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Behind the Scenes of College Admissions: What Really Matters

February 22, 2023
Student Recruitment

Colleges and universities receive countless applications every year, making the admissions process an incredibly difficult task. What are the key indicators of future success? Are good grades in high school a guarantee that students will also perform well in college? How important are extracurricular activities? With more university students than ever (and therefore more applications than ever), it can be tempting for universities to focus solely on the academic credentials of each applicant. However, in order to create a diverse and inclusive community, universities should not overlook the importance of admitting students who, besides a possibly great GPA, share the same values/goals as the institution.

Universities are home to thousands of students. Although having such a large number of students will ensure there are always enough interesting new people to meet, universities have struggled with providing a real sense of community. 

If lots of students have values/goals that differ from the university, then expectations, desires and approach may clash. Some students may believe they are just there to get a degree, some are there to have a great social life, and some are just passionate about their particular study. These differences can lead to no real sense of a common ground or community. In turn, a lack of community sense can mean that lots of individuals and groups feel distanced from the institution, and are only involved or engaged with their own small little groups. When admitting students who are aligned with the values of the institution, students are more likely to contribute to the community and participate in extracurricular activities, making the university a more vibrant and exciting place to be.

In addition to creating a more engaging community, admitting students who share the values of the institution can help to promote the university's mission and vision. When students align with the values of the institution, they are more likely to be passionate about the university's goals and contribute to its success. This can result in a stronger and more successful institution overall. Many universities have a well-written mission statement all over their website and campus, but how many students actually remember it? And more importantly, how many actually feel connected with it?

Admitting students who share the values/goals of the institution can also help to create a more inclusive environment. Although our backgrounds, beliefs, preferences and orientation may (and should be) different, having common values helps provide direction. As many universities are becoming more and more international, this direction can help unite students from all around the world. This is much more difficult if students are unbothered by the values of the university and are there purely for their own goals.

Although values may be intangible and hard to detect in applications, universities should be encouraged to admit students who have displayed behaviour in line with university beliefs. For instance, if a university’s slogan is “creating the leaders of tomorrow”, should a student’s math GPA be weighed just as much as their actual demonstration of leadership (e.g. extracurricular and volunteering activities)? The answer depends, but it should be a question that universities revisit often. 

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