Diversity

Medical Schools Limited on Use of Race in Admissions Decisions but Still Seek to Promote Diversity

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Education Department is requiring the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center medical school to discontinue its practice of factoring race into its admissions decisions. The medical school agreed to a deal with the Education Department in order to end the long-running federal investigation into its use of affirmative action. In 2003, after the Supreme Court ruled that race was admissible as a factor in admissions decisions in Grutter v. Bollinger, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center resumed use of race as a criteria in admissions decisions. In 2004, the Center for Equal Opportunity filed a complaint against the school, and the next year the Education Department began the investigation, which this agreement concludes.

Texas Tech had previously ceased using its affirmative action policy for admissions in the pharmacy school in 2008 and for undergraduate programs in 2013. However, the medical school contended that, “It must continue weighing race in its admissions process because a cohort of doctors from different backgrounds could best serve Texas’ racially and ethnically diverse communities.” However, the recently signed agreement stipulated that the school was not providing an annual review of the necessity of race-based admissions and therefore could not rule out that other factors may provide similar diversity-levels. The agreement also suggested that the medical school use other “race-neutral factors” to meet diversity aims, “such as recruiting students from low-income areas and favoring bilingual or first-generation college students.”

Earlier this week and just following news of this agreement, Kaplan Test Prep released survey results showing that 80 percent of 245 pre-med students surveyed in January 2019 say that “It’s important for the American medical profession to be more demographically representative of the general patient population.” Among the students who agreed with this statement, one commented, “While it is certainly possible to be empathetic and ‘tuned in’ to your patients despite differences in language, culture, etc., it is important for patients to feel like they can relate to and trust their clinician…If American clinicians were more demographically representative of the population as a whole, patients would likely find it easier to connect with a care provider they are most comfortable with.” Those in the 20 percent who did not agree with the statement were more likely to focus on the importance of drive and technical ability in becoming an effective doctor.

Additionally, an earlier Kaplan study with medical school admissions officers showed that many felt competent with their school’s diversity efforts. When the admissions officers were asked to grade his/her medical school on diversity, the majority gave themselves a B (35 percent) or C (34 percent), while fewer rewarded themselves with an A (18 percent) and even fewer a D or F (5 percent).

While it is clear that prospective medical students and doctors see the value in diversity in medical school admissions, the process by which the schools will implement these diversity goals is changing based on the views of the current administration. And these changes should be noted, especially by prospective medical students.

For future applicants: Overall, it is wise to seek experiences that improve your ability to work with others, particularly those unlike yourself. And throughout your application, you will want to speak to these experiences in a manner that showcases your commitment to serving a diverse population of patients, highlights areas where you will bring diversity into the program, and show how you have thrived and what you have learned in diverse environments in the past.

QS Global MBA 2019 Rankings Place Four US Schools in the Top Five

The QS Global MBA 2019 Rankings were released this week and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business ranked first. This is the second year that QS has released global rankings, which include over 250 MBA programs internationally. The ranking’s algorithm incorporates scores for Entrepreneurship & Alumni Outcomes, Return on Investment, Thought Leadership, Employability, and Diversity.

In both 2018 and 2019, 13 of the top 25 programs were based in the US. Also in 2019, four of the top five were based in the US, up from two in 2018. Schools in the US scored particularly well in the areas of Employability and Thought Leadership, while international programs fared better in Diversity and Return on Investment.

There was one new entrant to the top 25, CEIBS, which is based in Shanghai China.

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Rankings Indicators

As with all rankings, a closer look at the underlying components, which make up the Overall Score, can provide beneficial information for prospective MBA students. Below are charts showing the top ten ranked schools and their scores for each indicator.

The Entrepreneurship & Alumni Outcomes indicator makes up 15 percent of the overall score. Stanford not only received a perfect score within this indicator but was also about eight percentage points higher than any other program. Harvard, Penn (Wharton), and Michigan (Ross) were also included among the top ten. This indicator should be of particular interest to those keen on pursuing entrepreneurial options post-MBA.

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The Return on Investment indicator accounts for 20 percent of the overall score. Programs in the US did not fare as well in this category, though Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) and Michigan (Ross) are included within the top ten. International programs with shorter durations saw the highest scores, as shorter programs save students money, both in terms of tuition, as well as lost wages.

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The Thought Leadership indicator makes up 15 percent of the overall score.  US schools scored well in this category with MIT (Sloan) receiving a perfect score, followed closely by Penn (Wharton).

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The Employability indicator was given the heaviest weight, and accounts for 40 percent of the overall score. The top five programs, four of which are US schools, all received scores of 99 or higher.

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The Diversity indicator, which includes Class and Faculty diversity, accounts for ten percent of the overall score. For the second year in a row, no schools from the US were in the top ten in this category. And this is not expected to change significantly in the coming years as international applications to US programs continue to decrease.

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Be Aware Of Biases, Strengthen Your Candidacy

At the top graduate programs, creating an inclusive and diverse student community ranks highly among other key strategic initiatives.  To achieve their short- and long-term diversity goals, Universities host events ranging from diversity weekends and leadership panels to professional networking events and women’s breakfast forums.  But, are there barriers to a truly diverse applicant pool the schools are missing?  What about the initial contact a prospective applicant has with a program?   

In a Wharton study by Katherine Milkman, to explore the treatment of prospective applicants to doctoral programs, researchers found that professors were significantly less likely to be responsive to communication from women or minority applicants -- and the level of unresponsiveness was greater within academic disciplines that tend to pay more, and at private institutions, where faculty salaries are higher on average.

The study also found that if women or minorities are not given the same level of encouragement -- or the same ability to access "insider" information -- as their white male colleagues, they may be discouraged from even trying to pursue a particular opportunity, or they may start the application process at such a disadvantage that there is no chance of catching up.

Unfortunately, as this study illustrates, strong biases still exist within higher education, but instead of getting discouraged, take action.  Start by paying close attention to how you are marketing your candidacy and fit to a particular program.  Even in that initial contact, you must realize that you are in a fish bowl, being watched and evaluated by faculty, alumni, current students and staff.  In each and every email communication, attach a polished CV that shows you are a strong and competitive candidate; After any face-to-face or phone meeting, when someone has given up their time to speak with you, send a hand-written thank you note; Ask good questions that show you are serious and well-informed about the program’s offerings.  Don’t just regurgitate information easily found on the program’s website.  Dig deep into the intricacies of the program to research specific classes and recent studies done by professors.  After some initial contact, attend all the prospective student events you can, and make a list of those influential admissions directors or faculty members you would like to meet.  Securing a spot in a top program is highly competitive, so any step you can take to stand out is crucial. 

In her study, Milkman also found that minority students got a better response from minorities of their race.  “If someone in that department shares your identity, they are more likely to be an advocate or willing to help you and less likely to discriminate," she says.

 Diversity initiatives are likely to be key priorities in higher education for many years to come, and schools clearly have more work to do.  In the meantime, it is up to you, as an applicant and prospective student, to be aware of biases so you can strengthen your candidacy.