As colleges and universities throughout the country struggle with the nation’s economic climate, Goucher has begun taking steps to analyze some of its admissions and financial aid practices. While the school currently operates on a predominantly need-blind admissions process—meaning that financial need is not taken into consideration when making an admissions decision—new data analysis could provide reason for change.
“We have hired a well-respected consulting firm to do a very in-depth analysis of admissions and financial aid data for the past two years to essentially confirm or not confirm that we are using our financial resources in the best possible manner,” explained Michael O’Leary, Vice President of Enrollment Management.
The current system takes finances into consideration when offering admission to first-year students on the waitlist, as by this point the school’s financial resources have already been awarded to accepted first-year students. Offers of admission are made to waitlisted applicants who the college deems able “to fund at least the first year.”
“There’s a bait-and-switch involved here,” said O’Leary. “If we were to say to a student, ‘We can admit you but we can’t give you any financial aid,’ philosophically I don’t like that approach. I don’t think it’s fair to the student or the family.”
The results of the data analysis, which O’Leary expects to have by early to mid-December, will determine the school’s next steps. If the school were to adopt new need-aware admissions practices, however, O’Leary says that only a very small portion of applicants would be affected.
“If we go in that direction, it would happen really on the margins. If the admissions committee was having a heavy duty conversation regarding the academic admissibility of a student, really going back and forth over that fence in terms of whether to admit or not admit, that’s a factor—the need factor—that could be introduced into that equation to help determine the outcome of that application. So it’s not a means test across the board for our applicant pool,” he said, emphasizing the fact that any change in this direction would affect a tiny population of applicants and that it would not at all affect current Goucher students.