The wait-list game: a snapshot of those left in limbo
Chamberland, Meredith Scotti
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Undergraduate admissions in the United States is a multibillion dollar industry involving families, higher education institutions, journalists, testing companies, test preparation companies, private consultants, marketing firms, high school guidance counselors, high school teachers, coaches, financial advisors, and publicly funded programs. Pushing all of the citizens ofthe United States towards postsecondary education has been a goal of many presidents. In an effort to achieve this goal, colleges and universities utilize wait lists so that no seat goes unfilled. Five high school guidance counselors, ten students and one of their parents, and ten college and university admissions personnel participated in this study. The students and parents all come from one private high school in the northeast. Guidance counselors from one public and one private high school participated. The interviews with ten admissions personnel include four-year public and private colleges and universities in the United States. Qualitative methods consisted of audio-recorded interviews, which were later transcribed and coded. Data were analyzed for common themes and were found among each of the population groups. There are four noteworthy findings. Students want wait lists to exist because they provide an opportunity for acceptance that would otherwise not exist. Parents want wait lists to exist, but they want policy reform that requires colleges and universities to be consistent in their communication. High school counselors call for more transparency and information regarding how college and university admissions offices create wait lists and how students are chosen for enrollment from the wait lists. Lastly, college admissions representatives primarily use wait lists to meet enrollment targets, but may also use wait lists to keep acceptance percentages lower, increase yield percentages, and admit only viable financial candidates. These findings suggest that the NACAC Statement of Principles of Good Practice needs revision to include more guidelines about communication with wait-listed students and their families, a need for Masters Programs that lead to certification as a high school counselor to include a course on college admissions counseling, a need for the US News and World Report to eliminate acceptance percentages as an evaluative measure of quality in its college rankings.
Thesis (Ed.D.)--Boston University