Last Thursday, Bev Taylor swift authored an article on Huffington Post, declaring “Need Blind Admissions Is a Lay. ” Its publication ignited a flurry of responses among college admissions professionals both publicly plus privately. For those of us who read through applications at highly selective institutions, her article simply did not jibe with the reality of our own encounters. Those on my team that worked for institutions like the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, Georgetown, plus Babson were adamant that need-blind admissions means exactly what it says. I hope that the following conversation will help provide a clear response to Taylor’s article and offer some clarification on some challenging issues in admission and financial aid within higher education.
Why this particular matters
The reason that colleges try to be transparent about their admissions and financial aid policies is not because they are trying to trick you into creating a disadvantage for yourself. It’s because they’re trying to keep you as well informed as possible through a very stressful process. Admissions officers are educators, plus they want students to be successful in college without incurring significant financial hardship, whether at their institution or elsewhere. Our objective is to help students understand the policies of both our admissions and financial aid workplaces and the ways in which the two intersect. Any kind of failure to communicate those truths is neither a lie neither dishonorable; it is simply a failure to communicate.
The experienced team at College Coach understands the way the reading process functions at extremely selective colleges and universities that are both need blind and need aware, and our experience is not reflected in Taylor’s article. Nor, apparently, is it the knowledge of many other admissions professionals from high schools and colleges across the country, who have expressed equally solid disagreement with the article’s central disagreement.
Perhaps our greatest concern is that this belief within the fiction of need-blind admissions plans creates the potential for families to make devastating changes in their applications in order to online game the system and secure admission. Students who ought to apply for and receive an application fee waiver may not do so because of the incorrect belief that it will prime admissions officers to look at their application unfavorably. He applies to less schools in an attempt to save money for their family, thereby limiting his choices when admissions decisions are conferred in late March. A student who would be eligible for a aid chooses not to apply for aid due to the misguided belief that it can help her chances of admission without any significant disadvantages. In the end, she finds herself in a horrible position: admitted towards the college of her dreams yet without the financial aid package to afford this. Ultimately, this is the misguided strategy that Taylor seems to be advocating: help give yourself an edge in getting into the college of your dreams, but when it comes time to pay for it, you’re on your own. That is simply unacceptable.
The terms all of us use in admissions and financial aid sound simple but are easily confused from the layperson. That’s why articles like this get so much attention, and exactly why my colleagues at College Coach work really hard to help families be familiar with meanings of admissions and educational funding jargon. Among these complex conditions, “need blind” and “need aware” are relatively straightforward: a college is need blind if your budget play no role in your likelihood of admission; a school is need aware if your finances can enjoy at least some role in your likelihood of admission. In the latter case, a few students with the ability to pay full expenses have a slight advantage in the admission process—call it an institutional priority.
It’s important to understand, however , that need blind and need conscious policies are all of the about the admissions process and have nothing to do with how a college provides students with financial aid. When it comes to financial aid policies, you should be looking for educational institutions that “meet 100 percent of shown financial need. ” Paired with a need-blind admissions policy, a college that meets 100 percent of shown need will provide lower and middle-income students with the best chance of getting an offer of admission and a competing financial aid package. Need-aware schools that meet 100 percent of demonstrated need may prove more challenging for reduced and middle-income students in terms of admission, but are likely to provide competitive educational funding for those students who are admitted.
If there is one issue with which most families struggle, it is the which means of the word “need. ” My colleague Robert Weinerman , who worked in financial aid at Babson College and MIT among others, told me that almost every family members thinks they need more money than the college does. He says the financial aid method does not really calculate a “need” in the sense that most people think of need. It calculates a figure that places the student on a comparative index of ability-to-pay based on whatever the formula the college uses. And educational institutions aren’t unclear about this. You can gather together a rough estimate of your family’s likely need-based financial award using the school’s net price calculator upon its website.
Come back with us tomorrow, when we publish component two of our response to Taylor’s content, challenging her central claim that need blind admissions doesn’t make logical sense.
Ian Fisher is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts . Ian received their master’s in policy, organization, plus leadership studies from the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Prior to signing up for College Coach, Ian worked being a senior admissions officer at Reed College.