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Makers and Undergraduate Admissions

Posted on Tuesday, January 26 2016


Making is the core of how we learn, solve problems, and arrive at new ideas. It is the cornerstone of innovation and any country’s most precious resource.

In 2014, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy recommended more universities and colleges consider implementing a Maker Portfolio in their admissions process as part of a larger effort to expand opportunities for “making” within school campuses. Over 150 schools issued a joint letter to the President committing to this initiative in various ways.

For those wanting to learn more about this movement, the White House has created this Nation of Makers overview which provides introductory information about how federal agencies, communities, educational institutions, companies, libraries and museums are coming together to expand opportunities for making. To learn more about what individual schools are doing to support a culture of making on their campuses, visit the MakeSchool Alliance website.

Example: MIT Admissions Maker Portfolio

In August 2013, MIT added the Maker Portfolio as an option within undergraduate admissions to help identify “technical creativity and skill.”  A little over two years later, they published a report, co-authored by Chris Peterson and Hal Abelson, discussing the data gathered during that time period:

“In many respects, the Maker Portfolio has been a resounding success. Over the last two years, more than 2000 students have used it to show us the things they make, from surfboards to solar cells, code to cosplay, prosthetics to particle accelerators. We believe the Maker Portfolio has improved our assessment of these applicants and offers us a competitive advantage over our peers who have not developed the processes to identify and evaluate this kind of talent.”

In a separate survey cited in their public letter to the President Obama, 78 percent of their undergraduate population reported that MIT's reputation for being maker-friendly made them more likely to enroll.

In addition to this success, the report goes on share the current gender imbalances they are seeking to improve. Their rigor and openness are a perfect model for how schools can help each other through publicly sharing data and being open with an ongoing thought process. Hopefully, other schools will follow suit through cycles of experimentation and openess to help address the broader set diversity challenges facing higher education.

If your school would like to learn more about accepting maker portfolios, we would love to talk with you or take you through a demo of the SlideRoom platform.

Through our exclusive partnership, Common App member schools pay no annual fee for our Standard Plan and can schedule a free consultation on accepting portfolios.

If you're interested in learning more about Maker Portfolios, we've also created a guide you can download and share"Introduction to Accepting Maker Portfolios."


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