Type: Analysis
Pages: 11 | Words: 3282
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Comprehensive Factors in Admitting Students Process by Colleges Counselors

The purpose of this paper is to analysis the comprehensive factors that colleges counselors look at when admitting students.

Admission into university or college is the exercise through which a student gains entry to pursue tertiary education in the university or college. Every year, millions of students from high school send their applications for consideration for admission into the about 2,675 four-year schools in the United States. These students often place a lot of hope and expectations in their future hence prefer to apply to the colleges which they think can afford to give them the best education. Unfortunately, not all of them manage to secure a place in college/university because of various reasons such as high school performance, racial, gender and fee payment issues. These factors have created huge problems among the well know universities and if not quickly resolved, they might cause an impact on future generation.

Thesis Statement

An investigation into the system used to admit students into college for both freshmen and transfer admissions reveals the dilemma the counselors face: to admit students on the basis of either how academically good they are or on their extracurricular prowess. (Brantley, 1958)

Historical Timeline

In the 1800s, leading universities in America were worried about the lack of a universal method or avenue through which they could determine how well prepared students are for college work. This was as a result of the way colleges used to operate. Each and every college had its own independent mechanisms in place to evaluate the suitability of students who were aspiring to join them. This led to the formation of the College Entrance Examination Board to tackle this problem. This board was vested with the task of universally evaluating the students interested in joining college. The board administered its first exam for that purpose in 1901, so that students took one entrance exam for a number of universities instead of doing a separate one for each university to which they applied.

In 1937, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) was founded to enable more students to access higher education. A group of individuals calling themselves College Field Workers founded the organization that now acts as a representative to over 11,000 counseling and admission college professionals. It later came to be known as the Association of College Admissions Counselors in 1941 but later officially reverted to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) in 1945.

In August 21, 1959, some college representatives from 16 states met to establish The American College Testing Program as a standard-based tool of evaluating the readiness of students relative to college admission. It was designed to provide a way of making sure that students who complete high school are adequately prepared to work at college which is a bit thick than what they have been doing in high school. Over 75,460 students sat for the exam in 1959 while in 2009, the number rose to about 1.5 million students graduating from high school did the test.

In 1975, the famous Common Application was established. This is a form of application in which students fill a common application form when applying to the over 480 colleges that are members. The aim is to promote the admission of all-round students by considering both subjective factors that include the person that the student is as portrayed in his/her essays and letters of recommendations as well as objective factors that border on students’ grades and standardized tests. In addition, several laws and policies have been adopted in various colleges and universities over the years that have greatly contributed to the way colleges admit students. For instance, in 1995, the University of California adopted resolutions that abolished the admission of students preferentially on some characteristics. This brought to an end a practice where students used to be admitted using such factors as which gender they were, skin color, there national origin and along ethnic lines.

In 2008, the number of students who graduated from high school reached a high of 3.3 million, a figure that is anticipated to decline as the years move by. The number of students enrolled in college by the year 2020 is projected to increase to about 23 million. Around 25 percent of the students in their senior year of high school expect to get consideration from at least one of seven or more colleges to which they apply. On average, it costs approximately $40 for one application. Given that fifty percent of all the students who are admitted into college ever graduate within the four years scheduled for a degree, most colleges are now jostling for students. Students fail to graduate in time from these colleges because of a number of reasons ranging from the students failure to choose majors in time and concentrate on coursework, admission of unprepared students into college, lack of resources to both colleges and students to inefficiencies in college. Colleges are therefore constantly looking for ways to improve their rankings in order to attract a higher number of students from diverse backgrounds.

Parties and Groups Involved in the Admission Process

In the entire process of admission, the following are some of the parties involved; students, parents, college admission staff, consultants and many other stake holders. These groups of people have different roles to play so as to ensure the exercise is smooth and accurate from the moment a student starts thinking of joining college to the last day on which s/he graduates from college. Some of these groups have to be trained to ensure that they are efficient in terms of selecting students based on a certain criteria such as performance merits, gender balance and other social issues.


It is in every dream of a student to join the best college possible and do a degree or certificate in time in order to stay on track for his/her career. The process of applying and eventually joining a college can be very demanding on a high school graduate. This is so because of the pressure they feel to perform highly in tests, display impressive capabilities in co-curricular activities, maintain good grades in often tough courses as well as write original essays that can convince a counselor of the kind of person the student is as well as win favorable letters of recommendations from their teachers. It is estimated that the number of students graduating from high school was 3.3 million in 2009 and is expected to increase to 3.4 million by 2019, although a slight drop is forecasted through 2015.


Parents have high hopes and expectations for the future of their children. This is true for several reasons; some parents expect their children to join reputable colleges in order to guard their status in the society, their political interests or just to ensure that the student stands out in the future amongst others for career appointments. They would want them to obtain quality education that is believed to be an avenue to a bright future by presenting enriching opportunities. Some parents go as far as hiring private tutors for their children so that they get extra lessons to ensure they make the required grades for college admission and consultants to help them prepare to face interviewers as well as coaching on how to write appealing essays. They are also concerned about how much the children stand to benefit if they join a particular college since they are the ones who pay most of the costs of their child’s education for the four years.


These are the people who handle all those students interested in furthering their studies through college with an aim of building a career at the end of it. They often work in partnership with the counseling department to offer valuable guidance to students on what they need to do to attain their dreams. There is a counselor in about 25 percent of high schools who is committed to issues pertaining to counseling students both in their junior and senior years with an interest to join college. In almost 75 percent of the private high schools, there is a devoted counselor whose job is to offer assistance to students in the planning of their academic journey.


These are fee-based services available to those parents who place a high interest in the kind of college their children join. They offer such services as preparing students for tests, interview work, essay writing and filling of application forms. Their aim is to help the student win a better opinion from college admissions officers by presenting well written essays, handling interviews with confidence and collect presentation of information in the application documents. This trend has raised issues with some college admission systems since they argue that a student should not be assisted in presenting himself for consideration for admission to colleges. They say that is is misrepresentation and this has led to some of the colleges requiring students to sign that the information supplied in their application documents is true to the best of their knowledge and is of their own, i.e. without the help of such people as consultants.

College Admissions Staff

These are the people who are tasked with attracting and successfully selecting desirable pools of students for a particular course. They include the staff that directs new admissions to the respective venues of admission, there those who verify documents and ascertain that they are genuine, the medical personnel to deal with medical examination reports and the administration staff for issuance of admission documents and other relevant admission materials. These groups of people ensure that the process is smooth and accommodative to the newly admitted students.

One of the many debates in the admission of students to colleges is the practice of considering factors other than academic ones for the admission of students to colleges. For instance, admitting students based on their race, gender and outstanding performance in such disciplines as athletics can be viewed as having other motivators such as political influence other than purely academic motives.


While there has been an exhaustive debate and scholarly work on whether college counselors should admit students preferentially along racial, ethnic, national origin or gender lines; not much has been done to bring to the surface how college admission systems should treat the issue of admitting students from high school based on either their academic performance, in terms of grades, or the extracurricular strengths a student has. This has been a great challenge especially around the world about which criteria should be used when admitting students to collages. Some colleges sometimes admits students in terms of performance merits while other colleges balance both the racial background and performance level in admitting the new student into their colleges. This comes in a time when the world is undergoing a change from analogue millennium to digital millennium hence the need to admit students who have performed well in high school in order to stay at par with these changes.


Over the last few years, there have been a number of papers and articles done by people either directly involved in the college admissions or very closely related to these processes. These have helped shed light on what exactly counselors and other college officers look at when admitting a student to their college. Some colleges consider diverse factors in order to come up with a large and exceptionally qualified pool of applicants who have an enormous academic talent. Each and every individual college has its own criteria of admission and has a certain set of factors which it looks for in a prospective student during the admission exercise. Some colleges have a reputation for certain courses or disciplines and hence they must tailor their admission qualifications to reach this goal.

These colleges will do their best to maintain their reputation by looking for the specific qualifications in the students to be admitted. A college could be known for its uniqueness in they way it trains medical personnel, another could be known for producing the countries’ lawyers, businessmen, sportsmen, and so on. This leads to some colleges laying more emphasis on objective factors such as grades, standardized tests and academic programs while others focus more on subjective factors like student’s personal information from their essays, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendations from teachers and counselors and the student’s legacy, i.e. whether someone from the student’s lineage has ever been a student at the same college.

Parents should be reminded that the academic credentials of their children are more important than their other qualities. This is because the academic qualifications of a student or individual can enable him to do a number of things or be able to work in so many places unlike one with poor qualifications with a specific ability or super talent. More emphasis should be laid on developing and supporting the academic performance of a child than his/her endeavors in such matters as extracurricular activities. Unless the child is exceptionally talented, s/he cannot be considered for joining a college on the talent s/he has alone. Such immense talent can only be of significance should it stand out both locally and nationally.

According to a recent study done by a Student Success Task Force, Advancing Student Success in the California Community Colleges, it was found out that some of or most of the challenges that colleges face revolve on resources. Lack of funds to build college infrastructure like classes and other facilities that can accommodate students while in college play a role on the number and type of students enrolled in a particular college.

In as much as good academic qualifications guarantee a student great chances of getting an admission, other qualifications come into play as well. Colleges do not just go for “well-rounded” students who are capable to do work in college level; they also look at the student’s ability to add value to the college community. There is a big number of students in such institutions as the Ivy League College who could not have attended college had they been considered solely on their academic aptitude. “If you hear that a famous person was admitted to a top college, do not assume that she was academically qualified to be admitted. Extracurricular achievement may be what earned her admission. So top colleges are not looking for “well-rounded” students; they are looking for students with unique talents and extraordinary skills.

Discussion and Evaluation

As mentioned earlier, some colleges lean more into academic credentials when admitting students while some use a wide range of factors to evaluate the suitability of a high school student for college work. As the debate on whether grades alone should be used to evaluate the readiness of a student for college work rages on, some colleges prefer to use more of the extracurricular records of an individual. Students with super talents are often encouraged since their performance is the one that will bring about a good reputation to the institution both locally and internationally hence increase their ranking. Most people would argue that a student should be evaluated holistically using a variety of factors when winnowing the students applications for college admissions.

This will ensure that the student becomes an all-round person in the society who can serve as a role model to many through outstanding credibility in other aspects of life outside class work. The academic credentials alone serve might not serve as the best indicator in bringing out all the characteristics that define who a person is but rather needs to be combined with other talents outside academics. Some of the colleges like the Ivy League Colleges are the examples that rely more on extracurricular record of a student when admitting students.

According to James William in his popular book, College Education, he points out that; collage acts as the baseline of life. In his book, he explains that if we cannot have proper systems in terms of admitting students in various colleges, the world is faced with an irresolvable situation where some students are neglected due to racial and gender issues. Another group of students from Manchester also did a similar research on proper ways of admitting students in different universities and colleges and they discovered that some universities/colleges lacked modern systems that will guide them in making a modern college admission in terms of merits and social factors.

Most institutions lack the right infrastructure to admit students and this is made worse by the fact that one of the greatest challenges colleges face is inadequacy of resources. Thus it becomes hard to consider all other factors of admitting students and instead concentrate on one side of the admission criteria, thus shutting out majority of students who in the essence should be secured admissions in these colleges.

Most studies and scholarly works do not adequately tackle the hardships that counselors in colleges undergo in trying to balance the kinds of groups of students in a class as they must make a decision as to whether to take more of those students with good grades against those who show better qualities in extracurricular activities. If the success of a student admitted to a college on the basis of grades was as adequately compared to that of a student admitted on the basis of extracurricular activities, it could have been easier to find a common ground on which a common set of credentials could be built for the admission of students to most colleges.

The basis for admission for most colleges is faced with numerous challenges that need to be addressed to cater for those students who excel in co-curricular activities more that education. This will increase the enrollment for most colleges in the United States. Majority of those locked out of college admission will find vacancies and a place to nurture their talents at the same time work on their professional careers.


It has been shown that almost all colleges have their own unique way of selecting students into their systems. Some competitive colleges take students through a thorough and rigorous admission exercise while others accept students with minimal requirements. It is however, not clear whether the different factors colleges use to admit students yield different results as to the kinds of crop of students who end up in a class as compared to another college which has a totally different set of requirements for admission. Some colleges base a fair amount of their assessment on credentials such as good grades while others lean towards extracurricular activities.

Some attributes such as the ability of a student to adapt into varied environments, endure different situations in life, show persistence, display leadership skills, interpret complex issues, possess creative and innovative skills as well as solve problems or negotiate his way out of disappointing circumstances could make a lot of difference as pertains to college admission as compared to other students.

We should know to what extent these attributes affect the life of a student while in college as well as later in his/her life. To what extent are these attributes considered while admitting students who possess them? How can one identify such attributes in an individual and nurture them? What could be the resultant changes in high school if these attributes where found to be the main ingredients for admission into college as well as drivers of success in college? This way of thinking raises questions as to how college admission systems should be handled. Should students with such attributes considered more than those with good grades? Or should college counselors use a formula whereby a balanced set of requirements between grades and attributes is used to admit students?

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