Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Higher Education Admissions Practices

Cathy Wendler

The new year brings with it wishes for health and happiness. But for many secondary school students, the beginning of the year also brings anxiety about completing college applications, apprehension waiting for admissions decisions, and worries about obtaining adequate funding. Given the angst that college admissions often brings, some might wonder if going to college is really worth it. Across the globe, higher levels of education are perceived as a way to help guarantee future economic stability by opening occupational doors and other opportunities, especially for students from groups who historically have not had such possibilities. But should all students have access to higher education? Are current college admissions procedures really fair and equitable? How do different countries address the myriad of issues facing higher education? When Maria Elena Oliveri and I agreed to be editors for the book, Higher Education Admissions Practices: An International Perspective, we wanted to examine these questions from a global perspective. In order to do so, we sought out and asked international experts to explore and provide insights into these issues. The results were illuminating and informative.

The book considers challenges related to access, diversity, and equity facing college admissions across the globe. At a country level, societal values shape attitudes towards fairness and access to higher education. But in reality, opportunities for student learning at the secondary level, the number of available study places at a college, and the availability of adequate financing often drive how accessible higher education really is.

The book dissects college admissions from many different angles. First, different college admissions models are explored in depth including the elements that differ or are in common across the models (such as the type of materials, test scores, and other criteria used to make admissions decisions), and the social underpinnings of the models.  Next, college admissions procedures practiced in different countries are presented, allowing readers to understand common goals and challenges faced across the world. These countries represent a sample of countries from around the globe, and readers will come away with an understanding of both the philosophical and historical foundations that form each country’s approach to higher education.  A critical analysis of the various measures – scores from tests that measure academic knowledge, ability, language skills, and psychosocial aspects of students – comes next. Experts discuss the benefits, challenges, and limitations for each measure and provide suggestions for future research to strengthen the use of them in college admissions. Finally, the book moves readers beyond current concepts of college admissions to focus on innovative future perspectives. Alternatives to how the entire process might be revised and maintained will compel readers to rethink the purpose and goals of admissions.

We believe that readers will come away with a new point of view on the importance of college admissions, and be well-informed on the challenges that face higher education across the globe.

Higher Education Admissions Practices, Edited by María Elena Oliveri and Cathy Wendler

Higher Education Admissions Practices, Edited by María Elena Oliveri and Cathy Wendler

About The Author

Cathy Wendler

Cathy Wendler is the Senior Strategic Advisor in the Psychometric, Statistics, and Data Sciences Division at Educational Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey. Her research areas ...

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