I was encouraged to read this article today that summarized a talk by Christopher Hooker-Haring, Muhlenberg’s dean of admission and financial aid, in which “he reflected on trends he sees emerging in the ‘business’ of college admissions.” It was encouraging because the venerable dean echoed a lot of what I tell the families and students I advise.

His advice?

1. Demonstrate interest: the more “hits” you have in the admissions office the better.

2.  Early Decision increases your chances at highly competitive colleges and universities. If you know a school is your first-choice school and you’ll attend if you’re admitted apply ED because your odds are about twice as good as regular decision.

3. Have a “Hook.” Colleges don’t want students with “diverse interests;” they want diverse student bodies. They want students with passions. Hooker-Haring tells juniors, “If you don’t have a passion you have about six months to find one.”

4. This one was new to me: institutional health. I always tell students and their parents to look for a construction project on campus. A new dorm, science center, etc. is a sign of growth and health. Hooker-Haring suggests digging deeper. In this time of economic uncertainty ask if the institution has had to lay off faculty or staff recently or if any academic or athletic programs have been cut.

Read more.

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