Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Fall/Winter 2013, Volume 14, Number 2
For over a century, admissions officers and enrollment managers have relied on external validation of merit in selective admission of undergraduates. A main criterion used for selection is standardized testing, i.e., the SAT and ACT. Since these tests have been long-suspected and then shown to contain class and race biases while not accurately predicting retention (Banerji), the Schedler Honors College at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) shifted to a holistic, multi-criterion selection process, de-emphasizing standardized tests, and then analyzed the outcomes. The statistical analysis served two goals. The first was to test whether variables in the admissions model, developed in 2007, predicted retention; the results led to changes in the weighting of variables for a revised rubric that we have used since 2010. The second goal was to improve enrollment of a more racially diverse population of students. Our findings demonstrated that most variables used in typical higher education admissions protocols did not accurately predict retention in the Schedler Honors College at UCA. Only one variable correlated to retention in honors, namely, high school grade point average (hsGPA). By increasing the value of hsGPA in the revamped selection rubric, UCA was able to increase rates of retention as well as diversity of incoming students.