Do you sometimes wish you could just get into the heads of admissions directors and find out what they look for in potential students? Of course; we all do! Lucky for us, Inside Higher Ed has released a tell-all survey of admissions directors, which does just that.
“Clashes of Money and Values: A Survey of Admissions Directors” looks at the increasingly large gap between what senior admissions officers look for in future students and the focus college officials are now putting on bringing in more money. Undergraduate and graduate schools are encouraging their admissions officers to accept more “full-pay” students, including out-of-state and international students. However, “quality” is a problem. Four-year colleges report that 10% of the full-pay students admitted have lower grades and test scores than non-full pay admitted students.
The schools, especially the public ones, are facing conflicting missions. They are supposed to educate the residents of their states at reduced rates because their citizens pay the taxes that support the college or university. They are supposed to diversify and that means admitting students from a variety of backgrounds and socio-economic strata. They are supposed to increase revenue as states cut back on support for higher education, and they still need to balance their budgets. They are supposed to maintain educational quality – including hiring great faculty, attracting impressive students, and maintaining beautiful campuses. And of course in an increasingly international world, geographic diversity is one more ingredient to include in the always fuzzy definition of “diversity.”
If admissions directors feel conflicted, they have good reason to do so. They have accepted Mission Impossible.