Trick or treat? How about both? Late on Friday, October 12 (news dump time), Boston’s Northeastern University, in the person of Elizabeth Cheron, Dean of Admissions, sent high school counselors the following note:
I am reaching out today with an update on Northeastern’s application. In setting up our application for Fall 2019, we added a common format short answer question asking a student to explain more about their most important extracurricular activity; our hope was to give applicants an opportunity to expand beyond the activities section and give our admissions committee a bit more information. Many of you probably recognized this question as being very similar to the old “short answer” question from the Common Application.
It was not our intent for this to be a writing supplement or involve the level of preparation that a writing supplement would require of an applicant. In the past few weeks, we have seen that it was causing unnecessary stress in the application process—as such we have chosen to remove the question from Northeastern‘s member-specific questions. As always, applicants to Northeastern can share more information by utilizing the upload feature in the Application Status Check once they have submitted an application. Please be in touch if you or your students have any questions. You can find the counselor who works with students from your school here.
Dean of Admissions
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions
First, heaven forbid students applying to a university with an all-in retail price of $70,000/year be asked to put forth, “the level of preparation that a writing supplement would require of an applicant” when applying to Northeastern!
Second, putting on our essay editing/detective hat for a moment, we have to ask, who exactly was suffering from “unnecessary stress in the application process” Dean Cheron?
Does the reaction to answering such a prosaic little question as that which was removed from Northeastern’s application last week say a lot about the typical Northeastern applicant and his or her pain tolerance…or is the current Northeastern applicant being used as a scapegoat in this story?
Maybe the “stress” referred to in the email above refers to the stress of individuals in the Northeastern University admissions office who either didn’t want to read more than they have to or who were seeing such a decline (or diminished growth) in application numbers compared to this time last year that the assembled powers that be stooped so low as to change an application mid season? Come on! We’ve seen a lot of application shenanigans in recent years, but a supplemental short answer question disappearing is just ridiculous!
If only we could call Northeastern a cheap date, which it certainly is acting like by making this 11th hour move, but a $75 application fee is hardly cheap. And, again, have you seen Northeastern’s cost of attendance? This is Northeastern we are talking about.
The university, which has become ever more “selective” in recent years, certainly wants to do nothing to scare away international $tudent$, who make up nearly twenty percent of its entering first-year classes, and other typical Northeastern applicants who are accustomed to having to do nothing other than the bare minimum on the Common App to get in – at least to Northeastern. Many of those same students are more than willing to write 500-word essays to other colleges. But apparently not to Northeastern. Planning carefully ahead is clearly not the strong suit of employees at the top of the Northeastern University admissions office.
Either the best of the rest apply to Northeastern, or someone on the inside at Northeastern is trying to pull a fast one on us. Or both!
Meanwhile, Boston University has had supplemental essay/short answer questions for years. BU is also a wonderful school from which to earn an undergraduate degree. That is all.