March 2019 - Transparency in admissions

March 28, 2019
  • artificial intelligence
  • community college transfer
  • postsecondary governance AACRAO Eye on Research March 2019
  • racial/ethnic gaps
  • STEM
  • Student Success

AACRAO Eye on Research March 2019

AACRAO and NACAC to Partner on Transparency in Admissions Research

AACRAO and NACAC will partner on a series of three surveys over the next couple of months.  These surveys have been in the works for a while, but the recent admissions scandal has increased the attention on the subjects we hope to address.  The first of these surveys is aimed at understanding the complexities of admissions operations and will be sent to members with related position titles or the primary contact in the next couple of weeks.  The second survey, being managed by the AACRAO communications department, is aimed at gathering the professional development needs of our members who work in admissions. The final survey, to be deployed in May, is one of our career profile surveys for chief admissions officers. I hope your institution will participate in these important surveys.  If any of these is of particular interest to you, please email me directly so you can be assured of receiving them.

On a related note, the Harvard Graduate School of Education released its second “Turning the Tide” report focused on how parents and high schools can support students in developing core ethical capabilities.  Included are recommendations for parents and high schools on how to engage students in a positive way in the college application and admissions process by taking some of the focus away from achievements and redirecting it to “ethical character and well-being.” The recommendations in the report are salient to the issues at hand, so I have included them here in detail.  Please see the full report for additional information.

Recommendations for “ethical parenting in the college admission process” are: 
1. “Keep the focus on your teen.”
2. “Follow your ethical GPS.”
3. “Use the admissions process as an opportunity for ethical education.”
4. “Be authentic.”
5. “Help your teen contribute to others in meaningful ways.”
6. “Advocate for elevating ethical character and reducing achievement-related stress.”
7. “Model and encourage gratitude.”

Recommendations for high schools are:
1. “Set ethical expectations with families.”
2. “Create opportunities for authentic student service and contributions to others.”
3. “Use the admissions process as an opportunity for ethical education.”
4. “Focus students on daily acts of character and provide evidence of character in applications.”
5. “Guide students in reporting their substantial family contributions and challenges.”
6. “Focus students on a wide range of colleges.”
7. “Create limits on advanced courses and discourage students from overloading on extracurricular activities.”

AACRAO Research Update

The nearly 500 respondents to this month’s 60-Second Survey on student success initiatives provided insight into what AACRAO professionals do in support of student success. The report will help establish a baseline for AACRAO professional members and help inform work group deliverables.  

Select Key Results

  • Graduation rate and retention rate are two measurements of student success used by more than 90% of all institutions.
  • Student satisfaction and course completion rates are used as metrics of success by about half.
  • Student success is led by the academic affairs/provost unit at 42% of institutions and nearly evenly split among student affairs, enrollment management, and student success. 
  • Adaptive learning is used by just 10%.
  • Three quarters agree that their institution has financial aid options aimed to ensure support is available for students who are in need and likely to succeed when their need is met.
  • More than half think technology and data analytics are used effectively to support student success initiatives.
  • The largest percentage of respondents (38%) feel the institution’s professional development training is “moderately effective.”
  • About two-thirds of institutions use two to five different technology solutions to support student success. 

Greatest challenges

  • A cohesive institutional plan/approach to student success
  • Buy-in across the institution including faculty
  • Data analytics
  • Lack of sufficient financial resources to support initiatives

Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

Racial/Ethnic Gaps in Persistence in STEM

A new Educational Researcher journal article investigates whether black and Latina/o youth are more likely to depart from STEM postsecondary fields than their white peers. The data set was taken from the Beginning Postsecondary Longitudinal Study. The authors concluded that “persistent racial/ethnic inequality” exists in STEM.

EDUCAUSE: Using Artificial Intelligence in Education: Legal Considerations and Ethical 

EDUCAUSE released a transcript of the recent webinar on the use of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to improve several aspects of higher education, including student success, enrollment processes, and resource management.  The webinar focuses on these topics and the legal considerations.  The webpage also includes a list of reference documents related to the subject.

NACAC Research Brief: Community Colleges and Transfer

NACAC highlights perceptions about community college transfer from two of their recurring surveys, the Counseling Trends Survey and the Admissions Trends Survey.  Perceptions varied by school type (figure below).


ACE: Associate Degrees linked to Better Employment, Earnings

The American Council on Education concludes the following key differences between associate degree holders and those with no postsecondary enrollment. Associate degree holders are more likely to be employed, earn more, own homes, and vote. 

Majority of Americans against Using Race in Admissions

Pew conducted already oft-cited research on Americans’ perceptions on the use of race in admissions.  Nearly one-quarter of respondents say race should not factor in admissions decisions (see figure from report below). 

Governance Structures

The Education Commission of the States created an interactive visual to examine the state postsecondary governance structures.


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