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Articles: Admissions

Jacqueline Gregory is director of enrollment management marketing for RuffaloCODY.

These days, institutions can’t say they fully “control” their recruitment and enrollment process—but they can adjust to how prospective students and their families are navigating it.

How an institution labels its continuing education division often reflects its mission or goals. Below are some examples of terminology used in the field—and insight into why each institution made that choice.

Center for Lifelong Learning

Santa Barbara Community College (Calif.)

Officials recently broke down the CE division and integrated many previously free, noncredit offerings into a new Center for Lifelong Learning, which now generates revenue. It serves a wide array of community members, especially nontraditional-aged students seeking personal enrichment.

Leon Botstein says of college admissions: “It’s not an objective process. It’s completely subjective.”

Bard College in New York made news last fall when President Leon Botstein announced that prospective students would no longer be required to submit their grades, SAT or ACT scores, teacher recommendations or the typical personal essay. Instead they will now be able to apply to Bard by writing four analytic papers—10,000 words total—chosen from a variety of weighty, thought-provoking topics.

It is a given these days for enrollment managers to be well aware of the national, regional, and state high school graduation demographic trends that shape the U.S. higher education landscape.

The eighth edition of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s “Knocking at the College Door,” for example, paints a clear picture of projections in aggregate numbers and race/ethnicity patterns. If you have studied the maps developed by WICHE, you know that:

Students who aren’t accepted to the University of South Carolina main campus this spring may still receive some good news with their rejection letters.

Rob Thompson, director of academic and core applications, Wayne State University

More is not always better, as Wayne State University discovered. Like many universities, Wayne State relied on a dual system where applicants submitted some information online, and other information using paper forms. The result was a clumsy and redundant process.

College enrollment plummeted by half a million students in fall 2012 after several years of strong growth, the U.S. Census Bureau says.

The number of graduate and undergraduate students fell last year after increasing by 3.2 million between 2006 and 2011. The decline was led by a drop of 419,000 in students 25 and older. The number of young students fell by only 48,000.

Automating admissions has made accepts,  defers, declines, and deposits move faster at Royal Roads University.

For over a decade, potential Royal Roads University (British Columbia) students have been able to submit their applications for admission online. But Royal Roads’ response to applicants had remained paper-based until recently.

Contrary to many media reports, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the latest challenge to affirmative action, Fisher v. University of Texas, is likely to have a large impact on the future of admissions policies. The Supreme Court did not immediately decide the fate of Abigail Fisher, the white plaintiff who challenged the use of race in admissions, but instead returned the case to the lower court for further review. Many interpreted the decision as allowing affirmative action policies to survive as is.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin provides little guidance for admissions officers looking to reassess their own affirmative action policies.

The Supreme Court issued a 7-1 decision on Monday, June 24 directing the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to reexamine the case, saying it applied the incorrect standard of review and therefore the case shouldn’t have even reached a higher court. It did not, however, comment on the merits of UT Austin’s admissions policy.

Ellis Hall at Hendrix College

Imagine arriving on campus as a prospective student, being greeted by name by the security guard at the gate, pulling into a parking spot with your name on it, and then seeing your name featured prominently on signage in the admissions office. There you meet up with a student tour guide from your hometown who is studying just what you think you’ll study.

That scenario is a reality at Lynn University (Fla.), which gives new meaning to the “where everybody knows your name” sort of welcome.

When the entire city of Boston was on lockdown during the April 19 manhunt for the marathon bombing suspects, institutions such as Boston College and Boston University were posting on Facebook to let admitted students know the status’ of open houses scheduled to occur that weekend.

Homeland Security has since ordered all border agents to verify that every international student who arrives in the country has a valid student visa.

The student visa process has come under scrutiny after investigators in the Boston bombings learned that a friend of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev entered the U.S. with an expired student visa.

Azamat Tazhayakov, a student from Kazakhstan, was arrested on suspicion of obstructing justice after investigators say items were removed from Tsarnaev’s University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth dorm room three days after the attack.

Just about every institution’s leadership is thinking about how to connect with students from a range of backgrounds. Community colleges are focusing on outreach and engagement so that students realize the opportunities ahead—and can overcome any obstacles in their way.

Spring means warmer temperatures and longer days, offers of admission flying to mailboxes and inboxes across the land, and acceptances coming back. We peeked behind the admissions curtain and connected with four top administrators at a range of institutions—small and large, public and private, West Coast to East Coast, and in between—to learn more about what is changing in their world.

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