It’s hard to get into college. It’s even harder to set yourself apart in the application process. As recent events have shown, parents and kids are willing to do just about anything to be admitted to their school of choice. Schools are overwhelmed with qualified applicants, with many seeking the help of technology to decide who’s in and who’s out. So who does the decision really come down from?
A Giant Pool
Around 20 million students attended college in 2018. That number is expected to increase, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. With more students than ever trying to secure a limited number of seats, many schools are overwhelmed with the number of applicants. Enter admissions software.
Dozens of software companies offer programs to help with the admissions process. Schools are able to do everything from target ideal students, conduct and review video interviews and create rubrics to help prioritize candidates. But, is this use of technology taking the human element out of college admissions?
Technology That Makes a Personal Connection
Molly McCracken, Admissions Editor for Kira Talent, a Canadian-based software company says no. McCracken tells Parentology Kira Talent’s software is focused on a holistic approach to admissions — trying to give schools a more informed look at each student.
“A holistic admissions process means the admissions committee is considering applicants based on their whole story,” McCracken says. “Every school does it a little bit differently, but the idea is, students are looked at beyond grades and test scores, and additional criteria like essays, portfolios, interviews, recommendation letters, etc., are brought in to better evaluate their competencies and fit with the program. For the school, they’re better able to get the student’s entire context.”
Proponents of this type of software also claim it enables schools to review a much larger pool of applicants than they ever could with manpower alone. The Foster School of Business, University of Washington utilizes the video interview piece of Kira Talent’s software.
Kathleen Glazier, Foster’s associate director of MBA Admissions, explains to Parentology how it’s helped their admissions process. “The video interview is a part of our holistic review to help us assess who we’ll select to move forward for a full admissions interview,” she says. “The videos help us manage a great volume of applications, are quick and easy to use by admissions committee members and easy to interface with our admissions system.”
McCracken says that’s the idea. “At Kira, we’ve really focused on trying to automate the tedious tasks — like emailing and reminding applicants to complete admissions stages, scheduling meetings, or gathering and compiling feedback from multiple sources — so admissions professionals can have more time to focus on the parts of their job that make a difference for the students.”
“In some cases,” McCracken says, “a school that never would have had the capacity to speak to even half of their applicants, can introduce themselves and hear from each and every candidate, using video responses.”
Many parents and students are fearful of the kind of impact this technology could have over their life decisions. The truth is, it’s already here.
Kira Talent alone has over 300 schools using its software and that number is growing. Both admissions and software professionals insist these programs are only a tool that inform the very human decision of who will be admitted.
McCracken concurs, “I believe admissions is an art and a science. There’s going to be an element of using data to target and focus recruitment or predicting applicant yield, but it’s often the human connections that inspire a student to enroll in one school over another.”
Molly McCracken, Admissions Editor for Kira Talent
Kathleen Glazier, Associate Director of MBA Admissions, Foster School of Business, University of Washington
National Center for Education Statistics