College admissions in some schools now spend only a few minutes reviewing applications

UPenn and Swarthmore now spend only 4-5 minutes to conduct first read reviews of college applicants

It might be surprising to students and parents to find out that many college admissions spend only 10-15 minutes reviewing their applications. As the number of applicants has risen in many schools, admissions departments have had to increase the number of applicants that are reviewed in each hour and in some cases doubling the number of applications they process.

According to a new report by The Chronicle of Higher Education published on March 12, 2017, “Working Smarter, Not Harder, in Admissions”, schools like the University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore have revamped the traditional evaluation process for one that is less time-consuming.

The Chronicle report mentions that at Penn, “admissions officers read together in pairs, simultaneously reviewing each application on separate screens and discussing it as they go. They rate each applicant on specific criteria, recommend a decision (admit or deny), and type notes into the system — no more long summaries. Based on its competitiveness, the application is grouped into one of three categories en route to a final review and verdict.” Based on this process, the amount of time per applicant review can be as much as only 4 minutes.

More schools are adopting the faster review process

The Chronicle article mentions that other schools such as Swarthmore are also using this review process. Swarthmore admissions officers have increased the application reviews from 45 to 90 per day.

Colleges are still looking to admit students based on their academic performance, passion, and activities. The new methods of review continue to take into consideration the individual school’s criteria and focus while allowing schools to incorporate tools and processes that more effectively deal with a higher volume of applications.

So for students applying to schools, it is not so much about the number of activities and things that they are involved in. It is more about how does one stand out academically in their areas of interest and what leadership roles have they been involved in that can relate to being successful in college.



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