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Admissions to use new system

As the University's Office of Admissions prepares to begin reviewing prospective students' applications in the next few days, officials no longer will be using a weighted scoring system to rate applicants.

The scoring system -- which has been used for the past few years -- was eliminated last spring at the recommendation of University President John T. Casteen III.

Casteen said earlier this semester that he was concerned that such a scoring system did not fit in an equal opportunity admissions model "because every applicant is entitled to the same consideration."

Although he has said race should be considered as a factor in admissions, it should not be quantitatively measured in a scoring system.

Race and other personal qualities still will be used as a factor in admissions, but not as part of a point system, Dean of Admissions John A. Blackburn said.

In the scoring system, applicants were assigned a rating based on both academic and non-academic factors, Blackburn said.

For example, a strongly qualified applicant that might be at the level of an Echols Scholar or Rodman Scholar would be given a rating of 20. After the final reading, those students would be entered into the system with a rating of 25, to distinguish Echols and Rodman Scholars from other students.

But a high rating is not the deciding factor in admissions, Blackburn said, noting that the Office has to consider other factors, such as maintaining a 65-35 percent ratio of in-state students to out-of-state students.

The scoring system rates students primarily based on academic qualifications, but also considers factors such as socioeconomic status, race and artistic ability, he said.

The change will not affect final admissions outcomes and also will not affect minority enrollment, Blackburn said.

Although the Office of Admissions no longer will use the scoring system, it will continue its policy of rating applicants by using written evaluations, he said.

As a result of the procedural change, the Office of Admissions will have to re-read about 3,000 to 5,000 applications in March when deciding who will receive final admissions offers. In previous years, under the scoring system, officials only had to read about 400 to 600 applications in March, Blackburn said.

The Office of Admissions is planning ahead to tackle the extra workload.

"We've spent the summer trying to figure out how to do it," Blackburn said. "We are developing it as we go.

"We will get it done if we're here day and night, through the winter," he said.

In September the University approved the hiring of additional staff members for the Office of Admissions. The increased staff will help the office handle the extra work, Casteen said.

Officials probably will begin reading early decision applications by the end of the week. The new system will be refined before regular decision applicants are considered, Blackburn said.