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What Keeps Women Out of Elite Colleges? Their SAT Scores

We’ve all heard about the gender gap in higher education: Nationally, women enroll in college and complete degrees at higher rates than men do. But new research reveals that for decades women have been underrepresented at the nation’s most-selective institutions. And the apparent culprits are standardized tests.

Admissions offices’ reliance on SAT scores has created “de facto institutional preferences for men” at the nation’s most-competitive colleges, according to the results of a longitudinal …

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Applicants to Bennington College May Now ‘Curate’ Their Applications

Starting this year, Bennington College will allow applicants to submit a body of work that demonstrates their achievements and abilities, but what students send will be up to them. Their submissions might include a high-school transcript and recommendations—or not.

In announcing the new “Dimensional Application” on Wednesday, Bennington’s president, Mariko Silver, described the option as a way for students to “individually curate” the criteria the Vermont college will use to evaluate them. “Life…

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Admissions Leaders Gather to Weigh ‘Prestige, Financial Aid, and Love’

Indianapolis — Gray areas, pink hair, and a silver scooter.

I heard about all of those over three days here at the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual conference, where officials shared concerns about many issues. The challenge of recruiting students in this high-tech age. The relentless need to bolster the bottom line as institutional budgets remain tight. And the weight of expectations—some reasonable, some not—to deliver a bigger, better freshman class each year.

In…

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Common App No Longer Requires Members to Conduct ‘Holistic’ Reviews

Indianapolis — The Common Application will no longer require member colleges to conduct “holistic” reviews of applicants, the organization announced on Friday. The change in policy will allow institutions that do not require admission essays or recommendations to join the 549 colleges worldwide that use the standardized online admission form.

Officials of the Common Application discussed the change, effective with the 2015-16 admissions cycle, during a session Friday morning here at the National…

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What Can a 2-Minute Video Say About the Next 4 Years?

Ever since George Mason University started inviting prospective students to send in videos as part of their application materials, Matthew P. Boyce, the interim admissions director there, has seen applicants try to prove their mettle in some odd ways.

One young man wrote and performed a rap about why he wanted to go to the university, featuring a cameo by his grandma. Mr. Boyce recently watched footage of another candidate biting into an Indian “ghost pepper,” one of the world’s spiciest v…

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At Goucher College, Applicants Who Send Videos Need Not Send Grades

Starting this fall, applicants to Goucher College may submit a self-produced video instead of test scores, high-school transcripts, and recommendations. With the Goucher Video App, announced on Thursday, the liberal-arts college in Towson, Md., becomes the first institution to offer an application option in which a videotaped response will be the primary factor in admissions evaluations.

“Students are more than just numbers,” says Christopher Wild, an admissions counselor at Goucher. “We’ve alwa…

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Common Application Revs Up Again

The 2014-15 Common Application will go live at 8 a.m. on Friday, which means this nation of eager-beaver college applicants can start their apps before breakfast. As many as 50,000 high-school students are expected to create accounts over the next few days.

Following  a difficult cycle for the Common App, admissions officers and college counselors will be watching the online system closely over the coming months. Last year a series of technical problems complicated the admissions process for a…

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How 4 Types of Families Approach Paying for College

The overwhelming majority of current students and their parents see college as an investment in the future. That unsurprising finding appears in Sallie Mae’s annual “How America Pays for College” report, which was released on Thursday.

Families may agree college is an investment, but it’s one they approach with different priorities and varying degrees of preparation. For the first time, this year’s report divides families into four “personas” based on an analysis of their responses to surv…

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The Office of Undergraduate Admissions, Stress, and Sales?

Welcome to the admissions profession, the career you just fall into. Please make eye contact with each prospective student when describing this great campus, but remember, this isn’t marketing, OK? Learn everything about data. Technology, too. As for those nerves: Sooner or later, you just get used to all the administrators, trustees, and professors watching our office like half-starved hawks.

That portrait of the admissions field was inspired by a new report, released on Wednesday by the Natio…

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Temple U. Drops Testing Requirement

Temple University will no longer require ACT or SAT scores for admission starting in the fall of 2015, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Tuesday.

Under Temple’s new policy, applicants who do not submit test scores will answer written “self-reflective short-answer questions,” according to Temple’s website. The questions will measure so-called noncognitive attributes such as leadership, determination, and grit, Temple officials told the Inquirer.

Temple received a $225,000 grant this month fro…