Inside the Admission Office: How Colleges Decide Who to Admit Don Betterton Betterton College Planning [email_address]
Types of Colleges (4200 total) <ul><li>In the U.S. there is a higher education opportunity for every level of </li></ul><u...
Competitive and Selective <ul><li>5-year grad rate:  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>50% or more for publics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul>...
Competitive and Selective <ul><li>Although these colleges make up only about </li></ul><ul><li>25% of the 4-yr non-profit,...
Admission Recruiting Methods Create Unrealistic Expectations <ul><li>It is hard to judge where a student stands because to...
What Would Wal-Mart Do If it Behaved Like a Top College? <ul><li>Wal-Mart would mount an extensive advertising campaign th...
What Next?   <ul><li>Wal-Mart’s outreach methods succeed at generating a very high demand for its product. </li></ul><ul><...
And Next …   <ul><li>Excited by all the Wal-Mart advertising, the potential customer wants to judge how he compares to oth...
Welcome to the Admission Process at the Top Colleges <ul><li>The current demand for a high quality college education resul...
Supply and Demand <ul><li>Supply  is steady. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>While there are many more students seeking to attend co...
Perhaps this is the problem: <ul><li>“It’s hard for kids to get into colleges because they only want to go to colleges tha...
What to Do <ul><li>When you are among a great many who want to purchase the education of a top college, it pays to know it...
Life Isn’t Easy in Admissions <ul><li>While admission offices make it hard on themselves because of their drive to generat...
Consider: <ul><li>There is academic “Bunching” </li></ul><ul><li>Increased enrollment in hard courses </li></ul><ul><ul><l...
And <ul><li>There is personal “Polishing” </li></ul><ul><li>Students are more savvy about building a resume with activitie...
To Complicate Matters Further .. <ul><li>College admission offices have a split personality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They are...
What To Do <ul><li>The most common reason a good student does not get admitted to a top college is that he is in the  Regu...
Special Categories <ul><li>The 4 most common Special categories are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Listed athlete (+30%) </li></ul...
Other Special Categories <ul><li>These tend to vary a great deal by institution. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In-state, out-of-st...
Special Categories <ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Level 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recruited Division I Ath...
Special Strategies <ul><li>Minority -- find out if they give a preference </li></ul><ul><li>Legacy -- apply to college par...
College List Making Advice <ul><li>Regular – compare yourself to the top 75% of the academic profile </li></ul><ul><li>Spe...
An Admission Exercise <ul><li>Top colleges rate applicants on academic and personal scales. </li></ul><ul><li>Because they...
ACADEMIC RATING TABLE None None None School County State Region Intern/ National Acad Awards Courses ACT SAT Rank GPA Aver...
Personal Ratings <ul><li>The personal rating assigned to an applicant is based on a combination of attributes in different...
PERSONAL RATINGS Achievement/Talent/Leadership:  None Personal Characteristics:  Some questions  Essay:  negative impressi...
<ul><li>8 </li></ul>PERSONAL/ACADEMIC COMBINED Personal 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Acad
Minimally competitive 6 St Josephs, Vermont, UNH, UMass, Catholic, Susquehanna, Clarkson, NJ Tech, Hofstra, Purdue, Colora...
Specials <ul><li>The rating system is a constant. The definition of an Academic 6 or a Personal 5 does not change. </li></...
How To Improve Your Chances <ul><li>Make a realistic list, 3-5-2. Be enthusiastic about match schools. </li></ul><ul><li>T...
Conclusion <ul><li>Plan ahead to present the best version of who you are, not a makeover. Look for polish, not plastic sur...
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Princeton 2 Inside The Admission Office April 07

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  1. 1. Inside the Admission Office: How Colleges Decide Who to Admit Don Betterton Betterton College Planning [email_address]
  2. 2. Types of Colleges (4200 total) <ul><li>In the U.S. there is a higher education opportunity for every level of </li></ul><ul><li>student interest and ability. My categories: </li></ul><ul><li>Register and attend (1900) </li></ul><ul><li> Routine enrollment process </li></ul><ul><li>Specialty schools (300) </li></ul><ul><li> Admit on interest and talent </li></ul><ul><li>Meet basic standards (1500) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Admit more than 75% of applicants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Competitive (400) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Admit from 40% to 75% of applicants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Selective (100) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Admit fewer than 40% of applicants </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Competitive and Selective <ul><li>5-year grad rate: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>50% or more for publics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>80% or more for privates </li></ul></ul><ul><li>50% or more of freshmen have SAT over 1200, </li></ul><ul><li>ACT over 24 </li></ul><ul><li>3.5 average high school GPA </li></ul><ul><li>1/3 or more from top 10% of h.s. class </li></ul>
  4. 4. Competitive and Selective <ul><li>Although these colleges make up only about </li></ul><ul><li>25% of the 4-yr non-profit, much of the college-going </li></ul><ul><li>preparation and pressure is focused here. </li></ul><ul><li>They are the types of colleges where good admission planning is needed. </li></ul><ul><li>They tend to be more expensive and information about how to pay, with or without aid, is important. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Admission Recruiting Methods Create Unrealistic Expectations <ul><li>It is hard to judge where a student stands because top colleges send We Want You messages even knowing full well they will only admit some of the students they encourage to apply. </li></ul><ul><li>This is an unusual buyer (student) seller (college) relationship. </li></ul>
  6. 6. What Would Wal-Mart Do If it Behaved Like a Top College? <ul><li>Wal-Mart would mount an extensive advertising campaign that included: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Print ads (college catalog) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet ads (college Web site) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Send salesmen on the road (admission staff) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Invite potential buyers to tour the store (campus visits) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have previous buyers seek out new customers (alumni recruiters) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mount a large direct mail campaign (search lists) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use techniques to get a better product review in Consumer Reports-style publications (U.S. News ratings) </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. What Next? <ul><li>Wal-Mart’s outreach methods succeed at generating a very high demand for its product. </li></ul><ul><li>But, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It turns out that all along Wal-Mart only had enough product to sell to 1/3 of potential buyers. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not only that, but Wal-Mart will decide who will be allowed to make a purchase. Roles are reversed. Wal-Mart becomes the buyer. The customer must now submit an application to “sell himself.” </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. And Next … <ul><li>Excited by all the Wal-Mart advertising, the potential customer wants to judge how he compares to others who are also interested in being selected, and asks, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“What criteria do you use to choose those who will be allowed to buy your product?” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>At this point, Mr. Walton responds, </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“It depends.” </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Welcome to the Admission Process at the Top Colleges <ul><li>The current demand for a high quality college education results in the top schools becoming “selective.” They get to select who will be able to purchase their educational product. </li></ul><ul><li>If the student is striving to go to one of these colleges, it is important to understand this relationship between supply and demand. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Supply and Demand <ul><li>Supply is steady. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>While there are many more students seeking to attend college, the number of openings has remained about the same. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Demand is growing overall. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The number of high school grads has never been higher. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Now exceeds 3,000,000 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The percent going to college is increasing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>From 45% to nearly 60% since 1980’s </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>The increase in demand is greatest for students wanting to attend a “good school.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yet, of 2000 4-year colleges, only about 500 select fewer than 3 of 4 applicants. </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Perhaps this is the problem: <ul><li>“It’s hard for kids to get into colleges because they only want to go to colleges that are hard to get into.” </li></ul>
  12. 12. What to Do <ul><li>When you are among a great many who want to purchase the education of a top college, it pays to know its selection standards. </li></ul><ul><li>This knowledge can help in 2 ways: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It can help you prepare, both inside and outside the classroom, to meet those standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Courses, grades </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Achievements, activities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It can help you make a realistic college list </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Life Isn’t Easy in Admissions <ul><li>While admission offices make it hard on themselves because of their drive to generate more applications, it does create a problem. </li></ul><ul><li>There are more and more students to evaluate, but it is increasingly hard to choose among them. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Consider: <ul><li>There is academic “Bunching” </li></ul><ul><li>Increased enrollment in hard courses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Honors, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>College courses in high school, summer enrichment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Distinctions are blurred </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Grade inflation (3.4 average h.s. GPA) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple valedictorians, other honors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SAT recentering, take the highest score, subject tests, ACT strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Test prep courses </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. And <ul><li>There is personal “Polishing” </li></ul><ul><li>Students are more savvy about building a resume with activities and accomplishments, strategizing the essay, using summer for extra college prep </li></ul><ul><li>High schools feel the pressure -- reluctant to lessen student chances – inflation in teacher and counselor recs </li></ul>
  16. 16. To Complicate Matters Further .. <ul><li>College admission offices have a split personality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They are a meritocracy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Admit the best </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They also practice “institutional engineering” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Admit to meet other objectives </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>The result is not one, but two admissions processes at top colleges </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One for “regular” applicants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One for “special” applicants </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This is where confusion increases and predictability decreases. </li></ul>
  17. 17. What To Do <ul><li>The most common reason a good student does not get admitted to a top college is that he is in the Regular category and doesn’t realize the admission standards for him are well above the published averages. </li></ul><ul><li>In fact, there may not be that many average admits. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A public university – 700 SAT out-of-state, 500 SAT in-state </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>In making college list, and estimating chances, important to know if you are a Regular or Special . </li></ul>
  18. 18. Special Categories <ul><li>The 4 most common Special categories are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Listed athlete (+30%) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Underrepresented minority (where not restricted by legislation) (+28%) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legacy (+20%) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Early applicant (+20%) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>One that is growing in popularity: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Disadvantaged, low income, first generation college </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Other Special Categories <ul><li>These tend to vary a great deal by institution. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In-state, out-of-state </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expressed interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Special institutional need – female engineer, cello player, Latin scholar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Donors and other forms of service </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Misc – president and trustee lists, faculty child, etc </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Special Categories <ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Level 1 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Recruited Division I Athletes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Level II </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Affirmative action minorities (depending) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Non-scholarship athletes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>State residents for publics </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Level III </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Legacies </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Early Decision </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Low income, disadvantaged background (may be level II) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Special institutional needs not formal – classics, dancer, tuba </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Donors, President’s list (may be level II) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Faculty children </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Level IV </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Geography </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Expressed interest </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Other: sib enrolled, full pay </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 21. Special Strategies <ul><li>Minority -- find out if they give a preference </li></ul><ul><li>Legacy -- apply to college parents attended (Check grad school, grandparents, service) </li></ul><ul><li>Athlete – apply to colleges where you will be listed by coach </li></ul><ul><li>Apply early – E.D., E.A. </li></ul><ul><li>Disadvantaged – ask admission rep </li></ul><ul><li>Other -- </li></ul>
  22. 22. College List Making Advice <ul><li>Regular – compare yourself to the top 75% of the academic profile </li></ul><ul><li>Special </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minority: 25 th - 50 th percentile </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Listed athlete: the coach will tell you what your chances are. Div I and II scholarship athletes have minimum standards. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legacy and E.D.: 40 th - 50 th percentile </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. An Admission Exercise <ul><li>Top colleges rate applicants on academic and personal scales. </li></ul><ul><li>Because they have to sort through so many apps, they use a number system. </li></ul><ul><li>Assume you are an admission officer and you are rating your student. </li></ul><ul><li>This system is 1 (low) to 8 (high) on both academic and personal. </li></ul>
  24. 24. ACADEMIC RATING TABLE None None None School County State Region Intern/ National Acad Awards Courses ACT SAT Rank GPA Average 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 C- C C+ B/B- B+ A- A A+ 2.0-2.3 2.4-2.8 2.5-3.0 3.1-3.4 3.5-3.6 3.7-3.8 3.9 4.0 up Top 1/2 33% 25% 20% 10-15% 6-9% 3-5% 1-2% 400-470 480-540 550-590 600-640 650-670 680-700 710-740 750-800 16-19 20-22 23-25 26-28 29-30 31-32 33-34 35-36 Routine Some Pre-Coll All Pre-College Honors 1,2 AP Honors 3 AP 4 AP IB or All AP
  25. 25. Personal Ratings <ul><li>The personal rating assigned to an applicant is based on a combination of attributes in different areas. They typically include: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Achievement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Talent </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Leadership/positions of responsibility </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How you are revealed in the application </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Service to others </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Overcoming obstacles </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Personal attributes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Personal attributes primarily come from school and teacher reports and required interviews. The categories are: </li></ul><ul><li>Respect accorded by faculty, class participation, academic achievement, intellectual promise, writing quality, creativity, work habits, maturity, motivation, leadership, integrity, reaction to setbacks, concern for others, self-confidence, initiative, and independence </li></ul>
  26. 26. PERSONAL RATINGS Achievement/Talent/Leadership: None Personal Characteristics: Some questions Essay: negative impression Service/Obstacles: none/ none 1 Achievement/Talent/Leadership: Nothing stands out Personal Characteristics: Below average Essay: doesn’t add anything Service/Obstacles: none/ none 2 Achievement/Talent/Leadership: Average class/minor talent/ minor roles at best Personal Characteristics: Average Essay: fair Service/Obstacles: Only what’s required/ none 3 Achievement/Talent/Leadership: Minor school, good class/ typical talent/ occasional leader Personal Characteristics: Good Essay: typical Service/Obstacles: Typical contribution/ none 4 Achievement/Talent/Leadership: Major school/ above average talent/ solid leader Personal Characteristics: Very good Essay: adds to application Service/Obstacles: Well meaning contribution/ none 5 Achievement/Talent/Leadership: County, league-wide/ strong talent/ admirable leadership qualities Personal Characteristics: Excellent. Top 10% Essay: impresses reader Service/Obstacles: Well beyond typical service/ some obstacles 6 Achievement/Talent/Leadership: Regional, state/ unusual talent/ very strong leader Personal Characteristics: Outstanding, top 5% Essay: passed around admission office Service/Obstacles: Significant role in important service/ quite difficult road 7 Achievement/Talent/Leadership: International, national/ rare talent/ extraordinary leader Personal Characteristics: ”One of few in career.” Essay: will appear in “How to Write Essays” book Service/Obstacles: Extraordinary contribution, major effect/ overcame severe obstacles 8
  27. 27. <ul><li>8 </li></ul>PERSONAL/ACADEMIC COMBINED Personal 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Acad
  28. 28. Minimally competitive 6 St Josephs, Vermont, UNH, UMass, Catholic, Susquehanna, Clarkson, NJ Tech, Hofstra, Purdue, Colorado 7 SUNY Buffalo, Minnesota, Rowan, Clark, Ithaca, Quinnipiac, Drew, St Lawrence, VMI, BYU, St Lawrence, Wooster 8 UConn, Rutgers, Ohio State, Penn State, Delaware, Syracuse, Loyola, Northeastern, Fordham, Providence, Fairfield, Skidmore, Babson 9 SUNY Binghamton, Wisconsin, Illinois, F&M, TCNJ, RPI, American, Villanova, BU, Smith, Holy Cross, Stevens, Lafayette, Gettysburg, Union 10 Michigan, UNC, Maryland, Wake Forest, BC, NYU, GW, Colgate, Oberlin, Colby, Hamilton, Bates, Bucknell, Trinity, Richmond, Conn College 11 UVA, William & Mary, Cal, UCLA, USC, Cornell, JHU, NW, Vandy, ND, G’twn, Claremont-McKenna, Middlebury, Carleton, Wesleyan, Haverford, Chicago, Emory, Carnegie-Mellon, Bowdoin, Vassar, Davidson, W&L 12 Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Penn, Duke, Wash U, Rice, Amherst, Williams 13 HYP, Stanford, MIT, Cal Tech 14
  29. 29. Specials <ul><li>The rating system is a constant. The definition of an Academic 6 or a Personal 5 does not change. </li></ul><ul><li>What does change is who, at a given rating, gets admitted, and who doesn’t. </li></ul><ul><li>Strong specials, i.e. minorities and athletes might move up 2 levels, legacy and E.D. 1 level. (For example, a listed “10” athlete has a chance at a “12” college.) </li></ul>
  30. 30. How To Improve Your Chances <ul><li>Make a realistic list, 3-5-2. Be enthusiastic about match schools. </li></ul><ul><li>Take good courses </li></ul><ul><li>Plan test taking strategy, including ACT </li></ul><ul><li>Add colleges where you might be a Special </li></ul><ul><li>Look at personal side. Avoid resume fillers, try to distinguish yourself. The “2 strong” profile is appealing. </li></ul><ul><li>Pay attention to teacher recs, essay, evaluative interview </li></ul><ul><li>Below top level expressed interest can be important </li></ul><ul><li>Essay – answer the question, make it about you, show attractive quality, endearing flaw better than bragging, something you care about </li></ul>
  31. 31. Conclusion <ul><li>Plan ahead to present the best version of who you are, not a makeover. Look for polish, not plastic surgery. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t try to become a different person for the sake of college admission. </li></ul><ul><li>Have a number of “strike zone” colleges that you will be pleased to attend. </li></ul><ul><li>Finding a college that fulfills your academic potential and is a good fit personally is more important then attending the “better” school. </li></ul>
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