Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Employability growing factor in college admissions
Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
I am a junior in high school and I know I will face a very competitive class of applicants when I apply to college next fall.
I have a very good GPA and a 1525 SAT score. I participate in a number of extracurricular activities including football and wrestling. I am also the editor of our school's literary magazine.
There are 500 students in my class and most of the students who are in the top five percent have similar achievements. I plan to apply to most of the Ivies, Stanford and Cal-Berkeley. Is there anything I should know that will enhance my chances of getting into a top college.
I advise all of my clients that they need to sell themselves in their application and essays. More importantly, students must now have clearly stated career goals, because the nation's top colleges are now bringing in career-services staff to evaluate candidates for admission.
Many students and advisers do not know that admissions officers and their institutions are increasingly sensitive to the job placement percentage of their graduates. Against a spate of bad publicity surrounding student debt and unemployment, elite colleges are now applying a new category to their admissions criteria: employability.
While most colleges have long considered applicants' career goals, they rarely sought input from their career services office on whether a particular candidate's aims were realistic. Some colleges are now asking career development office representatives to sit in on admissions committee meetings to help assess applicants.
When the economy turned sour a few years ago, schools began to focus on the employability of their applicants. This change comes as prospective students are weighing the potential return on their investment in deciding whether to apply to an expensive Ivy League school, an in-state school, or an out-of-state school.
The Ivy League also began what is a growing trend among colleges and that is including career development representatives in many of their recruiting functions. They are looking to match student interests with industry needs. For example, for an applicant with a stated interest in becoming a lawyer, they may place greater emphasis on an applicant's essays. Or they may seek out candidates with strong interview skills and leadership potential.
The addition of career development officials helps the admissions committee "think more critically" about borderline candidates. They provide information that helps admissions officers understand which students might be most in demand come graduation. The result is that some applicants are bumped onto the wait list, while others are plucked from that no man's land. There is more give and take.
I always recommend that my clients and their families visit the career development office at the colleges they are interested in before talking with admissions. Keep your career goals in mind when you start filling out your applications next fall and you can't go wrong.
Gerald Bradshaw is an international college admission consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting in Crown Point.
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Colleges and Universities, College Consulting, International Students