Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is the Common Application a Blessing or a Curse?

It depends, as is the case with much of life. Students believe it has made life easier -- one application for many of the schools they are interested in. Schools are thrilled because they get more applications when it becomes easier to apply -- and that means they can demonstrate lower acceptance rates, the artificial but widely acknowledged sign of a selective school.

Georgetown, however, receives fewer applications than its peers -- a deliberate tactic. Charles Deacon, dean of undergraduate admissions at Georgetown, doesn't think applicant pools are necessarily stronger just because a college may take a small percentage of students. Georgetown has opted, in essence, to look at the students most interested in it, proved by their willingness to take the time and thought to handle an uncommon application.

Georgetown also requires a personal interview for almost everyone -- something other schools can't do because of the high numbers. In addition, Georgetown does not talk with for-hire college counselors, preferring to keep the process between student and college.

Why does Deacon take this approach? He says it enables Georgetown to be “an institution that seems to have a soul, that seems to have a rationale for behaving in the public interest.”

Sounds good to me.

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