admissions

Longtime Admissions Dean Fred Hargadon Dies

Fred Hargadon, who was highly influential in college admissions during almost 40 years as dean at Swarthmore College and Stanford and Princeton Universities, died Wednesday at the age of 80, Princeton announced.

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Study documents impact of 'quality of life' rankings of colleges

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New study finds that "quality of life" rankings of colleges have an impact on the number of applicants and the enrollment of highly qualified students.

West Virginia Chemical Spill and Colleges

A “Do Not Drink” ban was put in place Thursday after a chemical spill contaminated a West Virginia river, leaving 300,000 people -- and several campuses -- without safe tap water. The University of Charleston's spring semester was scheduled to start on Jan. 13, but university officials were asked to instead open campus on Jan. 16. Students who live on campus were sent to a residence hall on a new campus in Beckley, W.V., an hour south of Charleston. On Friday, a quick count showed that at least 60 students had been displaced, but that number rapidly increased to more than 150 over the weekend. Those students can return this evening.

Another school that has had to delay its spring semester is Marshall University’s South Charleston campus. It had to close although the main Marshall campus was not affected.

West Virginia State University also closed and classes will begin Jan. 21.

Did Higher Ed Affirmative Action Ruling Bolster Gay Marriage Bans?

With Utah unexpectedly at the center of a new fight over state bans on same-sex marriage, articles in The New York Times and elsewhere have explored how the state is trying to defend its ban. One unexpected argument is to cite Grutter v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling upholding the right of public colleges to consider race in admissions. "Society has long recognized that diversity in education brings a host of benefits to students," says Utah's brief to the Supreme Court, citing Grutter. "If that is true in education, why not in parenting? At a minimum, the state and its people could rationally conclude that gender diversity -- i.e. complementarity -- in parenting is likely to be beneficial to children. And the state and its people could therefore rationally decide to encourage such diversity by limiting the coveted status of 'marriage' to man-woman unions." If this argument should go anywhere, it could present interesting challenges for Supreme Court justices like Antonin Scalia (a fan of gay marriage bans who dislikes the Grutter decision) and Ruth Bader Gisburg (a fan of the Grutter decision who dislikes gay marriage bans).

 

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CNN Finds Athletes Who 'Read Like 5th Graders'

A CNN investigation has found many football and basketball players at big time athletics universities may not be literate above a fifth grade level. The network approached public universities with open records requests for SAT and ACT scores of athletes on those teams. Some universities refused to comply. But of those that did, between 7 and 18 percent of football and basketball players were "reading at an elementary school level." The investigation also compared overall football and basketball player SAT and ACT scores to those of other students, finding large gaps at many institutions. Universities offered a variety of reasons for admitting athletes whose test scores would raise questions about their literacy. Some said, for example, that athletes don't take the tests that seriously, aiming only to do well enough to meet National Collegiate Athletic Association minimum requirements.

 

 

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Reform of China's University Admissions System

China is moving to change the test that is generally the sole factor in university admissions, The Economist reported. Government officials have indicated that they want to add some subjective factors -- such as consideration of extracurricular activities -- to admissions decisions. Some educators are concerned that the current system (and possibly the new one) favor wealthier applicants. In the 1970s, half of students at prestigious Tsinghua University were from poor, rural areas. In 2010, that share was down to 17 percent.

 

White House Meeting Rescheduled for Jan. 16

The Obama administration has rescheduled a White House meeting with college leaders to discuss how to boost the success of low-income students in higher education.

The summit will now take place on Jan. 16, a White House official said Thursday. Leaders from higher education, philanthropy, business and city and state governments are expected to take part in the daylong event. As part of the event, the administration has been seeking voluntary commitments from colleges on how they plan to increase efforts to help low-income students.  

The meeting was supposed to take place last month, but it was postponed at the last minute because of President Obama’s travel to South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

Common Application Sees High Volume, Late Night Problem

The Common Application, which had severe technological problems in the early fall, but which has seen a more stable system recently, was able to process more applications on December 31 (the day of the year at which it typically receives the largest number of applications) than it did a year ago on the same day. But late on New Year's Day and continuing for a few hours, many of those filing were unable to do so.

Prior to the New Year's Day difficulties, social media featured only scattered complaints about slow response time, or difficulty with certain parts of the process, but most comments were simply from students boasting about being done with applications.

Rob Killion, executive director of the Common Application, said via email that the system processed 154,904 applications on Tuesday (9 percent more than the previous year), and  165,128 recommendation forms (a 42 percent increase). Counting optional writing supplements that were filed, he said that the total amounted to 5.23 submissions per second all day long. Another 122,00 applications were filed New Year's Day. He said that the volume of inquiries at the support desk has been "relatively light." Through Jan. 1, the total number of applications filed is up 12 percent, to more than 2.5 million.

Some of those filing late on New Year's Day did have difficulties. According to a post by Common Application on its Facebook page Thursday morning, the problem is now solved, but social media posts indicate it was fairly traumatic for some applicants who thought they were about to miss deadlines. The Common Application post says: "Between 11:35 p.m. Eastern and 2:35 a.m. Eastern some users had difficulty using the system, particularly during the first of those three hours. However, since 2:35 Eastern (50 minutes ago) you should be able to work without a problem. Have no fear - all member colleges with a January 1 deadline will accept any application submitted promptly today. Sorry to keep you up a little later tonight!"

 

 

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Questions in China on Value of Foreign Degrees

Chinese parents who can afford to do so continue to make huge investments in their children's education by paying tuition for them to attend colleges and universities in the United States and other Western nations. But Financial Times (registration required) noted that some experts in China are questioning the (financial) value of the degrees earned abroad by Chinese students. There is no longer much of a wage premium for those who return. Further, the growing numbers of Chinese students going abroad means that it's no longer just the best and brightest. And some are questioning whether the Chinese students end up with enough knowledge of either the West or their home. Zong Qinghou, the second wealthiest man in China, who sent his only daughter to study abroad, recently said at a press conference that she "knows neither the current situation for Chinese enterprises nor the situation abroad."

 

Common Application prepares for big test of its tech fixes

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For many competitive colleges, deadlines this week will result in surge of applications. Common App system is much improved from a rough fall, but some admissions offices aren't taking any chances.

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