UMass to change admissions policy

GW admissions officials said they have no plans to change their admissions system in an era when other colleges, such as the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, move away from an affirmative action admission policy.

With greater numbers of applications flooding admissions offices nationwide, universities have found they need to refine selectivity requirements.

Administrators at UMass are doing away with their old system in favor of a point system. The system, which developed from an interim policy in place last year, will take effect this fall, according to a UMass press release.

In the new system, race is only one of a number of factors used to assess an applicant’s potential contribution to diversity, according to the University press release. The institution revised its policy because of concerns about lawsuits challenging the credibility of affirmative action policies, according to the press release.

In the first stage of the UMass point system, high school GPA and combined SAT scores of each applicant is evaluated based on a sliding scale.

Those with the highest scores go under file review, the lowest scores go under rejects, and the rest go under point review.

In this last group, each applicant is assigned points in categories like GPA, state residency, achievement and diversity. Those with the highest total points will be offered admission.

Sammie Robinson, an associate director of Admissions at GW, described the system as complex. GW also divides applicants into initial categories, but Robinson said they don’t have a set system like UMass does.

Basically, what GW is going to look at is a student’s performance in the context of their high school, Robinson said. Then, we do look at other factors, such as any kind of adversity that they have overcome and extra strengths as well.

He said other background information important to consider is whether the student was able to take advanced placement or honors courses, is the first generation in college or is from a professional background.

According to the release, officials examined (their) own practices and policies, studied the available research on the subject, considered the experience and plans of other institutions across the country and drew heavily on the advice and feedback of the Admissions Task Force appointed last spring.

Grace Henry, a counselor at GW’s Multicultural Student Center, said UMass is basically looking for a vehicle to level the playing field.

They are trying to take a step to better the position of many racial and ethnic minorities in reference to education in America, Henry said.

She said the potential students of different ethnic, economic and racial backgrounds with whom she has spoken are more concerned with financing their education.

Robinson said GW has no plan to change its system now.

What we’ve done here has served us well, but I can’t honestly say that it’s the best way or that we won’t re-evaluate it in the future, Robinson said.

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