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Noodle Staff
Noodle Expert Member

October 04, 2021

Inside Higher Ed released the results of their senior admissions officials survey at American graduate and undergraduate institutions. 462 admissions officers at community colleges, public and private undergraduate colleges, and public and private masters and doctoral programs responded anonymously to a variety of questions on admissions practices, trends, and concerns.

Money talks:

  • The results cover several aspects of admission, but the big takeaway, wrote Tamar Lewin at the NY Times, is that "Money is talking a bit louder in college admissions these days." At 4-year institutions, just under a third of the officials polled listed recruiting "full-pay" students, those that don't need financial aid, as an important strategy for recruiting in the next three years. Of the masters and doctoral programs surveyed, over half said they have been working harder to recruit full-pay students.

  • 22 % of officials at 4-year institutions said the financial distress has drove them to may more decision to an applicants ability to pay.

What this means for recruitment:

  • Since full-pay students have become the focus, admissions officers have increased their pursuit of international students and out-of-state applicants at public universities.

  • Lewin writes, "In the survey, 10 percent of the admissions directors at four-year colleges -- and almost 20 percent at private liberal-arts schools -- said that the full-pay students they were admitting, on average, had lower grades and test scores than other admitted applicants."

Recruiting as Marketing

David A. Hawkins, a director at the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said in reaction to the results, ""Where many of the older admissions professionals came in through the institution and saw it as an ethically centered counseling role, there's now a different dynamic that places a lot more emphasis on marketing."

Many colleges now use agents to recruit abroad. Just over a fifth of 4-year institutions surveyed admitted to using these agents and another third said they are currently considering using them.

International recruiting may crowd-out more qualified students that could not pay full tuition, but American higher education is highly valued - an important commodity in a globalized world.

In line with these results, the biggest concerns for the counselors polled was rising tuition for applicants and their families. Rebecca Ruiz at The Choice explained that many college counselors and administrators believe they can better help the students that do need aid by admitting more full-pay students by freeing up aid.

The full survey results can be found here.

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