Monday, April 11, 2011

Yet Another Path to Admission -- the Long Way

"We like you, don't have room for you now, but could sure use your help when our sophomore class shrinks due to drop outs, transfers, study abroad or internships."

How's that for a quasi-acceptance letter from the college of your choice?

That's not the actual wording, of course, but it captures the meaning. Some schools are offering guaranteed admission if the student attends another college for a year or so and earns at least a pre-set grade point average.

The advantages to the schools are clear. By not accepting (immediately) students with lower grades and scores, they keep their precious high rankings intact. Then they can fill empty slots -- and keep the cash flow strong -- after freshman year when there is always a loss of students.

I didn't know such an admittance category existed. Our source at a highly selective school said the deferred admission wasn't done there, except in rare cases. But she has seen firsthand that a world of options exists. Her teen was deferred early action by one school, then offered January admission and fall waitlist. Another deferred her early action, then offered her January admission with the chance to study abroad in the fall as part of a special program.

The schools who are getting the benefit of a student for just a year or so are crying foul, suggesting students should be committed to four years -- not two semesters as a holding pattern before moving on to greener campuses. One admissions officer said it was unethical of students to do this.

Oh please. When we see the acceptance rates, hear the tales of kids who did so much right and still didn't get into schools, why is it unethical if they try to make the most of a compromise situation?

Here's what I think. If a student believes admittance at a particular school is a long shot, even with a solid record embroidered with requisite extra-curricular/community activities, but really wants to attend, it would be nice if the application had a spot to declare interest in an unorthodox admittance option.

Who knows? It could happen yet. And maybe that's a path to giving students just a little more say in the process.

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