With the admissions process for the Class of 2019 already underway, Vice President and Dean of Admissions Jim Bock ‘90 recently spoke about the impact of college rankings and the growing demand for a liberal arts education among international students.
In the USA Today interview, Bock downplayed the importance of college rankings.
"They're just one tool that students and parents have at their disposal," he said. "Rankings can be used as a starting point, but they shouldn't determine where a student matriculates."
Bock tells USA Today that rankings do take on more importance for one set of prospective applicants – international students who are unlikely to be familiar with American schools.
The rising demand for a liberal arts education among international students, particularly from China, is the focus of Bock’s discussion with The PIE News, which features news and business analysis for professionals in international education.
Bock explains how Swarthmore and nine other liberal arts colleges are collaborating to encourage students to submit their applications with video interviews in order to promote their communication skills, something which Bock notes fits with Swarthmore’s holistic admissions process that looks beyond test scores.
“We think we can see if a student has some of those softer skills through the interviews," says Bock, noting that Swarthmore has seen a significant increase in international students, particularly from China, over the last few years.
“Chinese students are strong quantitatively, however liberal arts education promotes critical thinking skills, reading for reading, reading deeper into the text - so it’s not just about memorisation,” he says. “Businesses say they want students who can write, not just be smart but can solve problems and collaborate.”