IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: ENVISIONING AN EXEMPLARY SYSTEM OF COLLEGE ADMISSION IN THE UNITED STATES
The field of college admissions has changed significantly during the past thirty years, raising concerns about public interest implications and stimulating disparate attempts at reform. It seems that this environment might benefit from a concerted attempt to envision an admission system that better served the ideals and values associated with higher education. Thus we ask: If educators were to design a system of college admission that best exemplified educational integrity, what might it look like?
Thanks to generous support provided by the Spencer Foundation, the Education Conservancy plans to take the first step in articulating a coherent set of values and practices appropriate for a model admission system. "In the Public Interest: Envisioning an Exemplary System of College Admissions in the United States," a two-day meeting of key thought leaders, is intended to provide the necessary, comprehensive foundation that could guide and coordinate future reform efforts.
Meeting objectives will include the identification and evaluation of criteria that would define an admission system as "exemplary" insofar as it serves public interest needs; the determination of appropriate parameters for such a system; and the proposal of actions that would serve this project's ultimate success. Specifically, we intend to focus on questions such as:
1. The character of higher education.
What is education for? What are the purposes of postsecondary education? What are the values upon which it is based?
2. College admissions as a system.
How does college admissions serve educational purposes? How do commercial and marketing approaches affect the attitudes and behaviors of institutions viz. admissions practices? How do these approaches affect the attitudes and behaviors of prospective students - what are students learning as they navigate the process? What challenges and concerns are especially pronounced in particular sectors (of institutions, of students)? How might an exemplary admission system address these forces?
3. Aligning educational ideals with admission practices.
What criteria are appropriate for judging an admissions system "exemplary"? How can admission better facilitate education? How can the admissions process itself better reflect and serve the purposes of education, as generally conceived? What can be learned in the teachable moments of envisioning, selecting, applying to college?
4. How can we implement change?
What are the next steps we can take in formulating an exemplary admissions process?