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Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Complexity in College Admissions: Facts and Myths March 28, 2010 1:00PM EST Presenters:

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Presentation on theme: "Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Complexity in College Admissions: Facts and Myths March 28, 2010 1:00PM EST Presenters:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Complexity in College Admissions: Facts and Myths March 28, :00PM EST Presenters: Arlene Cash Brad Quin Bruce Walker

2 Advocacy & Policy Center Mission: To increase the number of students who earn a college degree and who are prepared to succeed in the 21st century. Approach:

3 College Preparation & Access  Arts at the Core  The CollegeKeys Compact™  School Counselor Advocacy  Teacher Advocacy  Minority Male Achievement  Undocumented Students and the DREAM Act  The National Commission on Writing College Affordability & Financial Aid – Cracking the Student Aid Code – Rethinking Student Aid – Trends in Higher Education – Education Pays – Simplifying State Aid Processes College Admission & Completion – College Completion Agenda – Admissions in the 21st Century – Access & Diversity Collaborative – Community College Transfer & Retention Areas of Focus

4 Study Overview Objective :  Explore the topic of complexity in the admission process through research based on student and parent perceptions  Measure student and parent perceptions of complexity  Differentiate responses by income, race and ethnicity, first generation status and geography  Identify which subgroups find the process (or aspects of it) complex and why  Identify possible responses to key findings Survey Overview:  600 students planning to enroll in a 4-year college  300 parents of students planning to enroll in a 4-year college

5 Examined 7 Areas from the Student & Parent View:  Getting Information about College  Application Process: General  Application Process: Schools to which students applied  Application Process: Features of the application process  Application Process: By school type & size  Sources of Help During the College Application Process  Overall Perceptions of the College Application Process  Parents Experiences with the College Application Process  Demographics A Closer Look: Fact or Urban Myth?

6 Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Getting Information about Colleges

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9 Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Application Process: General

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15 Respondents’ Suggestions for Making the Process Less Confusing/Complex Top Four Suggestions: Students  Better instructions/Step-by-step guides/Clear checklist: 15%  Improve college websites/Make websites more user- friendly/ Better information on websites: 14%  Use a common application/Have everything in one place or on one website: 10%  Better communication between colleges and students, parents, high school staff/Better or more timely notification when items are missing: 9% Top Four Suggestions: Parents  Better communication between colleges and students, parents, high school staff/Better or more timely notification when items are missing: 11%  Improve college websites/Make websites more user- friendly/ Better information on websites: 10%  Better instructions/Step-by-step guides/Clear checklist: 9%  Use a common application/Have everything in one place or on one website: 7%

16 Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Application Process: Schools to Which Students Applied

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18 Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Application Process: Features of the Application Process

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20 How Confusing Were Specific Features of the Admissions Process? Top Three From a List of Standard Processes; Scale 1 Low, 10 High  Knowing how admission decisions are made  Students: 3.32  Parents: 3.64  Being able to find information they needed on a college’s website  Students: 2.68  Parents: 2.24  Completing the application form  Students: 2.62  Parents: 2.47 From a List of “special” processes; Scale 1 Low, 10 High  Write an essay  Students: 3.50  Parents: 3.14  Apply for admission to a specific college within the school  Students: 2.64  Parents: 2.33  Submit samples of high school coursework  Students: 2.49  Parents: 2.26

21 Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Application Process: By School Type and Size

22 Does Complexity Vary by School Type or Size? Students: Rating 1 Low, 10 High  Public: 2.55  Private: 2.51  Small: 2.54  < 4,000  Medium: 2.67  4,000 to 9,999  Large: 2.55  >10,000 Parents: Rating 1 Low, 10 High  Public: 2.26  Private: 2.31  Small: 2.02  < 4,000  Medium: 2.52  4,000 to 9,999  Large: 2.32  >10,000

23 Does Complexity of Specific Tasks Vary by School Type: Top 5 Public: Rating 1 Low, 10 High  Write an essay: 3.37  Apply for admission to a specific college within the school: 2.51  Submit samples of high school coursework: 2.48  Have an interview with admissions staff: 2.43  Get letters of recommendation:2.07 Private: Rating 1 Low, 10 High  Write an essay: 3.21  Submit samples of high school coursework: 2.44  Have an interview with admissions staff: 2.41  Get letters of recommendation: 2.31  Apply for admission to a specific college within the school: 2.12

24 Does Confusion about Features of the Process Vary with School Size: Top 3  Knowing how admission decisions are made  Small: 3.47  Medium: 2.63  Large: 2.57  Knowing if all required materials were submitted  Small: 3.16  Medium: 2.43  Large: 2.54  Being able to find information they needed on a college’s website  Small: 3.21  Medium: 2.59  Large: 2.62

25 Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Sources of Help During the College Application Process

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29 Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Overall Perceptions of the College Application Process

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31 Stressors in the Process: Top 3 Those factors that were not stressful (rated 1-5)  Was not complicated/All information needed in one place/Process was self- explanatory: 32%  Waiting for the answer was the stressful part/Not knowing if they would be accepted: 15%  Different applications have different requirements/Difficult to gather all the required items: 14% Those factors that were stressful (rated 6-10)  Different applications have different requirements/Difficult to gather all the required items: 34%  Worried about deadlines/Difficult to meet deadlines: 26%  Very time consuming/Hard to balance with work, school, and extracurricular activities: 18%

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33 Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Demographics

34 Type of high school student attends Students (N=600) Parents (N=300) Public school88%86% Private school11%12% Home school1%2% Student’s anticipated major field* Students (N=600) Parents (N=300) Life sciences19%14% Physical sciences17% Social sciences17%11% Business16%14% Medical sciences11%13% Liberal arts10%9% Education8%10% Communications4%6% Undecided9%6% Student Demographics High school GPA Students (N=600) Parents (N=300) 2.99 or less11%6% 3.00 to % 3.25 to %10% 3.50 to %21% 3.75 to % 4.00 or greater18%14% Don’t know8%17% Standardized tests taken Students (N=600) Parents (N=300) % taking SAT98%97% % taking ACT48%61% Combined SAT score Students (N=457) Parents (N=138) Mean SAT score (std. deviation) 1574 (306.50) 1529 (351.09) Median Combined ACT score Students (N=237) Parents (N=76) Mean ACT score (std. deviation) (5.23) (5.93) Median

35 Parent’s Household Income Students (N=600) Parents (N=300) Less than $20,00010%6% $20,000 but less than $40,00018% $40,000 but less than $75,00023%26% $75,000 but less than $150,00021%27% $150,000 or more8%12% Don’t know18%1% Refused2%10% Gender of Respondent Students (N=600) Parents (N=300) Male42%32% Female58%68% General Demographics

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37 Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series Conclusions and Recommendations

38 Getting Information About College  Findings :  Parents and students offered college application process classes or seminars found them helpful  Recommendation:  Work with high schools to develop college information programs  Establish guidelines and evaluation to ensure programs are effective

39 Application Process: General  Findings :  College choice is only moderately complicated; multiple college choices increase complexity  College choice is generally made by student, or jointly between student and parent  First-generation students report making decision solely  Recommendation :  Develop materials targeted to first-generation students  Develop suggestions to help all students make wise decisions on college type, needs and goals

40 Schools which Students Applied  Findings:  Students apply to ~ 4 colleges/universities on average  Students most frequently apply to public schools and in-state schools  First-generation and lower-income students are less like to apply to private/out-of-state schools  Recommendation:  Investigate the barriers preventing first-generation and lower income students from applying to private/out-of-state schools

41 Features of the Application Process  Findings:  Applying to college was a fairly simple and clear process for students  More difficult when applying to numerous schools  Most students complete applications online  Knowing how admission decisions are made is most unclear  Writing essays and submitting recommendation letters were fairly simple  No major barriers identified for students from low- income families, first-generation or geographical location

42 Features of the Application Process  Recommendation :  Encourage colleges to be more transparent regarding the admission decision-making process

43 By School Type & Size  Finding:  Slight differences emerged based on type of size but not significant to provoke change  Recommendation :  Develop suggestions to help all students make wise decisions on college type, needs and goals

44 Sources of Help  Findings:  Students rely on parents and high school counselors  First-generation and lower income students are less likely to receive help from parents  More likely to receive help from school counselors, teachers, friends, and older siblings  Recommendation :  Encourage colleges to have informative, up-to-date, and easy to navigate websites  Assist schools with the development of additional basic information about the college application process

45 Overall Perceptions  Findings:  Moderately stressful to apply to college  Stress is based on outcomes not process  Secondary stress:  Different applications have different requirements  Balance between application process and high school life  Parents and students are confident about college choices  Overall, respondents felt the application process is easy and self-explanatory

46 Part II: Complexity Report  Objective:  To understand how much, when and why students – particularly those form disadvantaged backgrounds – fall out of the process or otherwise aim too low in pursing college, given their academic qualifications  If complexity in the application process is not a significant factor (see Phase I research findings), what other factors are impacting college attendance outcomes  Target Populations  Low-Income, low-socioeconomic status, first-generation  Release Date  Fall 2011

47 Upcoming Webinars  Cracking the Student Aid Code April 28, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EDT  Leadership, Access and Institutional Mission May 18, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. EDT Learning to Lead: Admissions in the 21 st Century Webinar Series To download Complexity in College Admissions: Fact or Urban Myth and register for the upcoming webinars, visit


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