College Admissions More Complex Than Ever, Pt. 2

Choosing a college is not easy and takes time and effort for both parents and the student. Too frequently, this important decision is made on hearsay information or by advice given from relatives or friends. We often hear parents say, “My friend’s kid went to Syracuse and had a great experience” In the new environment, this approach simply won’t do. The parent, high school, and student must work as a team – researching, reviewing, and reconfirming information. A successful college choice should be based on personal learning style, campus culture, and family finances.

Another new development in the college admissions process is the increasing need for early career development and the direction toward a college major. No one wants to force a student to make a career choice before he or she is ready. However, many students and parents are insisting early on a career related education. Their hope is to provide the student with the opportunity for certain employment when the student finishes school. No more English or poetry majors – it’s now all about engineering, computer science, and business administration. Unfortunately, this trend has caused concerns among educators. The colleges with their popular programs saturated, are not permitting students to transfer into those programs after their admittance. The colleges no longer have the space or the inclination to try to turn a junior majoring in philosophy into a computer programming major. Many parents can no longer support three or four more years of college while the student is trying to “find himself”.

The colleges, of course, have an additional if somewhat paradoxical problem. They are coping with the reality of an increased overall student application pool while, at the same time, the walls are bulging in some classrooms, while other main stream courses are under-enrolled. In today’s economic environment, it is also important to make sure that a college is financially stable, and will continue to offer the chosen majors.

At the same time, except for a handful of the most select colleges, all the schools are actively recruiting. They are offering all sorts of enticements…”merit” scholarships, “creative” loan programs, “special” academic programs, and dual majors. These measures must be considered objectively when deciding on the ideal school for a particular student.