MOOCs may soon become a prominent factor in admissions decisions at selective colleges, a way for students who may not do well on traditional measures like the SAT to prove they can hack it.
That’s the argument by officials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which on Wednesday announced a plan to create what it calls an “inverted admissions” process, starting with a pilot project within a master’s program in supply-chain management.
Students who do well in a series of free online courses and a related online examination offered through MIT’s MOOC project, MITx, will “enhance their chances” of being accepted to the on-site master’s program, according to a university statement. Students who come to the program after first taking the MOOCs will then essentially place out of the first half of the coursework, so they can finish the degree in a semester rather than an academic year. That effectively makes the master’s program half the usual price.
L. Rafael Reif, president of MIT, said in an interview on Wednesday that he hopes the new twist on admissions will lead to a broader pool of applicants. “We will find people who never thought they would be able to apply,” he said. Such students might take the free online courses “because why not?” he adds, “and they will discover that they are much stronger in the global competition than they think.”
Sanjay Sarma, MIT’s dean of digital learning, said the traditional admissions process was “an inexact science.” He noted that with applicants coming from around the world, they often submit grades and scores from institutions that admissions officers aren’t familiar with. “What this system does,” he said, “is it lets anyone prove their merit.”
[ Full article available at The Chronicle of Higher Education: http://chronicle.com/article/MIT-Master-s-Program-to-Use/233685 ]