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The Ivy Coach Daily

November 10, 2013

A Tribute To Richard Moll

Former Dean of Admissions Dick Moll’s letter to the editor in today’s “New York Times” is spot on.

Richard Moll, a former admissions officer at Harvard and Yale and Dean of Admissions at Bowdoin, UC Santa Cruz, and Vassar, was an inspiration to our Founder when she first got into the profession. Many in the highly selective college admissions community would argue that Richard Moll was a controversial, even divisive figure during his tenures in admissions. We would argue that nobody did more to shake up the highly selective college admissions process and improve access to underserved populations than Dick Moll. Dick Moll was — and remains — an innovator.

Now in his 80’s, Richard Moll is still shaking up highly selective college admissions and challenging folks to defy the status quo. In a letter to the editor in “The New York Times,” Moll writes the following: “In your article, a college admissions officer says, ‘In the day of the Common App, there’s such a sense of sameness in applying to the different schools.’ The unavoidable standardization of the Common Application, not to mention the online debacle for students trying to use it this year, causes serious questions regarding its service to both the candidate and the college. As co-founder of the Common Application some 40 years ago (with Jack Osander of Princeton and Fred Jewett of Harvard), I sense that the Common App’s time is up.

Moll goes on to write, “The sole original goal of the Common Application was to make applying to highly selective colleges easier for nontraditional, less advantaged but deserving students. Clearly, it worked early on. Now it seems that the ease of applying via the Common App has transferred from the poorest to the most affluent students, whose families have no problem paying a dozen or more application fees — the more apps, the better the chance of admission somewhere special. This phenomenon also creates thousands more ‘ghost applications’ (from students unlikely to enroll) for the colleges. Given the compromised mission of creating access for the less sophisticated students and families, plus the frustration of colleges, applicants and secondary school counselors struggling to make uniqueness known within the limitations of standardization, why continue the Common Application?”

And there you have it. One of the founders of the Common Application believes it needs to go. As you may know from reading our college admissions blog, we have been very critical of The Common Application of late, even questioning if the Common Application is restraining trade by penalizing universities that do not offer the Common App. on an exclusive basis. Deemed by Bowdoin in a 1975 article “one of the most controversial admissions chiefs in the College’s history” and affectionately referred to in this same piece as “the king of pizazz,” we at Ivy Coach are sure glad to see that he is very much still the king of pizazz. We salute Richard Moll for his enormous contributions to the field of highly selective college admissions. There’s nobody else like him.

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