Common Applications, Uncommon Messaging: How Branch and Flagship Institutions Communicate Admissions and Financial Aid Application Processes
Access: The Journal of the National Association of Branch Campus Administrators, Vol. 5, Issue 1, August 2019
16 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2019
Date Written: August 14, 2019
In-state students often apply to multiple branch campuses within the same state system, evidenced by the rise of state-level post-secondary application systems (e.g., UC Application). However, no research has investigated whether prospective students can read and comprehend admissions and financial aid application instructions published on institutional websites. Moreover, no research has performed cross-system system analyses to explore whether branch campuses align their admissions and financial aid language to streamline and clarify the college exploration process for students considering multiple branch campuses within the same state system (e.g., UC-Davis and UC-Merced). This study analyzes admissions and financial aid application instructions across three of the largest state systems in the United States. Findings reveal branch campuses within the same system often vary their admissions and financial aid application instructions by thousands of words and between two and four grade-levels of readability, possibly rendering it difficult and/or confusing for prospective students to receive consistent messaging across multiple branch campuses within the same system. Implications for research and practice are addressed.
Keywords: admissions, financial aid, branch campuses, readability, literacy
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