March 10, 2020, Last Updated on November 10, 2020
All day, every day, the reality of one’s college experience is a lot more important than test scores or binding Early Decision stats. Spring is the time to set admissions hype aside, because hype doesn’t matter. Real college matters. It’s time to start differentiating between the sense of scarcity, the amenities which launched a million applications….and the real place the student plans to attend.
It’s a little tricky to write about admissions hype without sounding as though I’m critical of admissions personnel. I’m not. Enrollment professionals are typically doing what they do for a living because they enjoy young people and their families. They stand ready to help you, and they’ll do so enthusiastically. But they aren’t paid to help people identify potential pitfalls, to introduce skepticism about their institution. It is not fair to expect an admissions officer to tell you that you shouldn’t apply to their school or that you’ll be sorry if you enroll. In other words, I don’t think the hype/reality disconnect is a function of dishonesty on their part. It’s a lack of knowledge on ours.
Thus, the million–dollar question surfaces: how do we look behind glossy view books to discover at least an approximation of the experience which awaits? Beyond campus revisits and listening to how your neighbor’s nephew’s soccer coach fared at the school in 1974, what can you turn to?
Data. If you’ve read this blog before, you know I love my numbers. But iIn the spirit of “lies, damn lies, and statistics,” you have to contextualize metrics to determine whether or not they are meaningful. Data has its limits, for sure. If nothing else, though, it can lead the student to some questions which need to be asked.