Everyone: A Modest Proposal

Jon Boeckenstedt, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management at DePaul University in Chicago, recently posted this on the listserv of NACAC (the National Association for College Admission Counseling).

“I wonder if it isn’t time to bring up the subject of a Clearinghouse for undergraduate admission again. It seems that advances in information technologies make it more likely than not; and fearing that some company will jump in the fray and design bad products or services, here is how it might work:

* Student fills out one application at the start of the senior year. It’s stored online.
* HS sends electronic copies of transcripts, recommendations, etc. to the clearing house. Portfolios for art or music or theatre are done the old-fashioned way, I’m guessing.
* Test scores could either be centralized or done the way they are now
* We move the financial aid system to a prior/prior year approach, so that aid applications can be completed over the summer between the junior and senior year, and available to colleges only at the point they’ve admitted the student, to allow real aid offers to go with early admits, even before January 1.

* Students then decide to release information to the colleges they want, perhaps in some preference order, 1-5
* Colleges admit in cycles, perhaps 4 or 5 per year (October, December, February, April, July, e.g). The decisions are admit or deny, but a student is free to re-apply in later cycles if denied in an earlier one
* For cycle 1, colleges only see the applications for students who have listed them at #1; in subsequent cycles, only the apps of those who have listed them at the current cycle or higher (for instance, in cycle 3, only the 1, 2 and 3’s who have not yet decided)
* Colleges know where we stand in the student’s choice set, which allows us to use the old-fashioned concept of ED (in which high levels of interest are given “some” consideration in a decision) appropriately, without guessing.
* Students (and everyone else) can obtain real, online information about students with their profiles (gpa, hs, program applied to, ethnicity, activities, athletics, legacy status) to allow them to make better decisions about their chances at any school. We’d also eliminate the
application inflation of the so-called “fast apps” and get real numbers from the colleges
* In the late cycles, colleges whose class is not full (or who need just a left-handed, red-headed fiddle player from Albuquerque) could search the databases for students who have not yet been admitted, and send them information.
* The Clearinghouse accepts only one deposit; if a student sends a second, the first is nullified and the rejected college notified.
* Year-end reports are available to anyone who wants them, to do with as they see fit.

There are dozens of reasons why this wouldn’t work, and probably some why it’s not a great idea, but the thing I like about it is that everyone gives up something to get something better back. If College participation were optional, those who choose not to participate would
be doing so only at their own expense and potential peril.”

Any thoughts? How does that sound to you?

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Posted on June 5, 2006, in big picture. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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