April 26, 2019

The college admissions challenges you won't read about in the news

Recent college admissions scandals involving highly selective institutions have generated national press coverage and public attention. Penn GSE’s Peter Eckel, writing in Inside Higher Ed, shines a light on a different group of institutions: the thousands of nonselective and moderately selective U.S. colleges and universities that are unlikely to confront such public scandals but face their own set of challenges in enrolling and supporting students.

Dr. Peter Eckel
Trustees of these institutions should be asking themselves different questions related to the admissions process than their highly selective peers, Eckel says. Their boards should advocate for broad recruitment outreach, revisit criteria for merit and need-based institutional aid, encourage efforts to keep costs low, and track patterns in graduation rates and student debt.

Eckel emphasizes the role of mission in guiding the work of trustees at less selective institutions. “Access has a very different meaning here,” he notes, and boards should focus on how their institution enrolls and retains students and creates opportunity for them. 

“Most colleges and universities are working hard to ensure opportunities for many people rather than a select few,” Eckel writes. “They have wonderful stories of success that the world should acknowledge and celebrate… And boards should help to tell those stories.”

Read the full piece in Inside Higher Ed.