Colleges slash paperwork to speed enrollment - Omaha.com
Published Sunday, October 27, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 6:42 pm
Colleges slash paperwork to speed enrollment

It can take weeks for colleges to tell high school applicants whether they’ve been accepted, often because they’re waiting for the official high school transcript to arrive.

But drop the transcript, some colleges say, and the answer can be given in a day or two.

It’s a practice that’s still not widespread in the college admissions world, where high school transcripts have long been required to serve as official proof of a student’s grades and record of course selection. But college admissions offices increasingly are choosing to let students self-report their GPA and standardized test scores to speed up the process in an environment where colleges face stiff competition in recruiting new students.

Iowa State University dropped the transcript requirement for applicants three years ago. Doane College in Crete, Neb., recently made the change. And the University of Nebraska-Lincoln expects to make the change by 2015.

The colleges will still check the student’s application against transcripts if they enroll, and can rescind the offer if it turns out the student was dishonest.

“This is a lot of paper we wouldn’t do anything with other than shred over the course of time,” said Joel Weyand, vice president of enrollment and marketing at Doane.

There are just two numbers that matter at the Crete-based college: grade point average and ACT or SAT score. Out of 2,000 applications, only about 350 will actually enroll at Doane. It’s wasted paper and wasted time, Weyand said.

“We want to cut to the chase of talking about why Doane is the right school for them,” Weyand said.

The change won’t lower academic standards, Weyand said — just get potential students to the decision phase much faster.

Weyand said the goal will be for students to receive an admissions response within five business days, though the answer could be available as quickly as the next day.

Once a student decides to enroll at Doane, he or she still will be required to authorize the high school to send in a transcript — as has always been the requirement — to show senior grades and graduation.

Though it may seem simple, making the change requires a big cultural shift at universities, said Paul Seegert, director of admissions at the University of Washington in Seattle.

His university was an early adopter of the process more than a decade ago, and Seegert often gives presentations on it at admissions conferences. He said interest seems to be growing in making the change, which can relieve stress for students as well as admissions staffers. Counselors will now have a standardized, electronic record and students no longer have to worry about when their high schools will send in their transcripts.

“With our application now, they know we have everything we need,” Seegert said.

At UNL, incoming freshmen in 2015 will still be evaluated on their high school performance, but the information will be self-reported.

Applicants will be asked to share virtually all the information from the transcript, making it a part of the application itself.

University officials will check to ensure applicants received at least a 2.0 in 16 core classes and evaluate other criteria, and then send an answer within 24 hours, said Alan Cerveny, dean of enrollment management.

“The earlier we get a student admitted, the more time we have to talk with them about what the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has to offer them,” Cerveny said.

The change has been well-received at Iowa State, said Phil Caffrey, director of admissions, operations and policy. Admissions officials have had few problems with honesty and are no longer drowning in paperwork, Caffrey said.

“In terms of reducing the workload, it’s been an enormous success,” Caffrey said.

Students report their coursework and GPA to Iowa State as part of their application, and the university promises an answer in 48 hours.

But the change is not for everyone.

Many Nebraska colleges, including the University of Nebraska campuses in Kearney and Omaha, are not considering the change.

At Creighton University, officials say it’s a good move for regional colleges, but the transcript can give important context on students and schools.

The majority of students come from out of the state, said Mary Chase, Creighton’s associate vice provost for enrollment, and the high school profile that comes with the transcript is crucial.

“As a nationally focused institution, we may not have 20 or 30 students from one high school we know very well,” Chase said. “We have applicants coming from Hawaii to Maine.”

Creighton admissions officers want to know more about the high school — how many Advanced Placement courses are offered, average test scores, and other information — to evaluate what a student’s own performance there means.

“Having the transcript allows us to do a holistic review and puts things into a better context for us,” Chase said.

Reviews from high schools have also been mixed. Some have said thank you for the reduced course load, according to Weyand at Doane, but others don’t understand the change.

Stacy Athow, department chairwoman for counseling at Ralston High School, said she worries about taking the transcript out of the equation.

Ralston has software to generate and send electronic transcripts, so Athow said it’s not a time-consuming task. She worries that less emphasis on the transcript will mean colleges miss out on signs of a rigorous course load — and bring about an unintended consequence, if students believe colleges aren’t paying attention to whether they’re taking advanced algebra or chemistry.

“I think students will take the easier route sometimes, and it isn’t helpful when they get out in the real college setting,” Athow said.

Contact the writer: Kate Howard Perry

kate.perry@owh.com    |   402-444-3185    |  

Kate writes about Nebraska's community colleges, state colleges and university system.

Attorney: Man accused of trying to open plane's door needs psychiatric evaluation
49-year-old sentenced to 40-50 years for attempted sex assault of child
Brothers looking for pot sentenced for violent home invasion
At Boys Town panel, experts stress it's never too early to educate children
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Gov. Heineman calls 2014 a 'very good year for Nebraska taxpayers'
Ex-Iowan behind landmark free speech case recounts story in Bellevue
Arrest made in teen's shooting death at Benson's Gallagher Park
Section of 50th Street to close for bridge demolition
Nikko Jenkins found guilty of 4 murders
Rather than doing $250K in repairs, owner who lives in lot behind 94-year-old house in Dundee razes it
Plans for new $16M YMCA in Council Bluffs at 'critical juncture'
Woodmen request would take nearly $40M in valuation from tax rolls
With fixed AC, Fort Calhoun's nuclear station ends brief shutdown
Windy day could make driving difficult on east-west roads
Richard Brown steps down as Charles Drew Health Center CEO
High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
OPD safety expo set for April 26
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Crew working to disassemble International Nutrition plant
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
18-year-old arrested in stolen-car case
U.S. Senate candidate Bart McLeay trails his 3 GOP rivals in fundraising
86-year-old Holdrege man killed in weekend collision
New police gang intervention specialist knows firsthand about getting involved with wrong crowd
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: New $24M UNO center embodies spirit of newlywed crash victim
Jessica Lutton Bedient was killed by a drunken driver at age 26 in 2010. Thursday, the widowed husband and other family members will gather with others at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to dedicate a permanent memorial to Jessica.
Breaking Brad: How much would you pay for a corn dog?
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a new concession item: a $25 corn dog. For that kind of money, it should be stuffed with Bitcoin.
Breaking Brad: Pothole repair crew gets stuck in a pothole
In East Lansing, Mich., a pothole repair crew got stuck inside a pothole. How did this not happen in Omaha?
Breaking Brad: What do the moon, Colorado senators have in common?
How about that "blood red" moon Monday? It was as red as the eyes of a Colorado legislator.
Breaking Brad: Hey, Republicans, are you ready to be audited?
A quick list of audit red flags: 3) You fail to sign your return. 2) You fail to report income. 1) You are a registered Republican.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Shoreline Golf Club
$40 for 2 Players, 18 Holes of Golf with Cart ($85 Value)
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »