[M]erit aid is all part of "enrollment management." The goal is to attract strong students, partly because that helps with rankings but largely because of cohort effects. Schools with a core of strong students are more attractive to other strong students, who want to be in classes with other students at their own level. For less competitive schools, managing this is a tricky problem.
...I'd agree that knowing the [specific] criteria [for merit aid] would be interesting, but I don't know that you'd be able to make much use of it. ... [W]e are typically told we can offer 8 scholarships and there might be 30-40 students who admissions has targeted as possibilities (based on stated interest and their general ranking). Picking the 8 is a matter of reading the files and talking to admissions, and nothing about criteria or the decision making process is ever written down!
Oh, and our admissions department ranks every file on a 1-5 basis where 1 is highest. However, the faculty have often thought they overlooked strong students (as 2 or 3 ranked), because those students had fewer extra-curriculars or were otherwise less interesting to admissions.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
chemprof on merit aid, part 2