NACAC Career Path Study Cites Concerns Over “Sales Culture” in College Admission


External and internal forces in US higher education are creating concerns among professionals about a growing “sales culture” in college admission, according to findings released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) in its “Career Paths for Admission Officers: A Survey Report.”

The survey of nearly 1,500 admission counselors, directors, deans and vice presidents suggested that demographic trends are increasingly creating strong pressures to meet enrollment goals in order to ensure their institutions’ financial health.

In addition, the report found that, from the perspective of ethnic diversity, the admission and enrollment profession is significantly less representative of the US population than the postsecondary students it serves.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • There is no set path for entering or advancing in the college and university admission profession.
  • Admission officers’ responsibilities are increasingly integrated across other areas of institutional responsibility, such as financial aid and student affairs.
  • Key skills for advancing in the profession include ‘soft’ skills, such as writing and communication, and academic credentials, such as a graduate degree in higher education or a related field
  • Skill sets related to recruitment of specific populations, such as under-represented students, international students, and students who are the first in their family to go to college, were important, if under-emphasized, aspect of college admission work

The NACAC Career Path Study, the first conducted by the association to be focused on career issues, features essays by deans of admission whose careers span decades in higher education. Essayists include Bill Fitzsimmons (Harvard University), Kathleen Massey (McGill University [Canada]), David Burge (Arizona State University), Sundar Kumarasamy (University of Dayton), Ken Anselment (Lawrence University), Greg Roberts (University of Virginia), Gordon Chavis, Jr. (University of Central Florida), Robin Brown (Colorado State University), and Angel Perez (Pitzer College).

The study is available via the NACAC Career Center.  The Career Center allows those interested in a career in college admission to explore job openings, upload a resume, get tips on searching for admission jobs, and learn more about their colleagues in the profession. A new Career Center feature includes videos on creating powerful resumes, developing an effective network, standing out by building your brand and more.

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