Sybil Low by Sybil Low

Holistic and equitable admissions rely significantly on context, a recent study by the American Educational Research Association (AERA) suggests. As reported by Inside Higher Ed, the AERA Open journal’s research emphasizes the importance of factoring in students’ school, neighborhood, and family resources when evaluating their high school grades and standardized test scores.

Woman shrugging
✅ AI Essay Writer ✅ AI Detector ✅ Plagchecker ✅ Paraphraser
✅ Summarizer ✅ Citation Generator

Key Takeaways:

  • Assessing student backgrounds can lead to diverse college admits who succeed.
  • Contextualized GPAs correlate three times more strongly with college success than raw ACT scores.
  • Supreme Court’s stance on affirmative action makes contextual data more pivotal for equitable admissions.

Such an approach has proven effective in identifying underserved students who are highly likely to perform well in college.

“This study shows that they needn’t worry so much; they can be confident those students will succeed,”

Moreover, the findings indicate that high school GPAs, when considered in context, are almost thrice as predictive of college success as raw ACT scores.

The Supreme Court’s decision against affirmative action emphasizes the importance of this contextual data. As Michael Bastedo, co-author of the study and associate dean for research at the University of Michigan’s Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, explains, institutions will now actively seek legal ways to ensure equity in admissions.

“It’s a good chance to lean into this strategy of truly holistic review.”

stated by Bastedo

Practical Implementation: The Challenge and Some Solutions

Translating the insights from this research into actual admissions practices is complex. While holistic admissions can be challenging to implement, there are existing models that offer potential pathways. Texas’s policy, for instance, guarantees admission to any public university for the state’s top 10% high school graduates. This approach, instituted in 1997 after affirmative action was briefly rendered illegal, might serve as an effective strategy to maintain diversity in admissions, especially in light of recent legal decisions.

“The students who come in through the Texas top 10 percent program do just as well academically as students who are admitted through the holistic process.”


However, implementing such models isn’t free from controversy. In 2019, the introduction of SAT adversity scores by the College Board sparked widespread debate. Critics argued that it oversimplified the diverse life experiences of students. Ultimately, the proposal was replaced with Landscape, a more holistic data analysis tool. Richard Kahlenberg, who worked on the Landscape in 2019, views it as a refined version of the adversity score, allowing admissions officers to construct their personalized evaluations.

The Future of Admissions

With the changing landscape of college admissions and the Supreme Court’s stance on affirmative action, it becomes essential for universities to explore new strategies. While the AERA study’s recommendations might not be groundbreaking, they provide a starting point for institutions to address inequities.

James Murphy, deputy director of higher ed policy for the progressive think tank Education Reform Now, encapsulates the sentiment, stating:

“Is it a game changer? No, it’s another tool that will help chip away at all of the unfairness and inequity that’s baked into the system.”

The consensus remains: while no singular strategy might be the definitive answer, the commitment to try innovative solutions is paramount.


Opt out or Contact us anytime. See our Privacy Notice

Follow us on Reddit for more insights and updates.

Comments (0)

Welcome to A*Help comments!

We’re all about debate and discussion at A*Help.

We value the diverse opinions of users, so you may find points of view that you don’t agree with. And that’s cool. However, there are certain things we’re not OK with: attempts to manipulate our data in any way, for example, or the posting of discriminative, offensive, hateful, or disparaging material.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Register | Lost your password?