This is the début post of admissions cafe, a blog that explores a range of issues in the world of college admissions. Part commentary, part advice, the blog will take a 360-degree view of the college admissions field.
Most of what one reads or hears about the college admissions process today tends to stoke the admissions frenzy and focus on the competitive aspects of the process. Who will get in? How does the process really work? How can “contestants” gain an advantage and maximize their chances for success?
I get it — this is drama of the type we seem to crave these days, as evidenced by our fondness for reality-based competition TV shows. OK, so college admissions isn’t exactly “Survivor,” and it isn’t anything like the “Hunger Games,” (though it’s clear that some students and parents feel as though it is “do or die” on the admissions battlefield) but you can see the similarities — each year a new group of contestants begins the quest and encounters many obstacles along the rough road to the goal.
Not so long ago, the rite of passage that is the college admissions process could be experienced and discussed as a teachable moment in a teenager’s life. It is still the nexus around which all kinds of personal and societal issues collect. It’s those issues I want to explore. I think the prevailing trope of college admissions as a contest obscures questions that are far more interesting, such as:
* Why do we think the choice of a college matters so much?
* Does the admissions process always have to feel like a students vs. the colleges battle?
* What are some of the institutional pressures felt by college admissions staffs that play out in recruitment and selection practices?
* Do academic disciplines such as psychology and neuroscience offer insights that can help us understand the college admissions process?
I am starting this blog to raise those questions (and more like them) and to broaden the discussion about the college admissions process. Hence the tagline of admissions cafe: Relax. Reflect. Reframe. Or, to put it another way: Reject the craziness and reclaim some sanity.
Is this crazily idealistic? Way, way, too optimistic?
Only time will tell!