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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…

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3 Questions for College Counseling’s Future

Alice Anne Bailey has talked with low-income students about applying to college. Often they tell her they don’t know how to do it. “They think it’s some magical process,” she said. “Someone comes and knocks on your door, and you just pack your bags and go to college.”

Ms. Bailey, director of the Go Alliance at the Southern Regional Education Board, made those remarks on Monday during a conference at Harvard University. Convened by the White House and Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, the e…

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‘Money’ Reaches for Objectivity in College Rankings

Money magazine unveiled a new set of college rankings on Monday morning, touting its list as a tool for identifying institutions that deliver “great value.”

In a world full of frivolous rankings (colleges with the best weather!), Money set out to compile a highly objective one. The result is relatively heavy on outcomes data and light on subjective prestigery like the reputation surveys used by U.S. News & World Report. To develop the rankings, Money joined with Mark S. Schneider, a vice presid…

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Does Your Admissions Office Have ‘Cultural Intelligence’?

Chicago — The modern admissions office doesn’t need a good student-recruitment plan—it needs many of them. After all, what resonates with one applicant might not matter to another.

At the ACT’s Enrollment Planners Conference here on Friday, two admissions officials described how class and culture affect students’ college choices. The discussion was based on Inside the College Gates: How Class and Culture Matter in Higher Education, a recent book by Jenny M. Stuber.

Generally, upper-middle-class …

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5 ‘Dirty Words’ Admissions Offices Should Embrace

Chicago — Brian Wm. Niles didn’t cuss, but still a few people winced.

At the ACT’s annual Enrollment Planners Conference here on Thursday, Mr. Niles, founder of Target X, recommended five “dirty words” colleges should use regularly. (Squeamish romantics fond of quaint words like “learning,” be warned.)

Customer. Many people who work at colleges dislike the word, preferring to call students “students.” But as more Americans question the value of higher education, Mr. Niles said, institutions must…