With the holiday season almost in our rear view window and thoughts of 2016 clearly ahead, it’s vital to consider trends, updates, and recent events in the world of higher education that may impact admissions.
Below I’ve identified four items to pay attention to for 2016:
1) Next iteration of the SAT – In March of 2016 the current 2400 based SAT is reverting back to its 1600 former self. Depending on what you read or believe the reason for the “new” SAT might be motivated by a desire to regain market share lost to the ACT since 2012. Even the tweaks of the SAT suggest it could be trying to mirror the ACT. If you’re a senior and looking at last minute options for Fall 2016 be mindful this will be a different test. For instance, no more of those “SAT words”.
Juniors may want to consider a wait and see approach before signing up for the first test in March because you’ll be a guinea pig of sorts (e.g. used for norming). Consider the ACT first, take the SAT in the summer and then evaluate what you’ll retake, if necessary, in the fall.
2) The Presidential election – This is a hunch of sorts, but election years, particularly ones with the Presidency at stake seem to influence the world of admissions. This is likely to have a greater impact for seniors in fall 2016 (current juniors). For example, fall 2008, was during a financial crisis where many colleges around the country struggled to meet enrollment goals needing to go deep into their wait lists for the entering class of 2009.
With a newly elected President coming into office in 2017 it will be interesting to see how the mix of politics and the future economic situation will influence the mindset of families. It’s too early to predict anything, but important to note.
3) New FAFSA procedures – Again, this is for rising seniors. Seniors are still following the current procedures. Starting next fall, seniors will have the opportunity to start working on their FAFSA forms on October 1, 2016. This is three months earlier (traditionally Jan 1 of their senior year) than the current process. This also means that 2015 tax forms, not the 2016 ones will be used for the form.
These are significant improvements. However, continue to watch for other changes and updates. Anytime there’s a roll out of something new, kinks are likely to be involved. Be sure to revisit fafsa.gov throughout the summer.
4) Recent campus activism – Unlike any other year, 2015, will go down as a historic period of students across the country fighting for their voices to be heard in order to enact sweeping and sometimes revolutionary changes.
From the #blacklivesmatter movement, the Amy Fisher case, countless shootings, and high ranking officials stepping down there was no shortage of activity on college campuses. College campuses will need to think about operating in a different way. It won’t be immediate, but it will be considered when prospective students raise the issues. At some point, these effects will trickle down to admissions offices and their future decisions.
Enjoy the rest of 2015 and best wishes in 2016.
(About the Author: #ThickEnvelope is a monthly column that can be read exclusively on AsAmNews. Patrick Gabriel Lorenzo is Associate Director of Admissions at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA and a graduate of both a University of California campus and a regional private college. He has nearly 15 years of experience in higher education spanning public and private institutions. He is a firm believer in access, against the notion of college acceptances being a prize to be won, and promotes the idea of searching colleges from the inside out. Patrick can be reached at email@example.com for further questions.)