Beyond GPA: Assessing the whole student

college grad

More and more postsecondary institutions are using a holistic approach in their admissions processes—with improved student outcomes and institutional success to show for it.

Holistic admissions, or “broad-based admissions” as it is referred to in Canada and Australia, is the consideration of non-cognitive variables in the college admissions process. It assesses and considers areas such as life skills and other non-academic attributes that have shown to be strong predictors of retention and student success—such as student adjustment, motivation, and perception, says AACRAO Consultant William Sedlacek, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of Maryland, College Park.

What's in it for institutions?

The use of these kinds of variables in admissions decisions has multiple benefits including:
• Better assessment of student potential and institutional fit.
• Promotion of student success.
• Increased persistence, retention and graduation rates - particularly among students typically disadvantaged by traditional admissions practices.

Although these variables are useful for assessing all students, they are particularly critical for assessing nontraditional students, since standardized tests and prior grades often afford only a limited view of their potential.

In addition, the holistic approach has been tested within the US legal system and ruled to be viable.

Help with holistic admissions: FairSelect

Working with other admission professionals, including AACRAO Managing Consultant Michele Sandlin, Sedlacek has developed a non-cognitive assessment method that can be used with current academic assessment measures to result in a fair, practical, ethical, and legal assessment of students' ability to succeed in college, regardless of their background.

Called FairSelect, these services help admissions professionals assess non-cognitive variables efficiently and in a variety of institutions, complementing information provided by high school grades and standardized tests.

For more information, click here or stop by our booth at the AACRAO Annual Meeting.

By: AACRAO Connect