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Centenary College Saves Time with Instant Decision Days

By: Kevin Kunzmann/The Express-Times
07/08/2013, 09:43 AM

Few moments are tenser for high school seniors than when they receive an admissions letter from their dream school.

Weeks -- maybe even months -- of waiting climax with a feverish tearing of the envelope and rushed scanning for one of two words: accepted or denied.

Centenary College aims to make the process a little less scary.

The four-year liberal arts school in Hackettstown is offering its Instant Decision Day program throughout the summer for prospective freshmen and transfer students. Applicants can schedule a meeting to tour the campus, speak with faculty and staff and either be accepted or denied admission for the fall semester, all within a day.

Centenary enrolls about 1,350 full-time undergraduate students, according to admissions counselor Shannon Jonas.

"We have done Instant Decision Days for a few years now, only this year we advertised a little more," admissions counselor Emily Walker said. "It's a second chance for students who may not be happy with their first decision."

Applicants must supply their transcript, SAT or ACT scores, at least one academic recommendation and a 250-word essay on how a Centenary College education can help them achieve their goals. The school waives its admission fee.

The common college application requires similar information, and Walker said the face-to-face interaction and review of an applicant's work has been positive for the students.

"We've been flexible in the past for any students wanting to come to review their information," she said. "When they're coming here looking for instant decision, they are serious."

The program's apparent appeal is in the convenience for the applicant. Walker said the more open summer schedules make the program easier to manage than most application processes. As a result, the school has seen increased interest in admissions, most notably from transfer students.

Most colleges in the region, however, find the traditional admission process more advantageous than an instant decision.

Chris Hooker-Haring, Muhlenberg College's dean of admissions and financial aid, said that the program is "an interesting idea," but that Muhlenberg has no interest in starting a similar program.

"We think there are some advantages to collecting lots of information, and then trying to place a student into context within the overall applicant pool," he said. "We admit about half of our class via early decision every year, so there are a fair number of students who are hearing from us at an earlier stage in the process."

Moravian College spokesman Mike Wilson said the Bethlehem school does not offer instant admission, noting the school instead runs open houses and tours throughout the summer season.

Lafayette College receives about 11 applications per one open spot, according to Greg MacDonald, the school's dean of admissions and financial aid. This gives the school the opportunity to be more selective in the admission process, he said.

"In a society that is becoming more wired toward instant gratification, our approach to making careful and purposeful admission decisions is, I believe, best for the candidate and for the college," MacDonald said.

Walker said Centenary's admissions program is more about helping the students than it is drawing interest in the college.

"There are a lot of competitive schools out there, but we firmly believe in finding the right home and right fit for the student," Wilson said. "Instant Decision Days give them another option to help make the right choice."



Centenary College will host Instant Decision Days 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays through August.

The college will review students' academic information and give an immediate decision as to whether they are accepted for the fall semester. Application fees will be waived when applying through this process.

Call 800-236-8679 or email admissions@centenarycollege.edu to schedule a meeting.