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A Radical Change for Admissions

A Radical Change for Admissions

Inside Higher Ed

Scott Jaschik
June 6, 2022
Imagine a new way for colleges to admit students: students don’t apply. They just create a single, basic portfolio, showing their grades, their interests and relevant information. They can include their test scores if they want to. Colleges would then look at the portfolios and make offers of admission, without even knowing the names of the students. And what about those students who want to go to Harvard University (or equally competitive colleges)? They would go on using the current system. This is not an admissions system for them.
The new system exists. It is a company called Concourse that has been using the system to admit international students to American and international universities for the last two years. Last year, the company also conducted an experiment on the U.S. market, with a target of getting low-income students from Chicago into college. On the basis of that success, Concourse is planning to expand to five or six cities in the fall.
The idea is “flipping the script on traditional admissions,” the company explains on its website.
In the last year, the program had 2,091 international students participate and 658 students from the Chicago area. Joe Morrison, the CEO, said those numbers are small because the program is new. In the next year, he is planning to expand by four or five times.
David Hawkins, chief education and policy officer for the National Association for College Admission Counseling, said he sees Concourse as “an innovative, possibly disruptive, approach to connecting students with colleges and vice versa.”
The problem Concourse is solving is that “increased complexity in the application process appears to create more inequity,” Hawkins said. So “reducing complexity would, we think, make the process more equitable, instead of requiring students to complete multiple applications that creates redundancies with information about them that is readily available.” In NACAC’s recent joint report with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators on promoting equity in admissions, “we envisioned a system in which a student’s record and associated information could be conveyed to colleges directly from the secondary school. Concourse is a good example of how this is already being implemented and of how we can invite colleges to ‘apply’ for students.”
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