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"What College Admissions Offices Really Want"

2

Replies to: "What College Admissions Offices Really Want"

  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 263 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 10
    The article makes many valid points, but its discussion of standardized tests is politically correct nonsense that is contradicted by research of the very researchers cited in the piece.

    Students having both a top 10% high school GPA and a top 10% SAT/ACT score fall into the following income quartiles:

    4th (highest) - 34%
    3rd -- 27%
    2nd -- 22%
    1st -- 17%

    Yes, it is not a uniform distribution (nor would anyone in her right mind expect it to be uniform), but it is far from what most people believe, namely that income "buys" standardized test scores.

    See Hoxby and Avery page 14 here: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2013a_hoxby.pdf

    Deemphasizing standardized testing actually makes the process less fair, because the other correlates of admission are more subject to whim, gaming and privilege. It's just not that hard for a poor kid to study for a standardized test versus trying to figure out what is going to impress a French literature major turned admissions officer.
    edited September 10
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2129 replies100 threadsForum Champion Williams College Forum Champion
    ^My kid used only Khan to study for the SAT, a free resource available to everyone who registers for the SAT.

    But the argument above presupposes that only test prep affects SAT scores.
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  • carlsencarlsen 8 replies12 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Are there selective schools that do not offer need-based financial aid (students can still apply for federal aid) and that focus on keeping the list price low?
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  • cypresspatcypresspat 314 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    Not what most would call a selective school, but Grove City College is an example of a school which rejected the federal aid options decades ago. They hold their tuition very low for a private school. Cannot speak to quality of instruction or experience, other than word of mouth, which was positive.
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  • Jon234Jon234 295 replies8 threadsRegistered User Member
    edited September 11
    The title of the article is, as mentioned above, misleading.
    Surely it cannot be seen as much of a revelation that the majority of colleges have to balance the books every admission cycle?

    Theoretically, a need blind institution could end up with a class comprised entirely of kids on 100% free rides or kids who were all full pay, if they only admitted the brightest candidates. Most of the need blind schools I've looked into seem to have around 50% of the student body receiving some financial aid. admitted
    I believe in the holistic processes but I've never believed that financial need isn't a consideration at the majority of colleges and universities.
    edited September 11
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  • mom2andmom2and 2820 replies19 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I thought this was interesting
    In a national experiment, Hoxby and Turner had sent semipersonalized information packets, including application-fee waivers, to thousands of high-achieving low-income students, and the packets seemed to be changing the application behaviors of the students who received them, making them more likely to apply to and attend selective colleges.

    Perhaps if elite colleges did more of this and less of sending materials to kids that already know about them, they might actually improve their diversity numbers.

    The comments to the article are interesting. Many question the idea that grades can be used in the absence of standardized tests due to the quality differences among high schools. It may be that there is more grade inflation at top high schools, but the level of work required is often much more complex and detailed, then in lower performing schools. Kids, especially boys, tend to mature during the HS years and through college. A lot (but certainly not all) of smart slackers in HS may end up doing well in college.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77793 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    mom2and wrote: »
    Perhaps if elite colleges did more of this and less of sending materials to kids that already know about them, they might actually improve their diversity numbers.

    But do they actually want to improve their (SES) diversity numbers?

    Greater SES diversity would mean more financial aid expense. It would also make the graduating students less attractive to those industries that favor those from high SES backgrounds (currently, those elite private colleges have predominantly those from high SES backgrounds, with small numbers of academically elite students from lower and middle SES backgrounds who get four years of high SES socialization).
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    For all the hoopla, the bottom line is very little change at Trinity. I guess a percent uptick is an improvement, but it has to be sustained and creep upwards for things to make much of a difference.

    I don’t think there will be a whole lot of difference in the demographics but my advice to Trinity would be to study some of Vanderbilt’s and Chicago’s financial aid policies. Opening up Trinity, a small NE LAC with a solid reputation and history to those with NCP issues would likely bring in more academically strong students. I know a number of students over the years who were stellar catches for any college but could not qualify for much financial aid due to recalcitrant NCPs. I even know one accepted to Trinity and had to turn it down—went to state U instead because could not afford the steep price. She was PELL eligible due to low FAFSA EFC but Dad refuses to fill out PROFILE(not that it would have made any difference)

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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33603 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 12
    Trinity has had a very preppy local rep. Too much for even my then preppy prep-school D1. That's an added challenge for a small college trying to expand its student body.

    These wanted changes come from more than just top-down thinking. Or even the aid offered. It may be a needed cultural shift. Lots of colleges (tippy top and top) have actually expanded programs to change that culture, offer diferent sorts of opps, support, and integration to students different from the typical kids of the last decades. It often needs a seismic shift.

    DH came back from the tour with eyes rolling that the guide actually asked the group, "Where do you prep?" Yow. Granted, a decade ago and an anecdote.

    Perceptions matter.
    edited September 12
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  • dropbox77177dropbox77177 263 replies0 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited September 12
    The linked article highlights just how few really high quality applicants there are who can afford to be full pay at $75K+.

    Imagine if the very top schools were not so generous, filling up to half their classes with financial aid students? The pickings would get mighty slim mighty fast once you drop below the top 20 universities and top 10 LACs.

    Financial aid is not offered for altruistic reasons.
    edited September 12
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  • foobar1foobar1 200 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Great article. It's a peek behind the admissions office curtain at a liberal arts college.

    Most surprising to me was how much of the admissions process was outsourced to enrollment management consulting firms such as Hardwick Day or Maguire Associates.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The reality is that enrollment management companies with their statistical assessments are what are directing college acceptances at a lot of colleges. This despite the insistence that admissions is becoming an increasingly holistic process. At a LAC like Trinity, being such a small school, one would think that admissions would be more personal through and through.

    Schools have to maintain financial stability/strength. They need to attract high achieving students. They need to to keep UNWR rankings in mind and address what it requires to rank higher.

    Trying to also bring in students who are challenged by poor academic support, risky family situations, poverty, lack of opportunity at the same time time is expensive.

    It’s a tricky balance to maintain, seeking the diversity while bringing in students who can pay most of the costs of an expensive schools.

    Trinity has always been a “safety” type school for those at the east coast boarding schools, prep schools and independent schools, from what I have gathered. Though I think that it is noble for them to seek diversity , I think they need to focus more in attracting students who will bring in more applications in the “can afford” crowd. I know some of the high test score, low grades kids that they accepted who were full pay, and though they did not do so well in college, they are all successful financially in their lives. But, they aren’t as enamoured with their college as St Lawrence and Ursinus alums are. Just anecdotal, too small of a sample to generalize other than in a forum like this—I’m just remarking, but it is striking to me as it spans a full generation.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77793 replies678 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The reality is that enrollment management companies with their statistical assessments are what are directing college acceptances at a lot of colleges. This despite the insistence that admissions is becoming an increasingly holistic process.

    Holistic reading is not inconsistent with statistical analysis of student yield and tuition yield. A college can "score" applicants holistically to determine which are most desirable to it, but then use the statistical analysis of student yield and tuition yield to figure out the maximally desirable (based on holistic readings) admission class that will yield the desired number of students paying the desired amount of tuition.

    This is similar to the other side of the college admissions game, where students compare admissions and net prices, often trading off college desirability (which students may determine holistically) versus net price.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    It emphasizes how important the ability to pay is in the process. Actually, I’m impressed that the results are only a % point or so off when done without the extra input and expense of the Enrollment management company services.

    I attribute this process to the success my low test score, rigorous course load, good grades kid had in getting accepted to schools where the test scores alone were very much in the lower 25%. Adding male gender and full pay made a huge difference.
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  • foobar1foobar1 200 replies2 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    More details on the Hardwick Day statistical admissions model would be interesting. However, the article and data from Trinity's common data set suggest that full pay and male gender (at a liberal arts college) would have some weight.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2056 replies28 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited September 12
    Many of the enrollment management consultants have case study/white paper info on their websites. The models tend to be highly specific to a given institution.
    Here is a link to how (as of 2017) Dickinson college uses predictive analytics in admissions, it's pretty interesting in how they use a decile system to rank each app as it comes in the door. Apps are ranked on a bunch of factors many of which have been identified (via historical Dickinson data) as equating to higher yield. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuevUJPXEtc
    edited September 12
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1274 replies35 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    If the current trends in applications and admissions continue, my prediction is that most functions of admissions offices will be outsourced. AI and other algorithms will replace humans. I hope it doesn't happen but I'm afraid it will.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33603 replies369 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Not easy to say ardently holistic colleges will just go to machine processing.

    Of course enrollment mgt does their thing and meets with admissions, offers input. But they do not review apps. Nor sit in on final committee.

    There are many factors involved in admit decisions and to try to make it simple isn't going to offer clarity. I'd just suggest folks try to be more open-minded. When you ask people why they feel holistic is a sham, they generally answer, "Because I think so." Or they point to family incomes at certain colleges.

    Good research starts at the beginning, not half way through or based on end results. If more qualified applicants from the middle and upper SES apply, that's a factor that swings results. If more of those income tiers matriculate, same.
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2129 replies100 threadsForum Champion Williams College Forum Champion
    edited September 12
    @ucbalumnus asked, “But do they actually want to improve their (SES) diversity numbers?”

    I believe the answer for many top colleges is yes. In January 2018, I participated in an alumni group phone call with the dean of admissions and financial aid at my alma mater, and the whole call was about the efforts the college is making to visit and recruit in low income areas, to fly in low-income students to visit the college, to bring in kids through Questbridge and other organizations recruiting needy kids, and to meet full demonstrated need as they do. They say they are not only need blind, they are “need seeking.” They also spoke of their efforts to make every aspect of college affordable for aided kids, from textbooks to “pizza money.”

    And again and again in other communications from the college, this is their biggest theme. While one can argue if they are perfect at it or if they could do a lot more, or if they do other things that undercut the goal, their message is so consistent and so passionate that I completely believe they value it. They want to make the college accessible to bright kids regardless of family finances.

    And I see it live at my son’s college. Almost all of my sons’ friends receive financial aid, and are aided in so many generous ways, from textbooks, to music lessons, to travel, to school-to-work tours to major cities in breaks, to skiing lessons.
    edited September 12
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29255 replies57 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Most Admissions officers I have met at selective schools truly want to get the top candidates regardless of ability to pay, and also make an impact on the demographics of their campuses with diversity and give those socially and economically disadvantaged an opportunity to move out of that position.

    The problem with these sentiments is that they are at odds with keeping a college solvent and thriving. Colleges need a certain number of full pay students. Without getting a certain dollar amount from tuition and other costs , many colleges are in danger of going into a downward spiral. They also need to get students with high test scores, certain levels in test scores in order to remain competitive for the students the most want.

    That grades are a better indicator of success than test scores does not address the fact that there are too many students with great grades and that without a certain distribution of test scores, a college is likely to flounder. Not only would lower test scores hurt the all important rankings, students and parents do look at those ranges, and many want to be with students with the high scores. Independent of rankings, those numbers are researched and they make a difference in whether a student even applies to certain schools. That student likely is highly desirable to these colleges too.

    Because economics do play such an important role in keeping a college going as well in attracting students, it has to play a role at private colleges that do not get subsidies from the states. Of course Development, legacy, athletics, are important. They bring in much needed funding so that schools can pay for students who cannot afford the college.

    I’d like to see some viable suggestions for schools like Trinity that are teetering between making necessary financial goals and also getting students who cannot afford the cost without aid.
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