Faculty to play larger role in admissions

The Department of Admissions at Tech recently began actively involving faculty into the admissions process in recruiting new students for the Institute. The department is trying to implement this approach to more accurately pick the best entering freshman class each year.

The concept is not new—in fact, Tech has been doing this for a few years now, but it is being implemented more intensively in the future. A number of Ivy League schools use this approach, as well as schools like MIT, Carnegie Mellon and even the UGA Honors Program. In some smaller private colleges, faculty are involved in all aspects of admissions.

The goal at Tech is to get the faculty to aid in the selection of students to increase their involvement. According to Rick Clark, the Director of Admissions, a more engaged body of faculty will better Tech’s stance as an institution.

A significant portion of applications for the entering class each year is international students, which is one of the main reasons admissions decided to implement this type of process.

“Initially, we started last year identifying faculty from some of the countries in which students are from,” Clark said.

This way, the faculty knows the curriculum and teaching methods of that particular country. For example, faculty from China or India are selected to observe interviews of Chinese and Indian students, respectively.

Shankar Venkataraman, a professor in the College of Business, helps review applications from India.

“India is home to a variety of high school educational certifying bodies. Given this variety, the problem is—how do you compare two students who may, on the surface, appear very similar, but have been trained by two very different certifying bodies?” Venkataraman said.

With that in mind, Venkataraman assists in screening and categorizing certain applications so he can get a sense of comparability and be able to, as he puts it, compare apples to apples.

In addition, Venkataraman said the two things he learned were that the number of applications from India have increased drastically from when he was an undergraduate, indicating the existence of academic development. Another point was that the impressive quality of the applicants stands as testimony to Tech’s reputation across the world.

The students whose applications are under review from faculty may or may not know that their applications are being reviewed more extensively.

“From a numerical standpoint, all students are amazing,” Clark said. “What separates them apart will be determined by the extra opinions that faculty can provide.”

Last year, admissions selected a small sample of 20-25 faculty members to try out the process, and many of them chose to participate again and move forward with the idea. It also gained a lot of positive feedback from those who participated, and in the results of the students that were admitted.

The fact is that the faculty who will actually be teaching the prospective students will have some sort of a say in who gets admitted, and that advice will ultimately make an impact in the selection of the entering class each year.