Getting into the University of B.C. means more than making the grade
Undergraduates’ life experiences now count in addition to academic achievements.
UBC is expanding its undergraduate admissions policies to ensure that the best – as well as the brightest – students have every opportunity for a university education.
A broad-based admissions process will be in place for 2013/14 at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Applicants will be considered on the basis of such things as their life experiences, out-of-the-classroom learning and personal goals in addition to academic performance.
Faculty members believe broad-based admissions will showcase a student’s characteristics and strengths, enhance classroom discussion and help differentiate talents aside from academic standings in order to make an informed decision about applicants.
“We feel a great deal of excitement about doing a better job selecting the best possible students for UBC by valuing things that all educators prize,” said Gordon Binsted, dean of the faculty of health and social development.
The faculty comprises of the dchools of health and exercise sciences, nursing and social work.
“For our programs, the reflection of a student’s success goes beyond the grading process and lets us differentiate values,” said Binstad.
“We can have a better look at competencies, leadership and other attributes of students who have a chance for success.”
Essentially, students will be able to tell their own story. Applicants will answer four to six “personal profile” questions, in addition to providing secondary-school marks.
The questions give applicants an opportunity to talk about their learning, life experiences and goals.
Jan Cioe, head of the psychology unit of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, says the current level of academic success among high school graduates makes it difficult to distinguish students based solely on grades.
“Probably one of the most important elements is the strong empirical evidence that the dimensions of broad-based admissions will help predict how students will succeed, despite not having top marks.”
Cioe suggests educators will see a difference in the classroom.
“These kinds of students will provide a richer environment for classroom discussions,” she said. “They will be able to draw from their personal experience and that will have a definite value for the quality of discussions.”
Binsted cites an example where an 18 year old plays a major role in a single-parent family by taking care of siblings.
“As a result, their high-school marks may not be up to their capability, but their life experience gives them an added depth of character,” says Binsted. Measures such as family responsibilities, overcoming adversity, volunteer service, hobbies and community engagement are valuable ways to predict a student’s success, says Binsted.
Responses to personal profile questions will also be used as eligibility criteria for major entrance scholarships, international major entrance scholarships and the outstanding international student award.
The broad-based application process – centred on grades and personal experiences – has been used across UBC’s Vancouver campus since last January for applicants of direct-entry undergraduate programs.
In 2011, fully 25 per cent of all first-year students at the Vancouver campus were already being admitted with the broad-based approach.
“These experiences show that by including personal profile questions, UBC is building a more diverse student body,” said Fred Vogt, UBC deputy registrar.