Friday, May 27, 2011

Charlene Liebau Prepares Students For Aggressive College Recruiters

By Charlene Liebau|May 27, 2011|11:13 a.m.
College Admissions Editor

We are now in the waning days of the school year just as the senior class prepares for graduation the current juniors anticipate “what’s next?” What will the next year hold? In what ways will it differ – or will it?

From early observations it appears it will be very much the same in terms of the level of competition and frenzy surrounding the college admission process. Already colleges from near and far have been holding receptions and information programs in local hotels, have begun to visit high schools to meet with juniors, and have sent via email and snail mail more information than the busy student has time to read.
Where will this lead?  What does this mean?

Early indications are, in spite of receiving record numbers of applications last year, active and sometimes aggressive college recruiting will continue in the coming year.

For high school juniors it is important not to jump to conclusions. Receiving enticing brochures or email “updates” from colleges should be viewed as an introduction to do further research–they are not to be considered as indications of likely admission or special interest on the part of the college. In sending out its message colleges explain they are trying to inform as many students as possible about their programs and offerings and what it is that distinguishes them from other like institutions.

Beyond implications for the individual student, what are the results of increased recruiting and ever larger applicant pools? For the college it adds a lot of questions to the process: how do we distinguish one student from another in the applicant pool? What determines an “admit” decision?

What goes into a college being more “popular” than it once was or, more popular than a neighboring institution? To what degree does any of this matter? 

Perhaps my message to current high school juniors is to be aware that active recruiting by colleges will continue for the foreseeable future; that technology has had an influence on the college application process in that it has become “easy” to apply; that the important question to ask continues to be: what is important to me? An answer to that question should help direct the process, not what is viewed as being “popular.”
Charlene Liebau is the former director of admissions for CalTech and Occidental College. She is also a finalist judge of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

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