Thursday, July 06, 2006

How has the thinking about and use of EA changed in the last few years? Do you think the changes are good or bad? Why?

The implication here is that the system has remained the same and the students are acting differently in relation to early action. That is partly true, but this does by no means capture the whole story. Colleges continue to be rather opaque with any information they give to students about admissability and there are major changes going on with admit rates. But colleges who feel they may be left out of this wave are acting to prevent this.

I think we are going through such a period of anomie in college admissions that, for now, EA is a good thing. It allows for some degree of assurance in a rapidly changing landscape. There was a quote in The Chosen that there is not a democratization of oppotunity in college admissions, just a democratization of anxiety. The landscape that is changing the fastest is in urban areas.

Like the double deposit discussion this is another red herring to attempt to blame the victim. I have had only one kid double deposit that I know of in a career directly counseling over 2000 kids and this year did not have a singel kid apply to more than one school early action. Have I had kids apply EA, ED I and then ED II? Sure. But the system is designed to encourage this kind of thing. Would I have a problem with a kid applying to 6 EA schools. Not at all, as long as the kid is not choosing those schools BECAUSE they were EA. That is gaming the system. But if they were six schools that he would have applied to whether the schools were EA or not, then I would not discourage him,

I guess you have to look at the school culture and the behavior of the students. If there is a highly anxious student/parent body and a culture of "means justifying ends", then you might feel that too many kids are choosing colleges by their admissions plans rather than what the colleges have to offer. And that certainly is a pernicious thing. We happily do not see that going on. We have almost every parent and student on an e-mail list and send things out daily (you can log onto http://www.montclair.k12.nj.us/ then to high school, then to guidance and scroll down to the end and sign up for any group and you can see the archives of what is sent out). Parents and kids begin to feel that they have a sense of what is going on despite what I believe are the intentions of the colleges and the media, for very diffenent reasons, to distort what is going on. They also, at the same site
http://www.montclair.k12.nj.us/schools/mhs/page.cfm?pid=67
have a full pdf version of my book which I think gives them a lot of info that they need. They need information without hype, which is what I believe we give them and that is the greatest antdote to anomie.

Durkheim noticed greater suicides during times of economic change, which he called anomie, even when economic conditions were improving. The fluidity of the college landscape is very damaging. A lot of the things may settle out. The intense marketing of colleges, beginning in the 80's, is still only relatively new in societal terms, with the most intense models of enrollment management probably emerging most in the last decade. We have had widley cyclical numbers of students applying to college, from a decline in the 80's, to a rapid and steep climb in the 90's. Things are starting to level off and will begin declining in the next decade. Will this decline help students due to increasing openings in the more selective colleges? Not according to Durkeim. It will still make for changing expectations and high uncertainty. Not until there is a stable base of applicants and some change in how colleges do business (such as all colleges going rolling admissions or have a preference system like that for medical schools) will there be a change in the huge anxiety and thus game playing by students, parents, schools and colleges.

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