The faculty utility course of is flawed and have to be reformed.
Ivy Day, the fateful second on April 1 when 1000’s of scholars obtain their admissions choices from eight elite establishments, is lower than a month away. As joyful as today is for some, it additionally raises an vital concern: The faculty admissions course of in the USA is flawed and should change.
As we speak, with record-high functions and report low acceptance charges, each a part of a scholar’s utility comes beneath strict scrutiny. However a number of the most closely weighted elements — standardized take a look at scores, essays and extracurriculars — are neither full nor correct representations of a scholar’s match at a faculty. Somewhat, these metrics are sometimes skewed based mostly on college students’ socioeconomic background. The rich have an benefit that offers them increased SAT scores. They will additionally rent tutors to assist assemble the right essay. And whereas the rich can afford to enroll in as many extracurricular actions as vital, much less privileged college students could should as a substitute spend their time working to assist pay for school.
Whereas every bit of a faculty utility is vital, many are judged unfairly and inequitably. So, what’s the answer? To call just a few, submitting take a look at scores must be optionally available, the essay course of must be overhauled, interviews must be extra closely weighted, extracurriculars and work expertise must be judged equally and letters of advice must be from sources apart from steerage counselors.
COVID-19 pressured many faculties to briefly go test-optional, which ended up being a step in the proper route. Now some colleges are planning on not even contemplating scores in admissions decision-making. That is taking it too far, and faculties appear to consider that standardized testing is the one piece to repair within the utility course of. Dropping the checks may have unintended penalties on, once more, the much less lucky. Whereas SAT scores are essentially the most infamous utility facet for being advantageous to the rich, different areas are additionally disproportionately affected by revenue. A Stanford research that compiled essays from 60,000 candidates confirmed that essay content material is “strongly associated to family revenue.” It states that “essays have a stronger correlation to family revenue than SAT scores.” So, dropping scores fully would merely place extra emphasis on essay analysis, finally giving extra benefit to the rich. In order that college students who don’t rating nicely can deal with different areas of their utility, testing ought to stay optionally available for all faculties.
The Frequent App, the platform most faculties use of their utility course of, features a 650-word private assertion, an essay that’s the similar each utility cycle. This must be eradicated. Faculties ought to depend on supplemental questions — that are tailor-made particularly to the varsity and utility cycle —quite than the private assertion. As a result of college students solely know the questions as soon as they open the appliance, they can not write their responses up to now upfront. An essay that’s written over the span of 6-8 months, particularly one that’s written by a rich scholar with tutors and different assist, might be reviewed by so many people that the scholar’s voice will finally be misplaced within the course of. By dropping the private essay, faculties can decide a scholar off of extra real solutions to questions requested instantly by that faculty, making for a fairer course of.
Interviews present a glimpse right into a scholar’s persona by way of dialog as a substitute of textual content. Additionally they require college students to suppose on their toes, which might extra precisely depict their degree of qualification within the admissions course of. At the moment, most faculties provide interviews however often shouldn’t have sufficient availability for all candidates to obtain one. Faculties ought to make a stronger effort to make sure all college students get an interview and ultimately require them.
Whereas extracurricular actions are an vital half of a faculty utility, many college students shouldn’t have the flexibility to take part. Particularly, low-income college students not solely have fewer alternatives to select from given the place they could stay, additionally they can’t afford to play sports activities or study an instrument. As a substitute, they usually work all through the varsity 12 months to assist pay for school and even assist pay payments. Faculties should take these components into consideration when reviewing functions and weigh extracurriculars and jobs equally to make for a extra equitable course of.
Lastly, letters of advice ought to come from alternate sources. Steering counselors, particularly these from public colleges, have too many college students to have the ability to thoughtfully write about particular features of every applicant. Academics usually have the identical drawback. Candidates usually really feel pressured to get a letter of advice from academics of core topics like English and math. As a substitute, they need to come from individuals who know the scholar greatest, no matter their space of experience. Whether or not it’s a music instructor or a coach, faculties ought to take suggestions from anybody who can attest to a scholar’s greatest qualities. Dartmouth is one in every of solely two colleges within the nation that takes a peer advice. Dartmouth ought to start to require this vital piece, and all faculties ought to observe in its footsteps.
The faculty admissions course of has many issues, and though the above strategies don’t provide an ideal answer, they could possibly be a primary step in bettering the expertise and making it extra equitable for all college students.
The applying cycle for the Class of 2025 noticed extra certified college students than could possibly be admitted, and the “Varsity Blues” school admissions scandal proved that establishments might be simply tricked into admitting unqualified college students. Though it’s blatantly apparent that the complete school utility course of must be reformed, we’ve but to see significant adjustments.