How is this for a truth bomb?
“The GRE is a better indicator of sex and skin color than of ability and ultimate success.”
That is the thesis of a recent essay by physics professors Casey Miller and Keivan Stassunis. They make a pretty convincing case against the current admission process to graduate school. Namely, the use of the graduate record examinations (GRE) — a standardized test introduced in 1949 that is an admissions requirement for most US graduate schools.
They claim that:
“De-emphasizing the GRE and augmenting admissions procedures with measures of other attributes — such as drive, diligence and the willingness to take scientific risks — would not only make graduate admissions more predictive of the ability to do well but would also increase diversity in STEM.”
Even if you don’t think that the latter is important, the former sure is. The PhD completion rate in the US right now is sitting at about 50 percent. All of these smarty pantses with their great test results don’t necessarily have what it takes to actually finish their work. Turns out test scores aren’t a great predictor of that.
What does predict PhD completion, then? Turns out it’s a combination of college and research experiences, key relationships, leadership experience, service to community, and life goals. The good news is, this is information that isn’t too tricky to find out. The bad news is, the best way to do that is in an interview. And many universities don’t want to take the time to interview scores of applicants.
But they should. The University of South Florida has recently folded an interview into their admission process, and has been seeing great results. Namely, PhD completion rates above 80 percent, and an increased diversity in their students. Which will ultimately make the whole world better.
Surely that’s worth a half hour interview? We think so. What do you think? Let us know, in the comments.