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WFU Provost › Rethinking Admissions


Jill Tiefenthaler, Provost, Wake Forest Univeristy

Conference Sponsor

Jill Tiefenthaler


Wake Forest University

Online Media Center

On April 15 and 16, 2009, Wake Forest University will host top admissions officers and leading researchers from Berkeley, Duke, Harvard, Ohio State, Princeton, Texas, Virginia, Yale and other universities along with the director of data research for U.S. News & World Report for the Rethinking Admissions conference. Participants will present papers and discuss the latest research on standardized testing, diversity, creativity, college ratings and how to evaluate success in college. The two-day event will be followed by a public lecture on April 21, featuring Robert Sternberg, Dean of Tufts University, who will report on Tuft’s experiment with essay questions as predictors of success in college.


University admissions policies, and the tools used in the process, are complex and raise a number of interesting research questions. What role should standardized testing play in admissions practices? How well does high-school GPA and class rank predict college grades and graduation? How should personal promise for creativity and leadership be evaluated? How heavily should extracurricular accomplishments be weighed? What is the best way to craft a class for academic excellence and social diversity?

Please join us for reports from some of America’s top academicians, research scientists, and administrative leaders in higher education to discuss these critical subjects. Admissions officers from Duke University, Harvard University, Spelman College, Tufts University, University of Virginia, University of Texas at Austin, and Wake Forest University will join scholars from Bowling Green State University, Princeton University, Ohio State University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Georgia, and Wake Forest University. Author Daniel Golden, who won the Pulitzer Prize for a series of articles he wrote on inequities in college admissions, will deliver the keynote address on April 15. His presentation titled Slumdog Ivy Leaguer, will draw parallels between the obstacles faced by low-income students trying to get into Ivy League schools and the homeless hero in the Academy Award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.

Cost and Location

All sessions are free and open to the public, and held on the Reynolda Campus of Wake Forest University.


On the morning of Wednesday April 15, two panels will report on the experiences of public and private universities with standardized tests. Topics will include new findings on the predictive power of the SAT by gender, race and family socioeconomic status (SES) and the effects of going SAT optional on both the social diversity and academic quality of undergraduates. Research also will be presented from the only national, empirical study to date by independent academics on the validity of the new SAT.

The afternoon session will examine the challenges of crafting a class, with particular emphasis on the academic and social goals of admissions. Daniel Golden, former Deputy Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal, and author of The Price of Admissions (2006), will give the Keynote Address in the afternoon.

On Thursday April 16, two morning sessions will assess the role of the high school record and admissions interviews, and discuss predicting creativity. Afternoon presentations will focus on evaluating student success in college. How do we measure student success? Are there alternatives to graduation rates and the college GPA? In turn, how does one measure the value-added provided by a college education? In the conference’s final session, the dean of admissions at Yale, an outspoken critic of commercial magazine college rankings, will exchange views with U.S. News & World Report’s director of data research, and the economics professor who developed Forbes new college ratings system. They will be delving into the question of how much consumer magazine rating reports actually tell us about the quality of America’s colleges, and the role they play in student success.

View the Program

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