Category Archives: NACAC 2011


‘Agents Aren’t Going Away’

New Orleans—At the National Association for College Admission Counseling’s annual conference last week, I listened to many intense discussions about the use of commissioned agents to recruit foreign students. Each of those conversations reminded me that this issue is far more complex than it might seem at first.

The discussion, which has become very emotional, echoed the continuing debates over the role of independent college counselors, who are often painted with a broad brush, as if they a…


Building Buy-In for a Smaller Class

New Orleans–When Michael Thorp began his new job as dean of admissions and financial aid at Millsaps College, in January 2010, he had his work cut out for him.

The discount rate was much too high, running above 70 percent, and net tuition revenue was too low. Not only did everyone on the campus in Jackson, Miss., want to recruit a strong class; it seemed they were all fixated on a headcount of 300, even though Millsaps hadn’t brought in that many new students anytime in recent memory. Something …


The Complexity of ‘Fast Apps’

New Orleans—Few issues spark debate like “fast applications” do, at least if you’re in the company of admissions officers and high school counselors. “There’s a lot of emotion around this issue,” says Beth Wiser, director of admissions at the University of Vermont. Depending on who you ask, fast-track applications (aka VIP apps, snap apps, prepopulated apps) are either useful tools that benefit colleges and applicants alike, pernicious instruments that have cheapened the application process, or …


Top 10 Myths About Scholarships

New Orleans–For all of the good information available to help students figure out how to pay for college, there are also more than a few urban legends  about who gets money and why. Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of the web sites FinAid and FastWeb, tried to clear up some of these misunderstandings at a session of the NACAC meeting here on Friday, where he shared ten myths about college scholarships.

  1. Only straight- “A” students win scholarships: Students with better grades and test scores are more …

Finding the Right Financial Fit

In a guest post, Vic Davolt, director of admissions at Regis University, shares his perspective on college affordability as both a higher-education administrator and a father. Mr. Davolt will be one of the presenters at a session on the topic at the NACAC conference on Saturday.

The date was September 6 and the cover of U.S. News & World Report read “How to Pay for College.”  Articles included in that rankings issue were titled “Is That the Real Price?,” “State U. Wants You,” “The Debt Load,” an…


Working With Wait Lists

Wait lists are an important, but little-understood part of the admissions process, says Phil Trout, a college counselor at Minnetonka High School, who is one of the presenters on a panel devoted to the topic at the NACAC meeting on Friday. In a guest post, Mr. Trout shares his perspective on what wait lists mean for students and for colleges.

In July 2010, I was having lunch with three other high-school counselors and the dean of admission at a highly-selective Midwestern university.  He told …


‘What, Me, Recruit? I’m a Professor!’

New Orleans—W. Todd Roberson has a reminder for admissions officers. “Faculty members think differently than you do,” he says. So if you want them to help you recruit, he insists, you’ve got to recruit them, engage them, and communicate with them regularly.

On Thursday afternoon, I heard Mr. Roberson speak here during a session called “The Third Side of the Desk: Effective Use of Faculty in Recruitment and Yield.” Surveys have shown that interaction (or lack thereof) with faculty members strongl…


Diving Into Data


On Friday, Kim Chaffer Schroeder, associate dean of admissions at Transylvania University, will speak during a NACAC panel session on “predictive validity” and the use of standardized tests. In a guest post, she describes the role of data in evaluating admissions practices.

Test-optional.  In the world of college admissions, these words bring about a flurry of discussion and debate. In fact, these words incited quite a discussion in my own office. Ultimately, the question was:  Do we kno…


Common Application Plans for (More) Growth

New Orleans—Pick whatever metaphor you like to describe the Common Application’s continued growth: When I close my eyes, I think of it as a freight train adding cars. During the past admissions cycle, the not-for-profit organization served 575,000 unique applicants, an 18 percent one-year increase, and processed 2.4 million applications, a 24-percent surge.

In any business, growth often necessitates changes. On Thursday morning, the Common Application’s board of directors announced several of th…


Don Quixote, College Choice, and the Myth of Fit

On Friday, Mark Moody, co-director of college counseling at Colorado Academy, will co-present a panel session called “The Myth of Fit.” In a guest post, Mr. Moody, describes the perils of seeking the perfect-match college, and calls on college counselors to help redefine the terms of the college search.

Not too long ago in my office, I counseled a student distraught because the extensive spring break college tour from which he had just returned hadn’t yielded a discovery of “the right fit.” This…