Friday, January 26, 2007

Wholistic Admissions on a national scale

The NYTimes is running a story today (reg required) about the ways universities are dealing with the bans on affirmative action that are being passed in many state.

They are doing exactly what we are doing. They remove race as official factor and replace it with socio-economic level, personal achievements, etc.

The article goes on to note that the Ward Connerlys of the world are challenging those factors as well, claiming they are just a cover for racial preferences.

I have blogged about this before, but it is an issue that will be with us for some time.

Is it really unreasonable to use something beyond grades and (biased) standardized tests to determine college admissions? I don't think so.

1 comment:

lammers said...

Winnie Bloggo asked: "Is it really unreasonable to use something beyond grades and (biased) standardized tests to determine college admissions?"

In my opinion, anyone who can demonstrate that he or she can benefit from what the university has to offer should be admitted. The main reason to exclude people from the university is because the available evidence indicates they will not be able to profit from the experience, and will simply waste their time and money, and ours.

In making this assessment, I think *all* sorts of evidence should be taken into account. Anything that might reasonably be considered a predictor of success should be factored into the mix.

Unfortunately, university resources are not unlimited, so it is not possible to admit every student who looks as though he or she would be able to succeed. Some qualified students have to be told, sorry, no room here.

How do we make this decision? Traditionally, it has been made on the basis of merit. Some of the qualified applicants seem especially well qualified while others seem less so, so we go with the former and tell the latter, Sorry.

What would happen if instead of merit, we employed a lottery? Everyone who is judged to be qualified to attend college, who appears to be capable of doing the work and benefitting from it, would have his or her name put in a pool, from which names are drawn at random until all seats are filled. This would generate good diversity, and could certainly be considered "fair".