Adobe (San Jose, California) has announced the findings from its latest study – The Deciding Factor: The Case for a More Holistic Measure of Student Success. The study revealed that students and college admissions professionals overwhelmingly agree that creative skills are a key factor in admissions – yet there is no easy, meaningful way for students to showcase them in the current application process. Building on Adobe’s 2019 Get Hired study (which highlighted how important creative skills such as communication, collaboration and creativity had become in the rapidly changing job market), Adobe’s new study surveyed 1,000 high-school students, 250 college admissions decision makers and 250 high-school college placement counselors in the U.S. to provide insights on the evolution of college admissions processes, and to understand how they have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Here are some of the key findings:
- Creative skills rank among the top three deciding factors for college admissions decision makers, yet only 20% of those decision makers report that students demonstrated their creativity “very well” on applications.
- Everyone agrees on the importance of demonstrating creative skills in college applications – including admissions decision makers (95%), college placement counselors (97%) and high school students (88%).
- Yet far fewer students plan to showcase them on applications this year because they don’t know how.
- 69% of students don’t know where to showcase creative skills on their applications.
- 84% of students wish they knew how to show these skills in their applications, and 85% wish they had more ways to show who they are as a person.
- 93% of college placement counselors wish they could give students more guidance on how to show their creative skills in college applications.
- 90% of admissions decision makers believe colleges need a standardized way to evaluate candidates’ creative skills.
“This study illuminates the stark disconnect between the way we prepare students in K-12 and the demands of today’s college admissions process,” said Mala Sharma, Vice President and General Manager of Adobe Creative Cloud Product Marketing and Digital Media Education. ”I see this as our responsibility to better guide high-school students through a crucial moment in their personal and academic development, while also working with the education community and parents to ensure students are equipped with the critical creative skills needed to succeed throughout higher education, and in their future workplaces.”
Compounding these challenges is the severely limited amount of time that college admissions officers have to review each student’s application. Students in the U.S., for example, spend an average of 26,000 hours in their K-12 education, including homework and extra-curriculars, and an additional average of 29 hours preparing their college applications and essays. The average time spent reviewing each application by a college admissions professional is 11 minutes.
As uncertainty looms this year, students will need to find creative ways to stand out in those 11 minutes more than ever before, said Adobe. The company has partnered with some of today’s most creative artists and educators to show students how to showcase their creative skills in their college applications, and share who they are in visual, unique ways – where the age-old college essay falls short. Students can check out tutorials on how to use different creative mediums to tell their story and package it up as supplementary content for their college applications. Students can learn from artist and photographer Matt Crump, comedic chart/graph artist Matt Shirley and high school teachers whose rap videos have gone viral, Audri Williams and Callie Evans. Additional tutorials from designer Steffi Lynn Tsai, #HipHopEd Founder, and professor Chris Emdin and more, will be available in a few weeks, said Adobe. Creative tutorials for students and educators as well as additional insights from the study can be found on the Adobe for Education website.