A few of our team members from ZAP Solutions attended the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) SEM Conference this past week in Los Angeles.
AACRAO is a professional organization of personnel working in college and university admissions, academic records, and enrollment services. The AACRAO SEM Conference is an interesting and affluent event that brings together college enrollment management and admissions professionals from institutions throughout the country to collaborate with other individuals to discuss coordinating campus-wide efforts to ensure the success of students, from initial contact until graduation. The AACRAO SEM Conference had workshops and sessions discussing the creation of effective enrollment management plans to lead campus strategic planning efforts and improve student access and success.
One of the sessions that I attended was entitled, “Predicting Performance: using evidence based research and analytics to select best fit applicants.” It was presented by Dr. Jim Lloyd from the University of Florida College of Veterinary School, Coretta Patterson from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and Hilda Mejia Abreu, a former employee of Michigan State University. The goal behind the study was to look at the datasets of accepted students to see how their traditional and non-traditional factors correlated with their academic success.
The session was extremely informative, providing research results that they took from admitted students from 2000 to 2006 at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The study used datasets from the admissions office and the student’s curriculum to compare both traditional and non-traditional characteristics. Traditional characteristics included GPA and GRE test scores, while non-traditional characteristics consisted of race/ethnicity, state, gender, age, residency, prior degree, and interview score. Using both traditional and non-traditional characteristics provided the opportunity for a more holistic admissions process in order to see if either type of characteristic was predictive of academic performance as measured by either cumulative clinical and didactic GPA.
In the research study, there were a few different types of studies that were reviewed throughout the session that were used to help evaluate the results. The studies consisted of the Astin I-E-O Model and the 2004 Sedlacek Non-cognitive Variables Model.
To what extent did traditional and non-traditional characteristics contribute to the prediction of the cumulative clinical GPA?
Research from the study showed that there were certain non-traditional and traditional characteristics that were the most predictive of the student’s academic success or cumulative clinical GPA, including the GRE Quantitative (traditional) and the interview score (non-traditional). The Accreditation Service will look at the school’s admissions process and give suggestions on what should be done, not what must be done. This means that their recommendations are solely suggestions, not mandatory requests. It is up to the institution to review their goals and implement the changes. This research study helps show the importance of a holistic admissions process that looks at more than just the applicant’s test scores and traditional characteristics.
Lessons Learned from the Research Study
- Admissions process selection and goals should be defined and aligned with the mission and goals of institution and profession.
In the field of veterinary medicine, people skills are en extremely important need in veterinarians. Veterinarians must not only connect with animals but the humans that are at the end of the leash. People skills are needed in many fields of work, but it is particularly important in the medicine field due to the usually serious and sensitive nature of a patient’s visit. More often than not, grades and scores are viewed as the only important factor in finding a good doctor and the experience as a whole is often forgotten as a significant necessity. This is a topic that has been the focus in the past year when discussing the importance of people skills in doctors. The new MCAT test coming out in April 2015 is addressing this issue by including more questions in the MCAT test related to the student’s people and social science skills.
- Complete an analysis of admissions variables and curricular performance completion as each semester concludes
Reporting and tracking the progress at the end of each semester will help to continuously update the admissions process as the time sees fit.
- Regularly export data sets on performance to SPSS or another tool for easy mining for future use
Even if the data is not evaluated at that point, it is critical to keep data for future analysis and reporting. Data analytics are essential for admissions offices to see what variables and factors are working the best for their institution and incoming class.
- Establish a scholarly research agenda
Scheduled research studies can help to consistently analyze the data of your institution and applicant pool to confirm if your school’s admissions process is working towards your institution’s mission and goals.
- Practice holistic admissions
The benefits of holistic admissions has been noted by many institutions more recently over the past five years. Looking at all aspects of the applicant will only help admissions officers to better select the applicants that will work best for their school.
- Implement both traditional and non-traditional components in review process
As shown in this research study, both traditional and non-traditional components are both useful in predicting academic success. Many schools are taking the initiative to focus on both traditional and non-traditional components when admitting applicants into their programs. This does however lengthen the process and adds time to the already complex process of selecting future students. In efforts to maximize efficiency and create a more dedicated and observant process, many schools are turning to admissions software to organize, track, and assist with the entire enrollment process. Enrollment management software, such as AMP, are saving institutions money and time by holding the entire process in one place. By utilizing a centralized management system, admissions staff are able to easily, seamlessly and securely manage the student lifecycle from prospect to alumni, enabling schools to turn complex data into business intelligence and choose the candidates who are the very best fit for their program.
How is your institution selecting your admissions process?