I am currently reading College Unranked: Ending the College Admissions Frenzy, edited by Lloyd Thacker, which is a series of essays written by college administrators and admissions professionals. These essays focus — surprise, surprise — on what’s wrong with the undergraduate admissions process. There certainly is plenty of material for the essayists, although I find most of the essays a little long on angst and sanctimony.
There is one article I marked for its clarify and practical focus: "Status vs. Substance: Is There A Choice?" by Robert J. Massa, Vice President for Enrollment at Dickenson College. If you have a chance to read this essay, it provides an excellent perspective on choosing colleges, one that complements the perspective of a new ebook Sheila Bender and I intend to have available for college applicants by early September.
Dr. Massa brings similar clarity and rationality to "College Early Decision: Fix It, Don’t Kill It." He argues, "Early Decision can be a perfect option for students who know themselves well and have found a college that fits their learning style." He concludes that colleges should not throw out the baby with the bath water. The "bath water" = using ED for better positioning and improving chances of admission without the research and commitment ED requires.
I wonder if research has shown that applicants admitted ED transfer more frequently, perform poorly, or in other ways indicate that ED has hurt them. If it does show negative impact, Dr. Massa’s argument that the real fault in ED lies not with the concept of ED but with parents and counsellors who use ED to game the system resonates with me. They use ED not to help students, but to reflect their own misguided emphasis on status, not substance.