Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Top Ten Trends in College Admissions (with a few bonus references on Michigan)

By:  Patrick O'Connor Ph.D

  1. Competition for college admissions is up at many colleges.  More students are applying to college—and when they do apply, students are applying to more colleges than ever before.  Since most colleges aren’t admitting more students, this makes it harder to get admitted to selective and highly selective colleges.
  2. This is especially true in Michigan, where Michigan State University and The University of Michigan are on track to receive a record number of applications this year, making admission more challenging.  This means more students are likely to start at another four-year college or a community college to transfer to U-M or MSU, a process that requires them to work closely with the transfer advisors in Ann Arbor or East Lansing.
  3. More colleges are actively recruiting students from overseas. This is especially true among private colleges, making the applicant pool bigger and wider than ever before.
  4. Test scores seem to matter more now than ever before at highly selective colleges, but students need more than high test scores to gain admission.  Seehttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-oconnor/what-the-first-round-of-c_b_4646207.html
  5. Colleges report that students are writing essays that don’t really tell the college all that much about the student, and that has a negative impact on the student’s application.  See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-oconnor/i-can-tell-you-nowtheir-e_b_3118268.html
  6. Students are looking past a small question asked by many colleges that is a key part of the application process.  Known as the “Why Us?” question, this essay is used to make sure the student has really looked into what a college has to offer—but many times, the student doesn’t do enough research to provide a strong answer.  See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-oconnor/the-college-application-mistake_b_3982839.html
  7. Students are borrowing more money to pay for college, making reliance on scholarships and merit scholarships more important than ever.  There are ways to cut the cost of attendance—look for colleges that offer merit scholarships (www.meritaid.com is a good place to begin), or think about other ways to earn college credit—seehttp://www.detroitnews.com/article/20090905/OPINION03/909050349
  8. Parents are asking for more information about paying for college.  Now is the time to make sure paying for college is discussed with parents well before 11th grade, using resources like www.studentaid.ed.gov and http://www.finaid.org/about/Remember that financial aid officers from colleges are usually thrilled to come talk to high school parents about paying for college, and make great guest speakers.
  9. Many colleges have stopped requiring ACT or SAT scores as part of the admissions process.  Many colleges are realizing that these scores don't give much additional information about a student the college doesn't already know from grades and letters of recommendation.  For these schools, students can can send the scores in if they want to, but they don't have to take the tests at all for purposes of admission. See www.fairtest.org/university/optional.
  10. Many school districts are forming college-going partnerships with Local College Access Networks (LCANs) and the Michigan and Michigan State College Advising Corps.  These groups supplement the college-going efforts of school counselors in important ways, and create a larger sense of community support for college-going students.  For more information on LCANs, seehttp://www.micollegeaccess.org/grants . College Advising Corps information can be found at http://www.micollegeaccess.org/our-partners 

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