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College Admissions: Survey Results

Each year, Inside Higher Education surveys 206 college admissions directors/leaders. They publish their results in a downloadable report and share a summary. What interests other higher education executives is slightly different than what interests me, so I’m sharing the parts that I thought were most important for those who Homeschool for College Credit.

Download report summary here- if you register (free) you can get the full pdf and read all the statistical criteria, exclusions, data collection methods, and other goodies.

Why Admissions Directors?

Admissions are the gate-keepers, but they are also the sales team. Admissions personnel “implement a recruitment and marketing strategy, determine enrollment goals, and assess progress towards enrollment goals” among other things. In short, admissions may keep some students out, but their primary goal is to get students in. Admissions has a very narrow focus, making them the least helpful when answering questions about very specialized transfer questions or earning college credit in high school. They are, however, very expert at promoting their college’s best attributes.

What Troubles a College?

Colleges are a business. Whether non-profit, for-profit, public, or private – they all have “behind the scenes” concerns and operational issues that keep them up at night.

The top concern for 2021: low enrollment

“Concerns over reduced enrollment are pervasive. This year, over 90 percent of enrollment officials say they are either moderately or very concerned about meeting new student enrollment goals. By May 2021, only a third (32 percent) of respondents say their institution had met its enrollment goals; by July, this number increased to just under half (48 percent).”

What does that mean for YOU? Colleges will continue to fight for your student and the tuition dollars they represent. This is a “buyers market” and your teen will likely have their pick of colleges. HS4CC advice is to follow the math. Calculate the costs of an entire degree (not just 1 year) at various target colleges and be sure to factor in the number of college credit and credit by exam that your teen will bring.

What to watch out for. Colleges generally use coupons and other marketing efforts (often called “scholarships”) to entice students to enroll. In the survey, 25% reported increasing these enticements. Do the math. If your teen’s “scholarship” amount is exactly the difference between your teen’s loans and the cost of admissions, this is a ploy. If your teen / parents can borrow $10,000 in student loans and the college charges $15,000 receiving a “scholarship” for $5,000… they’ve now locked your family into maximum borrowing for 4+ years. For students with exceptional grades and test scores, absolutely compare financial aid packages. High achievers can get full rides when enrollment numbers are low.

Increased Marketing

“Officials say their institutions will increase recruitment efforts this year (2021-22) for four groups in particular. Over 80 percent of officers say they are very likely to increase recruitment for minority and transfer students…”

What does that mean for YOU? Students who only earn college credit in high school won’t be in the category of “transfer student” but this increased recruitment is going to directly benefit HS4CC families because you can expect to see improvements in transfer policy, transfer acceptance, and alternative credit. One reason a “transfer student” chooses College A over College B is their willingness to accept all their previously hard work.

What to watch out for. Know that what a college accepts is the first part of the math problem, but what is LEFT TO COMPLETE is the other part. Always crunch the numbers. Look for what it will cost (in money AND time) to finish a degree so you always have your focus on the most important goal: getting OUT of college.

Standardized Testing

About half of respondents report that their institution has changed the application process and is now test-optional or test-blind. Another 44 percent say their institution was test-optional or test-blind before the pandemic.”

What does that mean for YOU? This may not be entirely relevant. On December 13, 2021 Inside Higher Ed just released a story that Some Colleges Slow to Drop Testing Requirement for Homeschoolers. I think it’s noteworthy that the “some” in that article is by no means demonstrative of the whole – or even the majority – but that statement reveals that some colleges just don’t consider different to be an advantage.

What to watch out for. As we explored in my “Can You Skip the CLT, SAT, or ACT Test? – Homeschooling for College Credit,” it’s important to remember that the purpose of these tests is to help a college predict a student’s potential for success. Since a HS4CC student usually has 30+ college credits when they graduate high school, their “potential” doesn’t need predicting- it’s clearly stated on their transcript. In my opinion, colleges that take a wholistic approach to evaluating a student’s fit for their school will likely embrace the uniqueness of your teen instead of questioning it.

“Over half (58 percent) of those who changed their application process to be test-optional or test blind say the experience was at least somewhat positive. Over three-quarters (78 percent) say they would somewhat or strongly support remaining test-optional or test-blind on a permanent basis.”

Final Thoughts…

Your teen can get into college. That’s not even a question. Whether or not your teen can get into the ONE college they have their heart set on is a different question! There are about 3,800 excellent colleges with legitimate accreditation offering a solid education. Getting in is stressful, but getting out is hard. Focus on the goal: getting OUT of college (with a degree, without debt) and bring in as much college credit in advance as possible. With that kind of pre-planning and a little bit of wisdom, you’ll bring the goalpost closer and get your teen graduated!

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