Porfolio review: A strategy for admitting diverse graduate students

April 27, 2019
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older female dressed in a suit leans against a book case while holding a portfolio book

In the latest SEMQ, a team of researchers at Wayne State University (WSU) shared the results of a pilot program in which academic programs developed portfolio review processes and made admissions decisions using these protocols.

WSU’s graduate programs, like at other institutions, “intentionally or unintentionally place a disproportional amount of emphasis on GRE scores, despite evidence suggesting that standardized test scores may be a weak predictor of graduate student success,” the researchers—Ambika Mathur, Annmarie Cano, Marcus W. Dickson, Larry H. Matherly, Caroline Maun, and Anne Victoria Neale—wrote. “These data indicated that WSU was failing to admit outstanding students who are successful in every other way but their standardized test-taking skills. With these considerations in mind, portfolio review was designed to take multiple additional factors into account in the application review, with the standardized score being just one of several rather than the sole predictor of student success in graduate school.”

They added: “The goal of WSU’s portfolio review was to invite a diverse and inclusive graduate student body to excel at WSU and to become leaders and innovators in Detroit and the world based on their achievements, work ethic, and values.”  

In the article, the authors discussed establishing a portfolio review committee, creating a portfolio review toolkit, and gaining input and buy-in from stakeholders. The authors also offer suggestions for other institutions interested in beginning a portfolio review process.

“This article provides preliminary evidence from a new initiative by a centralized unit that demonstrates that it is possible to improve the selection of graduate students with a transparent and consistent review process, which in turn can positively impact GEM in diverse programs at the institution,” they wrote.

Other articles in the April 2019 issue of SEMQ include:

  • "Building Blocks for a Successful Career: My Journey" by Janet Ward
  • "The Retention Project and the Investigation of a Non-returning New Student Re-enrollment Strategy Study" by Faith LaShure, Stacey Randall, and Henry Hinkle
  • "Improving Student Success Rates: Eliminating Performance Gaps" by Michelle Bombaugh and Thomas E. Miller
  • "In Their Own Words: What Nontraditional Students Need from For-Profit Schools" by Kris MacDonald

SEM Quarterly provides knowledge and insight into the ongoing evolution of strategic enrollment management (SEM) by bridging the gap between theory and practice. Articles by thought leaders and practitioners address the emerging dynamics of SEM, including: executive-level leadership, leading strategies, internationalization, research, academic orientation, and current trends.

For more information, or to submit a manuscript, please contact the Editor-in-Chief or the Managing Editor.


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