Sunday, August 4, 2013

Who is Reading and Ranking Your Child's College Admissions Applications?

As the new school year approaches, I can't help but think of the rising high school seniors, many of whom will be extra busy applying to colleges this year.

Since I live in the 5 college area (UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Hampshire College, Smith and Mount Holyoke colleges) and teach at UMass Amherst, I often see prospective students and their family members going on college tours.

The college admissions process has gotten very challenging, since the competition for places at U.S. colleges is international and the Common Application, which is done online, allows for a student to apply to multiple colleges with essentially the press of a button (and a fee) and, hence, there are many more applicants to highly selective colleges than even a decade ago.

According to recent data, reported on The New York Times Choice blog:

Applicant pools are growing larger; the University of Southern California received more than 47,000 applications this year. That’s 10,000 more students than just two years ago, when this year’s applicants were sophomores.

Colleges are also becoming more selective. The Ivy League reported an admit rate that dipped to 5.79 percent at Harvard this year. Stanford accepted 5.69 percent of its more than 38,800 applicants. The University of Chicago accepted only 8.8 percent of its more than 30,300 applicants.

So who is reading your child's college application with all those important essays that your child has labored over?

When a family is on its Great College Tour, where, by Friday, every campus starts to look alike and one almost feels that they could give the presentation better than the admissions officer, one statement stands out from these presentations: Each application is thoroughly read and analyzed by several persons from admissions who then make recommendations to the Admissions Director. The Director then, in a "highly emotional process," makes the final decision on admission.