Wake Forest University

Conference Session (day 2)

Rethinking Admissions

Continuing the Conversation

Archive for the ‘Conference Session (day 2)’ Category

We can do it. Yes, we can!

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

“No one likes what’s going on in college admissions,” said panelist Lloyd Thacker, “and we each have a role to play in improving college admissions.” Colleges have more to gain by working cooperatively than competitively. Many road marks suggest that colleges and universities are rethinking admissions processes and fighting against the commercialism of education. Increasing numbers of colleges and universities are disengaging from college rankings. More colleges are evaluating and changing aspects of their admissions processes to align with their values. Educators are developing ways to provide useful information about their colleges and universities outside of rankings. “I see these activities as pieces of a growing campaign to lend prestige to a new way of doing things and to push back against commercialism in college admissions,” Thacker said.

Commercialism in education

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Commercialism has transformed education into product and students into consumers. Lloyd Thacker asked the conference participants to identify these billion dollar industries that affect education. Test prep, enrollment management consultants, a consultants for kids industry, and a “how to beat the system” industry were shouted out by attendees. What have been the results of this commercialization? More money spent by colleges to self-promote, more public cynicism, more hype, more social stratification, and a drastic shift in financial aid from those most deserving to those most desirable. 

The role of the student not the school

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

There are many studies that show that it is student qualities that make for success in life – qualities much more important than the prestige of any one college or university. When conference participants were asked what student qualities inspired their work, potential, curiosity, hope, imagination, risk-taking, and a sense of wonder, were given. These qualities are the ones that educators are entrusted to nurture and cultivate. The current commercial environment of college admissions, however, underestimates the role of the student in making education happen and overestimates the rank of the college in this process, according to panelist Lloyd Thacker, the director of Educational Conservancy.

Education as a ministry

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Lloyd Thacker, the director of Educational Conservancy, delivered an inspired presentation. The room enthusiastically responded to his focus on education as a ministry. “Education as a ministry reminds us of common purposes and shared commitments to serving something of such profound importance, and it might help us move forward to improve college admissions for all,” he said.

Dropping early decision

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Greg Roberts, dean of admissions at the University of Virginia, opened Thursday’s first session by speaking on “access and opportunity for low-income high school students.” Roberts was returning to his alma mater; he graduated from Wake Forest in 1988 and received an MAEd in 1990. He explained UVa.’s efforts to enroll low-income students. At one time, Virginia probably enrolled fewer students who received Pell grants than any other university in the top 25, which was an embarrassment, he said. In Oct. 2003, after the University of North Carolina introduced its Carolina Covenant program to recruit low-income students, Virginia quickly put together its own program, AccessUVa. The program increased grants and reduced loans and capped loans for many families.

As part of that program, Virginia dropped its early decision program, which he admitted was a risky decision and unpopular in the state. But he maintained that it was the fairest thing to do: most students who applied early decision were white and upper middle class, at odds with the University’s efforts to recruit low-income students. In one year, of the students in the freshman class who were the most needy, only one had applied early decision.

Another important component of Virginia’s plan is its guaranteed transfer program. In-state students who graduate from one of Virginia’s community colleges are guaranteed admission to UVa. if they meet certain academic requirements. That has helped increased the number of low-income students since many of those students probably went to a community college for financial reasons.

Conference resumes

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Good morning!  The “Rethinking Admissions” conference at Wake Forest will resume soon.  Yesterday was a fascinating day, with an impressive line-up of speakers, highlighted by Dan Golden’s keynote address, “Slumdog Ivy Leaguer.”  Today’s sessions will begin with a panel discussion, “Accessing the High School Record.”