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New Focus in College & University Recruiting Criteria

By: Wendy Kaufmann

Historically, colleges and universities have looked to students’ ACT and SAT scores as the best predictors of academic success in their college years. While the tests are important factors to consider when reviewing admission applications, there is new thinking that additional factors may be equally meaningful during the evaluation process.

As featured in the Wall Street Journal, “Colleges Turn to Personality Assessments to Find Successful Students” author Douglas Belkin discusses how the process for admission into college is beginning to evolve. “With schools seeking to widen their net in their search for promising students, interest in non-cognitive, or non-academic, assessments has been growing. Of the approximately 3,000 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S., more than 850 are ‘test optional,’ with more than 100, including top-tier schools such as Bowdoin and Wake Forest, dropping the requirement in the last decade, according to Fair Test, a non-profit group critical of standardized testing.”

The Wall Street Journal article documents the story of Gabby Toro Rosa, a hardworking high school student, but a poor test-taker.  Her subpar standardized test scores would traditionally have made her a less than desirable college applicant, but opportunity came knocking when she learned that DePaul University was accepting a series of short essays in lieu of test scores.  The essay questions were crafted to allow applicants to demonstrate their social intelligence, “traits such as perseverance, adaptability and discipline” says Belkin.  Having been accepted at DePaul University, the now 20-year-old Ms. Toro Rosa is carrying a 3.63 grade-point average.  Her academic success supports the theory that broadening the criteria used for candidate selection beyond the standardized tests may result in boosting graduation rates.

“DePaul made tests optional in 2012 and allows applicants to substitute essays that reveal whether a student is disciplined, committed to service and goal-oriented.  That has helped the school identify hundreds of students who might not have met the traditional criteria”, said Jon Boeckenstedt, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul.  Most have been successful, he said.

While universities are still trying to determine the best way to measure soft skills, what is undeniable is the value of social intelligence skills in college pursuits. TRACOM’s social intelligence curricula includes SOCIAL STYLE, Behavioral EQ, and Adaptive Mindset for Resiliency programs. TRACOM offers discounts of up to 60% through its TRACOM Cares program.

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Click here to read the full article, “Colleges Turn to Personality Assessments to Find Successful Students.”


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