Thursday, October 15, 2009

College Admission and Ethical Implications of Uncertain Economic Times

Register Now for NACAC Webinars on the
State of College Admission and Ethical Implications of Uncertain Economic Times

NACAC State of College Admission Webinar
When: October 20
Time: 2:00 p.m. EDT
Cost: $25

On the release date of the annual State of College Admission report, NACAC will present a Webinar to provide a detailed overview of trends in college admission counseling. This year’s report also includes analysis from NACAC’s survey on the Effects of the Economy on the Admission Process.

With the influx of marketing propaganda out there for students, the high tuition costs, and the rising obstacles in gaining admission to the top universities, it is not surprising that some college admissions offices are facing public scrutiny for their questionable ethics. "Recognizing these ethical challenges and dilemmas and effectively dealing with them is a professional imperative for admissions officers and the academic institutions they represent," says Michael McCuddy of International Journal of Educational Management. McCuddy addresses three areas of admissions where ethical dilemmas are plaguing the current admissions climate. They occur in recruiting practices, personal biases in admissions decisions, and conflicts between personal ethical standards and institutional directives.
Example of an ethical dilemma: Athletics is dictating to admissions at a selective institution, they should admit a candidate based on their physical talents and leadership skills, but not their academic merits. It is a division III school and there are no athletic scholarships or special provisions provided for athletic admits. The star football athlete may potentially bring in more revenue to the school with increased ticket sales and national media hype, but the athlete is not near the school's average standards in regards to class ranking or test scores.* fictitious example
Should admissions offer this student a place at their university or risk the wrath of the athletic department and deny him? What are your thoughts? With every circumstance, you need to weigh the pros and cons of your decision. My professional opinion: I would really have to read the student's essays to determine their level of motivation and desire to attend the academic institution. I would also do a follow up phone interview as well.

As a former admissions officer for a private university, I understand the intense pressure placed upon admissions to convert qualified prospective students to matriculated students. There is a fine line between encouraging a student to apply to a university and telling them that they will be admitted based upon their credentials. Universities that are less selective run the risk of over enrollment if they accept too many students. This year Ithaca College had to be very creative in how they addressed their over enrollment problem. They are paying 31 students $10,000 each, to put off going to college for a year, a sort of mandatory GAP year. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Ithaca had hoped “to enroll 1,700 to 1,750 new freshmen but found itself with an incoming class of 2,027 for this fall.”
'It's an extreme case of what we're likely to see in other places,' said John C. Nelson, managing director of the division at Moody's Investors Service that rates colleges' debt. In addition to adding physical capacity, Ithaca's challenge is to 'manage the student services extremely well,' he said, particularly in light of the competitive and demographic challenges facing private colleges in the Northeast. - Chronicle of Higher Education
Ithaca College made a recruiting mistake that they will be paying for physically and monetarily over the next few years. Chronicle reports that Ithaca had suffered a decline in freshman enrollment in 2008, falling 11 percent below its budgeted target of 1,600. Many of the steps it took over the past year to enroll the entering class in 2009 were designed to compensate. The steps included lowering selectivity (Ithaca accepted 73 percent of its 2009 applicants, compared with 59 percent in 2008) changing its merit-aid policy so money could be spread among more applicants, and intensifying "yield" efforts to get more admitted students to attend. Other colleges did the same things, according to a survey released last month by the National Association for College Admissions Counseling. But Ithaca lacked some of the levers colleges traditionally use to give themselves more control over admissions, most notably the early-decision option.
The ethical dilemma above: Is it ok to pay students to defer their college dreams? Your thoughts.

Ithaca will reinstitute their early decision application option this year to compensate for the over enrollment problem they encountered. Mr. Maguire, Ithaca's new enrollment-management chief, came from Franklin and Marshall College will work directly for the president. He said the college is reinstating early decision, two years after dropping it. Without it, he said, Ithaca didn't have a solid picture of its admissions situation until very late in the process. Freshman deposits came in with a "huge spike at the very end of April." He also plans to raise admissions standards, although he acknowledges that after lowering selectivity in 2009, Ithaca will face a challenge in getting that message out to applicants.

Ithaca College has over 100 bachelor degree options and is known for their emphasis on performing arts. They have reknowned masters programs in sports management and sports marketing. Visit Ithaca College for more information on the university.  

The information provided was written by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608.

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