College Admissions

Archive for November, 2008

More Economic Challenges for Colleges

Friday, November 21st, 2008

The fallout from the economic crisis continues to impact colleges. It looks like Cal State University will deny admission to 10,000 eligible students this year. Students should complete their applications before November 30, since many campuses that in previous years accepted applications after the priority filing period will no longer do so.


The University of California may also cap enrollment. Funding cuts mean that reductions in programs and services have already begun and it will probably become more difficult to get into classes. Research opportunities and student support services will also be impacted.


It’s not just California schools that are dealing with funding cuts. Arizona State University is reorganizing academic programs and eliminating faculty positions. Even wealthy, elite schools like Stanford and Harvard have suffered losses in their endowments and are putting construction projects on hold and looking at other ways to cut costs.


A lot of gloomy news in recent weeks. But while this is a challenging time, there are still many college options and students who are open to possibilities will have lots of good choices.

The Economy’s Impact on College Admission

Monday, November 17th, 2008

This year, the state of the economy is a real concern for students, parents and colleges. Public schools in many states are dealing with the double whammy of funding cuts and increasing numbers of students seeking admission. This year’s admissions process could be the most unpredictable we’ve ever seen.


University of California campuses could be facing midyear budget cuts and will certainly have less funding next year, while applications will surely increase. Students who would have easily been admitted to UC Santa Barbara or UC Davis in previous years may need to apply to less selective UC campuses. Cal State University campuses are likely to become more competitive as families seek lower-cost options. Even Cal states that have accepted all eligible students in past years will be turning away students this year. We will also see more students starting at community colleges, which offer a low-cost path to a UC or Cal State degree, if those schools have the funding to accommodate them.


Since private colleges can cost over $50,000 a year, you might expect applications to be down at these schools. But early action applications are up over 10 percent at Yale. Northwestern University has received 15 percent more early decision applications this year. Many of the most selective schools announced more generous financial aid policies in the past year, and that may be part of the reason that more students are applying to these very expensive colleges.


But even New York University’s early decision applications are up two percent over last year, despite the fact that the school does not promise to meet full financial need. At George Washington University, early decision applications are up 30 percent. Students have made the commitment to attend these schools if they are accepted, without knowing what financial aid package they will receive.


This is supposed to be the peak year for students graduating high school and applying to college, and perhaps that’s why application numbers are rising at a number of private as well as public schools. Many students who are not committing to early decision will apply to both private and public colleges and wait to see financial aid packages, as well as the condition of the family finances, in the spring.


Students who are applying to private colleges and don’t need financial aid could benefit from the state of the economy. College endowments are down, donations from alumni are going to be more difficult to come by, and admissions officers at some colleges that have been need-blind in the past may be forced to consider financial need in admissions decisions.


For years, I’ve advised students to apply to at least one “safety” school, where we can be sure they will be admitted. In this economy, it’s also important to apply to at least one “financial safety” school.