Colleges will soon have another tool to detect dishonest applicants in the admissions process.
Last month, Hobsons, a national leader in admissions technology and marketing, announced a new partnership with Turnitin for Admissions, a popular provider of plagiarism-detection software.
The partnership will allow colleges which utilize ApplyYourself — a Hobsons product that provides the Common Application’s technological platform — to check the authenticity of students’ essays.
Dean of Admissions Eric Furda said Penn does not currently use any form of plagiarism-detection software in its admissions process. Despite the apparent ease of implementation that Turnitin brings to the table, it doesn’t appear as if that policy is going to change any time soon.
“We don’t have any plans on signing up [for the service], at least within the next year or so,” Furda said. “That’s just not where we’re putting our time and effort right now.”
According to Jeff Lorton, product and business development manager at Turnitin for Admissions, the partnership with Hobsons comes after “a lot of back-and-forth that convinced us of the need for change.”
“If you’re not using technology like this in this day and age, then you might be making a decision based on information that isn’t totally accurate,” Lorton said. “You’re giving a spot to somebody who might not deserve it.”
Lorton declined to provide the number of colleges that currently use Turnitin for Admissions but said he “most definitely expects” the total to increase with the company’s recent announcement. He added that the breakdown of undergraduate and graduate users in the United States is “about 50-50.”
Over the years, some of Turnitin’s research on honesty in the admissions process has been eye-opening.
In 2007, for instance, Turnitin for Admissions conducted a study which reviewed 450,000 personal statements for authenticity and academic integrity. The study found that 36 percent of those applications contained significant amounts of unoriginal text.
Furda said the study’s findings “sound about right to me.”
If Penn were to use the software, “I’m sure that there’d be a very high percentage of students … where you’re going to see a string of words — sometimes full essays — that aren’t authentic,” he said.
However, Furda emphasized that other factors — high school performance, standardized test scores and teacher recommendations — all count in admissions decisions.
For Furda, then, the deciding factor is “looking at how everything matches up to who that individual is.”
“It’s how these different pieces interrelate to each other,” he said. “We might have this great plagiarized essay on one hand, but on the other hand we need to look at how that bounces off of what else we’re seeing in the applicant.”
Wharton sophomore and University Honor Council member Elena Evans said plagiarism-detection software is “definitely something [she thinks] should be used in Penn admissions.”
“If professors are using the software, then I don’t see why the whole University wouldn’t do the same,” she said. “The whole point of the essay is to be your time to shine … and not using the software gives some an unfair advantage.”Comments powered by Disqus
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