Holistic admissions policies -- in which colleges consider a candidate as an individual, and base decisions on more than a formula of grades and test scores -- have long been common among undergraduate institutions, but have also gained ground in health professions admissions, according to a report released today. The report found that more than 90 percent of medical schools and nearly half of nursing bachelor's programs are using holistic admissions. Because holistic admissions can consider such factors as a candidate's background and disadvantaged status, these policies have generally been associated with increased diversity, and the new report finds that to be the case in health fields. Among institutions with many attributes of holistic admissions, more than 80 percent report that moving in that direction led to increased diversity in the student.
At the same time, the report did not find evidence that holistic admissions -- as its critics sometimes suggest -- has led to a decline in academic admissions standards. Over the last decade, as many of these institutions expanded holistic reviews, 90 percent of the health professions programs using holistic review reported that the average grade-point average of the incoming class remained unchanged or increased, while 10 percent reported a decrease. And 89 percent reported that average standardized test scores for incoming classes remained unchanged or increased, while 11 percent reported a decrease
The report was done by the Urban Universities for HEALTH – a collaboration between the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and the Association of American Medical Colleges, with funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Health Resources and Services Administration.
College enrollments dropped for the second straight year in 2013, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. But those drops are but a fraction of the large gains that came first. Enrollments fell by nearly half a million -- 460,000 -- between 2012 and 2013. That brought the two-year decline to 930,000, which was larger than enrollment drop before the recent recession. But enrollments grew substantially -- by 3.2 million -- as the economic downturn hit. Between 2006 and 2011, enrollment grew by 3.2 million. In the last year analyzed (2012 to 2013), community colleges saw the largest enrollment drops (10 percent), while four-year institutions saw a very small increase.
Only a handful of colleges and universities have optional questions on their undergraduate applications in which applicants may share their sexual orientation or gender identity. On Thursday, the Graduate School at Northwestern University (which does not ask the question of undergraduates) announced that it will add a question on whether applicants "consider themselves part of the LGBTQ community." Dwight McBride, dean of the Graduate School, said: “It's important for us but also for others to move in this direction, as well. If we don't ask the question, we are not building a data archive and, therefore, have no way of knowing what the needs of our populations and sub-populations in our communities are -- beyond guessing and anecdote.”
Mercyhurst University, in Pennsylvania, has announced that it is ending the requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. “Mercyhurst does not believe in reducing students to numbers and has always championed a holistic approach to admissions,” said a statement from the president, Tom Gamble. “Becoming test-optional allows us to focus more on the individual, which is consistent with our mission.”
Under a chancellor who says he cares more about rankings than did his predecessor, Syracuse U. scales back involvement with well-regarded program for recruiting low-income and minority students -- and those students take note.
Minority students at Syracuse University are protesting cuts that they say will hurt the enrollment of minority students, Syracuse.com reported. Among the cuts they are protesting are a decision to reduce from three to one the cities through which Syracuse will recruit students through the Posse Foundation, which places groups of students from disadvantaged areas in colleges that will support them and provide financial aid. Syracuse officials acknowledged that they were scaling back involvement with Posse, but said that the university was committed to "attracting the best and diverse students we can from across the nation."
The protests follow a presidential transition at Syracuse in which a president who focused heavily on diversity (and who said she didn't care about rankings) was succeeded by one who has indicated more interest in rankings.