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Reimagining College Admissions

Began in May 2024

Recent developments in the college admissions process and declines in college enrollment, especially among students of color, have led policymakers and practitioners to call for changes in the strategies used to recruit and select students. For instance, the Supreme Court’s ban on race-conscious admissions, the increase in test-optional admissions in the wake of the pandemic, and decreases in enrollment—and therefore revenue—provide just a few examples. This challenging landscape has presented systems and institutions of higher education with an opportunity to innovate the admissions process in hopes of removing barriers, better serving students, and welcoming greater numbers of students of color to campus.

Research for Action (RFA) is partnering with the Lumina Foundation as part of its Great Admissions Redesign initiative. Over the next 16 months, RFA will gather, analyze, and disseminate information on designing and implementing innovative approaches in postsecondary admissions at the state, system, and institutional levels. In addition, we will design research projects that will provide new knowledge and evidence to advance systems change and promote equitable outcomes in admissions for students of color.

In keeping with our commitment to community-engaged research and working cooperatively with those whose lived experience will intersect with the decisions that result from our research, the Reimagining College Admissions project will convene advisory groups to help design the research and evaluation projects and processes, including research questions, methods, and data collection activities. The study will produce:

  • A literature review that will synthesize the related research to date and identify gaps in our knowledge;
  • Logic models and profiles of states, systems, and institutions that are designing and advancing new admissions policies and practices;
  • Reports from evaluation and research studies to advance knowledge and understanding of equitable college admissions practices; and
  • An online toolkit with interactive elements showcasing innovative models, research and learning opportunities.