The current college admission process is outdated and inefficient, Jeffrey Selingo argues in the Washington Post's "Grade Point" blog.
Today, online applications mean students can easily apply to numerous schools—ones they do not plan to attend or are highly unlikely to be accepted to.
"In many ways, applications are less useful to colleges now than they were in the pre-Internet days, and with advances in technology perhaps the time has come to rethink if the application is needed at all," writes Selingo, an Arizona State University professor.
Half of students who enroll in college never complete their degrees and one-third transfer at least once—suggesting that the system is not entirely working, Selingo argues.
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Instead, it may be possible in the future for colleges and universities to recruit based on data collected on students from an early age, according to Kevin Carey, author of "The End of College" and director of New America Foundation's education policy program.
Selingo likens the scenario to employers who proactively search LinkedIn for talent rather than waiting for potential new employees to apply. The professional networking site already has lowered its age barrier to 14—and as more high school students join, "the day might not be that far away when a LinkedIn profile becomes the foundation for a college application or the place where admissions officers search for their next class of freshmen."
It may even go beyond that, Selingo says. Admissions officers could potentially comb through MOOC enrollment lists to find high school students who are already engaged and successful in college-level courses.
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"It's an easier and cheaper way to find that diamond-in-the-rough student, and it's a safer bet that these students ultimately will succeed, given they're already doing the work," Selingo writes.
He points out that ASU's Global Freshman Academy already flips the admission process by allowing students to pay after they complete classes.
He acknowledges that basing admissions on MOOCs and online profiles may further the socioeconomic gap in higher education. However, the MOOC path may also build confidence in first-generation and low-income students, he argues, and help them attend elite colleges that may be able to serve them better (Selingo, "Grade Point," Washington Post, 4/27).
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