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Jul 23, 2013 09:20 AM EDT

Hit the Gym before an Interview; Weight Could Be an Influential Factor in College Admissions

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Obese students beware!

Body weight of an applicant could be a determining factor in gaining admission in a university after an in-person interview, according to a new study conducted by Bowling Green State University. The findings of the study are published in the journal Obesity.

Dr. Dara Musher-Eizenman, a professor of developmental psychology, Dr. Robert Carels, an associate professor of clinical psychology and Ph.D. candidates, Jacob Burmeister and Allison Kiefner from the university found that applicants with high body mass index (BMI) were less likely to be offered admission in a graduate school after an in-person interview.

The researchers arrived at the conclusion after looking into 97 applicants who applied for psychology graduate programs in over 950 universities across United States. Researchers also looked into the letters of recommendation to assess the quality of the students for the study. However, since the letters only focussed on the psychological aspects of the students, they didn't contribute to the study.

 "One of the things we suspected was the quality of their letters of recommendation written by their undergrad mentors would be associated with the applicants' body weight, but it really wasn't," said Burmeister. "It may be that letter writers come to know students well and body weight no longer played a factor."

Students shared their application experience with the researchers, if they had an interview in person or over the phone. They also told the scientists if they received any admission offers.

"When we looked at that we could see a clear relation between their weight and offers of admission for those applicants who had had an in-person interview," Burmeister said. "The success rate for people who had had no interview or a phone interview was pretty much equal, but when in-person interviews were involved, there was quite a bit of difference, even when applicants started out on equal footing with their grades, test scores and letters of recommendation."

The findings of the study were limited to the admissions in psychology programs.

The study also found out that the weight bias was stronger for female applicants. Burmeister said that the discovery was not at all surprising as they are pretty common.

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