Editor’s note: A version of this post originally appeared on Admitted in June 2016. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series.
After visiting a few college campuses, most people begin to think that they are all alike — and in some ways they are right. Most colleges offer students a variety of factors that seem similar: rigorous academics, varied social activities, and meaningful ways to connect with the community.
We all know the cycle. Unpredictable admission yields put pressure on earlier communication and a push to apply earlier and earlier. This drives up anxiety for students concerned about checking all the boxes ASAP, causing a greater focus on the Big Four—rigorous classes, leadership, athletics, and community service. More academic rigor means that it is harder to miss class, so fewer students attend on-site high school admission sessions. With less student contact, more stealth candidates are in play and yields are unpredictable. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love trends. This was a trend that scared me. Seeing fewer and fewer students attending the college admission representative visits increased my concern about this critical part of the college admission process. What if this wasn’t just happening at my school, but at schools across the country? Would admission directors make a cost-benefit argument that the high school visit was a dinosaur? Would they stop coming?