The Case for Change in College Admissions


A Purposeful Meeting

In partnership with the Education Conservancy and through the generous support of the College Board,the Lumina Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation, the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice hosted, The Case for Change in College Admissions, in Los Angeles from January 26-28, 2011.

This was neither conference nor symposium.  Instead it was a purposeful meeting of 185 prominent scholars, policymakers, college leaders, and admission practitioners to discuss what is right about college admissions at class-crafting institutions, to identify what is wrong, and to collectively formulate a framework for changing college admissions to better serve the public interest and meet the nation¹s attainment goals.

This gathering was dynamic in process, and its outcomes consequential.

  • Participants actively learned about the current state of our admissions system from one another and from our distinguished speakers through a variety of presentation and discussion formats.
  • Keynote speakers included Andrew Delbanco, Robert Zemsky, Michael McPherson, Sandy Baum, Harry Brighouse and Roberto Rodriguez.
  • Event harvested knowledge and expertise that informed the creation of a summary document outlining specific admissions areas in need of change.
  • In addition to highlighting well-crafted arguments for change that include social, political and economic levers, this document also identifies individual, collective, legal, and leadership considerations that lie at the heart of a reform agenda.
  • This important document, which is being distributed among educational scholars, practitioners, and policymakers nationwide, will help to maximize the impact of the meeting and move the nation toward necessary college admissions reform in the social interest.


Presentations and Sessions

Please click on each day for the conference blog.

Day 1

  • College Admissions: Do We Do What We Say We Do?

Day 2

  • Defining Our Collective Charge
  • The Case for Change from the Perspectives of Educational Scholars: What We Do, Why, and With What Results
  • The Social Purpose of Sorting: An Economic Case
  • Ethical Exigencies and Opportunities: The Space for Moral Action
  • Why America Cannot Wait for Change in College Admissions

Day 3

  • Laying the Framework for Change in College Admissions: The Perspective of Enrollment Professionals
  • Laying the Framework for Change in College Admissions: Individual, Collective, Legal and Leadership Considerations
  • Next Steps in Developing an Action Plan for Change

Speakers and Available Presentations

Keynote Speakers:


Reading Materials

Admission/Enrollment Practices

College Access

Financial Aid


Public Good/College Outcomes

Media Coverage and Related Articles