Dominick J. White

Policy-Making: Pivoting in the Era of COVID

Currently, I serve as the Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions, and before this role, I did not have a seat at the leadership table. The creation of policy is a new endeavor, while it does excite me to become imaginative and creative with my problem-solving. I also feel a sense of trepidation at the thought of what new precedent will be set due to said policy. When creating policy, it is imperative to keep how the policy will impact how future decisions are made.

The way admissions offices review and evaluate applications has been significantly altered due to COVID-19. Historically, standardized test scores have been an integral part of the review process. Institutions have long used SAT/ACT test scores as one of the main criteria to predict potential success at the college level. However, due to the global pandemic, this testing has essentially been halted due to student safety concerns. Thus, sparking a firestorm across the country, with calls for universities to change admissions policy and become test-optional. While some institutions have had long-standing test-optional policies, most did not.

As a management team member, I was directly involved in proposing a policy on how to review admissions applications without having test scores available for review. To begin this process, we researched peer institutions to learn best practices for test-optional review. We then applied what we learned to our know population of applicants. We intended to create a holistic review process that is fair and just. After several iterations of the policy, we feel as though we have crafted a policy that considers industry best practices and how the policy will directly impact the students we serve.

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