Category Archives: Uncategorized


Common Application Announces Abrupt Change in Leadership

Rob Killion, the Common Application’s executive director, has left the organization he led for nearly 10 years, but he insists he did not do so willingly.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Common Application announced that Mr. Killion had stepped down. In an interview, Thyra Briggs, president of the Common App’s Board of Directors, said Mr. Killion had decided to leave following conversations about the organization’s future. “Ultimately, it was Rob’s decision to step down,” she said.

In an interview…


‘The New York Times’ Shuts Down Its College-Admissions Blog

The New York Times is discontinuing The Choice, its college-admissions blog, the newspaper announced on Friday.

“Evergreen resources” from the blog will still be available in the paper’s online archives, and Times reporters will continue to cover the “issues most relevant to college-bound students and their families,” according to a post on the blog announcing its end.

The post does not elaborate on why the paper is closing down the blog. But Eileen M. Murphy, the paper’s vice president for corp…


Why Don’t All Colleges Have Their Admissions Data Audited?

As I’ve written before, there’s no Data Sheriff patrolling the sometimes-secretive realm of college admissions.

George Washington University reminded us of that on Thursday when it announced that its admissions office had inflated its class-rank data for more than a decade, substituting estimates for hard numbers. If not for an internal administrative review, the practice might have continued—undiscovered—forever and ever.

The news reminded me of a chat I had with Raymond A. Brown this past summ…


The 4-Letter Word That Everybody’s Talking About

Denver — Here at this giant gathering of admissions officers and high-school counselors, I keep hearing the same word over and over. People have mentioned it during sessions, uttered it over coffee, and probed its meaning in conversations. The word is “grit.”

It’s as good a word as any for the determination that many educators now associate with student success. Grit, as described by some researchers, is the habit of overcoming challenges, of learning from mistakes instead of being defeated by t…


Temple U. Creates a Social-Media Campaign and Sees a Surge in School Pride

Temple University has taken crowdsourcing and social media in a new direction.

With social media becoming more and more important for college admissions, the university has created a campaign called “Temple Made,” which uses Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to connect with its students and alumni, promote university spirit, and reach out to prospective students.

Back in August, the university put out a call for current and former Owls to send in Instagram photos they believed illustrat…


14 Organizations Receive Grants to ‘Reimagine’ Financial Aid

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced the recipients of grants meant to spark innovative financial-aid policies. As part of the Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery project, 14 organizations will receive a total of $3.3-million in grants to offer recommendations for improving the financial-aid system. Each organization will publish a white paper offering “an original perspective” early next year, according to a news release.

The organizations include the Association of Public and Land…


Median SAT Scores Can Get Murky

Close readers of the test scores reported on Wednesday in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings should approach those numbers with caution. After all, the hunt for gold-standard data will take you into some gray areas.

A handful of colleges have made news recently for intentionally fudging their enrollment data. In other cases, numbers are reported honestly but erroneously. Sometimes discrepancies arise because college officials interpret survey questions differently.

In many cases, the SAT scores…


New Player in Rankings Game Mines Alumni Opinions

If you had it to do all over again, would you choose to attend your alma mater? Do you think the education you received there was a good value? How much money do you make? Oh, and are you happy?

The newest player in the college-rankings game has asked such questions of more than 42,000 college graduates. Called the Alumni Factor, the new venture has released a college guide based largely on the opinions of those who’ve earned bachelor’s degrees from one of 177 institutions.

“We want to pierce th…


Will Application Essays Survive?

Boston—Application essays are perhaps the most romantic fixture of the admissions process. Although many colleges do not require them, some selective institutions ask students to write two or more. Such requirements allow applicants to reveal their true selves and help admissions officers see inside students’ heads and hearts. At least that’s long been the idea.

But has the personal statement outlived its usefulness? On Wednesday, several admissions officers and college counselors weighed that q…


What if Recommendation Letters Were Reduced to Bullet Points?

Bryn Mawr, Pa. — Writing a letter of recommendation is a labor of love, except when it’s not. Sometimes the process is lonely and painful, like taking a final exam in the dentist’s chair.

Either way, writing dozens of recommendations each year is a draining, time-consuming chore. But what if you could just use bullet points to describe an applicant’s talents instead of, you know, stringing together all those paragraphs?

On Monday college counselors pondered that question here at the annual confe…