Amelia Herring

Student Admissions: What do You Need to Test For?

Student Admissions: What do You Need to Test For?
Amelia Herring

With enrollment in higher education down, it is now more important than ever that we do everything possible to bring in student candidates that have the best opportunities to succeed and stay through completion.

This starts with the student admissions process.

First, we need to start by testing every student applicant. This means making sure you’re asking the right questions, like:

  1. Does the prospective student have the cognitive ability to successfully complete the program?
  2. Are there other risk factors impacting an applicant that could limit their ability?
  3. Does the potential student have the required level of proficiency in English and math?
  4. Will they need remediation?

Cognitive Ability
Let’s start with testing students for cognitive ability. By definition, cognitive ability is an individual’s ability to learn, adapt, solve problems, and understand instructions. General aptitude tests help schools match candidates with programs that are consistent with their abilities.

Cognitive ability is the number one predictor of success in the classroom (and on the job), so testing for this before admission allows schools to accurately predict if a student has the capability to make it to completion. Minimum scores are set by each program. If the candidate scores below the minimum, schools can recommend tutoring, remedial classes, or delay admissions.

Risk Factors

All prospective and current students carry a certain degree of personal risk factors that strongly influence their ability to be successful in completing their education. Setting up a standard “student risk profile” allows schools to identify demographic and life situations (i.e., hours working, transportation, childcare, financial constraints) that are challenges to a student’s success.

If identified early in the admission process, schools can often time take steps to lessen their impact. It is important to note that every single one of your students, as well as those applying to your program, has stressors outside of school. Understanding them early can be the difference between failure and success.

Basic Skills

According to recent estimates, approximately 40% of college freshman enter school needing some level of remediation. If you admit a student and later find out they don’t have the math and verbal skills necessary to be successful in your program, both you and the student are going to be fighting an uphill battle.

By administering a basic skills assessment, you will know exactly what areas they need to strengthen. If they are not up to your school’s standards for admission, you can offer them remedial classes or tutoring to help them brush up on their skills.

Understanding the cognitive ability level, potential risk factors, and the basic math and verbal skills of your prospective students will allow you to make enrollment decisions that can improve completion rates, reduce loan default rates, and pave the way to success.

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