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Highlights from Higher Ed: Will UC Drop its SAT Requirement? And Takeaways from the Harvard Admissions Ruling

Will UC drop its SAT requirement?

The University of California was instrumental in implementing the SAT as an admission requirement among universities 50 years ago. The UC system, as the nation’s leading research university, is once again tasked with guiding the future of standardized testing among American universities. Although leaders will not make a decision regarding standardized testing requirements until next year, UC’s decision will likely influence many other universities and the testing industry itself.  

Source: Los Angeles Times

Takeaways from the Harvard admissions ruling

In a recent lawsuit, a federal judge ruled that Harvard could continue to consider a student’s race in its admissions process in its aspiration to curate a diverse class. The plaintiffs claimed “that Harvard had intentionally discriminated against Asian Americans, used race as a predominant factor in admissions decisions, used racial balancing and considered the race of applicants without first exhausting race-neutral alternatives.” The plaintiffs pointed out that Asian American applicants steadily performed lower in Harvard’s personal ratings than other races. The judge acknowledged this disparity but found it to be too small to reflect intentional discrimination. Harvard has since updated its admissions procedures. For example, it changed the personal rating criteria for students and directed officers to consider the race or ethnicity of a student as one factor among many.

Source: The New York Times

Can better sleep habits lead to better grades?

An experiment that studied college students’ sleeping habits found that there was a strong relationship between how much sleep students got and the grades they received. The study focused on 100 engineering students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who wore Fitbits for an entire semester. The results found “essentially a straight-line relationship between the average amount of sleep a student got and their grades on the 11 quizzes, three midterms and a final exam, with the grades ranging from As to Cs”. The study also found that getting a good night’s sleep before a big exam or test had no effect on test scores. What actually made a difference was the amount of sleep a student got when the most learning occurred. The study also found that women, on average, had higher grades than men, which may be explained by the fact that “women tend to have better sleep habits than men.” 

Source: MIT News

How community colleges can better support their students

In a recent survey, more than half of community college students reported that they struggle to balance their family, work and school responsibilities. In hopes of helping struggling students, many community colleges are implementing the guided pathways model, “in which [colleges] provide students a clear roadmap of which classes they need to take to earn a credential or to transfer to a four-year institution.” These efforts are made in tandem with other services colleges can provide to remove barriers that keep students from graduating, such as mental health counseling and help with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications for those concerned about food security. Understanding the differences that students of different ethnic backgrounds face in college experiences is also important in the effort to “help close equity gaps in student outcomes.”

Source: Diverse Education