Podcast: The High Wire Act of Selective College Admissions

On this week’s podcast, Jeff Selingo and guest co-host Karen Fischer interview Angel B. Pérez, Vice President of enrollment and student success at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. In writer Paul Tough’s latest book, The Years That Matter Most, Pérez provided a candid, insider’s assessment of the often-conflicting admissions priorities at selective private colleges like Trinty: increasing student diversity and staying financially viable.

In the past few years, Trinity has become test-optional, allocated more money for financial aid, and changed its recruitment strategies to achieve this end. And Pérez and his admissions team have begun looking for nonacademic indicators—curiosity, perseverance, grit, and creativity—in their applicants.

The result? More low-income and first-generation students, a higher retention rate, and a happier faculty—and a need to admit sufficient numbers of sometimes less-talented but full-paying students to balance the college’s budget.

Pérez explores the need to focus on middle class students to avoid this ‘barbell effect.’ And he discusses what a traditional private college community must do to carry out a commitment to bringing larger numbers of racially and socioeconomically diverse students to campus.

Listen to the podcast here.