July 14, 2007
Posted by Sam Jackson
In March the Yale Daily News ran a nice little piece about the growing admissions blogging trend nationwide. The key piece in it for me was the news that Yale had no plans to start a blog or similar transparency-promoting site anytime soon. Zachary Abrahamson reports:
Blogs Elucidate Admit Process March 9, 2007
Yale presently has no definite plans to establish an online admissions blog or moderated message board. While Director of Admissions Jeff Brenzel said Yale is “considering” an admissions blog, the University has not yet determined whether such a blog would be “truly useful.” ...
While Yale does not maintain its own blog, the admissions office does keep tabs on College Confidential’s forum traffic to observe discussion about Yale, Brenzel said. "We occasionally review online discussions of admissions to better understand how applicants are feeling about the process, but we do not post to the online forums,” he said.
Longtime readers know where I stand on admissions blogging--I have at times gone so far as to call it my favorite kind of college blog. If Yale wants to justify its self-declared position as a leader in American Higher Education I feel it has an obligation to help clean up the mess of modern college admissions, especially given its role creating that mess in the first place! That means many things but one of them includes opening more communication channels with students awash in a sea of misinformation and helping them through the process. Yale wins at least as much as the students do in this hypothetical exchange.
I had written about 1000 words from here on out about why Yale should adopt admissions blogging, but in a freak WordPress accident I lost it all. Rather than cry, I've decided to reproduce the 5-point list I made, remember to save things outside WP, and leave it at that. The title was originally"Yale Wavers on Admissions Blogging; Jeff Brenzel Foolishly Fence-Sitting" -- imagine the blockquote-referencing essay that would have followed. Yale, I might add, is no great stranger to blogging--it had student blogs on its admitted-student only website. Likewise, MIT is not some alien cousin of Yale--they're mentioned in the same CollegeConfidential breathless HYP acronyms--and its blog program succeeds famously.
5 of Many Reasons Why Yale Should Have an Admissions Blog
- Yale has an institutional obligation to help set the course for modern college admissions if it wants to avoid undue hypocrisy and maintain relevancy. Especially as it seeks to reach out to students who might not traditionally be coming to Yale, the article notes that an admissions blog can be an excellent resource for those high-achieving students who come from environments which don't adequately prepare or support them in the admissions process.
- Misinformation online and off is a serious problem, especially for high profile schools like Yale. An admissions blog, as MIT and other schools interviewed agreed, is a good way to clear up confusion.
- Competition makes this clear: Yale will be losing ground to more forward thinking institutions if it doesn't act soon as the advantages become increasingly obvious.
- The new media lifestyle is a reality for prospective Yale students and blogs are a good way to connect now and will be even more important in the future. A community with honest and open community is really very valuable--I had some great interactions with admissions bloggers and came to respect them and saw those good interactions reflect well on their institutions.
- Chances to Learn should always welcomed, and the admissions team can learn as much from the readership and their questions as their readers will from them. See 4; two-way communication benefits both parties.
Maybe Yale feels it is special--such a different animal that it doesn't need to worry about these things. I'm still going to New Haven this fall, blogs or not, but I think that Director of Admissions Jeff Brenzel is passing up some real opportunities here for no good reason. Harvard made big waves last year with its decision to drop its Early program (Princeton and UVA deserve some credit too); Yale can help set some trends too if it takes action on the blogging front. The other schools mentioned in the article--UChicago, Hopkins, UVA--merit applause for their efforts, but it wouldn't hurt for Yale to help put some muscle behind the transparency movement given its prominent position.
I'll put money on the line against Dean Brenzel that a Yale admissions blog would have real measurable value to the school--if he wants to take me up on that, I'll be happy to put the wager in escrow pending a survey at the end of the first year of blogging.