College admissions is going to change a little next year, according to a piece at U.S. News & World Report. Kim Clark reports that:

Interviews with admissions officers at some of the nation’s most popular colleges reveal recent and important shifts in the weighting of traditional admission factors. Recommendations and high school class rank matter less to many colleges, especially big public universities, than they used to. Instead, a growing number of colleges of all types are putting more emphasis on students’ essays and the difficulty of applicants’ high school classes.

The biggest change is that some colleges, embarrassed by applications scandals, are apparently going to start fact-checking applications.

In a general sense, however, the article reports that admissions officers will this year put more emphasis on tougher high school courses and less emphasis on class rank, in part because of concerns that students are taking easy classes to maintain high GPAs. They’re also placing more emphasis on application essays. Colleges also report that they’re making application deadlines earlier.

A continuing increase in the number of colleges students apply to, however, means that admissions staffs have to sort through more and more packages every year. So they’ll be spending less time on each applicant. The average private college now spends about 15 minutes on each application, apparently.

How college admissions staff can both spend less time on each application and be more rigorous in looking for deception and essay quality is an interesting puzzle. What are they going to let slide?

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer