Trending in College Admissions; Non-Cognitive Assessments & More! Q&A with the Presenters

Trending in College Admissions; Non-Cognitive Assessments & More! Q&A with the Presenters

GuidedPath recently hosted a webinar called “Trending in College Admissions; Non-Cognitive Assessments & More! with Bill Dingledine and Blake Vawter. Bill Dingledine is a Certified Educational Planner (CEP) with 35 years experience in education. Additionally, Bill is the Chair of the Commission on Credentialing for the American Institute of Educational Planners (AICEP) and a teacher for the college counseling courses offered at Clemson University. Blake Vawter has been involved in progressive enrollment and admissions experiences spanning 20 years. Blake was involved in the implementation of non-cognitive variable assessment and continues as a certified Insight Resume reader at Oregon State. We were unable to get to all of the questions, so Bill and Blake,  in coordination with GuidedPath’s founder Cyndy McDonald, answered the remaining questions for you in this blog! Please email with any further questions.

Q: Are non-cognitive assessments are trend nationally? If so, what can you discuss/conclude?

Blake: There does seem to be a groundswell of interest in at least looking at other measurements. The Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice at USC hosted a conference in 2013 on non-cogs. AACRAO has also partnered with Dr. Sedlacek to consult with institutions on non-cogs.

Q: I had a student who was a lower achiever apply to OSU.  These questions were very helpful for him to provide insights to his background and values.  He was admitted and will be attending OSU in the fall. 

Cyndy: Having these non-cognitive measurements do so much is helping to put a student in context, and see more clearly what the student has to contribute to a campus community.

Q: Do you think there is an increasing trend for colleges to go “test-optional?”

Bill: Yes, I do think there is a definite trend. Less selective schools probably more so than more selective (just because the tests offer ‘one more level’ of assessment). As more colleges and admission offices assess what the tests mean to them, then I think we might see more colleges becoming test optional. We’ll see what the new SAT does to this.

Q: Will you talk about more examples of non-traditional “leadership.” Not everyone is a “leader.”

Blake: We’ve seen a number of examples throughout the years. For some, it’s being the oldest with younger siblings; some discuss leadership by example without a specific title or office; Native Americans that may not be an ‘elder’ but are looked up to within their peer group. Remember that our particular wording of the Insight Resume question asks about ‘Leadership or Contribution to a Group’. By allowing free-form student response, we get a multitude of examples of contributing to a group that may not be ‘official’ roles but their actions portray more than just a passive role.

Q: It appears they DO require the SAT test? Freshmen/First-year Admission Requirements Test Scores The newest version of the SAT and ACT exams include a written essay portion. OSU requires students graduating in the year 2006 and beyond to submit scores for the new SAT Reasoning Test including the written essay test, or ACT test scores including the ACT writing exam.

Blake: Yes, Oregon State does require submission of either SAT or ACT scores. However, there is no ‘minimum’ score that a student must meet. We use it in conjunction with HS GPA, strength of academic courses and the Insight Resume. I believe that someone either misspoke or misheard that detail.

Q: The short-question questions appear similar to the Common App essay questions. I can see how a school such as Oregon State, which does not use the Common App could implement these short-answer questions into their admissions process. But wouldn’t a student who applies to a Common App school be quite “”turned off”” if they had to do a six-question supplement as well as their choice of Common App essay(s)?

Bill: Perhaps; but if the student is “turned off”, then I’m not sure he or she should apply in the first place. If that student truly wants to attend OSU, then he or she will answer the questions OSU deems important for admission. There are some colleges (even CommonApp school) that internationally make their application ‘harder’ because they only want those who really want to apply (another form of ‘demonstrated interest’.

Q: Is the desire to increase diversity on campus the driving  factor behind the development of non-cognitive assessments or does it go beyond that?  Has there been any study tracking students after graduation to look for correlation between these factors and career success.

Blake: There is always a desire on most campuses to improve or maintain the diversity of its student body to provide a rich experience for the students. Non-cognitive assessments allow institutions to provide a tool for evaluating students that may not have had the same opportunities as others whether it be first-generation students,  students of color, older-than-average students or veterans.  The tools also allow for nuanced review of applicants to professional programs (i.e. law, medical) that attract students of similar academic achievement.  Non-cognitive assessments have much potential in extending beyond admission into student services, etc.  There has been much discussion on how far can we extrapolate the data.  While I would think that some of the characteristics remain with a student even beyond college, the assessment/data piece might not be as relevant as their college experience may have enhanced or altered their initial evaluation data and would need to be ‘re-measured’ for growth or change to be relevant or correlative to career success.

Q: Are Oregon State applicants required to answer all 6 of the insight resume questions or do they choose 1 to respond to?

Blake: Yes, all questions should be answered. However, some choose not to or don’t put in the effort they could, and the scores reflect that.

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