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Higher Education by its very name and implied nature brings images of higher thinking, advanced thought leadership and forward-looking concepts.  It is perhaps odd then, that often the systems and solutions that support higher education are disjointed, outdated and counter intuitive.  Siloed systems with legacy custom solutions are more the norm than the exception.  Nowhere may this be more pronounced than within the student application process for admissions.

If you have gone through this process recently you have seen how disjointed the application process can be: Test scores, grades, referrals, recommendations, advanced placement criteria, interviews…the process is both a maze and a marathon.  Further, in many cases there is no central coordination point within institutions, and most schools have very different processes and procedures.  Factoring in that an average high school senior may apply to 5 or 6 different university choices, the myriad processes and tracking of those processes can be (at the least) daunting.

While the sheer number of information streams is at the center of the process challenge, the disparate university systems are more than a contributing factor.  Grades and transcripts must be pulled from one area and sent to another, standardized test scores are delivered from another, while still interviews are coordinated from a third.  Campus visits and placement counselor scheduling is hoped to be run by the same central office, but often may be yet another coordination point.

The development of the Common Application several years ago was thought to improve the streamlining and consistency of the process – and it does…for those schools that choose to participate; Many do, but many more do not.  This still leaves countless crisscrossing workstreams and more importantly alternate deadlines for submissions; and do not miss any deadlines, because flexibility from Colleges and Universities is minimal to zero.

As Economics continues to challenge the viability of many institutions of higher learning, and the marketing and recruitment of students continues to escalate as a university priority, perhaps more thought should go into the application process, and the systems that support that challenging process.  In the absence, the application process may actually be a deterrent for rising high school seniors.

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