Last year was in many ways the beginning of direct adoption in the United States. Concourse has established a system for students to be considered by 10 colleges in the Chicago area, all colleges with a strong track record of accepting and graduating low-income students, many of whom are minority students. Students create profiles of themselves with their grades and what they want to study, but students don’t actually apply to college. Colleges reach the students they want to admit. Last year, more than 650 students were offered a place at the university with generous scholarships. The colleges were not among the elites of higher education and that was not the purpose of the program.
This year, Concourse has 125 colleges across the United States offering admission, said Joe Morrison, executive director. “And many more are on board, which is growing rapidly,” he said.
Concourse was recently acquired by EAB. “We receive inquiries daily from new institutions wanting to join,” Morrison said.
The Common App has also experimented with direct admissions. This year, 14 faculties will participate, and student portfolios will begin to be shared with the faculties on November 1. The colleges are: Augsburg, Austin Peay State, Frostburg State, George Mason, Iona, Kean, Marymount, Montclair State, New Jersey City University, Stockton, and Virginia Commonwealth; Mercy and Utica Colleges; and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
Most of these colleges will also continue with traditional admissions.
Sage Scholars, a company that has worked with students on their financial aid since 1995, is moving into the Direct Admissions space. Sage has 26 private institutions signed up so far – including Hendrix College, Milliken University, Loyola University New Orleans and Washington & Jefferson College.
“We’re sending out about 6,000 printed letters this week or next week — two different messages — to parents because we think parents will be very involved in this process,” said James B. Johnston, president of Sage. .
He expects colleges to view profiles “as a continuum rather than a one-time event.”
One of the colleges participating in the Sage program is Goldey-Beacom College in Delaware.
Colleen Perry Keith, president of Goldey-Beacom, said via email, “We are interested in students who have come to us from Sage.”
She added that “when we started the process of screening students to offer admission, we realized that the number of students to choose from was much larger than we expected. This is, of course, a wonderful problem, but it has set us back a step as we have to decide how to narrow the field of students to reach. We want the students we offer to know that they have been carefully selected and that they are not just one of thousands who have received offers of the ‘To Whom It Concern’ variety.”
She added: “As this is a new venture for us, we want to start off on the right foot and we should start extending our first offers in the first week of November. We want to strike early, but not before we develop a reasonable plan that will serve these students and the university well. We have lowered our annual tuition to $13,050 (our endowment is quite large for a college of our size, so we fund it from endowment earnings) and we offer aid on top of that, so we suspect we will be an interesting and financially sustainable option for Sage Scholars. “
One of the states with the biggest move toward direct admission this year is Minnesota. In its first year, Minnesota offered every high school the chance to participate — 40 are participating. More than 50 colleges and universities — public, private and tribally controlled, two-year and four-year — are opting in.
“Right now, about half of the participating high schools have sent letters to their students,” said Keith Hovis of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. “As with any new program, in this first round of implementation, we are working through the processes and ensuring that we have all contracts and documentation ready. We are working closely with the remaining high schools that have not yet sent their letters and we believe they should be able to send their letters in the next few weeks. These letters provide each student with a personalized list of colleges that proactively offer admission to that student. The student can then complete an application for the faculty of his choice, and we are happy to announce that the application fee is waived, thus removing another financial obstacle for the student.”
Alyson Leas, director of admissions at the University of Minnesota in Crookston, which plans to seek applicants through direct enrollment this year, said she is still waiting for the Office of Higher Education to send her prospective students.
She said via e-mail that she is enthusiastic about the program. “When the idea of direct enrollment was proposed, I think a lot of colleges fell on their knees saying, ‘It’s never going to work!’ But I was impressed. In summary, how many of us are doing direct admissions under another name? If a student gives an admissions counselor a copy of their transcript, that counselor can almost always tell that student right away whether or not they will be accepted. All the app does is confirm some information, mostly found in the transcript, and give our communications team a few things we’d like to know for targeting.
“Direct enrollment removes two barriers for students. One is those students who have already told themselves that they will never be able to enroll in college, and the other obstacle is that they have time to fill out the application. We in the industry know that an application (without an essay) can take less than 30 minutes, but students don’t know that. This is a process that has been announced throughout life. This system allows them to go from “Do I have time to look at the app?” Am I even going to get in?” to ‘Oh. I’m in favor.’”
All In in Augsburg
Augsburg University is not waiting for the Office of Higher Education, said Robert J. Gould, vice president for strategic enrollment management.
“We’re so excited about it,” he said. “We all participate in direct admission.”
Most colleges start by only admitting some applicants through direct admission, but for now keep traditional admissions. But Augsburg redirects all applications to direct admission. The university will be in the Common App and the state of Minnesota. But the college has also made it possible for anyone with a profile that is ready to let Augsburg know they would like to be screened.
So far, 639 students have done so. Compared to last year, this is a 70% increase.
Augsburg admitted 487 compared to 150 a year ago.
Gould said the average time to respond to a student was seven minutes.
He said he wasn’t sure about this year’s yield, but expected it to be lower than it was. However, he is willing to have uncertainty about the return.
Augsburg admissions counselors shift their time from reviewing applications to talking with admissions about the university and what students expect to achieve there. Those are the discussions that prompted many of them to become admissions counselors, he said.
“It’s a dream come true,” Gould said.