Wake Forest University

Unintended consequences

Rethinking Admissions

Continuing the Conversation

Unintended consequences

John Douglass, senior research fellow at the University of California at Berkeley, offered an interesting look at the UC’s system’s attempts over the last 40 years to deal with the SAT. Decisions about test requirements are often based on politics and on marketing by the test industry, rather than on data on how valuable the test is, he noted.

Every university is different and should approach how they use test scores from the perspective of their own institution, Douglass said. He also warned of the “unintended consequences” that often result from admissions policy changes. Admissions policies are complicated and dynamic and an expressed purpose of a shift in policy does not always have the desired effect. In the end, admissions decisions, especially at larger schools that receive tens of thousands of applications, are always somewhat arbitrary.

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