The 'Rethinking Admissions' Conference

A gathering at Wake Forest University to discuss different systems for ranking colleges

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More and more higher education conferences are including discussions of the U.S. News "America's Best Colleges" rankings and their effects on higher education and admissions. Wake Forest University in North Carolina is holding a conference open to the general public titled "Rethinking Admissions" on April 15-16 that I will participate in; it will also include a debate on the role of college rankings in higher education.

My session, which promises to be lively, is called "Outcomes Assessment: Evaluating College Ranking Systems and the Meaning of College Success." The participants will include Jeffrey Brenzel, dean of admission at Yale University. He will speak broadly about how we should evaluate successful colleges. Also on the panel will be Richard Vedder, professor of economics at Ohio University and director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington, D.C., who will be talking about how to measure college performance generally and the first-ever Forbes magazine 2008 college rankings that he helped produce. I am going to speak on the strengths, weaknesses, and impact of our "America's Best Colleges" rankings, the Forbes rankings, and other rankings published internationally.

The main part of the conference will include sessions on the experiences of public and private universities with standardized tests; the relationship of family socioeconomic status to SAT scores; the utility of the new SAT in predicting grades and graduation rates; the challenges of crafting a freshman class, with particular emphasis on the academic and social goals of admissions; and the role of the high school record and admissions interviews.

Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Golden, senior editor at Condé Nast Portfolio, a former deputy bureau chief at the Wall Street Journal, and author of The Price of Admissions (2006), will give the keynote address, "Slumdog Ivy Leaguer."

I'll let you know how it turns out.