New data released this week from the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) in its State of College Admission Report reveals high levels of uncertainty about various aspects of the college admission process. It addresses issues such as an increasingly robust [and savvy] applicant pool as well as changes in recruitment and evaluation trends across the nation. The Chronicle’s Eric Hoover, suggest that “accelerated admission” might reflect the most significant of these changes.
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It seems like every few months, U.S. News & World Report makes news for the methodology it uses in its annual ranking of best colleges. We last wrote about the controversy in our blog back in August.
This time, it’s the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) that is reporting the majority of admissions professional surveyed believe the rankings are based on flawed methodology. Furthermore, 87 percent agree or somewhat agree that the rankings encourage “counterproductive behavior” among colleges. The admissions professionals also believe the title of “best colleges” is inaccurate and confuses students and parents.
However, respondents are not ready to admit that they play any part in “gaming” the rankings. “Respondents’ beliefs that institutions are ‘gaming’ the rankings generally seems to apply to other colleges whereas they are less likely to perceive their own institution as manipulating the process,” the NACAC report says.
Interestingly, a majority of admissions officers surveyed also say they tout their college ranking in marketing campaigns even if only in a “limited fashion.” Furthermore, more than 90 percent admit that the rankings encourage competitive strategies for improving their standing.
Clearly, feelings about the much-publicized rankings remain mixed. Concludes Robert J. Morse, director of data research for U.S. News: “Colleges are saying ‘We don’t like the rankings, but we’re going to use them as a means to validate our quality and to attract students.”
In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education , David A. Hawkins, NACAC’s director of public policy and research, said he hopes the survey findings will bring more clarity to the debate, even if they don’t prompt changes to the methodology. “If they’re receptive, that would be great,” he says, “but I don’t know that I’m holding my breath.”
If you missed out on the Rethinking Admissions Conference here at Wake Forest last spring, you’ll get another chance to hear from experts on some of the very same topics at this month’s meeting of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). The last day of the national conference in Baltimore, September 26, includes three sessions on the use of standardized testing in admissions. First up is Wake Forest’s Martha Allman, who will join three other experts to discuss the ins and outs of implementing a test-optional admission policy. The NACAC answered the “why” of going test optional, now discussion turns to the “how.” The second panel will feature Wake Forest’s Joseph Soares, an associate professor of sociology who helped organize the Rethinking Admissions Conference. He will join two other scholars to discuss research on the old and new SAT and college admissions, as well as share Wake Forest’s experience with tests and admissions. The third panel will feature two speakers who will focus on alternative approaches to admissions and their impact on social diversity, academic quality, practical ability and creativity. You’ll find a full list of speakers below. There’s still time to register to attend the conference scheduled for September 24-26, or just log in to the NACAC conference blog for the latest news.
Panel #1: Implementing Test-Optional Admission
Robert Schaeffer, National Center for Fair & Open Testing, FL
Martha Allman, Wake Forest University, NC
Andrew Flagel, George Mason University, VA
Kristin Tichenor, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA
Panel #2: Institutional Research on the Utility of Standardized Admission Tests
Joseph Soares, Wake Forest University, NC
Matt Chingos, Mellon Foundation and author of the forthcoming book, Crossing the Finish Line
Chris Cornwall, University of Georgia
Panel #3: Alternative Approaches and Ramifications for Colleges
Thomas Espanshade, Princeton University, NJ
Robert Sternberg, Tufts University, MA