It's time for competitive college admissions to undergo significant changes, according to a report, “Turning the Tide,” issued Wednesday by the Making Caring Common program at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. The reforms called for include: going test optional on admissions or assuring students that standardized tests aren't the crucial part of applications, discouraging students from trying to take the maximum number of Advanced Placement courses possible and encouraging high school students to focus on the quality rather than quantity of extracurricular activities. Generally, admissions experts and many admissions administrators have long called for many of these reforms, as have some past reports and books.
A new report by the Council of Graduate Schools finds that admissions leaders in graduate programs view "holistic" review -- in which applicants are evaluated individually, without a simple grid to determine decisions -- as effective generally and as a tool to increase diversity of student bodies. But the report notes that time constraints limit the use of holistic review. Further, the report notes that many admissions leaders want more information on how to link admissions criteria and student success.
About 40 percent of admissions officers say they research applicants on social media, according to a survey released Wednesday by Kaplan Test Prep. That's quadruple the percentage from a 2008 Kaplan survey. At the same time, the survey found that most admissions officers who do check social media don't use it often -- of those who use social media to check on applicants, 89 percent said they did so "rarely." Some of the reasons people check are potentially positive, such as investigating applicants' abilities and interests. But Kaplan officials have heard anecdotal reports of "admissions sabotage" in which some people send tips to admissions officers that other applicants have images on Facebook or elsewhere that might give an admissions panel doubt about offering a spot.
Many high school students will learn today how they did on the PSAT, and their high school counselors were in theory supposed to get information Wednesday on the scores of their students, as well as new information the College Board is providing on how high schools can keep PSAT takers on track to prepare for college. But on Wednesday, many high school counselors reported that the system wasn't working and they couldn't get to the information about their students. Zach Goldberg, a College Board spokesman, acknowledged "confusion" among counselors and said they were sent more detailed instructions after many reported difficulties. Goldberg said the issue should have no impact on students getting their scores today.
Reports of Indian students being turned away by customs officials and prevented from boarding U.S.-bound flights cast spotlight on two little-known California institutions with 90 percent-plus international enrollment.
Illinois may shift from the ACT to the SAT for a statewide program to offer a college admissions test, The Chicago Tribune reported. ACT has filed a complaint, charging an inappropriate decision process, so the move is not final. Students of course may opt to use either test for their individual applications, but statewide contracts generally encourage students to at least start with the test used statewide.