Thursday, April 19, 2012

College admissions committees and how they work

Inside Higher Ed has a story: How They Really Get In, based on surveys of selective colleges and universities conducted by by Rachel B. Rubin, a doctoral student in education at Harvard.

"Almost all of the colleges that provided information first do a winnowing of one of two sorts that yields the group that gets a more thorough review. The most common winnowing process (used by 76 percent of the colleges that answered Rubin) is some measure of academic merit. This may be based on grades, rigor of high school courses, test scores and so forth. While there is some difference in the relative weight given to various factors, there is a straightforward value on doing better than others in whatever formula the college uses.

"A minority of elite colleges and universities (21 percent) starts off on measures of "institutional fit." These colleges do the initial cut based on student essays, recommendations and specific questions of whether particular students will thrive at and contribute to the college in various ways. In an interview, Rubin said she believed that these colleges also valued academic merit, but that the vast majority of applicants had an appropriate level of academic merit, so that could be weighed later, while other parts of "creating a class" needed to dominate at the point of first cut.
"For those colleges that look at institutional fit first, the two most favored factors are underrepresented minority status and "exceptional talent" (which she said could mean many things: "lacrosse recruits, flautists, etc.").
"Rubin's paper says that whether the first cut is done through academics or fit, most colleges then report a more formal system in which two readers review the application portfolio, with a third reader or an entire team involved in difficult calls. At this stage, academic issues are discussed at institutions that started with "fit" issues, and "fit" is discussed at places that started with academics. "

No comments: