What Admissions Directors Think

The findings of the 2019 Inside Higher Ed Survey of College and University Admissions Officials were recently released, and they indicate considerable concern among the 336 admissions directors who responded about a wide array of issues including the number of international students, the cost of college, and the image of higher education.


College admissions directors are concerned about enrollment, student debt, and image

Some of the poll’s findings were expected. For example,

  • A large majority of college admissions directors believe they are losing potential applicants because of concerns about debt. The number of concerned admissions directors of private colleges is over 90%.
  • More than half of the colleges in the survey require the SAT or ACT for admissions, and 63% of admissions directors polled said expect they will still require the SAT or the ACT for admission 10 years from now.


Others finding might surprise you. For example,

  • A majority of admissions directors were very concerned about filling incoming classes.
  • The deadline for filling a college’s first-year class keeps getting pushed back. Why? Last year, only 52% of colleges met their admissions goals by July 1. Only 37% achieved their goals by May 1.
  • Most college admissions directors (81%) said that students admitted from their waiting lists make up less than 5% percent of the incoming class.

Perhaps the most interesting findings concern the admissions directors’ sense of the image of higher education. For example, most college admissions directors (91%) report that they are concerned about the image of higher education and strongly agree or completely agree that “higher education needs to do a better job of explaining the value of earning college degrees.”

This concern is most evident in regard to liberal arts education. In fact, only 7% percent of admissions directors believe that parents “of prospective students understand the value of a liberal arts education.” Less than 5% reported that they feel that students understand the value of a liberal arts education.

What that value is or might be was not addressed in the poll.

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About The Author

Susan Osborn, Ph.D., has spent 30 years in higher education, in admissions at Vassar College, in the English department and Writing Program at Rutgers University, in the lab at The New Jersey Center for Research on Writing, and as a private tutor. Dr. Osborn is also an award-winning writer and scholar and she brings both her education smarts and her writing smarts to every student relationship.