Change in the Admissions Evaluation Process: A Study of the Adoption of Committee-Based Evaluation at Selective Colleges and Universities

Yvonne M Romero, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

In the past two decades, major demographic shifts, increasing college applications, court rulings, public referenda, and increased public scrutiny on how admissions offices evaluate and select applicants have increased pressure on selective college and university admissions offices to change and adapt their college admissions practices. At the same time, individualized review of every applicant has emerged as the preferred standard for evaluation and selection as described by Justice O’Conner in the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger Supreme Court ruling. However, holistic, individualized review in its present, most pervasive form, whereby independent admissions officers read, evaluate, and summarize an entire application usually in isolation, is an expensive and highly resource-intensive process. This study used a case study approach to analyze how five admissions offices at selective American colleges and universities adopted or piloted committee-based evaluation (CBE) as their holistic evaluation process. In particular, this study explored the motivations for admissions leadership to implement change in their evaluation and selection processes and identified the resulting types of change that admissions offices experienced. Three main types of changes occurred: change to office productivity, change to admissions officer professional development, and change to office culture. The study also explored whether both structural and attitudinal changes were present, as defined by Adriana Kezar’s framework for first- and second-order change, in order to ascertain whether second-order change occurred through the adoption of CBE implementation. Finally, the study explored whether admissions leadership used vehicles for sensemaking to increase staff buy-in and manage uncertainty.^

Subject Area

Higher education administration|Management|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Romero, Yvonne M, "Change in the Admissions Evaluation Process: A Study of the Adoption of Committee-Based Evaluation at Selective Colleges and Universities" (2017). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI10599186.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI10599186

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