University Business May 2018 - 33

Answers to 4 big questions about
organizing an instant decision day

By Marcia Layton Turner

T
PETE MAUNEY/BARD COLLEGE

he traditional, nail-biting wait for an
admission offer has, at some colleges,
given way to a process offering immediate gratification for prospective
students: the instant decision day.
This admission recruitment strategy-involving
applicants getting an on-the-spot admission decision
during a scheduled event-has gained a lot of traction, particularly as a way for colleges that aren't Ivies
or highly competitive to catch students' attention, says
David Hawkins, executive director for educational
content and policy at the National Association for
College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
For some institutions, the instant or immediate
decision day is a way to lock down applicants with
high potential for enrolling. Other institutions employ the tactic to move to the top of a student's list
of schools under consideration. Despite momentum
for these events building in admissions circles over
the past several decades, the days are still unconventional enough to generate buzz.
But are they really buzz-worthy? Here, colleges
and universities that haven't yet organized an instant
decision day can find answers to four key questions
about strategy and logistics.
1. Is there a formula to follow?
Approaches are as different as individual institutions.
Unity College in Maine invites students whose
likelihood of admission is high to campus for a day
in September. Application materials are submitted in
advance. "We get the tactical paperwork out of the
way," says President Melik Peter Khoury. This makes
the on-campus conversations between students and
admissions counselors more meaningful, because the
focus is on getting to know one another.
Participants follow a set program that includes
taking a tour, sitting in on classes and sampling campus food, while parents attend their own scheduled
activities.

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