Frantic choices cause admission woes

March 4, 2009

Don't rush college admissions process, report says

By Mary Beth Marklein USA Today

New research offers yet another argument for why high school students should avoid the college early-admissions frenzy: They may be more likely to regret their decision later in life.
Bad timing is the culprit. "Many young people are being pressured into making college choices before they are developmentally ready," says Michigan State University sociologist Barbara Schneider, author of a report released last week that examines the psychological and social implications of admission policies.

Though she says that case "has yet to be made empirically," she cites her forthcoming research suggesting "students who make these choices very early, without having opportunities to explore other options, (in their 20s) report some dissatisfaction with their college choices and lives."

David Hawkins of the non-profit National Association for College Admission Counseling says the findings support some members' concerns that students are being rushed. The group's 2005 survey found that 25 percent of responding colleges accept some applicants before they start their senior year. Some recruiters have waived application fees or offered priority housing to students who apply as juniors.

The group now bars colleges from admitting a student until after they get a junior year transcript. Harvard, Stanford and other selective schools have softened binding early-admission policies so that admitted students could apply elsewhere, too.

Traditionally, students applied early if they were sure they would enroll there. Adam Sapp, an admissions official at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif., says that's still a good reason. But, he says, "perhaps this study will cause students and families to take more seriously the idea that (admissions) is more about fit than getting into (a selective school) four months ahead of their neighbor."

J.D.'s Comments: Choosing a college specifically for brand name is not the best reason to select a college. Fit, amenities and career contacts are excellent reasons to select a college. Research a college before applications are sent in. Visit the campus, and ask yourself "Is this where I could spend the next four years, do the kids on campus look like they could be friends of mine?"

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