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Wesleyan no longer need blind

jym626jym626 Registered User Posts: 51,943 Senior Member
Wesleyan shifts away from need-blind policy, citing financial and ethical concerns | Inside Higher Ed
In the face of financial pressures, Wesleyan University is moving away from its blanket need-blind admissions policy. Instead, the college is planning to peg increases in the size of its financial aid budget to the size of its overall budget. As long as that money meets need, it will consider students irrespective of their ability to pay. Once the aid runs out, however, the college will start factoring in family income and ability to pay. This effectively means that, unless the college can raise enough money, the last students admitted to the class each year (possibly 10 percent of the class) will not include those who need aid.
Post edited by jym626 on
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Replies to: Wesleyan no longer need blind

  • kelsmomkelsmom Super Moderator Posts: 14,440 Super Moderator
    I mentor a young man who was able to attend Wes due to their wonderful finaid. It was truly a life-changer for him. I guess this means students will need to apply early.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    I am never sure that if those need aware schools truly work on a first come, first serve basis for financial aid. I know one school, for certain, that does not. All kids are rated A, B, C by admissions. Those that need financial aid have that designation on their files and FA makes sure that the A's get the best packages with full need met, few if any loans or work study. The B's have smaller grants with self help and the C's get what's left.

    Enrollment management also comes into play with more students with small amounts of need getting it fully met and tougher standards for those who need a lot. Better for the collegess stats and for getting more kids able to come if you meet the need of 5 kids who are about $10K short instead of funding just one who needs the full cost met.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 24,190 Senior Member
    Technically, adcoms at a needs blind school don't look at the financial picture, all. But, of course, you can see what the parents' jobs are, see some of the advantages offered a kid and you get a picture. And, yes, they want some kids more than others. Though it's never been acknowledged to me, I'm sure they have ways of making that clear to FA, but in some very CYA manner.

    My kids are at need aware /meet full need and the packages are great. I like to think the trick is to find schools you really are a great match for, where they can feel strongly that you will fit and thrive. This is one of the things that does disturb me about kids who pick on prestige alone- the last ones through the chute may not be so wanted.

    Cpt- your last para is exactly what I see with international kids- unless they are must-have applicants for various reasons, needing big aid can be a negative. In effect, a showstopper.
  • momofthreeboysmomofthreeboys Registered User Posts: 15,206 Senior Member
    When I think back to 2005 and 2006 when "all was good with the world" I do believe there were colleges that were very generous. It feels to me as we've moved form Kid 1 to Kid 2 to Kid 3 that indeed, it is fairly predictable and in fact if you have a hefty EFC and you see $10-$15,00 in tuition discounting it's about as good as it gets unless you have a waaay tippy top kid applyiing to a school where they will indeed come in way at the tippy top. It will be interesting this go-round because as tuitions have increased in the past 6 years we are no longer willing to be as close to the higher priced colleges "full pay" level which has escalated in some cases another $10,000 between S1 and now S3 while salaries have stagnated or declined and the market gains are weaker...there's just no value in the schools worth that additional cost of $40-$50,000 and I don't expect the colleges are going to discount back to what our budget was in 2006 and in between I've had slightly over a year with zero family income from work so ...as they say in Vegas we've folded and will be much more cost/value aware with this one. To top it off we're creeping closer to ten years older and that much closer to retirement and less years to recoup and save. Sounds to me like colleges are also "financially" worn-out. Good, maybe costs will flatten or decline slightly for colleges (not necessarily Wes) that can't fill their classes with 80-90% full pay kids.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    The situation is more acute and visible with internationals, but the same methodology and principles can also be used with US students. I do not believe that schools that operate on a need blind basis for admissions tinker with that definition. Though they may designate those students they want the most, they let financial aid do the actual allocations. At my alma mater, anyways, the process is very much separate.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,598 Senior Member
    I worked at Smith at the time that Smith switched from a need-blind to a need-conscious policy. What DIDN'T change, however, was that all applicants were evaluated and "rated" without any knowledge of their financial need.

    So all of the top candidates were admitted and fully funded, even if they needed a ton of dough. It was down toward the bottom of the applicant pool that a student who had high need might be replaced at the 11th hour by one who didn't. But, in many of these cases, the applicants were almost indistinguishable. (Remember, holistic admission is a subjective process, so the essay that one admission official hated might have been another colleague's favorite.)

    Thus, once Smith made the policy switch, I never stopped encouraging bright young women to apply, regardless of their financial requirements, because I knew that the strong candidates would fare as well in the need-conscious pool as they might have in a need-blind one.

    BUT ... where I saw the biggest difference was in Early Decision. Here, the lower-rated (but still admissible) applicants who needed a lot of money were often accepted via ED (and thus fully funded). But these same students might have been bumped out of the admit pile, had they applied via Regular Decision.

    Thus, when I encountered a high school student who seemed like a good fit for Smith but who had high need, I would encourage her to apply ED to boost her odds significantly.

    I haven't worked at Smith for a decade, so I don't know if practices have changed since then nor if the ED advantage will work similarly at Wesleyan as they embark on their new approach. But I DO know that students with high need are often instructed (by poorly informed guidance counselors as well as by others) to avoid Early Decision because it won't allow them to compare aid offers.

    While this is certainly true, it's also important to realize that--while it may sound counterintuitive--high-need students who apply to snazzy colleges (such as Wesleyan or Smith) may actually have their BEST shot at acceptance (which automatically comes with aid) in the Early Decision round. And if a student is admitted ED but without adequate funding (by whichever standards the student and parents use to define "adequate"), then the student can bail out of the ED commitment without penalty.

    So, as Kelsmom suggests, students with a strong interest in Wesleyan but high need, will probably find that ED is a wise choice.
  • floridadad55floridadad55 Registered User Posts: 2,262 Senior Member
    I think this is a sensible policy.

    Let's say you have five applicants for every spot.

    They are all very qualified.

    Doesn't it make sense to take the guy who can pay full freight, as opposed to a kid who can only pay 10% ????

    In these tough economic times, private schools really have no choice but to do this.

    Of course, it should not be taken to an extreme, because otherwise, ZERO poor kids would be able to attend, but to a certain extent, many private schools have no choice but to go this route.

    People don't have a constitutional right to go to a $50,000 a year private college.
  • Apollo6Apollo6 Registered User Posts: 1,534 Senior Member
    And if a student is admitted ED but without adequate funding (by whichever standards the student and parents use to define "adequate"), then the student can bail out of the ED commitment without penalty.
    Is this really true? What we think we can afford at our ages with the number of children that we have may be quite different than what our D'13's first choice college might think. Also, I thought that strong candidates who needed aid were better off applying regular decision so that they could compare financial aid offers and perhaps encourage comparable schools to offer more aid if those offers differed significantly.
  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert Posts: 3,598 Senior Member
    Is this really true?

    Yes, students can back out of ED commitments without having to "prove" that their aid is insufficient. Of course, if the college offers an aid package that seems to more than meet the need, you can still turn it down but this will probably do some serious damage to your karma. ;)
    Also, I thought that strong candidates who needed aid were better off applying regular decision so that they could compare financial aid offers and perhaps encourage comparable schools to offer more aid if those offers differed significantly.

    Also true. But there is more than one way to view this issue. The approach that I recommend is this: As a child nears application age, the parents should sit down with him or her and explain how much they can reasonably afford to pay each year for college. Then, if the child has a "dream" college, applies there ED, and is accepted with an aid package that fits the family's pre-determined target number, then the child can accept the ED offer. Granted, it may not be the BEST deal the kid can get. There may have been places where he or she could have gone for less. BUT if the child gets to attend a top-choice school at an acceptable cost, then ED was the way to go.

    BUT ... if the student isn't especially interested in any college that offers ED or if the parents can see in advance that the finaid that will be offered by a dream school won't come close to fitting their budget, or if the family feels that finding the cheapest possible college that is a reasonable match is the number-one priority, then ED isn't such a hot idea.
  • goose7856goose7856 Registered User Posts: 529 Member
    I think this is a sensible policy.

    Let's say you have five applicants for every spot.

    They are all very qualified.

    Doesn't it make sense to take the guy who can pay full freight, as opposed to a kid who can only pay 10% ????

    In these tough economic times, private schools really have no choice but to do this.

    Of course, it should not be taken to an extreme, because otherwise, ZERO poor kids would be able to attend, but to a certain extent, many private schools have no choice but to go this route.

    People don't have a constitutional right to go to a $50,000 a year private college.

    This! Very well said -- being "need blind" is a terrible business decision for a private college. If standards can be maintained via full-pay students, then it only makes sense to pursue those avenues first and foremost.
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,625 Senior Member
    Frankly, I don't think most schools have need blind admission. Many say they do;however, it is usually very limited, and they try to get around it. Here is an example with Yale.

    When you think of an ivy school , especially Yale, you would normally think that they have totally need blind admission. They even say so. However, they have a higher admission rate among private high schools than from public schools. Why? A Yale trustee noted that, although Yale might have need blind admission, if they can admit kids from private schools, or kids with strong name recognition who might have famous parents, chances are that these kids won't need money! Thus, this whole need blind concept at many schools is disingenuous at best.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    Taxguy, I have dealt with private high schools for years, and I can honestly tell you that those kids who are disadvantaged or on scholarship to them tend to do very well in selective school admissions. Being well to do can be a disadvantage in admissions, all other things equal. To be able to be up there in the stats and have the challenge of financial need is a plus. The reason that those kids in private schools or from well to do families have higher acceptance rates is that they tend to have the stronger apps, and the colleges have to make exception to get those who are not as privileged.

    When I was on a scholarship committee where need was just a small part of the qualification to get the funds, the most sterling apps by far, were from those who did not have need. Once in a blue moon we would get a strong contender with true need and such a student tended to be an immigrant, Asian or from Eastern Europe. In order, not to be totally "the rich kids' scholarship" we had to bend over and give need more weight than we were really supposed to do so. And those in selective school admissions told me this is always the case.

    And yes, the special flags for talent, what the school wants or needs in students, alumni status, celebrity status and of course development are intrinsically going to favor the well to do. It's just that on a straight out examination of the stats, the kids who come from well to do homes do better. In education, wealth has always been a constant in terms of accomplishment. Yes, there are exceptions but when you are talking large numbers that is unquestionably the case.
  • taxguytaxguy Registered User Posts: 6,625 Senior Member
    cptofthehouse, There is not doubt that disadvantaged kids can do well in selective schools. I am not doubting that one bit. I can only relate what an actual Yale trustee told me. It may be valid or not. Hard to tell.

    Schools are run like business, especially private schools. A school can't thrive giving away the farm to a large number of students UNLESS they have a powerhouse endowment such as at Harvard. Thus, going need blind is generally "bad for business" and has to be limited in amount depending on their endowment. While schools like Wesleyan have decent endowments for their enrollment, it isn't unlimited. Choices have to be made, and they need a fair amount of "full payers" for it to thrive.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 26,432 Senior Member
    I don't think what the Yale trustee said is invalid. I am saying that there are more advantaged kids that have better academic profiles than those without. That's why more of them are selected. Yale and other highly selective schools give disadvantaged kids preference in admission so that as many that do get accepted are. They do limit the amount of preference so that they get only what they feel life affording, but on an income blind look at the apps, the advantaged tend to do a lot, lot better overall.
  • bluebayoubluebayou Registered User Posts: 24,181 Senior Member
    While this is certainly true, it's also important to realize that--while it may sound counterintuitive--high-need students who apply to snazzy colleges (such as Wesleyan or Smith) may actually have their BEST shot at acceptance (which automatically comes with aid) in the Early Decision round.

    Exactly. And this is particularly true at colleges known to be generous with need-based aid, such as most Ivies. In an honest moment, an adcom at one Ivy told me point blank that, on average, ED was worth a "couple of percentage points" for the completely unhooked candidate. While an improvement from 10% to 12% may not seem like much on the surgace, if one does the math, ED actually results in a ~20% improvement in chances of scoring that generous need-policy.
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