Thursday, April 15, 2010

Waiting lists

A pessimistic story in the NY Times about college admissions waiting lists, which are long this year: For Students, a Waiting List Is Scant Hope

"The admission process is a complicated dance of supply and demand for colleges. And this spring, many institutions have accepted fewer applicants, and placed more on waiting lists, until it becomes clear over the next few weeks how many spots remain.
M.I.T., which had a 6 percent increase in applicants, increased its waiting list by more than half, to 722. Last year, it accepted fewer than 80 from that list. Yale, which had a slight dip in applications this year yet still admitted fewer than 8 percent of applicants, placed nearly 1,000 others on its waiting list, an increase of more than 150. Dartmouth increased its list by about 80, to 1,740."
"Like its competitors, Duke does not rank students on its waiting list. Instead, decisions about who will rise to the top are often a function of what the admissions office perceives as deficiencies in the next freshman class. There might be, for example, a surplus of aspiring engineers and not enough potential English majors, or too few students from Florida. Or there might be an unexpected shortage of oboe players.
While Mr. Guttentag encourages students on the waiting list to send him a one-page letter — or a video of 60 seconds or less — letting him know how strongly they wish to attend, and why, they can do little to improve their chances. "...

"Since waiting list offers went out in late March, Mr. Guttentag and his colleagues have been deliberating whether to end the suspense for at least several hundred who are on it — those who probably have little hope of coming off.
Another reason the list is so long this year, he said, is that he and his colleagues were so overwhelmed by the volume of applicants that they ran out of time.
“What we could have done, had we had another week,” he said, “was to look at everybody on the waiting list and say, ‘Do they all need to be on?’ ”
“Of all the priorities,” he added, “that was not in the top two or three.” "

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