Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Who Gets in? Strategies for Fair and Effective College Admissions

Magazine article Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Who Gets in? Strategies for Fair and Effective College Admissions

Article excerpt

Of all the contemporary issues that define todays higher education landscape, few arc more important than the question of whether the procedures that colleges and university officials use to decide who gets admitted to their institutions are fair.

In fact, the question of the role that race and ethnicity should play in these decisions - if any - has been at the center of a scries of United States Supreme Court cases.

1 hose who are charged with the duty of making admission decisions - and crafting the policies that govern those decisions - must be circumspect about the way they do it, lest they run afoul of the law.

At the same time, scholars stress the importance of ensuring that America's higher education enterprise be made more accessible to diverse segments of the population and members of historically underrepresented groups. At stake is a chance for individuals from historically marginalized communities to share in prosperity and assume positions of leadership - the paths to which destinations are often paved with postsecondary education.

It is with tliis and other issues in mind that Dr. Rebecca Zwick, professor emeritus in the Department of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, makes an important auclorial foray into the admissions discussion by means of a new Harvard University Press book titled Who Gets In? Strategies for Fair and Effective College Admissions.

In the book, Zwick examines subjects that range from the attention colleges and universities should pay to the development and execution of their mission statements to the emphasis that institutions should or shouldn't place on high school grades versus college entrance exam scores as they determine the suitability of applicants.

She also explores the pros and cons of 16 different "admission models," including some that incorporate race-based affirmative action and the effect that the models have on admissions for different ethnic groups and for women.

Ihc models include 12 that are based on a "rank-ordering" of the applicants - half of which rank applicants on academic grades and test scores and half of which include racial preferences, socioeconomic preferences or noncognitive factors as well.

"For the most part, the admissions rules that augmented the academic composite to incorporate affirmative action policies or to include noncognitive measures produced college grades, graduation rates, and postcollege accomplishments similar to those obtained using the unvarnished composite," Zwick concludes. …

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