Getting Performance Appraisals Right in College Admissions

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by W. Kent Barnds (Augustana College)

In an era in which half the post-secondary institutions in the U.S. are facing enrollment declines, performance assessment and continuous improvement in admissions has never been more critical. Even those institutions with strong enrollments, experienced staff, and strong market position need to take the performance assessment process seriously.

Why You Need to Do it Right

Many of those who have worked with me over the course of the past 20 years will tell you I take performance assessment seriously. I believe one of the most important roles of a leader is to honestly, constructively and actively assesses performance of those who form the team. However, like most leaders, I had to learn how to assess performance, think carefully and adapt.

Everyone has a different approach to performance assessment, and some will reject the notion that such assessments even have value. Those who cannot find value in this process,—or choose a superficial method like simply judging by the numbers, or having an annual conversation to ask “how’s it going”—are missing out on what can be a rewarding and integral part of effective talent development.

It’s a leader’s job to mentor and develop talent. My master’s thesis focused on the performance assessment process of admissions officers. Through my research, in 2005 and 2006, which included surveys of admissions officers and supervisors, I uncovered some things that have shaped my view of the performance assessment process:

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