Busy season for college admissions officers

Nov 30, 2013 by

Thanksgiving weekend may kick off the holiday shopping season, but it also is the launch of the busy season for many college admissions officers.

With University of California and California State University applications due Saturday and deadlines looming at many private colleges in the weeks ahead, admissions officers are firing up their computers to begin reviewing the academic credentials of prospective students.

The process of sorting applications varies widely.

Some use review committees or multiple readers to pore through personal essays, recommendation letters and other information submitted. Others focus solely on test scores and GPAs to determine eligibility.

Regardless of the method used, the end result is the same: a decision about who will get a spot after weighing the hopes and dreams of high school seniors against their credentials.

Some universities will begin to notify students that they’ve been accepted before Christmas but most make those calls by early spring. Dealing with disappointed students is part of the process, as well.

“One thing you never want to lose track of is every one of those applications is a hopeful student,” said Sandra Cook, associate vice president for enrollment management at San Diego State University, which last year received 54,000 freshman applications and more than 20,000 transfer student applications.

The numbers are staggering, in part because automation has made it easier for students to apply to far more college than they did in the past.

The University of San Diego has used an online college-admission application known as the Common App since 2006 and applications that year jumped 27 percent. Since 2005, its applicant pool has more than doubled in size.

With its Dec. 15 deadline fast approaching, the private, Catholic university will augment its staff of 10 with eight to 10 outside readers to help it get through the crush of essays and documents submitted.

“We still believe in taking the traditional method. We prioritize our time and we read every document,” said Minh-Ha Hoang, director of admissions at USD. “We assess the transcript test scores. We read each recommendation. We read the essay and we also review the extracurricular activities.”

With each counselor reading 1,000 to 1,400 applications before decisions are made in mid-February, everyone is working “eight days” a week, Hoang joked.

Point Loma Nazarene University, a private Christian university, uses a two-tiered process to select its incoming students. Admissions counselors make initial recommendations based on what they know about the student and their file and then an admissions committee reviews it, said Shannon Hutchison, associate director of undergraduate admissions.

“We see Point Loma as a place where students get really individualized attention. We want that to start at the beginning of the admission process,” Hutchison said.

Students can request a personal interview with their counselor and have the option of providing a personal submission, often a DVD or collage of their work. One counselor received a pizza “with Point Loma spelled out in pepperoni” from a creative applicant, Hutchison said. She couldn’t recall if the student was admitted.

via Busy season for college admissions officers | UTSanDiego.com.

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