College Admissions

Archive for June, 2009

How Will Financial Problems Impact Your College?

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

When the wealthiest university in the country announces layoffs, it’s clear that no insitution is immune from the effects of the dismal economy.  Due to a projected 30 percent drop in its endowment, Harvard will be laying off 275 staff members, and that’s after freezing salaries and taking other cost-cutting measures during the past year.


There’s been a lot of talk about how the economy has impacted admission this year, but if you’re getting ready to apply to college, it’s even more important to know how financial pressures could affect the quality of the educational experience at a college.  Harvard is still a wealthy institution, but other schools may be forced to make changes that could impact your choices. If a college is increasing the size of the freshman class because it needs more tuition revenue, students could find larger classes and crowded triple dorm rooms.  More classes might be taught by graduate students rather than full professors.  Some courses and even whole departments could be eliminated.  If you are excited about a school’s linguistics major, or the opportunity to receive a stipend for doing summer research on campus, you want to know that those programs will be there when you arrive. Colleges could also make cuts in athletic programs, academic advising or health services.


All of this means that it is more important than ever to do your research. On college visits, you can see if the buildings and grounds are well-maintained. Ask admissions officers how the economy is impacting the school. Talking to students is always a great way to learn what’s really happening on campus. They can tell you if they have trouble getting into classes, the library has started closing earlier and it takes four weeks to get an appointment with a career advisor. As always, the more information you have, the better prepared you are to make decisions about college.


UC Applications

Saturday, June 13th, 2009

I just returned from the Western Association for College Admissions Counseling (WACAC) conference, where I got the latest information from admissions officers. The good news for seniors planning to apply to the University of California is that the essay prompts will be the same, so you can start working on those essays now. The not so good news is that UCLA and Berkeley are likely to reduce freshmen enrollment next year. Once the state has a budget and UC knows what the funding will be, enrollment goals for next year will be set for each campus. With increasing competition for fewer seats, it’s more important than ever to submit a strong application. Berkeley received 850 appeals this year and only admitted 10 of those students, so the chance of reversing a decision is very low.  It’s tough to get motivated when you’re burned out from an overloaded junior year, and it’s fine to take a couple weeks to rest, but then you need to start working on that personal statement, so that you have plenty of time to prepare your best application. 


The admit rate at many UC campuses will probably drop again for the fall 2012 freshman class, when new eligibility requirements mean that more students will be eligible for admission. Younger students should make sure they’re on track with curriculum choices as well as summer and extracurricular activities that will enhance their UC application. While the 2012 applicants will no longer be required to submit SAT Subject Test scores, students who plan to apply for certain programs, like engineering, will be more competitive if they have strong math and science Subject Test scores. 


Some Highly Selective Colleges Enrolling More Students

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

Colleges across the country saw their endowments fall over the last year, and since it’s tough to implement big tuition increases at a time when families are feeling financially stressed, some schools have decided to bring in extra money by enrolling more students. Wesleyan will add 120 students over the next four years. Amherst plans to have 180 more students by 2012. Williams will add 10 students next year and Bowdoin plans to add 10 students in each of the next five years. Johns Hopkins University plans to double the number of transfer students. 

And there are plenty of parents who are eager to pay close to $50,000 a year for these schools. While other colleges are likely to see declines in enrollment as families choose lower-cost public universities, highly selective colleges will remain very competitive. Amherst and Williams have received enrollment deposits from a higher percentage of admitted students this year. Rice University has also seen an increase in the percentage of students accepting an admission offer. It may be that in a time when employment prospects are uncertain, families are willing to sacrifice to send their children to highly selective colleges in the hope that a diploma from an elite school will secure their future.