|Admissions Essays Blog|
|Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.|
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Should Sexual Orientation and College Admissions Mix?
In a move that is generating lively discussion in the blogosphere and beyond, Harvard University announced this week that it was considering amending its application to include a space that would allow prospective students to identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual or Transgendered. Given the current socio-political climate of discussion on LGBT rights, such a move was bound to open the floodgates for vociferous responses.
The loudest opponents argue that, since sexual orientation has no bearing on college admission, a check-box is unnecessary. Others fear that, since the application review process is conducted by fallible human beings, knowledge of an applicant's sexual orientation may ultimately work for or against the applicant-an offense against impartiality that has no place in the college application process.
More than anything, the conversation is charged with the kind simmering ire that colors most discussions about affirmative action. That is, should college applicants be assessed according to anything other than wholly objective considerations? Is that even possible? Harvard's Dean of Admissions claims that the proposed addition has nothing to do with admissions criteria and everything to do with sending a message to LGBT students that they are both welcome and recognized.
If nothing else, Harvard's decision-implementation of which is still hedging around the highly sensitive discussion of phrasing-may encourage other universities to take similar measures. Such a chain reaction is sure to energize an already polarized conversation. Ironically (maybe?), such discourse is what higher education is really all about.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Chinese are Fastest Growing Foreign Students at U.S. Universities
The Institute of International Education's Open Doors Report released this week reports that the number of Chinese students enrolling in American universities jumped by 43% percent this year. Of the roughly 723,000 foreign students enrolled in U.S. colleges, 22% are Chinese. This sharp increase over a relatively short period of time has opened the floodgate of discussions about whether U.S. campuses are logistically, socially and culturally equipped to deal with such an influx of students from a single region. Such conversations are difficult to engage in since it is impossible to disentangle delicate racial and societal connotations from the dialogue.
The growth in number of Chinese students is attributed largely to China's burgeoning middle-class, as well as to its one-child policy, which means that parents tend to funnel all their energy and financial support into a single child. In China, the U.S. has a reputation for offering stellar third-level education, and the competitive global economy means that Chinese students stand to benefit from improving their mastery of English language and American culture. American universities also win in this scenario; in addition to adding greater cultural dimension to their student bodies, they also enjoy the benefit of China's rigorous secondary-education system, which churns out top-notch students. Another benefit for U.S. colleges?-fewer than 30% of Chinese students seek out any financial aid.
Other teething problems with this cultural exchange are making headlines. Most notably, problems with cheating and plagiarism for Chinese students who may have the grades to get into U.S. colleges, but not the mastery of English. There are also problems with assimilation for the Chinese students, and tolerance from their American counterparts. American recruiting within China's borders has raised ethical concerns. Professors struggle to tailor curriculum and class atmosphere to two very different cultures. Most experts see the obstacles as surmountable over time. For a wonderfully detailed discussion: The Chronicle
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Deciphering "Early Decision" College Admissions
With all of the stress surrounding college admissions, it is hard to believe that some students would actually choose to accelerate the selection and application process, but this is precisely the aim of applying for early admission. The option-which isn't available at all universities-may be a perfect fit for some students, but should be taken only after careful consideration. The greatest advantage to applying early is the acceptance rates, which are almost universally higher for students applying early. For students who are absolutely certain about their top-choice school, early admissions makes sense. However, there are a few catches. There is a difference between Early Decision (ED) applications and Early Action (EA) applications. Early Decision is an incredibly restrictive option, since it requires a student applicant to promise that they will attend the school they've applied to once accepted. They are even required to withdraw any applications to other universities. There is no backing out. Early Action does not force students to commit to a single school. This is important for several reasons. First, students have the opportunity to shop for other campuses that might be a better fit. EA allows students to have a fall-back position if they don't make it into their top choice. One of the most significant barriers of ED is the fact that it precludes any negotiation of financial aid packages, and again, EA allows students to freely search for the best deal around.
Early admission has historically been a boon for colleges since the bulk of students applying can afford tuition and tend to have higher grades and scores. Strangely, the struggling economy hasn't put much of a strain on early admission numbers. Just this year, Princeton reinstated its early admission option, after having abandoned it just four years ago. Despite the extra pressure placed on admissions officers, the early application process is alive and well.
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Business Schools Streamline Admissions
Anyone applying to business school is likely already well-versed in the variants of programs available at most graduate business schools, but for those new to or just dipping their toes in the waters of the process, here's a breakdown: The traditional MBA program at most U.S. business schools is a full-time, two-year course, regarded as the best all-around pedigree for graduate students looking for versatile job opportunities. The Executive MBA (EMBA) is designed for students in mid-career, looking to retool their professional skills while still working full time. Part-time MBA programs are a viable option for students who cannot afford to engage in a full time program.
Post-graduate education in the U.S. is still about prestige, and full-time business MBA programs remain the most exalted and offer the broadest professional options. EMBA programs are often subsidized by the student's current employer, meaning that the skills earned will often be tailored to aid the student's advance only within their current position or industry. Part-time MBA programs, for better or worse, still lack some of the prestige of their cousins.
One advantage to business school candidates is the recent decision by several business schools to streamline the admissions process, so that students applying to any one of the three types of MBA programs can submit a single application. For instance, if a student's GMAT scores aren't high enough for Columbia's full-time MBA program, but that same student has career clout that would add to the environment of Columbia's EMBA program, the student may be accepted into the latter without needing to apply for both. The centralized processing takes some of the mystery out of the odds/options game for business students and gives the schools a more varied pool from which to draw applicants. For the full story, see: Financial Times
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