November 9, 2012, 2:01 pm
As I’ve written before, there’s no Data Sheriff patrolling the sometimes-secretive realm of college admissions.
George Washington University reminded us of that on Thursday when it announced that its admissions office had inflated its class-rank data for more than a decade, substituting estimates for hard numbers. If not for an internal administrative review, the practice might have continued—undiscovered—forever and ever.
The news reminded me of a chat I had with Raymond A. Brown this past summer. Mr. Brown, dean of admission at Texas Christian University, believes that all colleges should agree to have their admissions data reviewed regularly by independent auditors.
For the last 12 years, Texas Christian has hired PriceWaterhouseCoopers to verify that the university’s admissions numbers—including applications, acceptances, and standardized-test scores—have been…
October 5, 2012, 3:09 pm
Denver — Here at this giant gathering of admissions officers and high-school counselors, I keep hearing the same word over and over. People have mentioned it during sessions, uttered it over coffee, and probed its meaning in conversations. The word is “grit.”
It’s as good a word as any for the determination that many educators now associate with student success. Grit, as described by some researchers, is the habit of overcoming challenges, of learning from mistakes instead of being defeated by them. One administrator described it as “that fire in the belly.”
It’s long been said that test scores and grade-point averages don’t tell you the whole story about an applicant, but these days there’s growing interest in ways of measuring—and improving—student’s “noncognitive” skills, as speakers here at the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual meeting…
October 4, 2012, 6:26 pm
Temple University has taken crowdsourcing and social media in a new direction.
With social media becoming more and more important for college admissions, the university has created a campaign called “Temple Made,” which uses Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to connect with its students and alumni, promote university spirit, and reach out to prospective students.
Back in August, the university put out a call for current and former Owls to send in Instagram photos they believed illustrate “Temple Made.”
A “Temple Made” photo submitted by a student. Courtesy of @TempleUniv.
Since then, more than 1,000 images of students, campus spots, athletics, and downtown Philadelphia have been uploaded on Instagram. The photos were then used in a promotional video that was shot, voiced, scored, edited, and directed by a…
September 24, 2012, 12:19 pm
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced the recipients of grants meant to spark innovative financial-aid policies. As part of the Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery project, 14 organizations will receive a total of $3.3-million in grants to offer recommendations for improving the financial-aid system. Each organization will publish a white paper offering “an original perspective” early next year, according to a news release.
The organizations include the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, Excelencia in Education, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the National College Access Network, and the New American Foundation.
September 12, 2012, 1:00 pm
Close readers of the test scores reported on Wednesday in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings should approach those numbers with caution. After all, the hunt for gold-standard data will take you into some gray areas.
A handful of colleges have made news recently for intentionally fudging their enrollment data. In other cases, numbers are reported honestly but erroneously. Sometimes discrepancies arise because college officials interpret survey questions differently.
In many cases, the SAT scores that colleges report to the Education Department’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or Ipeds, differ from those reported to U.S. News. Recently, The Chronicle examined the SAT scores of 224 colleges ranked among national universities and liberal-arts colleges in last year’s U.S. News guide. Roughly one-fourth of those colleges submitted different scores to U.S. News and to …
September 10, 2012, 5:00 am
If you had it to do all over again, would you choose to attend your alma mater? Do you think the education you received there was a good value? How much money do you make? Oh, and are you happy?
The newest player in the college-rankings game has asked such questions of more than 42,000 college graduates. Called the Alumni Factor, the new venture has released a college guide based largely on the opinions of those who’ve earned bachelor’s degrees from one of 177 institutions.
“We want to pierce the bubble of reputation,” says the introduction to the Alumni Factor’s guide, “to understand how graduates actually perform post-graduation—and hear what they have to say about the job their college did to prepare them.”
Although the nation’s shelves are already full—perhaps too full—of college guides, the Alumni Factor’s timing, at least, seems impeccable. Today’s…
June 20, 2012, 5:12 pm
Boston—Application essays are perhaps the most romantic fixture of the admissions process. Although many colleges do not require them, some selective institutions ask students to write two or more. Such requirements allow applicants to reveal their true selves and help admissions officers see inside students’ heads and hearts. At least that’s long been the idea.
But has the personal statement outlived its usefulness? On Wednesday, several admissions officers and college counselors weighed that question here at the Harvard Summer Institute on College Admissions. In an era of application surges at super-selective colleges, one counselor predicted, application essays will soon become too much of a burden for some overworked admissions staffs.
Others expressed concerns about the impossibility of judging authenticity. Some applicants have college consultants who coach them through …
June 18, 2012, 8:16 pm
Bryn Mawr, Pa. — Writing a letter of recommendation is a labor of love, except when it’s not. Sometimes the process is lonely and painful, like taking a final exam in the dentist’s chair.
Either way, writing dozens of recommendations each year is a draining, time-consuming chore. But what if you could just use bullet points to describe an applicant’s talents instead of, you know, stringing together all those paragraphs?
On Monday college counselors pondered that question here at the annual conference of the Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools. During a session on writing recommendations “in the era of ‘less is more,’” several counselors said they believe that admissions officers are spending less and less time reading recommendations, or, at least, reading them carefully. In this age of application inflation, there isn’t enough time for most admissions…
June 5, 2012, 5:36 pm
Following a week of complaints, the College Board has canceled plans to offer the SAT to students who attend an expensive college-prep camp this summer.
Last week, news of this special offer angered some college counselors, not to mention the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times. In a letter to the College Board on Monday, FairTest, a testing watchdog group, and Elizabeth A. Stone, a California counselor, wrote that “granting an opportunity to take the exam outside the regular academic year and after intense SAT coaching only to an economically elite segment of the college-going population is blatantly unfair.”
On Tuesday the College Board informed the camp’s sponsor, the National Society for the Gifted & Talented, that it would be inappropriate to administer the test at the camp. “Certain aspects of this specific program run counter to our mission of promoting equity and…
April 25, 2012, 8:58 pm
For some high-school students, getting good grades, taking AP courses, excelling in sports, and scoring well on the SAT is all that’s needed to get into a four-year university.
But many first-generation college students have an additional hurdle, and that’s in gaining confidence and assurance that they can pay for it. Unfortunately, many of them lack adequate information about how to pay for college and obtain financial aid. So, in turn, many perceive the tuition at a four-year university to be too costly and instead opt for a less expensive community college, even though they might want to and have the qualifications to aim higher.
Cecilia Lopez knows this all too well. She is one of four first-generation college students featured in the new documentary First Generation, a film that follows the students for three years as they pursue their dreams of attaining a college…