Can the admissions process be done by computers?


I was in a fascinating and scary meeting today. A company has developed a REALLY elaborate computer program that can be used to decide which students should get into college.

The idea is that there are, of course, way more qualified applicants at highly competitive schools than there are spaces. Many colleges have moved to a method called “holistic admissions,” which is code for considering everything that you can on an applicant. It includes essays, recommendations, and extra-curriculars, but also, at times, income level, ethnicity, or location, just to name a few.

While admissions officers like to talk about how we read every scrap of paper in an application in great detail, and some even brag about multiple readers, all of that effort gets expensive. So along comes this new program that will take GPA, SAT, and data on everything else and run it through a program for the schools preferences (I want 50 architecture students, and we want more students that dye their hair blue!) and select the right students to admit.

I’m still pretty skeptical, most of all that it will save time or money. After all, someone still has to evaluate the essays and recommendations, IF the school is really going to take all of that information into account. There are schools, however, that are using the program for next year! So you can rest assured that at a few schools your application will be carefully evaluated..BY ROBOTS!!! Just kidding…mostly. Be seeing you.

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4 Responses

  1. Wow! This is one of the most exciting/interesting/scary things I’ve heard regarding college admissions. Is Mason thinking about adopting it?

    Also, can you reveal the name of the program?

  2. We’re not considering the system. As I wrote, and shared with the company, I’m skeptical that it will result in any cost savings, and it doesn’t appear to offer any advantage over our current process. I’ll check on whether I have any confidentiality obligation from our meeting, and if not I’ll share more detail on the system.

  3. Did they note if any other schools had adopted the system?

    And thanks for the quick response!

  4. According to them, one highly competitive national university (and one we compete with heavily) will be using the system this year, but I don’t have confirmation from the school on that.

    And you’re welcome!

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