How Colleges Can Admit Better Students

TalkingEDUSmall.jpgAccording to Devin G. Pope, a professor of behavioral science at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, college and university admissions offices are “missing out” when it comes to the primary data they use to accept incoming freshmen.

In an opinion piece appearing in the New York Times, Pope points out that the two primary metrics used by most colleges - high school grade point average and the composite score on the ACT, “are less predictive of student success than alternative measures that are equally simple to calculate.” The author goes a step further in arguing that these metrics would in fact lead to, “a better incoming class.”

The article includes links to a paper by the economist George Bulman entitled  “Weighting Recent Performance to Improve College and Labor Market Outcomes" which,  using data from research done in Florida, suggests a better metric would be to use G.P.A. for only junior and senior years. His research shows that students who do better in the last two years of high schools are more likely to graduate college than those who did well in their freshman and sophomore years. Using “late high school G.P.A.,” scores is in fact “five times more predictive of eventual labor market earnings.”

The Times article also questions the reliance on composite scores that include all four sections of the ACT. Referencing a 2013 paper he co-authored,Pope and his colleagues found evidence, “using data from public college students in Ohio…that the math and English subject tests are far more predictive of college success than the reading and science tests.”

The article goes on to explore some of the reasons why admissions officers aren’t taking advantage of this data mining and parsing.

To read the complete article click here.


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