Friday, June 11, 2010

College admissions and "demonstrated interest"

Signaling is important, says a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed: The Dynamics of Demonstrated Interest

"This year, American University received a record 17,000 admissions applications, a 13 percent increase over last year.
.... as colleges become more selective, they often find themselves competing with institutions a rung or two higher on the ladders of selectivity and desirability, at least for the top students.

Although there's prestige in this kind of association, there's also uncertainty. How many applicants would turn down a super-selective, big-name college to attend a somewhat less-selective, less-famous one? How do you know whether a student considers your college a top choice or a "safety school"? How does an applicant's sense of "fit" with a college relate not only to matriculation, but also retention?

"In recent years, such questions have prompted American's admissions team to look more closely at "demonstrated interest," the popular term for the contact students make with a college during the application process, such as by visiting the campus, participating in an interview, or e-mailing an admissions representative. In theory, it's a way to measure the likelihood that an applicant will matriculate—and succeed if they do.

"The practice is not new, but its importance has grown at some selective colleges in this era of ballooning applications and economic uncertainty. From 2003 to 2006, the percentage of colleges rating demonstrated interest as a "considerably important" factor increased to 21 percent from 7 percent, according to an annual survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Since then, that number has held steady (another 27 percent of colleges now deem it "moderately important"). ...

"Recently, American has created more opportunities for students to do just that. The admissions office has broadened its recruitment strategies to include online chats for prospective applicants. Participation is noted in each student's file. ...

"Demonstrated interest often dovetails with another strategy for managing uncertainty: the waiting list. This year, American offered a spot on its waiting list to about 2,000 students, a seemingly large number considering that the university had accepted approximately 7,300 students for its freshman enrollment target of 1,450.

"Applicants who received waiting-list invitations from American fit a range of descriptions. Some were less competitive than the applicants the university accepted, but others were top-notch students who did not seem like a good fit for the university. In some cases, the reason was a lack of demonstrated interest, Ms. Alston says."


Mohammad Mahdian said...

this comment is not related to this post. i saw this photo today (taken by a friend), and thought you might be interested to see it:

looks like they're trying to use advertising to change the repugnance of a transaction.

Anonymous said...

I have read similar over the past weeks and tend to agree with your comments however let’s see what will happen over time. I very much enjoyed reading your piece though.
Thanks, Peter