Winter Retreat Progress Report Out 2021
February 12, 2021
Committee Members: Tracy Schroepfer, Michelle Helmer, Katie Larsen-Klodd, Steph Van Pay, Mackenzie Otterson, Cindy Waldeck, Alison Meier, Amanda Zuehlke, Tom Wirth, Patricia Egan, Annette Copa, Brenda Heideman, Amanda Ngola, Jake Shuldies, Stefanie Primm, Sarah Valencia, Josh Lapin, Lucas Moore, Jessica Pac, Yoona Kim, Evelyn Coker & Michael Hoffmeister.
Strategic Plan Goal: Increase the diversity of our students, (staff, faculty, and other governing bodies.)
Objective: Increase the acceptance numbers of applicants of color and those identifying as male and gender non-conforming by determining and addressing barriers that current admissions policies and processes may present.
- Progress Made:
Six recent accomplishments have focused on achieving this goal.
- The first accomplishment was the revision of admission essay questions to seek to remove bias and emphasize the diversity that applicants bring to the profession.
- The second was the removal of the requirement for official transcripts at time of application to prevent transcription fees from being a financial barrier.
- Third, a greater granularity of scoring has been created that seeks to ensure a more objective review.
- Fourth, to increase the impartiality of the reviewing process, the School’s application developer, Peter Doksus, created a review system that provides the Committee with more control over the information visible to reviewers.
- Fifth, the Part-Time MSW Program has partnered with the Division of Continuing Studies (DCS) regarding recruitment. DCS has assigned an enrollment coach to contact applicants and offer assistance with the application process, including determining eligibility, discussing what actions to take to ensure a strong application, and reading essays and providing general feedback. The Admissions Committee works closely with the enrollment coach.
- Sixth, the Full-Time MSW Program hired Cindy Waldeck to serve as the School’s Recruitment specialist. Cindy’s role is similar to the PTP’s enrollment coach.
- The Admissions Committee has created and posted on the School’s website an instructional video on how to develop a strong application. In addition to the video, the Admissions Chair now holds webinars for FTP and PTP applicants on the admissions and review process.
- Due to COVID, the Admissions Committee voted and approved 1) being lenient with the application materials deadlines when possible; and 2) placing less emphasis on student grades for the Spring 2020 semester when students’ learning was impacted by the pandemic and lockdown.
- Lacking control over our application and review process has served to create a number of barriers for MSW applicants. Peter Doksus has given us back some of that control with the creation of an application review process that takes place through the Social Work Information Management System (SWIMS) system rather than through the Graduate School. This system allows the Admissions Committee to make changes as needed to ensure an accessible application process and a fair review process.
- Action Steps moving forward:
- Continue to work with the Graduate School and be vocal about changes the Admissions Committee would like to see made in the School’s admissions application process and policies.
- The Committee will explore the option of moving the SSW application process completely out from under the Graduate School Admissions by meeting with other schools on campus, like the Business School, who have already made this move.
- Once this year’s admissions cycle ends:
- Cindy Waldeck will follow-up with students who ultimately decided not to apply, ascertain why they made that decision, and use this data to avoid losing other students to similar situations in the future
- Committee members will assess how the cycle went and what areas upon which improvements can be made by analyzing applicant data and scores.
- Offer our admissions reviewers the opportunity to provide feedback via an anonymous Qualtrics survey and/or focus group.
- Based on the results of these action, the Committee will determine what changes need to be made to the admissions process and application, and work over the summer to make them prior to next year’s admissions cycle.