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July 11, 2018

Central Mass. colleges say federal guidance won't change admissions

Photo | Grant Welker UMass Medical School

Central Massachusetts colleges say they don’t expect to change their admissions reviews as a result of the Trump Administration's advisement that colleges no longer consider a student’s race or ethnicity in the admissions process. 

"The impact of the admissions process at Worcester State is minimal,” said Ryan Forsythe, the vice president for enrollment management at Worcester State University.

Worcester State has to be aware of guidance from the federal government, Forsythe said, but the university does not at all consider race or ethnicity when deciding whether to admit a student.

Clark University in Worcester and Nichols College in Dudley each said in a statement the schools don’t anticipate any changes in admissions practices, and Becker College in Worcester gave a similar reaction. 

“Becker College uses a holistic approach to our evaluation of applications during the selection process,” the college said, mentioning objective criteria such as GPA, class rank and standardized test scores, as well as objective considerations like essays, recommendations and extracurricular activities.

“A student’s personal background and history are always relevant to decisions to admit to the college,” Becker said. “We value a diverse applicant and student body and will continue to fairly and equitably assess students.”

Assumption College in Worceseter said race doesn’t play a role in admissions.

“Assumption College will continue to recruit all students — regardless of their race — who are interested in pursuing a college experience that is grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition and will form them as individuals known for critical intelligence, thoughtful citizenship and compassionate service,” Michael Guilfoyle, the executive director of communications for Assumption College, said in a statement.

UMass Medical School in Worcester said it is sticking with what it calls a holistic review of applicants.

Mariann Manno, the associate dean for admissions for the medical school’s School of Medicine, said admissions decisions take into account an applicant’s personal attributes, life experiences and academic metrics. The review is outlined by the Association of American Medical Colleges, she said.

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences said in a statement it will continue to use an approach described by the Council of Graduate Schools including consideration of a candidate’s academic performance, prior research experiences and accomplishments, and assessments of their commitment to a career in biomedical research and potential success in the field. 

Until last week, the federal guidance on admissions said colleges should be able to use consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions to create campus diversity, according to the industry publication Inside Higher Ed. The Trump Administration’s decision revoked that guidance.

Even if race or ethnicity plays no role in colleges locally, at least some institutions are seeing broader diversity nonetheless.

At Fitchburg State University, 29 percent of the student body identifies as non-white. At Worcester State, 28 percent of the student body identifies as minority or from multiple races, among the highest in the state, according to Forsythe.

"We're glad that more students from diverse backgrounds find their way to Worcester State,” he said.

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