New undergraduate admissions policy: Process to involve more information, individual review
A new process for undergraduate admissions will gather more information about student applicants and include multiple levels of highly individualized review. The new process, announced Aug. 28, was developed over the past several weeks in order to comply with the June 23 ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States.
The court said that achieving the educational benefits of diversity is a compelling government interest, and that universities may consider race as one of many factors in admissions provided they do so in a manner that is flexible, holistic and individualized. The court upheld the Law School admissions process in its entirety, but disallowed the awarding of a specific number of points with regard to race in the undergraduate admissions process.
U-M President Mary Sue Coleman said the court's decision reinforced the University's basic principles about its educational mission. "Our fundamental values haven't changed. We believe that in order to create a dynamic learning environment for all our students, we must bring together students who are highly qualified academically and who represent a wide range of backgrounds and experiences," she said. "As a public university, we also have an important and distinctive role to provide access to students from all walks of life."
Provost Paul N. Courant said academic criteria will continue to be the most important factors in considering a student for admission. At the same time, applications and the process for reviewing them have undergone substantial changes.
The new application, which is being sent out in early September to prospective students and high school counselors, includes several new questions designed to elicit more information about an applicant's background, personal achievement, and ways in which that student may contribute to the intellectual vibrancy and diversity of the student body.
In addition, the essay questions are designed to provide the richest possible picture of the student's intellect, character and personal values. A new form also has been developed for high school counselors and teachers to evaluate each student's academic preparation and background.
The point system previously used in the undergraduate admissions process has been discarded. Instead, each applicant's file will be considered holistically in the context of all the facets of the individual applicant's accomplishments and experiences.
The new process will be in effect for students applying for winter, spring, summer or fall 2004 admission, but will not affect the class of students entering the University this fall. The application deadline is Feb. 1, 2004, for admission the following fall.
When a completed application arrives in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions (OUA), it first will be evaluated by a reader who will review thoroughly the details of the applicant's file and make a recommendation for admissions status. OUA Director Theodore Spencer said that readers will include former educators, and they will receive extensive and ongoing training.
After being evaluated, the applicant's file will be forwarded to a professional admissions counselor in OUA. The counselor will conduct a blind review of the file (he or she will not have access to the reader's evaluation) and also will make a recommendation. The two recommendations will then be forwarded to a senior-level manager in OUA, who will review them and make a final decision about whether the student is to be admitted, deferred or denied. Where there is disagreement or inconsistency in the assessments of a particular applicant, the file will be sent to an admissions review committee for further discussion and consideration.
Courant emphasized that faculty of the schools and colleges continue to determine the criteria for admission into each academic unit. He noted that the faculty will be even more involved in the new admissions process than in the past. Members of the faculty will participate in the initial review of applicant files, and there also will be faculty representation on the admissions review committees.
Academic factors, including a student's high school grades, the quality of his or her high school curriculum, the competitiveness of the high school, and scores on standardized tests, will continue to be the most important criteria in considering a student for admission, Courant said.
In addition, a range of nonacademic factors, including personal interests and achievements, geography, alumni connections, race and ethnicity, family income, and family educational background, will help demonstrate the ways in which each applicant might contribute to the overall diversity of the student body.
The new admissions system will require additional resources in order to provide the level of individualized, holistic review required by the court. Spencer said that OUA is in the process of hiring 16 part-time readers and five additional full-time admissions counselors.
"We're changing things and they'll change more," Courant said, indicating that the new process will be subject to regular review and evaluation over the coming months and years.
OUA staff will begin an extensive education and outreach campaign to high schools, counselors and prospective students beginning in September. Outreach will include mailings to counselors and students explaining the new application and review process, personal visits to high schools, and a special Web site designed to explain the changes (http://www.admissions. umich.edu/process.)
Students, parents and others who have admissions-related questions also may visit http://www.admissions.umich.edu.