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What Keeps College Admissions Professionals Up At Night

What Keeps College Admissions Professionals Up At Night?

As part of my ongoing professional development, I recently attended a conference sponsored by the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling (NJACAC). This event gathered admission deans from the University of Delaware, Princeton Univerity, Rutgers Univeristy, Villanova University, and The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). We engaged in a dynamic discussion about current trends in college admissions, focusing on the implications of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision, the role of Chat GPT in application essays, and the prolonged effects of Covid-19 on learning.

The Supreme Court Decision and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

All of the admission officers reiterated the importance of diversity on college campuses and their commitment to enrolling a diverse class of students, notwithstanding the Supreme Court opinion banning race conscious admissions. While Rutgers expressed mild concern about potential changes in student application patterns, the consensus was that the Supreme Court’s decision would not significantly alter admission processes. Tools like the College Board’s Landscape, which offers socio-economic data, remain integral in shaping diverse classes. To further capture the diversity of experiences, some institutions, like Villanova, have modified their essay prompts, encouraging students to share their unique life experiences.

Chat GPT’s Influence on College Essays 

While the colleges at the conference currently do not have specific tools to detect essays written by AI, like Chat GPT, they all cautioned against students using AI because essays risk losing their uniqueness. The University of Delaware indicated that they might request essay rewrites if AI-generated content is suspected. The admission deans emphasized the importance of authenticity in essays, encouraging applicants to narrate their personal stories.

Covid-19, Test-Optional Policies, and Learning Gaps 

The admission deans reported that faculty members have noted a decline in student preparedness, especially in mathematics. This observation coincides with the rise of test-optional applications and lower ACT scores. Princeton and the University of Delaware have introduced courses to address these gaps. The deans advised students to prepare for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, even if they ultimately choose to apply test-optional.

What Keeps Admissions Professionals Up at Night? 

The primary concerns for admission officers revolve around meeting enrollment targets,  meeting budget constraints and navigating the intense scrutiny from various stakeholders, including trustees, the president, and the broader community.

But, each admission officer is profoundly dedicated to thoroughly reviewing every student’s application, fully recognizing the life-changing impact of higher education. One admissions dean emphasized her practice of concluding each day by reviewing an application from a student whom she can admit to the university, highlighting her commitment to fostering hope and opportunity for students.