Diversity Efforts, Admissions, and National Rankings: Can We Align Priorities?
Teaching and Learning in Medicine
Increasing student body diversity is a priority for national health education and professional organizations and for many medical schools. However, national rankings of medical schools, such as those published by U.S. News & World Report, place a heavy emphasis on grade point average (GPA) and Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores, without considering student body diversity. These rankings affect organizational reputation and admissions outcomes, even though there is considerable controversy surrounding the predictive value of GPA and MCAT scores.
Our aim in this article was to explore the relationship between standard admissions practices, which typically aim to attract students with the highest academic scores, and student body diversity. We examined how changes in GPA and MCAT scores over 5 years correlated with the percentage of enrolled students who are underrepresented in medicine. In a majority of medical schools in the United States from 2005 to 2009, average GPA and MCAT scores of applicants increased, whereas the percentage of enrolled students who are underrepresented in medicine decreased.
Our findings suggest that efforts to increase the diversity of medical school student bodies may be complicated by a desire to maintain high average GPA and MCAT scores. We propose that U.S. News revise its ranking methodology by incorporating a new diversity score into its student selectivity score and by reducing the weight placed on GPA and MCAT scores.
Heller, Caren A.; Hurtado Rua, Sandra M.; Mazumdar, Madhu; Moon, Jennifer E.; Bardes, Charles; and Gotto, Antonio M. Jr., "Diversity Efforts, Admissions, and National Rankings: Can We Align Priorities?" (2014). Mathematics Faculty Publications. 251.