Admissions Scandals and Realities

Posted by: Jo Allen, President

Johnson Hall

Jo Allen, ’80, is the eighth president of Meredith College, a top-tier nationally-ranked institution and one of the largest private colleges for women in the U.S. A national advocate for higher education, she is the first alumna to lead the 128-year-old institution.

The recent admissions scandal involving families of privilege buying their child’s way into a top-tier university has drawn more attention to the question most frequently asked by potential students and their families: What does it take to get into your institution? In this blog post, President Allen discusses Meredith’s uniquely holistic admissions process.

As a college president, I am often asked what it takes for a student to be accepted at Meredith.  Of course, we certainly admit well-qualified and even brilliant women, but most students, families or questioners push back on that response: Yes, but what exactly does it take? What SAT or ACT score? What high school GPA? How many and what kinds of volunteer activities? What else?

Meredith College, grounded in its uniqueness, may have a surprising answer. Although our Impact Scholarship does follow the formula guarantee of admittance and scholarship with a 3.3 high school GPA + an 1100 SAT or 22 ACT = $20,000 annual (renewable) scholarship, our general admissions standards do not reflect a neat formula – this SAT + that GPA + those activities = the definitive admissions decision: you’re in, you’re not.

Meredith’s Admissions Process

Rather, our standards are best described as the building blocks we use to reinforce the bonds and uniqueness of the College: What do you bring to the college and community? Intellect? Talent? Passion? Spirit? A different geographic, social, economic, racial, political, or other background? Other factors? And, equally important, will you benefit from what we offer: rigorous and well-supported experiences that will encourage you to develop your strengths for a powerful college – and life – adventure?

Attracting and admitting scholars, athletes, leaders, musicians, artists, scientists, and community advocates characterize the real work of Meredith College’s Admissions team as it seeks to build an inclusive community of student talents, interests, passions, backgrounds, and more.

We look for deep thinkers, quiet doers, creative entrepreneurs, compassionate listeners, articulate visionaries, relentless problem solvers, confident risk-takers, inspiring leaders, and reliable collaborators. If the descriptors’ range sounds far-flung, it is … because we seek a range of personalities and abilities and because we know you are so much more than a test score.

Why This Approach?

First, we know all women are special and their unique experiences and talents and passions – and, yes, intellect – coalesce at Meredith to create a dynamic environment where exploring, questioning, articulating, testing, experiencing all sorts of ideas, issues, and adventures create the very best college experience for you and everyone else.

Second, we know women crave opportunities to express themselves through writing, the arts, research, performances, design, problem-solving, and more; they want to have their thoughts, opinions, investigations, and perspectives heard.

Third, they are intellectually and socially curious and want to understand the who, what, when, where, why, how, and how much of so many subject areas and current events.

And finally, the sisterhood at Meredith supports an energetic population of explorers who challenge and encourage each other inside and outside the classroom, far extending the kind and quality of learning and engagement at other institutions. Countless times, our students turn to each other for help understanding difficult concepts, just as they provide that help to others. Equally often, our students cheer for each other as they prepare for a hard test, pack for a semester abroad, or practice for an internship interview. And they support each other when nursing a broken heart, facing a tough decision, or getting some special downtime with friends.  Best of all, that sisterhood and support last a lifetime.

A Mutually Supportive Community

In short, Meredith seeks students who will contribute to this community and benefit from it. Academic preparation is certainly one indicator of likely success, but it is hardly sufficient to gauge your ability to thrive here … or to help others thrive. For that, we look beyond scores and averages and other standard admissions formulaic metrics. We look to see the whole you because, honestly, we think you are more interesting than those cold metrics might suggest, and we can’t wait to welcome you to Meredith.

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