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Colleges aim to increase enrollment by admitting students who didn’t apply

Direct admissions saves money, reduces ‘barriers,’ scholar says

To combat a downward trend in college enrollment, some universities are offering admission to students who have not applied.

Through the new direct admissions practice, higher education institutions identify students based on their academic achievements, location, and other factors – and offer them admission to the school, no application necessary.

Washington and Jefferson College, a private institution in Pennsylvania, saw positive results after it began direct admissions two years ago, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Tracey Sheetz, vice president of enrollment, told the newspaper the college adopted the new method to “meet students where they are today.”

“They’re no longer the students who are going to sit and fill out a five-page paper application with pencil. We’ve got to make it a smoother process and more accessible,” Sheetz said.

Others, including Robert Morris University, Point Park University, and Allegheny College in Pennsylvania also offer direct admissions to some students, according to the report.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Taylor Odle told the newspaper that the practice boosts enrollment and saves money both for the student and the school.

“When we think about the application as a structural barrier, it reduces that barrier for students who are most likely to fall prey to that barrier…” the education policy professor said. “It also is empirically shown to increase enrollments. If you make it easier to get into college, we should expect that more people will enroll in college.”

A number of colleges are reporting lower than expected applications and enrollment, including Harvard University. Others say they expect the same this fall and blame recent problems with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

However, experts predict the low enrollment trend will continue due to low birth rates and polls showing growing public concern about the direction of higher education.

Meanwhile, some institutions are bucking the trend, including “faithful Catholic colleges” and trade schools, The College Fix reported.

MORE: Employers more skeptical of hiring Ivy League grads, survey finds

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.