By Amy Diluna
For those of us who, ahem, filled out applications on a typewriter and received acceptance and rejection letters in a metal mailbox, the concept of a virtual college tour is mind-blowing.
But in reality, colleges still have a lot of room to innovate to meet students where they are, technologically speaking.
So what could admissions look like in 20 years? From a school’s perspective, automation will take on a lot of the human-led work, according to Steve Farmer, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions at the University of North Carolina.
"Machines are going to be more heavily involved in the evaluation of students and counseling of students; you can ask Siri or Alexa for help, and she will help you. Schools are going to do that, too."
Artificial intelligence will provide simulated human interaction (think live chats, only more alive), and students will get quicker answers.
Machines will be involved in the evaluation of candidates, too.
"I hope that machines won’t be making the decisions about candidates, but there are some things that machines can do more reliably than humans can — evaluating the strengths, for example, of a student’s schedule in high school," said Farmer.
The automated evaluation could also include scanning transcripts and comparing them with performance of the school as a whole.
From a student’s perspective, everything will change.
In Andover, Massachusetts, students are part of a pilot program called the New Resume Project. The students create digital "resumes" — they can contain artwork, videos, music, or even a reading of a written essay — that are meant to give a holistic view of their lives, passions and talents that a 2-D essay just can’t.
“It in essence embodies some of the things that are not easily seen in an application,” said Sheldon Berman, Andover’s superintendent of schools.
"We are enabling the students to do a two-minute kind of TED Talk, a 'Here’s Who I Am’ in video, or here’s the project that I did. Universities are going to want to know, 'What did you do?' Although they write about it, they can easily say ‘here’s a quick video of what we did and how we did it, and here’s my talk about it,'" Berman said.
Will consumer tech drive higher ed’s innovation?
Colleges are climbing on board, too. Last year, Yale University, the University of Chicago and Pomona College all began allowing video supplements to their written application requirements.