The State of College Admissions: Northwestern, UC Berkeley, and Stanford

  • Allen Lentino of Northwestern discusses the entering fall 2008 class

  • Walter Robinson of UC Berkeley explains the falling admission rate at UC

  • Rick Shaw of Stanford will continue EASC program

During the May 30th Western Association for College Admission Counseling Conference, the anticipated highlight was the closing session, "The State of College Admissions." This was a roundtable discussion featuring a panel of distinguished admissions officers that included Allen Lentino, senior associate director of admission and financial aid, Northwestern University; Walter Robinson, director undergraduate admissions, University of California, Berkeley; and Rick Shaw, the dean of admissions and financial aid, Stanford University.

Allen Lentino mentioned that, over the last three years, Northwestern applications have ballooned from 16,000 to over 25,000 this year; this amounts to an increase of just over 55%.  26% of these applicants were admitted, which comes to just over 2,000 students. Northwestern could be called the Stanford of the Big Ten. It's a relatively small (about 8,000 students), highly selective, private school. Despite the rapid increase in applications, Northwestern still maintains a holistic approach to applications (as do UCLA and UC Berkeley). This means applications are considered based upon a broad range of factors, including grades, test scores, personal essays and coursework.  Separately, Northwestern is currently wrestling with the possibility of issuing merit aid to students (currently all financial assistance is a function of need, which is the case with most of the highly selective schools).

Walter A. Robinson, who formerly worked in admissions at Cal State Fresno and the University of Florida, is attempting to make sure that UC Berkeley attracts a larger share of exceptionally talented students of all races, including those students who might be tempted to choose elite private colleges and universities over UC Berkeley. More than 48,400 students applied for admission to the fall 2008 class, up almost 10 percent from the approximately 44,100 who applied a year earlier.  The admissions rate - the number of students offered admission compared to the number who applied - for the fall 2008 term was 21.5 percent, down from 23.2 percent for fall 2007. UC Berkeley offered admission to 175 more students than last year, but because of the increase in applications from all groups including California residents, out-of-state students, and international students, the admissions rate dropped. Mr. Robinson saw a strong increase in the number of transfer students applying to Berkeley; he mentioned that transfer students have a higher graduation rate than regular, four year students.

Rick Shaw has over 35 years of experience in college admissions and has worked at the University of Colorado, University of Michigan and, most recently, Yale University. He gained his Stanford post on September 1st, 2005. Stanford admitted 2,400 students out of 25,298 applicants for admission to the Class of 2012. Of this estimated total, 738 were admitted in December through the university's restrictive early action program. Mr. Shaw is adamant about continuing 'early action single choice,' a program that allows students to apply to Stanford in October, get their admissions decision in December, and then have till May to either accept or refuse the offer. Separately, Stanford is very interested in attracting first generation college attendees to its campus. Transfers are also rising, though the numbers aren't exciting from a student's point of view. Of the 1,400 transfer applications, Stanford accepted 60, about 4%.

While it is interesting to attend the roundtable with these leaders in the selective school admissions world, their worlds pretty much reflect what most of us are aware of: the number of high school seniors has swollen, the number of applications each campus has received has increased by double digits over the last 2-3 years, and competition continues to burn with ever greater intensity. What surprised me, at least a little bit, was that two of Rick Shaw's concerns at Stanford, are with the number of students becoming 'stressed out' by the admissions process and the rapid 'commercialization' of the admissions process. Both seem to be byproducts of certain colleges successfully building a brand, and of all the brands, Stanford (and Yale, his previous stint) are equivalents of a Rolls Royce. So why be surprised? Accept reality, especially if you're in one of the seats driving it.

Ralph Becker
Founder, Ivy College Prep LLC

5월30일에 열린 대학상담서부연합회(WACAC) 집회의 최고봉은 마지막 부분의 “The State of College Admissions” 이었다.  명성있는 입학사정관들이 연사로 나와서 토론형식으로 진행하였다.  연사로는

  • Allen Lentino (Northwestern Univ.입학과 학자금 담당)

  • Walter Robinson(UC Berkeley의 학부 입학담당관)

  • Rick Shaw(Stanford Univ.의 입학과 학자금 담당 학장)이 참가하였

Allen Lentino 에 따르면, Northwestern 대학의 응시원서는 16,000에서 올해 25,000부로 늘어났다고 한다; 비율로 볼 때, 55%이상이 증가된 것이다.  이중에서 26%에 해당하는 2000여명의 학생들이 입학이 허가되었다.  Northwestern 대학은 ‘Stanford of the Big Ten’으로 불리워지며, 상대적으로 규모가 적을 뿐(정원이 8000명), 명문에 속하는 사립대학이다.  응시자의 급속한 증가에도 불구하고, Northwestern 대학 당국은 총체적 평가를 유지하고 있다(UCLA, UC Berkelye에서와 같이).  이 평가방식은 광범위한 요인들을 기준으로 한다.  학점, 입학 시험점수, 개인 에세이, 학과목 평가를 포함하는 것이다.  한편, Norhtwestern대학에서는 학자금혜택을 필요에 따라 부여하는 방안을 검토중이라고 한다(대부분의 명문대학에서도 필요에 따른 경제보조를 택하고 있다)

Cal State Fresno 와 University of Florida 에서 입학사정관을 지낸 Walter A. Robinson에 따르면, UCBerkeley는 최고의 명문 사립대를 선호하는 학생들을 겨냥하며, 모든 인종을 초월하여 exceptionally talented 학생들을 받아들이고 있다고 한다.  2008년 올해 48,400 명이상의 학생이 응시하였으며, 작년에는 44,100명이 응시했다고 한다.  합격률은 올해는 21.5%이었고, 작년에는 23.2%이었다.  가주주민을 포함, 타주학생, 외국인 학생의 응시률의 증가로, 올해는 작년보다 175명을 더 받아들였지만 합격률은 내려갔다.  특히, UC Berkeley로의 편입생의 증가 또한 두드러진다고 한다.  이들의 졸업률 또한 높다고 한다.

Rick Shaw는 35년이상을 University of Colorado, University of Michigan, Yale Unviersity에서 입학사정관으로 일했다.  2005년 9월부터 Stanford 대학에서 일하기 시작했다.  Stanford는 응시자 25,298명 중에서 2012 Class가 되는 올 신입생들을 2,400명을 받아들였다.  이중 738명은 early action program으로 12월에 결정되었다.  Mr. Shaw는 ‘early action single choice’를 유지할 뜻을 강하게 비쳤다.  즉, 학생들이 10월에 Stanford에 응시하고 12월에 입학결정을 통보받으며,  5월까지 입학을 결정하는 것이다.  Stanford는 대학입학이 첫세대가 되는 학생에게 관심을 갖고 있다고 한다.  학생들이 만족할 만한 숫자는 아니지만, 편입생 수도 증가하고 있다.  1,400명의 편입 응시생중에서 4%에 해당하는 60명이 합격되었다.

명문대학의 입학사정 세계의 이러한 대표들과 함께한 토론은 흥미로왔다.  물론  논제는 우리도 이미 인식하고 있는 사실을 반영하였다: 고교 졸업생의 급증가, 지난 2-3년 사이에 대학 응시자 수의 두자리 숫자의 증가, 경쟁력의 치열함.  이중에서 나를 약간은 놀라게 한 것은 Rick Shaw가 지적한 Stanford의 염려이다.  학생들이 입학사정의 절차에 긴장하고 있으며, 이에 따라 이러한 절차가 상업화되어 가고 있다는 지적이다.  이 두가지는 여러 상표중에서 가장 우수한 상표를 생산하는 대학의 부산물인 것 같다. Stanford 대학이나 그가 이전에 일한Yale 대학은 차로는 Rolls Royce이다.  놀랄이유가 있는가?  현실을 받아들이자.  누구나 Rolls Royce에 앉아 운전하고 싶지 않은가?