Holistic admissions at Oregon State University

May 10th, 2007

Oregon State University Admissions just received another ‘shout out’ surrounding our holistic admissions policy.

Tearing Down the Gates by Peter Sacks

Peter Sacks, author of Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education, spoke in an interview posted on Inside Higher Ed.com:

Q: Are there colleges doing the right thing to open their gates?

A: Yes, I believe there are some colleges and universities that are taking these issues very seriously and acting upon a sincere motivation to change the way they do business.

For example, realizing that standard admissions formulas relying on high school grades and SAT scores didn’t adequately predict college performance, particularly for some minority groups, Oregon State University has implemented a structured questionnaire in its undergraduate admissions process to assess certain “non-cognitiveâ€? traits in students that predict academic success at the university. OSU’s approach is based upon research by William Sedlacek at the University of Maryland, whose research goes back many years showing that non-cognitive measures of motivation, self-concept, self-awareness, the ability to deal with adversity, and so on work as well or better than standardized tests for predicting performance in college. OSU is integrating the structured questionnaire as part of a holistic review process that includes traditional academic measures as well. And it’s working. The university is finding that scores on its questionnaire are strongly correlated to student retention. […]

The beauty of such efforts at OSU and the University of California is that institutions are changing their business practices for the sake of their own institutional well being because they are admitting more highly motivated and qualified students as a result.

OSU’s research details on holistic admissions can be found here.


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  1. Are holistic admissions like holistic Dentistry?

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