Diversity in Admissions

Survey finds that women and minority professionals don't rise through the ranks in college admissions offices.

July 30, 2014

Colleges receive widespread scrutiny for their ability (or lack thereof) to build diverse student bodies. A survey being released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling shows that colleges also struggle with diversity issues within admissions offices, where white males seem to lead a field that -- at the entry-level ranks -- is more diverse.

Among the figures from the survey:

  • About 70 percent of admissions counselors and assistant/associate directors of admissions are women, but they represent only 53 percent of directors of admission and only 40 percent of vice presidents/deans of admission or enrollment management.
  • Black admissions professionals make up 11 percent of counselors and assistant/associate directors but only 5 percent of vice presidents/deans.
  • Hispanic admissions professors decrease from 8 percent  of counselors and assistant/associate directors to only 2 percent of vice presidents and deans.

Other data in the survey of NACAC members suggest that it may be difficult for colleges to hold on to the minority talent they have -- either individually or in higher education as a whole.

Non-white admissions professionals are more likely than white admissions professionals to be looking for a new job and to be looking for a new job outside the admissions field.

Career Shifts of Admissions Professionals, by Race

Race/ Ethnicity Seeking New Job Now Plan to Seek New Job Within a Year Plan to Seek Job Outside Admissions
White 7.1% 15.7% 14.0%
Black 14.3% 26.3% 22.5%
Asian 5.6% 16.7% 17.4%
Hispanic 19.7% 30.3% 16.7%
Multi-racial 13.0% 25.9% 17.1%

Other findings of the survey:

  • There is no one clearly defined career path into admissions or up through the ranks. Admissions professionals report a wide variation in undergraduate majors and many report "falling into" the profession.
  • Communication and writing skills are important to admissions professionals at all levels of the field.
  • While use of technology is increasingly important, many senior admissions professionals worry about technology eroding personal contact that they view as essential to the profession.
  • Most admissions directors (70 percent) hold master’s degrees, as do 61 percent of assistant and associate directors.
  • At the vice president/dean level, 23 percent have doctoral degrees and 65 percent have master’s degrees.



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