- Posted March 30, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Student voices in journalism
5 Things that Colleges do Wrong!
Drum roll please!!! College admission results are finally out! While some high school seniors are punching the air and envisioning their future lives in their dream universities, others are...reaching up to the heavens, pleading to know why Harvard, Stanford, or Princeton rejected them. As harsh as this sounds, there really seems to be no gradual transition between the two reactions. This makes sense of course, since there's no "gradual transition" between getting accepted and getting rejected.
However, here's my question: "Are colleges and Universities really choosing the best students for their most competitive programs? Are they judging the right credentials and basing their decisions upon valid aspects of students' resumes? These inquires led me on a quest into the wilderness of American college admissions. During this escapade of mine, I came across a few shocking, a few daunting, a few straight out ridiculous pieces of information that made me tremble in my shoes with fearful fury. Here's a list of top five things colleges get wrong...every year.
1. Race/ Ethnicity:
The fact that I even have to address this topic in the land of equality, freedom, and opportunity is somewhat appalling. Nevertheless, the amount of discrepancy that there has existed among students of different races while applying to college has at this point in time, crossed the line. Minority races are receiving a considerable edge or advantage over others. I understand that universities need diversity on their campuses. However, does this justify rejecting an extremely well qualified candidate simply to award his spot to an equal if not slightly inferior students solely due to race? A student with a 2390 SAT score and a 4.00 GPA will be rejected only to be surpassed by one of his peers who happens to be of a minority race with equivalent if not subordinate credentials. Understandably, this is one of the most disappointing parts of college admission.
This particular aspect is actually not in the hands of most universities or colleges. It's one of those things that has manifested itself as a parasite on American education. The Scholastic Aptitude Test: also pronounced sat or S-A-T is one of the most misleading, inaccurate, imprecise ways of measuring a student's academic capability. Extremely constrictive in terms of time, this standardized test has easily transformed into a monstrous nightmare for most high school students (In my opinion, the ACT is worse). The Math, Critical Reading, and Writing sections of this test absolutely do NOT measure what kids learn in school. This is why it ends up being so difficult on which to do well. Colleges, which do not have any other common standardized scale on which to evaluate students, regard the SAT as one of the primary categories to base their decisions on.
3. Class Rank
Valedictorians and Salutatorians may not agree with my words, but the rest of the world most probably will. You might agree with the fact that every high school is different. The students, the staff, and in turn the level of competition. However, ranking of students among their peers provides colleges with a category to compare them. How are universities really going to get the real idea when the valedictorian in school A has a 3.5 GPA while a student ranked 30th in a more competitive school has a 3.70? All the colleges see is that Student A is number 1 in his class while student B is 30th. Judging on this superficial aspect of students, colleges make some of their biggest mistakes.
4. Extracurricular Activities
Dear God, this is one of the worst categories to fill out on a college app. What do you do outside of school? In other words, how do you waste your time? Don't get me wrong, I love dancers, singers, and actors. But if they try to apply to my college for a degree in mechanical engineering, I would frown. But, today's universities don't do that. In fact, if someone is NOT engaged in some sort of liberal art, they end up getting rejected, despite their numerous credentials regarding their major. Colleges' excuse for this is "We want our students to be well rounded". Seriously? So basically, you want a jack of all trades but a master of none. Because obviously, it is nearly impossible for a seventeen year old to be a master of everything. Why, though? Surely, a student who is intent on finding a cure for cancer will not have any interest in a frivolous "extracurricular" activity. What if he is not interested in anything but scientific research? In today's world, he would get rejected by his dream college. I find this appalling: how can you expect a child to engage in activities that don't matter to him, especially in such a critical time as high school? Clearly, this is a problem in the college admission process.
If you see the admission criteria for nearly ALL colleges, be it University of Houston or MIT, one of the first things listed is "Students should be leaders in their organizations". So, whoever applies to a college should be a leader? Who're going to be the followers? Obviously, this is quite an unrealistic expectation. Additionally, remember that "leaders" in high school are elected by high school students. In other words, teenagers are picking who they think are the "best". Needless to say, the most popular, the most charming, the best dressed, and Mr. and Ms. Congeniality are the likeliest to get the best positions. Meanwhile, brilliant students, "geeks", and "nerds" are likely to be ignored despite their true capabilities. When colleges see that Amy has B's but she was president of National Honor Society while Brian has straight A's, a perfect SAT score, and internship experience but he has never been the "leader" of any club, they end up choosing Amy (this should be in Ripley's Believe it or Not). Finally see why the odds are skewed?
Anyway, this one article is not bound to change anything in the process of college admissions, but it does draw attention to the fact that our best colleges do not in fact have our best students. The superficiality upon which today's universities evaluate high school kids will eventually turn up as one of the major causes for national and global scale mistakes in the future. Do we really want this? Are "leaders" of today going to be the destroyers of tomorrow? Are extra-curricular activities going to distract the youth of the future from solving the important problems of the world? Ponder these questions, and let me know what you think, in the comments below!