Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Science of College Admission

At times, college admission feels a bit like baseball. There are millions of people who watch us—students, parents, school leaders, faculty, media, policymakers, interest groups—and love to discuss our every move. However, there is one group of observers whose interest is particularly valuable, and those are the academic researchers who study admission.

Like baseball, thousands of researchers crunch admission data and issue findings of significance to the profession. Such reports come from likely sources, such as the American Educational Research Association, Association for the Study of Higher Education, and the Association for Institutional Research, and less likely sources, such as the American Economic Association and the American Mathematical Society. NACAC pays close attention to academic journals, and regularly disseminates information about the latest research through its weekly Research Updates.

This year’s NACAC conference features sessions by authors of recent academic studies, including presentations on the effect of high school feeder networks on access and recruitment (Greg Wolniak and Mark Engberg), financial aid and admission (Donald E. Heller), using economic concepts to inform admission decisions (Stephen DesJardins), and recruiting Native American students (Michael Pavel).

Studies like these may form the basis for tomorrow’s admission strategies, so I look forward to joining you in learning more about these important observations on our work.

David Hawkins
Director of Public Policy and Research
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