May 30, 2013, 8:10 pm
Salt Lake City — Prospective students have a zillion questions for colleges, and they expect Google-fast answers. Yet no admissions office has enough of a staff to handle each and every query.
That’s why Tessa McSwain sees promise in live chats. At the Rocky Mountain Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual conference here on Thursday, Ms. McSwain, assistant director of admissions at the University of Colorado at Boulder, described her office’s recent experiments with two forms of online communication.
So far this year, Colorado has held five “group chats,” in which two or three admissions officers fielded questions about a range of subjects, including financial aid, housing, and on-campus dining options. Recently, two all-day chats attracted about 250 prospective students and parents, who received quick answers from real, live human beings on the other end of…
May 14, 2013, 2:01 pm
Many programs designed to increase college access try to reach students early. And with good reason: Decisions made starting in middle school can play a large role in determining students’ college options.
So can a program that doesn’t reach students until their senior year still make a difference in college enrollment?
It can, according to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. But the program the paper examines—which includes both mentoring and cash incentives—made a difference only for women.
The paper, “Late Interventions Matter Too: The Case of College Coaching New Hampshire,” describes the effects of a program designed to reach high-school seniors who are not sure of their college plans, who are intimidated by all they must do to apply, or whose default setting is not to go to college because none of the people closest to them …
May 7, 2013, 1:55 pm
Washington — Preparing disadvantaged students for college work is critical. But there is little evidence that the federal programs meant to do so are effective, and they should be redesigned, according to a new policy brief.
The paper, “Time for Change: A New Federal Strategy to Prepare Disadvantaged Students for College,” reviews research on the TRIO and Gear Up programs. It finds that most of those program evaluations do not meet the evidence standards of the Institute of Education Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education’s research arm, and the one that does meet those standards finds the program has no major effects on college enrollment or completion. The other studies do find some effects, but the paper says that research is “suggestive rather than definitive.”
In light of that pattern, the paper’s authors—Ron Haskins, co-director of the Center on Children and Families …
May 1, 2013, 3:26 pm
In an article this week, I describe the culture of College Confidential, the Web site many people love and/or hate. So far I’ve received several e-mails from readers who complained that my story was too negative (one anonymous soul informed me that my alma mater is a “joke”). Other readers suggested that the story wasn’t harsh enough.
Yet the most interesting response came from David Hawsey, a longtime admissions professional who helped create College Confidential in 2001. “It was founded for a different reason than people may think,” he wrote.
Mr. Hawsey, now vice president for enrollment management at Emory & Henry College, in Virginia, described his motivations for starting the free Web site: to educate the public about how colleges recruit and select applicants, and determine financial-aid awards. Back then, as the site’s primary producer of content, including responses to…
May 1, 2013, 11:15 am
Disadvantaged students are more likely to search for colleges haphazardly, rather than in the systematic way a good counselor would encourage. And that makes them more susceptible to marketing from lower-tier colleges that may not be a good fit, academically or financially. That’s the takeaway of a new paper that will be presented on Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association but is not yet available online.
The paper, “Easy Targets: Haphazard College Searching and the Reproduction of Inequalities in Higher Education,” is based on a two-year qualitative study at two suburban high schools in the Northeast. Its author, Megan M. Holland, expects to receive her doctorate in sociology from Harvard University this month.
Among the 89 students she interviewed, Ms. Holland identified two main approaches to the college search. Some students were…
April 17, 2013, 3:15 pm
A strong network of alumni volunteers can be an asset to an admissions office. And working with alumni volunteers is one area in which admissions offices can collaborate with each other instead of competing, writes Katrina L. Heilmeier in a guest post today. Ms. Heilmeier, an admissions counselor at Bowling Green State University, was scheduled to on this topic at a session of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ annual meeting this week.
Alumni volunteers can be extremely valuable resources throughout the recruitment process. Their first-hand knowledge of history, traditions, and spirit give alumni a unique voice in speaking to students and families about the value of a degree from your institution. Alumni volunteers can assist recruitment throughout the entire admissions cycle by participating in college fairs, interviews, high-school visits,…
April 16, 2013, 11:03 pm
San Francisco — As Texas Tech University pursues an ambitious enrollment goal, it is taking some creative measures to expand its reach. University officials described one such effort, in which parents of current students call those of admitted students, in a session of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ annual meeting here on Tuesday.
Texas Tech is trying to increase its enrollment to 40,000 students by 2020, up from about 32,500 as of the fall of 2012.
The idea of a parent-outreach program began, fittingly, with a parent, who thought it could be a good way to raise the enrollment of students from the Houston area. Texas is a big state, and the drive from Houston to Lubbock, where the university is located, can take nine hours. That means the typical rules of in-state recruitment may not always apply.
The university had an active…
April 15, 2013, 7:05 pm
Colleges might have good reasons for wanting to know whether their students identify as LGBT. But they should think carefully about whether and when to ask students to share that information, writes Tammy R. Johnson in a guest post today. Ms. Johnson, executive director of admissions at Marshall University, is scheduled to present on this topic at a session of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers’ annual meeting on Monday.
In recent years, there has been increasing interest among admission officers regarding the identification of LGBT students on campus. Reliable statistics about LGBT populations on campuses across the country are all but non-existent, and many progressive institutions are aiming to remedy that problem.
It is a growing concern: How can schools provide outreach and support (and increase retention rates) for LGBT students if this…
April 12, 2013, 4:55 am
Admissions offices have fought for years against what they call the “summer melt,” in which a fraction of a college’s admitted students who have sent in deposits never show up to enroll. In some cases, students’ plans change because they have been admitted off the wait list at a top choice.
But melt can also mean something quite different, especially among lower-income students. Such students are more likely to melt, and studies conducted in several locations around the United States have shown that around 20 percent of low-income students who are admitted to and are set to attend a four-year college do not enroll anywhere.
Researchers at Harvard University tested two forms of outreach—text messages and near-peer mentors—that are meant to raise the enrollment of such students. The researchers’ findings are described in a new paper, “Summer Nudging: Can Personalized Text…