So much for ethics–admissions directors admit they’re not out to recruit the best and brightest students, but rather the richest, according to the 2011 Survey of College and Admissions Directors.Conducted by Inside Higher Ed in August and September, the study drew responses from 462 top directors at nonprofit colleges and universities, who revealed that “finding the right fit” is more about recruiting “full-pay” students who aren’t in need aid than providing a rare opportunity for low-income applicants without resources.
With battered endowments and declining government aid, more than half the admissions offers at public research universities and more than a third at four-year colleges feel pressure from administrators, trustees, and fund raisers to recruit more out-of-state and international students since they tend to pay higher fees.
Sadly, 10% of admissions directors at four-year public colleges and nearly 20% at private liberal arts schools said many full-pay admittants had lower grades and test scores than other applicants; more than a quarter of admissions directors likewise revealed they’re being pressured by senior-level executives to admit minority students, children of alumni, athletes, and international students–a practice that harkens back to the University of Illinois scandal that made headlines two years ago.
David A. Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling tells the Times that “as institutional pressures mount, between the decreased state funding, the pressure to raise a college’s profile, and the pressure to admit certain students, we’re seeing a fundamental change in the admissions process … there’s now a different dynamic that places a lot of emphasis on marketing.”
But whether it’s a product of hard times or a sign of failed leadership, Inside Higher Ed’s findings are deeply troubling and speak to the American college system’s inability to make the grade, both for students and parents, who the study found are “significantly worried” about how they’ll shoulder the burden of such exorbitant tuition costs.
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