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Holistic Admissions Practices


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Holistic Admissions Practices

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Holistic Admissions Practices

  1. 1. SHANNON E NEUSE Director of the Graduate and International Admissions Center The University of Texas at Austin JUNE 2019 HOLISTIC ADMISSIONS PRACTICES How to engage graduate program faculty and staff in the holistic admissions review process
  2. 2. UT Austin Graduate School • 200+ graduate degrees offered*: – 109 distinct areas of study across 14 colleges/schools – approx. 90 doctoral degrees and 110 master’s degrees • Fall 2018 enrollment: – 5,129 doctoral students – 5,204 masters students *As of fall 2019 inventory
  3. 3. UT Austin Graduate School • 27,107 applications received for s/fall 18 – 12,324 doctoral / 14,677 master’s / 106 non-degree • 7,235 admitted for s/fall 18 – 2,251 doctoral / 4,955 master’s / 29 non-degree • 3,332 enrolled for s/fall 18** – 894 doctoral / 2,419 master’s / 19 non-degree *As of census date of fall semester
  4. 4. GIAC • Graduate and International Admissions Center • Centralized admissions processing office (on a decentralized campus) • Collect application materials, calculate upper-div GPA, set policy and provide guidance • Established in fall 1990 as a sub-unit of the Office of Admissions • As of fall 2016, sub-unit of the Graduate School • 20 full time staff
  5. 5. Problem • Misuse/misunderstanding of how to use test scores • Concerns about fairness/ethical practices • Centralized-decentralized model = who is doing what? • Hidden gems are staying hidden
  6. 6. Solution • Identified active and passive admissions committee members from sampling of grad programs • Invited faculty to forums to discuss admissions practices • “Starter” questions, but really we just sat back and listened
  7. 7. Outcome • Identified strengths and weaknesses • Program practices during the admissions review • Communication from grad school  program • Facilitated sharing of ideas across programs and disciplines • Unearthed some hidden gems • Started some difficult but necessary conversations • Gained a better understanding of what is going on around campus
  8. 8. Findings • Programs are, for the most part, conducting holistic reviews • Effectiveness varied, however • A lot of confusion on what can and cannot be done • Conflicting opinions on how to best use individual factors of the admissions file in a holistic review • Variation in the structure of admissions committees and file review
  9. 9. Deliverables • Video • Meant to highlight the three most critical issues the forums identified we were currently facing • Handout • For those faculty who prefer things in writing  • Workshop
  10. 10. Workshop • At program request • Roadshow style • 1 to 1.5 hours • PowerPoint presentation / discussion / question and answer
  11. 11. Content • Statement of Goals • Excellence in graduate education • UT grads = best in the workforce • Companies and universities to aggressively recruit our students • Diversity • Facebook video • Importance of diversity in preparing grad students
  12. 12. Content • Overview of what came out of our forums • Practices occurring around campus • List of some of the items being used in a holistic review • Test score Information • GRE & TOEFL basics • True & False (best practices) • How to use the tests in a holistic review (no cut off, sub sections, remember what it measures, etc.)
  13. 13. Content • Unconscious bias • Discuss unconscious bias as a committee – awareness helps! • Talk about factors that may come into play subconsciously during the review • Example studies: – Biernat and Manis (rate verbal skills) – Bertrand and Sendhil (CV recommendations, ethnicity) – Steinpreis et all (CV recommendations, gender)
  14. 14. Content • Best practices recommendations • Decide as a program what factors are most important • Avoid relying too heavily on one or two metrics • Avoid giving candidates numerical scores/rank ordering – Separate candidates into A, B, and C groups and allow movement • Find a way to spend time discussing and reviewing each app – Distribute files to subsets of the committee – Use a combination of simple filters BUT make accommodation for those who may be disadvantaged by some metrics
  15. 15. Reception • Eight program’s participated thus far • One-on-one with program director • Round table style with admissions committee members • Formal presentation to all program faculty and staff • Overall, positive response and reaction. Productive and informative sessions! • Some skepticism (especially around GRE)
  16. 16. Lessons • Workshops are as productive for Grad School staff as they are for program staff • Identifying weakness in communication • Networking and face time with “behind the scenes” faculty • Create a direct line of communication for when issues arise • Most people know what they’re doing, but are open to new ideas and perspectives • We need a better channel for sharing ideas and experiences • There are a lot of unanswered – and difficult to answer – questions • Conversation needs to be ongoing
  17. 17. Plans • Regular and frequent reminders about the workshop • Increase participation • Online resources (videos, handouts, PP slides, etc.) • Don’t leave it up to the workshop to get the word out • Conduct “update” forums and/or involve new programs in forum discussions • Check in to see if progress has been made • Collect new ideas and input • See how the landscape is changing