Wake Forest University

May 2013

Rethinking Admissions

Continuing the Conversation

Archive for May, 2013

College Admissions in the 21st Century

Friday, May 17th, 2013

In an age when reality television and social media provide unprecedented access toward fulfilling virtually all areas of human curiosity, the college admissions process remains, in large part, shrouded in secrecy. There are rarely, if ever, exposés about this industry (yes – industry, as it has become) or even a mere behind-the-scenes look into the ways that college admissions officers go about making decisions. For as forthright and transparent as many colleges believe their admissions brochures and websites appear, there is still a great deal of uncertainty for prospective students and parents as to what the entire process entails.

So Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management at De Paul University, has some ideas. And they’re radical.

The central focus behind these ideas is to make the college admissions process more easily navigable for all parties involved. He proposes a national database to which prospective students and colleges subscribe whereby each could select matches according to certain criteria. The colleges’ criteria would be listed publicly so that students would have more realistic expectations about their chances of admission. Obviously, it becomes more difficult when advertising and matching for the “intangible” attribute students possess.

Boeckensted’s point is that the college admissions process needs change and that change must be drastic to have any realized effect. If we agree that the system is “broken” then we should all be encouraged to continue “rethinking admissions.”

Read more here.

Class-based Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

The United States Supreme Court is expected to soon deliver its ruling regarding the use of race and ethnicity as considerations in college admissions. Many believe that a majority of the Court’s nine members will vote in favor of altogether banning or drastically altering the criteria around which race can be utilized as a consideration.

However, a new study to be published this summer suggests that the use of class-based affirmative action may prove useful in helping colleges to build a more diverse student body – from both racial and socioeconomic perspectives. Whereas previously class-based affirmative action was thought to decrease the number of minority applicants who were admitted, the University of Colorado at Boulder has presented data from elaborate experiments it conducted to show that racial diversity did in fact increase. The UC Boulder experiments included “disadvantage” and “overachievement” indices, a modification from previous experiments, to identify and reward students who performed at high levels amidst significant adversity. Additionally, the UC Boulder study used class as a “primary” consideration, though it was not considered at the same level as classroom performance or standardized test scores.

The UC Boulder data also reinforced that low-income applicants experienced no increased rates of admission in cases of race-based affirmative action. Many colleges may soon adopt models similar to UC Boulder’s as it proves to have greater societal support (as compared to race-based affirmative action) and can be more effective toward goals of improved diversity on college campuses.

Read more on Inside Higher Ed.