admissions

Biden, opting out of 2016 run, backs four years of free public college

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Announcing his decision not to enter the 2016 presidential race, Biden endorses four years of free public higher education, proposals that his would-be Democratic contenders have been championing.

LinkedIn Study on Prospective Grad Students

LinkedIn, the career-focused networking site, this week released new research on the decision-making process of prospective master's and M.B.A. students. The study, which was based on survey responses from 1,627 LinkedIn members, found that respondents had an average short list of only three institutions. About three-quarters of prospective students developed their short list before reaching out to a representative at those institutions. And 93 percent ended up enrolling in a college on the list.

Peer groups and professional networks are significant influencers on prospective students' decision about where to enroll, the study found, second only to an institution's website.

Jesuit high school counselors urge new coalition on college admissions to reconsider plans

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More than 100 college counselors at Jesuit high schools urge group seeking to reform admissions process to rethink its plans and push back scheduled start for new system.

The Questions Asked of Oxford Applicants

The University of Oxford has released a list of sample interview questions prospective students could face in advance of the Oct. 15 application deadline, Times Higher Education reported. Oxford’s director of admissions and outreach, Samina Khan, said the university released the sample questions to dispel “myths” surrounding the interview process: “We want to underscore that every question asked by our tutors has a purpose, and that purpose is to assess how students think about their subject and respond to new information or unfamiliar ideas,” Khan said.

The Times Higher Education article includes explanations from Oxford professors of the reasoning behind the sample questions. The questions include: “Why is income per head between 50 and 100 times larger in the United States than in countries such as Burundi and Malawi?” (for philosophy, politics and economics applicants), “Do bankers deserve the pay they receive? And should government do something to limit how much they get?” (for economics and management applicants), “Why is sugar in your urine a good indicator that you might have diabetes?” (for biomedical sciences applicants), “Place a 30-centimeter ruler on top of one finger from each hand. What happens when you bring your fingers together?” (for engineering applicants), and “Can archaeology ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ the Bible?” (for Oriental studies applicants).

UMass Lowell Drops SAT/ACT Requirement

The University of Massachusetts at Lowell is ending a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. An email to high school counselors said that "we feel this more inclusive approach is fairer to students and will help more of them find a right fit at UMass Lowell."

The new program, a pilot, is only an option and students who wish may continue to submit test scores.

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Admissions Coalition Delays Start of Key Feature

The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success -- a group of more than 80 colleges planning a new application platform -- was announced last week and quickly ran into considerable criticism. On Wednesday, in response to some of that criticism, the coalition sent a letter to high school counselors announcing that the launch of a key feature was being pushed back from January to April. The reason for the shift, the letter said, was "to allow for more time to engage and answer questions and for counselors to be closer to finishing their work with the current senior class." That feature was originally called a portfolio, a name that was dropped in favor of "virtual college locker." The locker will be a tool for high school students, starting in ninth grade, to save work they have done in any medium, as well as records of meaningful experiences they have. Many high school counselors have complained that the new locker will be complicated to produce and thus will favor wealthier students, who will receive more help.

Further, the letter reiterated and elaborated on past statements pledging to work with counselors as the new system is developed, and to make sure the new system helps low-income students.

Several critics of the new system said via email Wednesday night that they were pleased with the move to push back the launch of the locker, and with the promises to continue to consult with others, but that their larger concerns were unchanged.

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Study explores preparation and outcomes of 2- and 4-year college students

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Study finds significant variation in academic preparation of traditional-age students at different community colleges, and seeks to explain graduation rate gap between 2- and 4-year colleges.

Trinity (Conn.) Goes Test Optional, Seeks 'Deeper Narrative'

Trinity College in Connecticut has announced that it is dropping the requirement that undergraduate applicants include SAT or ACT scores. "Research has proven that high school [grade point average] is a stronger predictor of success in college than are standardized test scores," says a statement from Angel Perez, vice president for enrollment and student success. But the statement also says that becoming test optional doesn't go far enough. So Trinity now plans to ask counselors and applicants to highlight qualities that may not be reflected in grades alone, and will consider evidence of such qualities as curiosity, optimism, persistence, grit and creativity.

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Colleges Told Not to Ask Applicants to Rank Choices

The Assembly of the National Association for College Admission Counseling voted Saturday to amend its ethics code to state that colleges should "not ask candidates, their schools, their counselors or others to list or rank their college or university preferences on applications or other documents." The move comes amid criticism of the practice, which some colleges have used to make admissions or financial aid choices, rewarding those who seem most likely to enroll. Critics have said that the practice is particularly troublesome given that many applicants don't know how colleges will use the information. The Education Department in August said it would stop sharing this information with colleges.

W. Kent Barnds, executive vice president and vice president for enrollment, communication and planning at Augustana College, wore a sandwich board to the opening night reception at NACAC urging Assembly members to be careful about approving additions to the ethics code. In an interview, he said Augustana does not ask applicants where they are applying and to rank their choices. But he said Augustana does do some things that come close to that, and while he's been assured by NACAC leaders that he would not be violating the ethics code by continuing these practices (which are in place at many colleges), he was worried about seeming to possibly violate the policy.

For example, he said that Augustana asks, postadmission, if the college ranks first, in the top three or top five of an admitted applicant's choices. And Augustana asks applicants placed on the wait list "Are we your first choice and will you enroll if admitted?"

Barnds explained that the rationale for such questions is that they "help prioritize counseling outreach and ensure the others involved in recruiting are focused on those who are most interested." He added, "If we had limitless resources this wouldn't be necessary, but we have to try to be efficient when possible."

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At admissions counselor meeting, many criticize impact of early action

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At admissions meeting, high school counselors say a common practice is out of control and deans who abandoned the practice are cheered.

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