Thursday, May 19, 2016

Is it poaching or part of the process?

As part of the PCACAC AP Committee’s desire to proactively discuss ethics, we will be sending out monthly “case studies.” In these cases, we will offer a situation and discuss whether the issue is in compliance with NACAC’s Statement of Principles of Good Practices (SPGP). Thanks to Corey Fischer, Director of College Counseling at Fredericksburg Academy (VA) and PCACAC AP Committee Member, for this month's case. If you have a question about a situation or SPGP, please contact a member of the AP Committee.

May Case: On May 2nd, Suzie showed up in her counselor's office to show her an email she had just received from a college she had applied to and really liked, but was not planning to attend as she had deposited elsewhere. The email said, "We have not heard back from you, but want you to know we would love to have you attend Wonderful Univ. Recognizing that college costs are often a big factor in deciding where to attend, we are offering you an additional scholarship of $24,000 ($6,000 per year) if you send your enrollment deposit by May 7. We look forward to welcoming you to Wonderful Univ. in August!" 

This additional money would mean Wonderful Univ. would be more manageable for her family financially and she really liked the college, so she wanted to switch colleges.

Is Wonderful U compliant with NACAC's SPGP?

Discussion:  According to SPGP II A 2, "All postsecondary members agree they will not knowingly recruit students who are enrolled or registered or have initiated deferred admission, declared their intent or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions, unless the students initiate inquiries themselves or unless cooperation is sought from institutions that provide transfer programs."

Conclusion: Seems pretty straight forward, doesn't it? It is after May 1, so Wonderful U must be "poaching." Not so quick. As is often the case, this situation is not so simple.

The key words of SPGP II A 2 are "knowingly recruit students who… declared their intent or submitted contractual deposits to other institutions…" Essentially, did Wonderful U send this e-mail knowing that Suzie had deposited to another college?  Had Suzie notified Wonderful U of her intentions?

If so, there is a violation. But, there is a good chance WU did not know that Suzie was planning to enroll elsewhere (the e-mail read, "We have not heard back from you.").  Even though it is after May 1, many students and colleges have not finished their process. For example, NACAC recently posted the College Openings Update listing more than 400 colleges that still have space. Many colleges operate a rolling process that extends into the summer.

Therefore, if a complaint about Wonderful U was filed, the AP committee would follow up with the university to ask about their process. What happens when a student withdraws his/her application? Do they stop recruiting students who commit elsewhere? Whether the college was in compliance or not, this conversation can prove positive and educational.

If you wish to file a complaint, please complete a NACAC Confidential Complaint form. All personal information will be kept confidential, but the information will be forwarded to the appropriate affiliate AP committee. This committee will follow up on the issue in order to help the college work fairly with all students. 

Want to review previous case studies?
View all of the Admissions Practices Case Studies here.