College Admissions

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Location: Los Angeles, CA, United States

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Full Blown College Admissions Frenzy

It becomes instantaneously obvious once anyone starts examing the plethora of requirements necessary to apply to college these days, that it is an amazingly complex and overwhelming process. Combine that fact with the many who are limited English speakers and first generation in their family to attend college that must weed through the requirements of this process with little or no guidance. Add in the mix the over programmed teen who, on top of monumental amounts of homework, extracurricular activities and perhaps a job must now apply to an average of a dozen universities just to assure acceptance into a college during the most competitive admissions cycle in history. Just examining last seasons percentage of admits at selective universities will verify this fact. http://www.college-connections.com/collegelinks.htm
There are those who continue to bombard the independent college consultant in their private efforts to guide these students. Their services invariably improve family relations and reduces stress. In addition, nearly all independent counselors take pro bono students. The simple truth is that thousands of students are not getting the guidance they need. Certainly there are countless effective counselors in schools across the country, but the counselor to student ratio is exorbitant. Some school counselors manage as many as 500 students. Add the vast amounts of additional jobs many of these counselors have including but not limited to scheduling, monitoring social behavior and writing recommendations. Many have job titles that include “guidance counselor”. How many times have I heard students say, “My counselor doesn’t know me" and then there are those students who don’t even know if their schools even have a college counselor. Universities have specific requirements for admittance. Yet, thousands get to their senior year without the necessary courses due to lack of guidance. These counselors simply cannot handle the large enrollments and it’s no surprise, as the schools are significantly under budgeted. Yes, there are those independent schools that manage well, whose ratio of counselor to students is 10:1, where students’ curriculums are reviewed and carefully managed. However, so many of these families still seek outside help for their college admission process.
The angst and anxiety of the college admissions process has reached new levels. Words like “admission frenzy” and “gaming the system” are all over the media. As a result, some of the top universities have eliminated early plans to try and quiet the storm. Private college consultants have become as necessary as any psychologist. Yet, how many psychologists do as much pro bono work as college consultants? Educational business is not a dirty word. Other factors driving the admissions intensity are the universities themselves. The business of college admissions is at an all time high. Large budgets are allocated for enrollment management divisions. Thousands of dollars are directed at recruiting students and encouraging more and more applications because it then can make the university look more selective. Just last week on one of my professional online digests was a request from a top admission official for marketing suggestions concerning online banner placements. College websites are huge business and placement of ads equally as important. After all, these are tremendous recruitment tools and yield does increase that U.S. News Ranking. Other factors driving the frenzy are undoubtedly the “helicopter” parent population. Many parents push their kids to the absolute limit to achieve what they didn’t and still hold beliefs that the way to a successful, secure future is through a top tier school – not necessarily so. Many state universities are notorious for having produced some of the most successful and influential people in the world. Peer pressure is added to this mix, creating anxious turmoil. The average number of senior applications is estimated at 12 to 15 schools per students. Last week at a selective independent school in Los Angeles, a nervous 9th grade parent group was encouraged to not think about college plans just yet. Jeannie Borin, M.Ed., President
IECA, Professional member
NACAC, Professional Member
www.college-connections.com

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