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Stories by college admissions

By Leah Shafer 04/19/2017 1:38 PM EDT
Smarter Tech to Smooth the Path to College
After college acceptance letters arrive, the complexity and sheer number of tasks required to actually enroll — complete FAFSA, submit a final transcript, pay a housing deposit, obtain immunizations, among many other things — thwart the plans of many high school grads to matriculate. Between 10 and 40 percent of intended students fall into this “summer melt” pattern, and aspiring first-generation students, who are more likely to lack the prior knowledge and support to complete these steps, are particularly susceptible. Guidance counselors and admissions officers can provide valuable...
By Jill Anderson 01/09/2017 4:40 PM EST
Ivy
For undocumented students, the path to college can be littered with unique obstacles, from limited financial resources to fear of disclosing status to a sense of hopelessness that can get in the way before they even apply. What can educators do to meet the particular needs of these students — to prepare them academically and support them emotionally? A pivotal piece of the equation: Get to know your students well, and develop strong relationships, says Roberto Gonzales, who has studied the experiences of undocumented young people for years. “Because undocumented students are excluded from...
By Brendan Pelsue 01/08/2017 10:57 AM EST
Rethinking the Gap
On May 1, 2016, the Office of the First Lady announced that Malia Obama would take a gap year. The first family’s personal choices have a tendency to serve as national Rorschach blots, dredging up our hidden feelings about everything from organic vegetables to Portuguese water dogs, and this was no exception. Malia’s gap year was “Part of a Growing (and Expensive) Trend,” ran a headline in The New York Times. It was “The Ultimate Sign of Luxury,” read an opinion piece in the New York Post. An editorial in The Telegraph thought Malia was “right” to take a gap year while The Atlantic pointed...
By Richard Weissbourd 12/21/2016 3:13 PM EST
Richard Weissbourd
"The college-application process, always a bit of a rat race, has in recent years become ever more tortuous and with an ever-dwindling piece of cheese at the end. High-school seniors and their families are seeing elite schools’ admission rates plummet, so they are applying to more and more colleges, spending hundreds on admissions fees, and piling on activities to get an edge. “When people are anxious, it’s easier to latch onto quantity rather than quality,” Weissbourd says. Many high-schoolers do volunteer, but to Weissbourd, it seems the public service doesn’t always come with pure...
By Matt Weber 11/30/2016 2:45 PM EST
Natasha Warikoo
Ensuring a diverse student body is of the highest priority for admissions offices at colleges and universities. In fact, the promise of a diverse campus — and the differing perspectives found on one — is often part of what attracts top students to the schools they choose to attend. But, how do they feel about diversity and affirmative action once they actually get to campus? For her new book, The Diversity Bargain and Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities, Associate Professor Natasha Warikoo interviewed students at Brown, Harvard, and Oxford. What she found...
By Leah Shafer 11/14/2016 10:22 PM EST
Female student from the rear, walking down long campus pathway
With the college application season in full swing, high school seniors are choosing which schools they would like to attend, using a number of criteria to govern their decisions: cost of attendance, academic programs, location, size, alumni outcomes — the list goes on.  But students (and the teachers and counselors who advise them) may forget to consider a less tangible set of questions about this next stage of life. What do you hope to gain from college? How will you be happy there? How can you be productive? What are your core values, and how would you like to commit to those values during...
By Leah Shafer 07/25/2016 4:25 PM EDT
Exploring Affirmative Action
The Supreme Court may have ruled in Fisher v. University of Texas to uphold affirmative action in college admissions — but that decision won’t signal the end of campus conversations about race and diversity. And that’s important, says sociologist Natasha Kumar Warikoo, whose research indicates that college students in the United States often misinterpret affirmative action. While conducting interviews with undergraduates at Harvard, Brown, and Oxford for her upcoming book, The Diversity Bargain, Warikoo discovered that many white students “support affirmative action in as much as it benefits...
By Leah Shafer 06/21/2016 2:29 PM EDT
College and the Good Student
Part two of a three-part series on changes to the college admissions process. Read part one, which describes a new focus on authentic community service, here. The world needs young adults who are ethically aware, connected to their communities, and ready to dig into the problems threatening the common good. But today's college admissions process, which can consume teenagers and dictate what they do and value, instead encourages a competitive focus on personal successes and accolades. Colleges admissions do endorse community service, but too often, service commitments become sidelined, trumped...
By Leah Shafer 06/06/2016 3:44 PM EDT
College and (the Real) You
Part one of a three-part series on changes to the college admissions process. Read part two, about how high schools and colleges are changing their focus, here. While high school seniors across the country celebrate the end of the college admissions process, juniors, sophomores, and even freshmen may look at the months and years ahead with anxiety and confusion. “Should I join a new club?” they may be asking, as they wonder how to make their college applications stand out. “Take another AP class? Organize a food drive? Run for student council?” And above all: “What are colleges looking for?”...
By Bari Walsh 05/17/2016 11:35 AM EDT
Closing the Gap Year Gap
Thanks to the particular choice of a particular 17-year-old (whose dad has a high-profile job in Washington, D.C.), a lot of the world is talking about gap years. But as Malia Obama’s decision to defer her Harvard admission shows, the conversations can carry some very privileged associations — seemingly distant from the post-secondary options available to many less-advantaged or nontraditional students and families. So are gap years just another enrichment lever that only highly advantaged students can pull? Or is there a way to make gap year opportunities broadly accessible, without making...

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