All Posts Tagged With: "admissions"
One student’s experience with a lost university application
From the 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings, our 132-page guide to choosing the right school.
In my head, it was going to be perfect. After weeks of waiting, I’d check the mailbox at my parents’ house for a letter marked “Ryerson University.” I’d rip open the envelope and, with any luck, I’d see “Congratulations!” in the first line, and I’d know that I had gotten in. The reality, however, was more fraught: a five-month process with lost deposits, missed deadlines and more than a few burst blood vessels in my father’s face.
I sent my application to Ryerson’s School of Journalism in the winter of 2008 during my last year of high school, and the school notified me by mail that I’d receive more correspondence in the spring. By April, there was still no letter in the mailbox. Starting to worry, I checked my online Ryerson account—the number was included in the initial letter—and found a letter of conditional acceptance: if my grades remained the same, the school would gladly take me. It wasn’t the triumphant moment I was hoping for, but at least it was something.
Moving may boost the odds of medical school admission
From the 2012 Maclean’s Professional Schools Issue, on newsstands and iPad now.
It has been a long road for 33-year-old Kyla Adams from her high school years—when there was no question in her mind that she’d one day become a physician—to today, when the British Columbia native feels she finally has a decent shot at medical school.
In Adams’s second year of university, the academic and social stresses of life at the University of British Columbia caught up with her and she flunked out of school, temporarily shelving her ambition. After several years of selling running shoes, travelling and working as a personal trainer, Adams wrote the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) at the age of 26. She surprised herself with a decent score, which inspired her to enrol at the University of Victoria, where she earned a double degree in biology and earth sciences. She rewrote the MCAT, boosted her score and applied to medical school.
But the rules had changed. She was no longer allowed to drop those crummy decade-old marks from her application as she had thought. She applied to UBC’s medical school and didn’t get in. She applied again, and was rejected again. She applied a third time. No luck.
Lack of report cards had caused anxiety
UBC Vancouver’s senate confirmed Wednesday that they will allow the university to make admissions decisions partly based on Grade 11 marks. B.C. teachers haven’t given out traditional report cards this year as a form of protest, which caused anxiety for B.C applicants.
The plan is for B.C. students to be assessed twice. UBC will consider final confirmed grades to date, including final Grade 11 and completed Grade 12 courses, and make some offers in April. Then in May, when official Grade 12 marks come from the ministry, they’ll make more offers.
What UBC won’t do is allow students to self-report grades given by teachers in lieu of official report cards. They also stress that no student will be rejected based on Grade 11 marks.
Students can be admitted without provincial exams
The University of Saskatchewan is hoping to attract more students from Alberta, British Columbia and the territories by “levelling the playing field,” reports the StarPhoenix.
The university will now waive provincial and territorial final exam marks and will base admissions and scholarships decisions entirely on the grades teachers assign throughout grade 12—should those marks be higher.
For Albertan students, diploma exams count for 50 per cent of students’ final grades. Clearly, if they can choose whether to include the test or not, it means some students will be considered by Saskatchewan who might not have been in the past.
The reason for the change is equity, Dan Seneker, undergrad recruitment manager for the U of S told the newspaper. He argued that admissions standards haven’t changed. “We’re not dropping our average, we’re not dropping our scholarship averages or anything like that, we’re not increasing space in programs. We’re keeping everything status quo, we’re just admitting students on a more equitable basis,” he says. A message on the U of S website echoes that sentiment. It reads: “we don’t want to penalize you if you have a bad test day.”
Computer glitch disappoints applicants who were actually rejected
Several students who had been rejected admission into the University of Delaware were mistakenly led to believe that they had, in fact, been accepted last Friday. When students visited the university’s website to track the status of their application, 61 applicants, who were either rejected or put on a waiting list, were directed towards a web page that read “Congratulations on your acceptance to the University of Delaware.” When rejected students began signing up for campus visits, reserved for those accepted, the university recognized that their had been a glitch in the system, and by Monday students and their family were informed. “I’m grateful that it’s not more, but for those 61 kids, it’s pretty horrible,” director of admissions, Louis Hirsh said.
University apologizes to 2,000 applicants
Christopher Newport University, in Virginia, accidentally sent emails to 2,000 prospective students informing them that they had been accepted into the university. Sent around 2:30 pm on Wednesday, the emails, titled “Welcome to CNU!,” were retracted with apologies by the evening. Acceptance letters received in the mail are still valid. The mistake was the result of human error.
University recruiting companies boom in India
The number of Indian students electing to study in Canada was 2,500 in 2009, but that number has since roughly doubled, a boom that recruiting companies are capitalizing on. Satish Kumar, who owns a real estate company in Jaipur India, also provides services to parents who want their children to study in Canada, the United States, Britain and Australia. He provides advice on applying to different schools, preparing for admissions tests and settling in a foreign country. “People want to go because everyone wants to try schools in other countries and parents want their children to have success in life,” he told the Globe and Mail. Kumar, who earns commission from recruiting schools rather than from the students themselves, is very confident about his business. His banner advertisements read: “Canada Admission Guaranteed.”
Students scramble for spots ahead of 2012 tuition increase
Applications to British universities are at a record high as students scramble for spots before tuition fees triple in 2012. There are an additional 8,000 students applying this year over last, or a 2.5 per cent increase. The month of November saw a 20 per cent increase over last year while October saw a five per cent boost. “Thousands of young people denied a place last autumn have reapplied for courses, fuelling the surge in applications,” the Guardian reported. Applications for professional programs, including medicine, law and dentistry are on the rise as applications from older students also increase. Applications for subjects such as languages, philosophy and history have declined. In December the British Parliament raised the cap on tuition fees from 3,000 pounds to 9,000 pounds, or $14,000. The increase, which will affect students who start university in 2012 sparked, student rioting across the country.
Less competitive schools more likely to send out early offers
Less competitive universities use early admissions as a way to attract top students, the Canadian Press is reporting. Carleton University, Lakehead University, and several other schools have already mailed early admission offers to students, despite the fact the Ontario application deadline is not until Jan 12. Because universities have to rely more heavily on marks from grade 11, early offers often come attached with conditions, such as a stipulation the applicant graduate with a certain grade point average. George Granger of the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre says early offers are less common for more competitive programs. “Other universities, where in a given program they may get many hundreds, in some case thousands, more applications than they have spaces, they’ll be less likely to make an early conditional offer,” he said. Typically, universities will send offers to as many as four times the number of students an institution has space for, to account for the fact that most students apply to multiple universities.
Are some people just mentally unfit for university?
Many years ago, a student sat in my office as I explained what he needed to do to write a good literary essay. Let’s call him “Dave” to protect his privacy and since I have no idea what his name actually was (I hope it wasn’t really Dave). Dave sat patiently as I explained that the essay cannot just be an account of the poem or story or whatever it was; he needed to come up with a claim about the meaning of the text. He had to really do some analysis and say something beyond the obvious.
After a pause, Dave looked up and said dully, “But I can’t think of anything.”
At that moment I knew there was nothing I could do for him. It was time for Dave to find another line of personal development.
I have often wondered since then how many students produce substandard work because they haven’t given it their best effort, and how many students produce substandard work because their best effort, try as they might, just isn’t very good. And for that latter group, the Daves as it were, how many of them simply lack the basic mental acuity to be able to ever do the work?
Questions like this sometimes lead me to doubt my university’s more or less open admissions policy. Should we really be admitting students who have little chance of succeeding? Doesn’t admission itself imply that with some effort, results are possible? Did they cheat Dave by not sending him elsewhere in the first place? Sometimes I think they did.
Other times I think that it should be up to the students themselves to decide whether they want to enroll and take their chances. Maybe it’s not up to the university to decide ahead of time who has a chance — whatever their high school grades might have been. Maybe it’s like buying a gym membership: being a member gets you in the door to use the facilities, but there’s no guarantee you’ll actually get fit.
On the other hand, gym memberships don’t cost thousands of dollars a year (I assume: a quick look at me will attest that I have never been a member of a gym). They don’t require full-time effort, and the government isn’t picking up half the tab for those whose time on the treadmill is never going to amount to anything.
In the end, I guess I will have to take solace in the fact that one can never know for sure. Like political ideologies, ignorance and stupidity look the same at the extremes. Maybe some day another Dave will be in my office listening with all his might and suddenly the light will go on. He’ll get it, and a whole new world will be opened to him.
And maybe some day, I’ll get fit. You never know.
U of T retracts acceptance email sent to dozens of graduate school hopefuls
Wow, is this ever embarrassing. The University of Toronto School of Graduate studies mistakenly sent emails to dozens of students telling them they were accepted into the speech pathology program, when they were, in fact, rejected. Some 169 applicants received the erroneous email last Friday.
As the Sun reports:
“Welcome to the University of Toronto,” read the subject line. “Acceptance into Canada’s preeminent grad school is an achievement in itself,” the e-mail said. “We chose you because you’re at the top of our list. And we believe you applied to U of T because we’re at the top of yours!”
That message caused at least one student to be predictably elated. “I was walking on clouds,” Meara Brown, who is a University of Victoria student, told the Sun. “I told my references, my peers, my profs, my friends, and my family. My family started telling everyone in the small town I grew up in.”
Brown’s educational ego boost was burst just three days later, when the U of T sent a clarification email:
“On April 9 you received an e-mail from the School of Graduate Studies suggesting that you should have received an offer of admission from the University of Toronto,” the April 12 e-mail said.
“The e-mail was sent to you as a result of an administrative error. We sincerely regret the confusion this has caused.”
The U of T blames the mistake on a line of coding in the original mass email that was intended for the 45 students who were actually accepted into the program.
A not dissimilar debacle happened at the University of Ottawa last spring when the law school misplaced 600 applicants. To rectify the mistake, UOttawa admitted extra students, and at least they blamed it on “human error” and not on those dreadful computers as the U of T has done. I guess that is just the way things are done at “Canada’s preeminent grad school.”
Study claiming ethnic, gender inequality is out-of-date, says Oxford
The study analyzed 1,700 UK students who applied to 11 Oxford colleges in 2002, according to the article.
The study covered details such as their predicted A-level results — a qualifying test most commonly recognized by British universities for admissions— and type of high school they attended.
The results concluded that men are twice as likely as women to be offered a place in science programs and 1.4 times as likely in arts programs.
From a gender perspective, white applicants are five times more likely than those of south Asian heritage to be offered place in science programs.
Based on the type of high school students attended the study found applicants from state schools were more likely to be offered a place in arts programs than private school applicants.
Director of undergraduate admissions at Oxford Mike Nicholson, who was quoted in the article, said that the study did not represent current admissions statistics.
Nicholson offered up more recent 2009 statistics to squash what the study appears to imply are unequal gender and ethnic admissions practices.
The article itself says, “Last year, the proportion of undergraduates at Oxford was 50.2 [per cent] females and 49.8 [per cent] male.”
I’ve recently been reading the book The Numbers Game by Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot that tries to demystify the use of statistics as the shock factor in daily news.
After the first few chapters, my fear that it’s sometimes easy to misrepresent unjustified statistics in the media was confirmed.
While I’m not faulting the Guardian of shoddy reporting, I feel it’s easy to just quote numbers without giving context to where they came from, like with this article.
To me, there are several apparent holes in the methods and findings of the study as reported.
For starters, of the 1,700 UK students used for the study, it is not discussed whether a proportional sample of male and female and those of different ethnicities were polled, or how that ratio was decided upon.
While the study likely covered these bases, it would be nice to know the breakdown of where the data is coming from in the article and what ratio of students actually applied to Oxford in 2002.
The article also elaborated on the question posed to students for the study of whether they had attended or participated in certain “cultured” events or activities in the past year and concluded that this information had no reflection in the results of their study.
Jobs and qualifications of the applicants parents were also assessed.
It seems, especially from those aspects, the study was trying to uncover the truth behind the possible stereotype that white males from “cultured” upper-class families are favoured at prestigious institutions.
According to Nicholson’s current data, that idea was not proved or disproved.
Based on that knowledge, I’m having a hard time figuring out how the statistical results of one year of admissions implies a gender and ethnic disparity at an institution, especially if current statistics reflect that male and female admissions are nearly at par and more recent ethnic admissions do not reflect the findings of the study, as Nicholson says.
If the study had, perhaps, compared data over several years of admission to imply an ongoing trend, I may be more inspired to join co-author Alison Sullivan in proclaiming the results “striking” (she is quoted as saying) in terms of inequality.
While I hope that all universities would consider applicants on the basis of academic merit, cynicism kicks in and tells me this is highly unlikely for all schools.
Regardless, I still want the proof.
Whether or not the article or the study is lacking, I think more background is needed to make a judgment call on the issue of unjust admissions.
What do you think about the article and study? Leave your comments below.
- photo by Stewf
uOttawa overlooks hundreds of law school applicants, cites human error
Politicians submitted names of sub-par students, who received preferential treatment
Following an investigation by the Chicago Tribune, officials at the University of Illinois have announced that they will suspend “Category I” — an internal list of well-connected student applicants who receive preferential treatment.
In a series of articles that began last Friday, the Tribune reported evidence stemming from a Freedom of Information request that sub-par applicants had been admitted to the school under the political sponsorship of state lawmakers and university trustees over the past five years. That investigation also revealed that acceptance decisions, at times, occurred over the objections of admissions officers.
Last week, officials from the university issued statements saying that they “mostly get it right.”
During its investigation, the Tribune found instances in which the school’s lobbyists overruled rejections, blew up at admissions staff and forwarded veiled threats from politicians who wanted candidates admitted. According to documents, both Democrat and Republican politicians had asked lobbyists to track the status of more than 500 applications, which made up more than half of the names on the “Category I” list.
The paper says the so-called “clout list” creates an awkward situation in which university officials are taking requests from legislators who hold the school’s purse strings and trustees who are, in essence, their bosses.
School officials have announced plans to appoint a panel to investigate the practice and suggest how to make sure in the future that admissions decisions aren’t subject to political pressure.
“The review will examine how contacts from legislators, trustees, alumni and others have been managed in the past, what best practices are at peer institutions and what changes should be made going forward to ensure the integrity of the admissions process,” said the university’s statement.
If you don’t get into your first-choice school, what should you do next?
Right now, thousands of grade 12 students are making one of their biggest academic decisions so far. Most prospective university students have received all the offers of admission they’re going to get. And it’s decision time.
“Where am I going to go?”
Some students receive offers from everywhere, including their first, second, and third-choice universities. This means they’ll have to agonize over which school to choose. Poor them.
Of course, some haven’t been accepted anywhere. But other students have an arguably tougher decision to make. The most important offer is missing: their top choice. Suddenly the program, which seemed liked a perfect fit, isn’t possible anymore. They don’t want you.
I was really upset when I didn’t get accepted into my first-choice program.
Being accepted into my second, third, and fourth choice-schools was poor consolation. It felt as if some huge dream had been shattered, that I would be settling for my second choice. The program I got into wasn’t even at the “right” university.
But as I quickly learned, the reality of university is far different from the dream.
I’ve just completed my first year at the University of Waterloo. I couldn’t be happier with my compromise. My program is a perfect fit, and it now seems obvious that Waterloo is exactly where I was meant to be. How could I have ever had a doubt?
Of course, that’s what’s great about hindsight. But I’ll just chalk it up to second-year wisdom.
A new study finds negative stereotypes can mask people’s academic abilities
Consider the following scenario: university admissions officers have narrowed applications for the final place in an engineering program down to two. The candidates have similar credentials and identical test scores; the only difference is that one is a woman and the other is a man. Who should they choose?
The answer may come as a surprise. According to a paper slated for publication in Psychological Science, the fear of confirming negative stereotypes about the intellectual capacity of women in math and sciences likely led the female applicant to underperform. Though her test scores may be the same as those of her male counterpart, the woman has a “significant untapped potential,” says University of Waterloo professor Steven Spencer, who co-authored the study with Stanford University’s Greg Walton. Put simply, she’s the better choice.
Test scores and grades have long shown an academic achievement gap between genders and ethnicities. In the past, this discrepancy has been explained by factors like poverty and poor schooling, which, it has been believed, lead to real differences in ability. Latent Ability: Grades and Tests Systematically Underestimate the Intellectual Ability of Negatively Stereotyped Students makes a new and very different case for affirmative action.
While Spencer and Walton don’t deny that socio-economic factors play a role in academic performance, their research, gleaned from a compendium of studies that include 19,000 students in Canada, France, Germany, Sweden and the U.S., has identified stereotype threat as another cause.
According to Spencer, stereotype threat comes into play whenever “you feel you can be judged based on a negative stereotype about your group.” As he explains, for non-Asian minorities and women (in quantitative fields), the belief that they don’t belong, or that the odds are stacked against their success, causes these students to “become excessively careful” when answering questions, a strategy that’s particularly ill advised on standardized tests. At the same time, he says efforts to “tamp down thinking about a stereotype … actually eats up a lot of their cognitive resources,” reducing the capacity of short-term memory. The feeling of belonging may be an abstract concept, but the implications are very real.
On the SAT, for example, the professors say black and Hispanic students score about 40 points below their true ability, and on the math portion, women score about 20 points under where they should. And it’s not just on college entrance exams. Spencer says that stereotype threat in high schools and even junior highs mean grades and test scores could underestimate the ability of these students for the majority of their academic careers.
But there is hope. Compared to factors like poverty and poor schooling, says Spencer, reducing stereotype threat is relatively easy. Simple interventions, such as telling college students that there is no group differences on a particular test or getting junior high kids to write about values that are important to them can “make a big difference in performance,” he says. To eliminate it completely, he says academic institutions must work to identify at-risk groups and develop long-term strategies to make them feel accepted.
“That feeling of belonging is really the antidote to this [belief] that you’re going to be judged based on stereotypes about your group,” says Spencer. In the meantime however, he says admissions officers should take stereotype threat into account when making decisions-not because women and minorities need a boost to succeed, but because tests hide the fact that they already have.
More students means a higher cut-off average for many exclusive programs
A tough economy is being cited as the reason behind record-level university application numbers in Ontario.
The Council of Ontario Universities says 84,300 applications have been submitted this year – a 1.1 per cent increase over a record set in 2008. The council says the figure is 42 per cent higher than the 59,197 applications made in 2000.
Peter George, chairman of the Council of Ontario Universities, says more people see a university degree as key to a successful career, “particularly when economic conditions are challenging.”
The only year with a higher total was the “double cohort” year of 2003.
That’s when 102,618 students applied to universities after the cancellation of Grade 13, causing two classes to graduate in the same year.
The council said the number of people applying for university typically increases during economic downturns.
“Applicants know that this is a good time to attend university and get that degree or to upgrade their skills, Paul C. Genest, council president, said in a release.
Last year, some 84,000 high school students applied for 64,000 spots at Ontario’s 20 universities.
Grade cut-offs change every year, and vary for each program in each institution. Last year, most schools made offers to students with minimum grades averaging in the mid-70s or 80s.
Several stringent programs made offers only to students whose average grade was in the low to mid-90 range. Those programs included McMaster University’s health sciences, York University’s Schulich School of Business and biotechnology at the University of Waterloo.
Some universities begin making offers of admission as early as February, but most institutions send out rolling offers until late May.
- The Canadian Press
Will implement tougher “verification measures” to help detect admissions fraud
The Toronto Star is reporting that Osgoode Hall Law School will tighten admissions procedures following revelations that a third-year student used a phony degree to enter the York University law program.
The school’s dean, Patrick Monahan, says admissions integrity is of utmost importance and they are “investigating additional verification measures that could be put in place to detect cases of fraud in the admission process.”
When even one student gets admitted improperly, he says, it hurts the admissions chances of another student in addition to damaging Osgoode’s reputation.
The Star says student Quami Frederick was found to have used a degree purchased from an Internet diploma mill to get accepted into the law program in 2006. More recently, Frederick submitted photocopies of transcripts in which her Osgoode Hall marks were inflated when she successfully applied for an articling job at the Bay St. law firm Wildeboer Dellelce, LLP.
Frederick, 28, now faces an Osgoode Hall disciplinary hearing that could lead to expulsion. The law firm has withdrawn its job offer.