directly address concerns that poor families have during the application process.

Some of the interventions included; customized information about the true cost of college (as opposed to the “sticker price”), automatic application fee waivers to certain universities, and information about graduation rates. The results were dramatic. These students were significantly more likely to apply for admission and be accepted at competitive schools that typically enroll higher numbers of high-income students. They also found that these students performed as well or better than their peers who attended less competitive institutions.

So, the studies show that a small investment can yield big results when recruiting low-income students. But very few schools go to such lengths to attract students whose educations need to be subsidized by loans and other forms of private aid. Low income students simply don’t contribute towards the bottom line. As Unemployed Northeastern, an Inside Higher Education commenter said:

“…at the most elite schools, after they pencil in the legacy and athletic admits, the development cases, the scions of politicians and other wielders of power, the centuries-old quota from Deerfield and Exeter and similar, how many spots are really left for the great unwashed masses who have neither riches nor connections to their name? According to the Crimson, at Harvard… less than 5% of the class comes from the bottom quintile of household income and less than 20% comes from the bottom three quintiles of household income. Meanwhile, nearly 50% of Harvard students come from famlies with >$200,000 in income. In other words, just because college makes a show of trying to get more low-income students doesn’t mean they are actually trying to get more low-income students.

Although most colleges and universities will likely ignore the findings of Stanford’s recent study, perhaps their models for intervening on these students can find a place within low-income high schools’ advising and guidance departments.

How does your school recruit low-income groups?

May 1, 2013

Paperless Review at NAGAP 2013

NAGAP Conference 2013The admissions experts from ZAP Solutions just returned from the Annual NAGAP Conference in Orlando, Florida! National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP)’s mission is to engage and advance Graduate Enrollment Management Professionals by promoting excellence and collaboration through education, research, and professional development. The NAGAP Conference is an excellent opportunity for attendees to learn and discuss the different approaches and aspects of graduate enrollment management. The ZAP team had a wonderful time networking with other admissions professionals and spreading the word about AMP, ZAP’s paperless admissions solution.

While there were many informative and engaging presentations at the conference, one in particular caught our attention – “Best Practices for a Paperless Application and Review Process.” In this session, representatives from Duke, North Carolina State University, and the University of Minnesota presented their experiences with moving to an electronic admissions process. While listening to their presentations, we were surprised to discover that the committee review of applicants was being discussed as a new feature in online admissions management, since AMP has featured committee reviews being accessible online in our web-based admissions management system for the past ten years.

AMP has the ability to enable each of our schools to utilize an admissions management system that is customized specifically to their admissions process, including committee review.  The Committee Review process in AMP has features for administrators and committee members including:

    • Schedule committee review meetings
    • Assign applicants to specific committee members, automatically or manually
    • Review applicants’ screening reports, interview reports, and full application data
    • Rank applicants
    • Submit decisions with related comments
    • View a summary of committee decisions, as shown below

AMP - Committee Admin Summary

We are pleased to know that our well-established practices are becoming the new standard in admissions management. The AMP development team is constantly working with clients to innovate new ways to expedite the admissions process. For example, AMP recently launched the new “Experience Timeline,” a tool that charts the extracurricular involvement of an applicant, making it easy to evaluate a student’s activities over the course of several years.

We are always searching for new ways to make the admissions process easier for our schools, which is why AMP is one of the first-to-market in developing new features in paperless admissions management software, like our online committee review and MMI interviews. Our more than ten years of experience with admissions management has enabled AMP to become a market leader in innovative admissions management software.