Sunday, October 5, 2003

OSU adds four essay questions
to undergraduate applications

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Ohio State University has added four essay questions to its undergraduate application to find out more about prospective students - and to comply with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on race in admissions.

In June, the Supreme Court struck down the University of Michigan's race-conscious point system for undergraduate admissions, which gave more weight to an applicant's race than to some measures of academic performance.

The court said colleges still can consider race as long as it isn't the only factor in admitting a person.

Like Michigan, Ohio State had assigned points for race and other factors.

With the new application form, Ohio State has done away with its point system, said Virginia Trethewey, the school's chief attorney.

President Karen Holbrook said creating the new form wasn't just about complying with the high court's decision.

"Not only do we comply, but we're assessing students as individuals," Holbrook told trustees Friday at their monthly meeting.

Previously, the application had only one essay question, which was optional.

Two of the new essay topics deal with applicants' personalities and backgrounds:

• "Describe a character in literature or film with whom you identify."

• "Identify a living public figure whose background, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or ideology makes the person substantially different from you and indicate what you've learned from your awareness of this person and his/her background, view or experiences."

The university has also begun asking prospective students to check boxes indicating how much education their parents and grandparents received.

Martha Garland, dean of undergraduate students, said finding out the education level of parents and grandparents will help add "another layer of understanding of the picture of a student's background."

Of the 20,000 applications Ohio State receives a year, between 10,000 and 11,000 are admitted automatically on academic qualifications, including grades and college-preparatory curricula

About 13,000 to 14,000 students are accepted annually by Ohio State. Of those, about 5,800 choose to attend.

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