Mar 28, 2009

Taking Stock

As I am sure most of you are aware, colleges across the country have begun the process of rolling out admissions decisions. The time-honored tradition of waiting beside the mailbox for a "fat" envelope has largely been replaced by runs to the computer lab or a mad dash upstairs for a look at results flashed on a computer screen. This year has been pretty much of a puzzle for college admissions prognosticators. Between the impact of the economy on application decisions and the lingering issue of how financial aid will be distributed to those who need vs. those who merit, the consensus is that nothing seems to "make sense" anymore. Seniors are experiencing the madness first hand, and the underclassmen who are "on deck" should be taking note.

To put some of this in perspective, I am attaching two articles. The first is by one of my favorite commentators on the college admissions process, Jay Mathews, who provides a guide to surviving April. Please pay particular attention to the first recommendation:

In the second article I am attaching, Barry Schwartz, a psychology professor at Swarthmore, takes a harsh view of the entire process:

Regardless of where you happen to stand in the college admissions lottery, be assured that your confusion is shared at almost every level. Imagine how the admissions office at Williams College felt when their applications unexpectedly dropped by 20% or think about the administrative headache experienced by UVA as applications increased by 16% from last year to this year. And, none of these schools has any idea how their offers of admission will be received. Between now and May 1st, high school seniors are finally in the driver's seat and colleges will work hard to insure that "yields" are at or above those from previous years.

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