Preparing for a Changing Landscape in College Admissions
Rachelle Hernandez, associate vice provost for enrollment management and director of admissions at the University of Minnesota, was among the six directors of admissions at the media roundtable Aug. 2 at the National Press Club. The group participated in a candid discussion of changes and challenges in admissions facing universities today.
To say there are some changes to this year’s college admissions cycle would be an understatement.
Admission directors and the students applying to their schools will be grappling with a revamped SAT. They’re becoming familiar with a new college-application platform from the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success. And they’re wondering what to expect from new rules over how families use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
These were just a few of the topics discussed during a media roundtable Georgia Tech held in Washington, D.C., Tuesday evening.
Rick Clark, Tech’s director of undergraduate admission, hosted the event, which brought together six admission directors from across the country, representing public and private universities and schools both large and small.
“The major application method has changed, the major evaluation has changed, financial aid has changed,” said Stephanie Dupaul, vice president for enrollment management at University of Richmond. “It’s a different stress level this year because so much cheese has been moved in one year.”
The other panelists were:
Rachelle Hernandez, associate vice provost for enrollment management and director of admissions at the University of Minnesota.
Monica Inzer, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid at Hamilton College.
James (Jim) Nondorf, vice president for enrollment and student advancement and dean of admissions and financial aid at the University of Chicago.
Jim Rawlins, director of admissions and assistant vice president for enrollment management at the University of Oregon.
For about 90 minutes, the panelists talked with six reporters about changes and challenges in college admissions. Reporters from the following outlets participated in the discussion: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chronicle of Higher Education, U.S. News & World Report and The Atlantic and Money.
The group talked in-depth about retention strategies, college affordability and diversity issues on campus.
For example, they discussed whether making the FAFSA form available earlier this year will help families. The forms will now use tax information from two years ago, known as Prior-Prior Year, as opposed to just the previous year.
“A whole sector of students, especially first generation students, might have no clue about the process,” Rawlins said. “Rather than early FAFSA being a way to help some of the neediest families have a new way to be ahead, I am worried it’s going to be a new way for these families to feel behind.”
Inzer agreed there are concerns about the changes to FAFSA, but remained hopeful.
“I really think we need to give it a chance,” she said. “This is going to give families a chance. We have to work to eliminate the unintended consequences.”
While some described the changes as “disrupters” to the admissions process, Nondorf noted that the changes are forcing colleges to collaborate and discuss ways to make a positive impact.
“It’s good to hear how other institutions deal with these questions,” Clark added. “What’s exciting is we’re all talking to one another and learning from one another. These discussions will only make us all stronger and create more opportunities for students.”