Sep 7, 2011

Colleges Fine-Tune Admissions Policies for 2011-12

With each admissions cycle there comes some reshuffling of practices and policies governing submission of college applications. But this year there appears to be more shifting than usual, as institutions work to control the management and flow of paper while still keeping an eye on the “business” of college admissions.

It’s no secret that colleges want to increase applicant pools, improve yield, and find ways to identify best-fit applicants who will not only return after freshman year but also graduate within four to six years of matriculation.

“…they intend to keep growing their tsunami of applicants,” commented Dodge Johnson, current president of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA).

But once they get applications in the door, admissions offices face some very real management issues. And most are neither increasing staff nor budgets for application review.

To tackle the problem of providing thorough reviews of growing numbers of applications, colleges adjust application procedures. Some of the more popular changes for this year include:

  • Moving up deadlines: The additional weeks provide staff with more time to organize and review applications. By shifting the entire process forward, colleges have the additional benefit of being able to notify students sooner and possibly get a jump on the "competition."

  • Adding new Early Action (EA) options: Students applying under these nonbinding early programs provide a “demonstrated interest” element to their applications and are rewarded with early notifications—it’s a win/win for students and schools. This process also helps admissions offices control the flow of application materials coming into the office.

  • Improving efficiency through technology: Colleges are increasingly signing on with electronic providers such as the Common Application, the Universal College Application, and other application products more specifically tailored to their needs. In addition, colleges are transitioning to online reading, thereby reducing paper and the need for extra support staff.

Locally, Christopher Newport, Towson University, Saint Mary’s College of Maryland, and Salisbury University have joined the Common Application, and American has become an “exclusive” user. UVa is implementing a new nonbinding Early Action (EA) program, and the University of Mary Washington moved its EA deadline from January 15 to November 15.

“The University of Mary Washington moved Early Action so that we can have additional time for application review,” said Kim Johnston, UMW’s Dean of Admissions. “Moving to a November 15 deadline also enables us to notify those applicants sooner than our previous admission plans.”

Other colleges reporting changes include (EA = early action; ED = early decision; RD = regular decision):

American University: Now an exclusive user of the Common Application
Assumption College: EA moved to 11/1; added new EA II program (1/10)
Bryant University: Now test-optional
Butler University: EA moved to 11/1 and RD to 2/1; ended EA II
Cedar Crest College: Added EA (2/15)
Centenary College: Moved EA up to 12/1
Champlain College: Ended ED II
Clark University: Moved EA up to 11/1
College of Wooster: Moved EA up to 11/15 from 12/15
Colorado State University: Added EA (12/1)
Curry College: Switched from ED to EA (12/1)
Drexel University: Added ED (11/15) for Westphal College of Media Arts & Design; BA/BS/MD accelerated degree program applications due 11/15; RD 2/1
Eckerd College: Instituted EA beginning this fall. Students who apply and complete by 11-15 will have a decision in the mail by 12-15
Fairfield University: New ED program (1/1)
Flagler College: Moved ED deadline to 11-1 from 12-1
Furman University: New EA program (11/15)
Guilford College: EA moved up to 11/15; added new EA II (1/15)
Harvard University: Added new Single-Choice Early Action program (11/1)
Hendrix College: Added new EA (11/15) and EA II (2/1)
Hollins University: ED moved to 11/1; added new EA program (12/1)
Juniata College: ED moved to 11/15
Marist College: Moved ED to Nov. 1, EA to Nov. 15, and RD to Feb. 1
Marlboro College: ED moved to 11/15; EA moved to 1/15
Merrimack College: Added new ED program (11/1)
Ohio Northern University: Added new EA program (11/1) and new EA II program (12/1)
Princeton University: Added new Single-Choice Early Action program (11/1)
Quinnipiac University: Added new ED program (10/15)
Ripon College: Added new EA program (11/01) and new EA II program (12/01)
Salisbury University: First year as a Common App member; test-optional policy is now permanent
Trinity University: Moved EA to 11/15
University of Mary Washington: Moved EA to 11/15
University of New England: Changed from ED to EA (12/1)
University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill: First year as Common App member; moved EA to 10/15 from 11/1
University of Rochester: Added ED II (2/1)
University of Virginia: Added new nonbinding EA program (11/1)
Wake Forest University: Moved ED to 11/15
Williamette University: Moved EA to 11/1; added EA II (12/1)
Xavier University: Moved EA to 12/1 from 2/1

While this is the most up-to-date information provided either by the college or the Common Application, it’s always best to check directly with the colleges and universities.

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