Porfolio review: A strategy for admitting diverse graduate students

Apr 27, 2019, 10:03 AM
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Summary : Graduate programs often place a disproportional emphasis on GRE, despite evidence that it may be a weak predictor of success.
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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.

Categories :
  • AACRAO Publications
  • Admissions and Recruitment
  • Competencies
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Enrollment Goals
  • Holistic Admissions
  • SEMQ
  • Student Recruitment
  • Testing
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    Steven E. Smith, University Registrar, Adelphi University

    Steven Smith CCAACRAO's LGBTQIA Caucus holds a very special place in my heart. I spent my early years in the closet and at my first Annual Meeting, I walked past the Caucus meeting three times but couldn't gather the courage to walk in. I timidly took that step at my second conference and my life changed forever; attending that Caucus meeting was the first public thing I ever did as a gay person. The people I met that day are now some of the best friends I have, in fact, years later one of them flew half-way across the country to attend my wedding!  

    Joining the Caucus gave me the courage to come out at home and work. It has connected me with some fabulous colleagues whom I contact regularly by phone, email, and social media. It has informed me about many issues that I thought I knew well, but realized I had more to learn. The three-year stint that I served as chair is one of my fondest memories. The LGBTQIA Caucus has been an important part of my life and I encourage those who identify with any of those letters (including the "A" allies!) to be a part of this important group. 


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    Carrie Cuy CCDiscovering the LGBTQIA caucus was a highlight for me during AACRAO’s 2019 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.


    As a new member, I found the caucus to be a welcoming and friendly group of higher education colleagues. I look forward to participating in future AACRAO and caucus events and fostering a supportive environment for knowledge sharing and professional development in our field.

    Michael N. Robertson, Director of Admissions & Enrollment Services, Southern College of Optometry

    Mike Robertson CC
    When a small group of us helped found the LGBTQ Caucus many years ago, one of our main goals was to simply give “folks like us” a place where we could be ourselves  and share common goals, issues and concerns.  Now, we’ve evolved into a strong group whose added goal of educating our constituency about LGBTQ issues on campuses has made differences at colleges around the world.  The caucus has made me proud of AACRAO and has helped make me a better administrator.  For that, I will always be grateful.

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    Stephen Arod Shirreffs CC
    I'm in the LGBTQIA caucus because I think visibility is a core value as an engaged gay man and as an engaged AACRAO member. I've been involved in the gay movement since the early 70s, the heady days of gay liberation. Now, as our profession as well as our campuses are more diverse than ever, being "out there" says it loud and proud that we all belong and everyone is welcome. As AACRAO advocates for the issues that are critical to our jobs, having the public backing of our caucus is important work, and I want to be part of it.

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    Allen Corben CCI'm in the LGBTQIA caucus because because none of us are free unless all of us are free.




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AACRAO's LGBTQIA Caucus strives to work for LGBTQIA rights, and educate other higher education professionals so they are able to serve their students with an understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

The Caucus welcomes any AACRAO member willing to advance LGBTQIA rights, regardless of sexual identity or orientation. 


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Paul C. McCarty, Registrar | Washington College

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Holly Halmo, Director of Student Success Initiatives | New York University
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