Navigating the big decisions together

College admissions is a constantly changing world and the horizon has a lot of changes ahead. One of my favorite aspects about being involved in college admissions advisory boards is being on the forefront of admissions changes. It is insightful for me to gain behind the scenes access into multiple university admissions processes. It is also an exciting opportunity to gain a national perspective on college admissions from advisory board members throughout the country.

What follows are a few important takeaways from recent meetings:

Families are more focused -. Parents recognize the college experience they had may not be the same for their child.  Students and their families are asking admissions officials targeted questions about online classes and how the campus experience may look next fall. Some families are considering colleges closer to home to avoid airline travel during COVID. Ben Welbourn, Vice President of Enrollment from Verto Education explains:

“Families are committed about their son or daughter attending college but they are making sure the WHY is understood. Avenues such as community colleges and gap year programs are strongly being considered in the college equation. Alternatively, an option like Verto will keep the student on a 4-year plan, but give them the autonomy to see what potential majors will lead to in the real world during their first year of college.”

Application accommodations – COVID’s impact on high school applicants has been completely recognized and respected by colleges throughout the country.  Students demonstrating self-care or the need to care for their family is important information in this application cycle.  More colleges are adopting test optional polices even for highly competitive majors such as nursing and engineering. Collin Paimer, Director of Undergraduate Admission at the University of Toledo, shares how his university is making accommodations:

“We are trying to make the admissions process less stressful for students. Our campus is very invested in STEM and health care programs and we quickly expanded test optional to those majors.  It is rare to provide a direct admit, test optional Bachelor’s of Nursing program but we felt it was the right thing to do for students. We are permitting all applicants to change their application by December 1st if they want test scores to be considered.”

Here to help – Students and their families still have a ton of questions about the admissions process.  College admissions leadership recognize that many students do not have the normal support with hybrid and remote learning. Many colleges have staff more accessible than ever to answer questions that arise from applications. When students feel uncertain in the application process they often delay, procrastinate, and miss important application deadlines. Admissions officials are there to help so please be sure to ask your questions! Candace Boeninger, Interim Vice Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management at Ohio University, demonstrates the university’s commitment to helping students:

“At Ohio University, we love getting to know students and their families throughout the college search and application process. If ever an applicant or their family feels stuck or discouraged, we want them to contact us. We have a whole team of people trained and ready to help, and we often can provide insight or perspective that tamps down the nervousness and opens up opportunities. We are advocates of higher education—and of our applicants—so we are cheering for them. We want to help them find success!”

One important lesson that I learned during my time in admissions is changes are the norm.  I am most encouraged that the changes occurring now and on the horizon are some of the most-student centric decisions that have occurred in many years. Families that remain adaptable in their college admissions approach will be most successful. Stay tuned for more advisory board updates as Campus to Career Crossroads delivers best-in-class admissions insights so clients can successfully navigate their college journey.

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