Traditional admissions criteria can unintentionally select against women and underrepresented minorities. Making decisions that select for students who will succeed and become productive scientists calls for a more holistic look at these important decisions. A student’s path, ability to persevere and self-assess are important to success, and should be considered along with knowledge of physics and mathematics.
- Develop procedures for more individualized attention, including interviews of candidates, contacting references and reviewing grades from courses taken after the admission deadline to verify academic trajectory.
- Screen applications using methods that go beyond traditional metrics and probe forresearch potential and evaluations of non-academic performance including perseverance, responses to confronting adversity, self-assessment of weaknesses, having long-range goals, demonstrating leadership, etc.
- Use student’s stated research interests and flexibility in those areas to facilitate a good match between student and research mentor.
- Use an interview protocol (Skype, videoconference, etc.) to target students that might be excluded (lack of previous research record, lower scores in standardized measures, etc.) but otherwise show promise, or to target individuals that would improve the balance of an entering graduate class.
- When considering applications from students seeking admission into a bridge program, admit students with potential and who meet program requirements directly into PhD program instead of into a pre-doctoral program.
Tools and Resources for Practitioners
The Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program has made resources, strategies, and tools they have developed available online to practitioners in the field seeking to develop similar programs. Resources and tools include interview protocols, admissions rubrics, program orientation materials and many others.