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Education

Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System? 389

An anonymous reader points out this opinion piece by professor Adam Grant that questions how useful the current college application system is and suggests some alternate methods to gather information about candidates. The college admissions system is broken. When students submit applications, colleges learn a great deal about their competence from grades and test scores, but remain in the dark about their creativity and character. Essays, recommendation letters and alumni interviews provide incomplete information about students' values, social and emotional skills, and capacities for developing and discovering new ideas. This leaves many colleges favoring achievement robots who excel at the memorization of rote knowledge, and overlooking talented C students. Those with less than perfect grades might go on to dream up blockbuster films like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg or become entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs.
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

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  • If yes then what ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Saint Gerbil ( 1155665 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:13AM (#48072171)

    So you have pointed out all of the problems but not offered a solution or any other workable ideas.

    So if you only have one choice you only have one answer.

    • by nucrash ( 549705 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:37AM (#48072307)

      The problem is that we need an accurate measure of a student's creativity instead of a student's talent for memorizing the correct answer. This creates a brain-dead workforce which kills the ability to innovate. The reason this problem has surfaced is that education in general has looked for the easiest metric to measure rather than the most accurate metric to measure. If a student can quote back sections of a science book, to say they are learning is easy. To say that a student is able to map new processes of a protein folding, that's intellect, not retention of knowledge.

      Common Core actually addresses some of these ideas in that they address principles of how to learn rather than just facts and figures learning. The system still needs tweaking though and not just because people are complaining about the problem.

      • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:42AM (#48072329)

        Any change to the system people will complain that it will be unfair. Creativity assessments are very Judgemental. So there will be a lot of complaining the their daughter didn't get in because the assessor didn't like her.

      • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @09:29AM (#48072681) Homepage

        The problem is that we need an accurate measure of a student's creativity instead of a student's talent for memorizing the correct answer.

        The problem is that most large companies don't want creativity or innovation in most cases. They want only the amount of creativity that holds between the lines delineated by convention, process, job title, and political infighting. If they need creativity, it's in the form of regulatory capture or making competing products or business models illegal. And that's done at the CxO level. If you want to actually be creative, a larger company is one of the worst place to try to do that. Small companies might need "creativity" but mainly on tactical day-to-day survival issues. So creativity here is limited by resources and simple fear of being crushed by the competition. Really, about the only place that creativity is needed is in a startup and, then, only for the amount of time needed to get the product out the door and, in general, it's mainly the ops side of things than need to be beefed up. After the finance and process guys start stepping in, creativity goes down the tubes.

        So, sorry to dispute, but I see a huge need for worker bees who carry out processes and hue to the corporate line. I don't really see businesses needing or wanting creativity, at least not to any great extent, regardless of what they say. In fact, you want to see how receptive your company is to creativity? Step on a few of the sacred cows that lie around in almost any business. Or even try suggesting new technologies. Even if your idea is creative, sound, and makes sense, it will not be celebrated by many in your company.

        So, what's the problem with the educational system? It seems to be turning out the employees companies want (i.e., unemployable people that can be ignored while hiring lower-cost workers overseas).

        • What!?! Creativity is needed in engineering, in programming, in law, in business, in lots of places. Creativity in these areas doesn't mean "make shit up" - it means problem solving. And problem solving requires creativity.
    • by bedroll ( 806612 )

      I'm not sure having more than one option is necessary because we have hundreds of institutions and any one of them could try this while I'm sure many would stay with the system they have. I also don't think it's necessary for the author to list more solutions than the one he favors, if there are other alternatives out there let other editorials sing their praises. This doesn't give you only one choice, it gives you a choice between the proposed system and the status quo.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      His alternative is an "Assessment Center"; it sounds like a screening interview. I suppose if you can make it to an SAT testing center for a few hours you could go through a personal screening as well. Not a bad idea really.
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:15AM (#48072183)

    overlooking talented C students. Those with less than perfect grades might go on to dream up blockbuster films like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg or become entrepreneurs like Steve Job"

    They may be talented, but college admissions is supposed to measure students' likelihood of success at tasks they will be graded on.

    It's not hard to earn at least Bs on basic high-school materials; having all Cs shows a lack of ability to do the hard work or a difficulty with or lack of commitment to basic academics.

    The things in College should be much more advanced, so "Artistic talent" can't really be an excuse for poor high school grades; sorry, but your latent potential talents in one tiny sliver should not get you admitted to a degree program you aren't ready for yet.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:56AM (#48072421)

      No, you go to college so you don't have to work that hard in a 9-to-5 job full time. Changing jobs is easy because you have both experience and a degree. The latter is more important to the HR filter were as the former is what managers are looking for. Again good luck getting past the filter.

      You can go through life with just vocational training an certification with a nice paying job. Just keep in mind you will be the first to get axed and vs the low experienced degree'd person.

      It's a caste based system now. First you must pay into it if you value job security.

      • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @09:30AM (#48072691)

        You can go through life with just vocational training an certification with a nice paying job. Just keep in mind you will be the first to get axed and vs the low experienced degree'd person.

        I work with people making over 50K a year, 40 hours a week, available overtime, 4-5 weeks paid vacation, annual profit sharing, and fairly regular raises, and best of all job security, all with only requiring a high school degree. To me that sounds a lot better than making 60-70k while working 50+ hours a week and not knowing when your job is going to be outsourced and finding yourself unemployed.

        If you want job security, manual labor is exactly what you want. Plumbing, mechanic, welding, etc; all of these are jobs that require people on site, and require levels of competence and skill that preclude both offshoring and outsourcing. Managers with an MBA are a dime a dozen. A skilled mechanic with an A&P is a lot harder to replace.

        • by cptdondo ( 59460 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @10:14AM (#48073007) Journal

          Having worked my entire working life with both white and blue collar workers, I can tell you that after 20 years or so of manual labor, those men (and increasingly women) suffer from carpal tunnel, bad backs, and all sorts of chronic injuries. A not-insignificant percentage are on disability, unable to hold down any job.

          This is not because they're lazy or faking it.

          Manual labor is hard, and after many years their bodies break down. And chronic injuries don't go away when you retire.

          So yes, you can make a lot of money initially, but there's a price to pay.

      • You can go through life with just vocational training an certification with a nice paying job. Just keep in mind you will be the first to get axed and vs the low experienced degree'd person.

        No you won't. When a ship builder is in trouble he isn't going to fire his welders or plumbers. Half of the people currently in college probably shouldn't be there and should be studying an actual trade instead.

        What good is a Psychology BS? There are a ton of college graduates that aren't STEM and are currently looking for jobs. They are the ones bitching that "You all told us to go to college, now what?"

    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )

      overlooking talented C students. Those with less than perfect grades might go on to dream up blockbuster films like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg or become entrepreneurs like Steve Job"

      They may be talented, but college admissions is supposed to measure students' likelihood of success at tasks they will be graded on.

      Yes. And...?

    • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @09:00AM (#48072453) Homepage
      Not only that, but people like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, or Steve Jobs probably would have excelled regardless of the application system or which college they went to. From a quick read up on wikipedia, it doesn't sound like any of them had trouble getting into university.

      Also I think it's important not talk about anomolies in the statistical data (which is what these people are) when trying to figure out what will work best for a large population of students. Not being able to get B's or higher in highschool shows a sincere lack of effort, or general lack of intelligence needed to succeed in university, college, or future careers. Sure you might be the next Steve Jobs, but then, you don't need college anyway, so it's not important how the educational system is set up.

      It's the same reason why I can't see why so many people push their kids to try to be professional athletes. Sure the professionals make a boat load of money, but they are statistical outliers, and those who don't make it to the pros, are left with very little in terms of job prospects. Had they spent the same amount of time push their kid in academic endeavors, they would have no problem getting into a decent college, and would have plenty of very good career opportunities where they could make a very comfortable living.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ... but people like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, or Steve Jobs ...

        No, we don't.

    • having all Cs shows a lack of ability to do the hard work or a difficulty with or lack of commitment to basic academics.

      I really don't agree. I agree that it's not exactly hard to get a B in high school, but I don't agree that failing to do so indicates either stupidity or laziness. There's at least a few other possibilities.

      One of them being, frankly, that high school really can be inane, stupid, and soul-crushing. I don't blame kids who check out and lose interest. You're taking a bunch of people during what may be some of the most difficult years of their lives, and asking them to spend their time performing some of the most boring work possible, where nobody actually cares about the product of their work. "Fill out this worksheet. Nobody actually benefits from you doing this, but your future depends on it because I want to make sure you're working hard and following directions, for no purpose. Plus, I'm on a power trip because I've failed at life and this is the best job I can get. I'm not even interested in the material on the worksheet, and we'll throw it away when you're done, but you'd better get it done immediately. If not, I'm going to make you sit quietly for an hour doing nothing." It's kind of insane that we treat young adults that way. I think if I had to go back in time to my highschool years right now, I'd probably tell half the teachers to go fuck themselves, purely out of frustration. Yet here I am, I fairly well educated and relatively successful adult.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        One of them being, frankly, that high school really can be inane, stupid, and soul-crushing.

        I don't blame kids who check out and lose interest. You're taking a bunch of people during what may be some of the most difficult years of their lives, and asking them to spend their time performing some of the most boring work possible, where nobody actually cares about the product of their work.

        Did you not fully understand what I meant when I said college admission is not a "your value as a person" question.

      • by Wain13001 ( 1119071 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @10:26AM (#48073147)

        Not only *all of the above*, but also you have to do it in what for many is the fiercest, politically motivated, cruelest, pettiest, most vicious social environment we could engineer for you.

      • by Zalbik ( 308903 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @11:42AM (#48073705)

        One of them being, frankly, that high school really can be inane, stupid, and soul-crushing. I don't blame kids who check out and lose interest.

        I do blame young adults who check out and lose interest (this idea that a 16-18 year old is a "kid" is a peculiar 20th century notion).

        Guess what, work can also be inane and stupid. If someone is unable to suck it up and do some pretty straightforward (and yes, sometimes seemingly pointless) work for 3 years, then the probably won't succeed in a typical business environment, and maybe the should not be considered for college enrollment.

        I can't imagine what these special snowflakes who think high-school is "soul-crushing" would do if they had to face real hardship.

        TL;DR:
        Nobody cares if you failed because you are incapable or if you failed because you felt the work was inane and stupid. I'll hire the guy who is less capable but actually does the work over the prima donna who feels the work assigned him is beneath his precious skill set.

  • Make SATs optional (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andover Chick ( 1859494 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:20AM (#48072207)
    Exclusive schools, such as Bowdoin, have already made SATs option. Standardized testing is the biggest target of "achievement robots". I know of some South and East Asian families who instead of having their kids involved in team sports, drama, art or anything involving other humans, have their kids start studying for the SATs at age 12. Perhaps that's is seen to work in Asia, but it is not healthy for the entire globe to follow the same model. It is a better world if USA/Canada/Europe can follow a more well-rounded model. Include other forms of intelligence (i.e. drama, athletics, music, art) more heavily in the mix and allow standardized testing to be optional.
    • Make SATs optional (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:31AM (#48072279)

      Replace 'Asians' with 'Jews', and you'd sound exactly like a 19th century Harvard dean trying to figure out how to prevent the WASPs from running away.

      Soft metrics for college admissions are just a facade for discrimination. "This guy may not test well, but he sure has well-rounded eyes!"

      • Replace 'Asians' with 'Jews', and you'd sound exactly like a 19th century Harvard dean trying to figure out how to prevent the WASPs from running away.

        Well, there's at least one difference: No 19th century Jew wrote a bestseller book [wikipedia.org] promoting that unbalanced training-to-the-test as superior, typical jewish way.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      No standardized testing means people taking responsibility means people occasionally making mistakes means people occasionally being sued into bankrupcy.

      As an IT guy, I love standardized anything, but at some point standardization just becomes a shield to hide from responsibility and accountability.

      • No standardized testing means people taking responsibility means people occasionally making mistakes means people occasionally being sued into bankrupcy.

        As an IT guy, I love standardized anything, but at some point standardization just becomes a shield to hide from responsibility and accountability.

        But why are they hiding from behinf that "shield?" It's the army of lawyers ready to sue the pants of everyone who has the guts to make a descision based on a personal impression and not based on standardized metrics.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I hate to bust bubbles, but the SAT is important, both as a selection tool, and a factor in real life. Right now kids are coddled along until they get to 18 and graduate, and learn a horrific lesson:

      You are your FICO score and net worth. That is how you are judged in life, if you are a failure or something worthy of dating, hanging out with, or just someone worthy of contempt.

      Same reason why people judge on cars. There is a reason why a BMW commands respect and a Chevy commands yuks. It is just scores a

  • so what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xicor ( 2738029 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:25AM (#48072231)

    if you have an incredibly creative C student who will "go on to dream up blockbuster films like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg" who cares if they go to college? it isnt like you need a degree to be creative.

    • Re:so what? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:31AM (#48072273)

      How are you going to distinguish the incredibly creative C student from the average non creative C student? And what makes anyone think that college is going to be a good learning environment for someone who has trouble with succeeding in an academic environment?

    • by BVis ( 267028 )

      No, but you do need a degree when you go to ask rich people to invest in your idea. None of them are going to give you the time of day without that paper on your wall.

      • The string of successful Internet apps started by college dropouts says otherwise.
        • by BVis ( 267028 )

          That's not the full picture. The successful startups are the only ones you hear about; for every Facebook there's 1000 failed startups, for every Steve Wozniak there's 10,000 dropouts that are flipping burgers despite being just as smart.

          • How the fuck would a person as smart as Steve Wozniak be flipping burgers?

            • by BVis ( 267028 )

              Because life isn't fair? Because being smart, unfortunately, is not enough? Because those with money frequently think that they're better than everyone else, and are threatened by those of higher intelligence? Because, while the smarter you are, the less critical it is for you to have the same qualifications as a C student in reality, the C students in HR only know how to tick off boxes and not how to look beyond the keywords?

  • At some point you somehow have to say yes or no. There is no perfect grading system, and that's why many schools look at SAT - GPA combination scores so that you can have a weaker SAT (or ACT) score as long as you have a stonger GPA and vice versa. I guess I just feel like the more complex the system, the easier it is to play the subtleties of the system. When it's cut and dry - it just makes things more straight forward.
  • by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:26AM (#48072245)
    If they get C's in highschool, it is because they are lazy (both intellectually and in terms of work ethic).

    To me, that is a great indicator that they aren't ready for a doubling or tripling of workload that Colleges dump on undergrads and expect said undergrads to complete on their own initiative.

      And besides, it isn't like that is a mile high barrier to overcome. Part of the point of the community college is to allow poor performing students an opportunity to redeem themselves before going to a four-year institution.

    And besides, didn't Jobs very famously drop out from college? Because if his argument is that we should admit poor performers so they can drop out and become billionaires, I fail to see why we should have admitted them in the first place since they were independently successful despite college.
    • Not that I necessarily agree with it, but I think the explanation for "bright C students" is that they're creative geniuses who are so bored by the "standard" curriculum they just decided to "opt out". Hence the low marks.
    • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

      If they get C's in highschool, it is because they are lazy (both intellectually and in terms of work ethic).

      Of course it couldn't be that they just were bored out of their skulls studying things that they had learned five years earlier reading encyclopedia for recreation, right? As I remember High School: Get an "F" for not doing the homework because I was busy discovering new things, get an "A" for passing the test. End result, a "C" average.

    • It's interesting that the "C grade means lazy" argument is trotted out so often in these types of discussions without any consideration for what inputs went into getting that grade. As an example, here are a few factors that might have played into that result for a bright student:

      * Boredom with the presentation of the materials
      * Having to work for the family (or otherwise) after school so that they cannot keep up with the (usually high) level of homework per class
      * Realizing that getting straight "A" grades
    • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @11:45AM (#48073741) Journal

      If they get C's in highschool, it is because they are lazy (both intellectually and in terms of work ethic).

      C student here. 2.6 GPA in high school, as I recall. By the time I entered high school I had already completed all available math classes (and had to do an after school program to take BC calculus just so I could get enough HS credit to graduate). By the time I was done with HS, 3 years later. I had completed all the science classes offered, the advanced social studies curriculum, and the advanced English curriculum except senior English. I applied to several universities as an early entrant, and was naturally rejected by all the good ones so ended up at Maryland, where I eventually graduated with a 3.5 GPA.

      Why the low HS GPA, then? Partially sheer volume of drudgework (which I often wouldn't do), partially being graded on handwriting when I did do it, and partially constantly getting suspended for various rule violations.

      Lazy? Yeah I suppose not doing the intellectual equivalent of moving a dirt pile from one place to another and then back might be considered "lazy". But I really wouldn't blame anyone assigned the task to realize its worthlessness and avoid in in favor of more interesting pursuits.

  • by danaris ( 525051 ) <danaris@[ ].com ['mac' in gap]> on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:29AM (#48072257) Homepage

    College applications, hell; let's throw out the job application process. It's essentially a mechanism to give self-important extraverts with little skill a huge leg up on highly intelligent, diligent introverts who are repulsed by the idea of salesmanship in general, and having to sell oneself in particular.

    Unfortunately, as with college applications, I can't easily come up with an alternative that does a better job.

    Plus, of course, there's absolutely no way to actually "throw out" either of these processes across the entirety of academia, industry, government, etc. Every private college and for-profit business can do whatever they damn well please in terms of applications, and for many of them, inertia is a way of life.

    Dan Aris

    • At least get rid of all the ridiculous plodding data entry work they require job candidates to type in. Do you really need someone's address if you're going to reject 90% of them on some silly whim?

  • There are always exceptions. Generally speaking, grades do indicate something. Sometimes good grades mean the student is very bright and picks up things rapidly. Sometimes good grades indicate a strong work ethic. Both of these are qualities that employers would want in future hires.

    Along the same lines, good grades do not mean that you will be successful in the work environment. It is a first pass, enough to get your foot in the door. If the student can't follow through, get big complex jobs done, co

    • by pla ( 258480 )
      Generally speaking, grades do indicate something. Sometimes good grades mean the student is very bright and picks up things rapidly. Sometimes good grades indicate a strong work ethic. Both of these are qualities that employers would want in future hires.

      Most importantly, grades (and the other traditional means of evaluating prospective students) indicate that the student can pay attention and follow directions - and will.

      Employers don't give two shakes of a rat's fuzzy butt about whether or not you mi
  • Go to a community/state college. I'm that "C" student who a lot of people see creative potential in, and frankly I wouldn't want to go to a competitive state university for Comp Sci? Why? Literally 5 more math classes, quite a few of them 4 credit hours instead of the usual 3. If I wanted to be a video game programmer or write the next vmware perhaps it would be worth it, but then how would I hack College Algebra through Differential Equations? Http://www.spcollege.edu/uploadedFiles/Academics/STEM/Math
    • by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @09:09AM (#48072527) Homepage

      Do a masters at a better school - you can do one in a year and it will hide your weak undergrad. I have an associates, a horrific undergrad upgrade to bachelors and a big buck masters, and it definitely opened doors for me. Just having access to a careers center at a top graduate school - they know so many people, who know people, etc. When I get hired, it's the skills learned at the Associate level that people find most valuable....

    • by BVis ( 267028 )

      Go to a community/state college.

      You seem to imply, at least in the case of a state university, that the application process is any different or easier than a private school. Many state colleges are as selective as private schools; in some cases, more so. And the days when state schools represent an enormous bargain as compared to private schools are over; my state university is now $20,000 a year for in-state students. Better than the $50k/year that some private schools get, but not the kind of thing you

      • Actually, I made a series of mistakes in communicating. I said "state school" in some instances where I meant "community college".
        • by BVis ( 267028 )

          Even worse. Community college isn't "real" college, it's where poor/stupid people go (as far as anyone in a position to determine the opportunities given to you are concerned).

          The only way you can really get away with CC without the "resume stain" factor is to get accepted to the 'good' school but defer enrollment for two years while you take all those useless cash-cow "general education" courses for pennies on the dollar at a community college, but get the degree from the 'good school' and, UNDER NO CIRCU

  • by BigSlowTarget ( 325940 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:34AM (#48072291) Journal
    The assessment center approach described by the article would replace reading an application with days of evaluation of each student. Of course you would get better results but you just replaced a few person hours of work (on each side) with an order of magnitude more. That means much more expense for the colleges and way fewer applications possible for applicants. Is it worth it? You can't just say "sure" you have to examine the real data in detail. If you don't you could paralyze the whole system.
  • yes, please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by buddyglass ( 925859 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:35AM (#48072303)
    Please overhaul! But not out of fear the next Lucas, Spielberg or Jobs isn't going to be admitted. Do it because it's an annoying waste of time and effort to fill out a completely different application and write a completely different set of essays for each and every school. Even better, establish a single application fee that buys the student the ability to apply to some (reasonable) fixed number of schools. Believe it or not, the cost of application (esp. when applying to several schools) is actually a meaningful disincentive for students at the low end of the income spectrum.
  • before one gets to embroiled in the minutia of trying to angle for the best spot, or 'fix' the system by devising a better sorting algorithm, it makes sense to step back and think clearly what one's intentions and expectations of the whole college experience are.

    with the ratio of average-college-cost/anticipated-post-graduation-employment-opportunities skyrocketing, it's understandable that the first reaction people have is to panic and fret about ways to maximize their placement within the college appar
  • Those with less than perfect grades might go on to dream up blockbuster films like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg or become entrepreneurs like Steve Job

    Even art guys or entrepreneurs will benefit greatly if they receive proper education for those job titles.

  • by Improv ( 2467 ) <pgunn01@gmail.com> on Monday October 06, 2014 @08:44AM (#48072343) Homepage Journal

    University efforts are best spent taking those who are ready and capable and stuffing their heads full of new ideas. There are people who are not ready or capable, but trying to find ways to slip them in and hoping they reinvent themselves in time to take advantage of the opportunity (if that's even possible) would be neglecting those who are ready - many of them would end up in remedial classes or just taking the easiest things possible to survive. Maybe they should wait a year and wander Europe, or otherwise take some time to get their life together first.

    I was one of the C-B students who did all the gifted classes in high school but never had the grades. When I went to University, the first two years I loved the freedom and the content of the classes but was as lazy as I had been in high school on the grades. It was only later that I started taking things seriously. The first two years might as well have been wasted, plus I chose a university well below par for my abilities (wasn't even nearly the best one I got into). I think I turned out pretty well looking back 18 years later, but statistically, I was probably bad betting odds. Universities should focus on people who are actually ready to learn, rather than figuring out ways to churn out more people who are likely to drop out. Slashdot, in turn, should stop pandering to people who never learned to focus who drop out of university and console themselves by extolling the virtues of being an autodidact, of not knowing how to dress or clean themselves and paint themselves as "natural" or "different" or "fighting the system", and similar.

  • Limit each applicant to three colleges, instead of the insane blanketing of the choices that goes on today.

    Makes the student more responsible for refining the selections and quality of presentation, and not relying on the crap-shoot approach.

  • by Maxwell ( 13985 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @09:03AM (#48072471) Homepage

    Those with less than perfect grades might go on to dream up blockbuster films like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg or become entrepreneurs like Steve Job"

    If the C students are that creative, they'll find a way w/o college anyway, so why admit them?

    The college application process is not meant to find a needle in haystack. Statistically speaking, your C student is more likely to be delivering pizza than founding Pixar.

  • BOARD MEMBER 1:

    Our profits are flat. We need a way to boost our income, but with this economy we can't raise prices much more. We're already getting heat from the state for last year's tuition rates.

    BOARD MEMBER 2:

    We could lower admissions requirements: you know, expand our market.

    BOARD MEMBER 1:

    What? And degrade our reputation as an institution of high academic integrity! Impossible.

    BOARD MEMBER 3:

    What if everyone lowered their admissions standards?

    BOARD MEMBER 2:

    Everyone?

    BOARD MEMBER 3:

    All the colleges

  • Thanks for dehumanizing and belittling people who are good at something I guess?

    Maybe you should talk to one of them sometime, I bet they'll have heard of this guy Aesop's story about a fox who really wanted to have some grapes but then didn't for some reason when he couldn't get them.

  • He's just selling another assessment tool. Is the college admissions system really broken? If school admissions are truly worried about not accepting applications that are creative but have low grades they can ask for additional information and, wait for it, INTERVIEW the applicant. Another assessment tool IS NOT going to solve some perceived issue. It's up to college admissions to figure out which applicant will be successful at their institution.

    So perhaps what you are really arguing for is NOT anoth
  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday October 06, 2014 @09:42AM (#48072779) Homepage

    The issue isn't really about college admissions. It's about our entire education system. Throughout the entire system, we promote and encourage "achievement robots". That's what most of society believes that we need, when you get down to it. Part of the reason there are "talented C students" in the first place is because we take talented children and say to them, "You don't fit the mold, so I'm going to treat you like you're mediocre, at best. Here's your 'C'. If you want an 'A' or a 'B', please fit the mold better."

    Our education system is not about seeking success for each child and promoting the welfare of each child. It's a factory, turning out little 'appropriately successful human being' cogs and tossing out any units that are determined to be 'defective'. "You're not what we were looking for. As a society, we don't want to invest in whatever your potential is. Go get a job in a service industry."

    Most colleges operate that way too, to an extent. Since that's what our highschools are, and that's what our colleges are, of course that's what the college application process will be. It's perfectly appropriate for what we're trying to do. The question is, are we trying to do the right thing?

  • by Shados ( 741919 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @09:42AM (#48072781)

    You have a standardize application process for college where you'll take standard tests to prepare you for a job industry where you'll be judged on standard interviews.

    We could change things from the bottom up (change how you get into college, and then maybe change the tests..and then people that come out of there may interview differently), but the transition period would be awkward at best.

    Alternatively you could change things the other way around. Start being smarter about how job interviews are done, then college could change, then their application could change.

    Though "creative" people generally go in "creative" fields where things like portfolios and whatsnot are the norm... not just standardized tests, so while there's problems, its not nearly as bad as its made out to be.

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @10:15AM (#48073015)

    I've known a few intellectually brilliant people who still live off their parents because they can't take care of themselves. They are "so in the clouds" that they are worthless, unproductive members of society. Sure, they're fun to discuss philosophy with, but I would never want to have one as a room mate or depend on them in any way. I don't care how smart or left-wing you are, every person has the responsibility to find a niche in society that allows them to work and TAKE CARE OF THEMSLVES.

    These "creative C students" are exactly the people we DON'T want in college, creativity having nothing to do with it. They the sorts of people who can't complete simple tasks or do anything practical. How the hell do you expect them to not just completely fail out of college? A college degree program that does not require students to GET EDUCATED in a range of areas (literature, foreign language, basic math & science, fine arts, etc.) is not a good educational program, and these C students will not have the discipline to make it through classes in subjects they're not interested in.

    Nobody will suggest that we give them a free ride through those classes either. So they're GOING TO FAIL.

    I'm biased because I am one, but the creative types I respect the most are college professors, especially in fields where you have to seek your own funding. You HAVE to be creative to publish new science. But you also have to be able to teach, present ideas clearly and logically, manage people, promote yourself, stay focused on specific productive problem areas, etc. Some of them (such as myself) had industry experience prior to going into academia. These people are WELL ROUNDED.

    Well-rounded is what we want to get into college. People who can manage their time and money, think about more than one type of thing, work on problems they don't necessarily prefer, etc. The most successful people are those most willing to do well at the less interesting parts of the job. And THOSE people are not C students.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @10:32AM (#48073183)

    The problem is, if you're a Harvard. Stanford or MIT, you already have thousands of students applying for a few hundred spots. And in the case of these schools, almost every one of these students is a carbon copy of the other - class valedictorian, perfect score on the SATs, perfect levels of extracurricular activities, etc. Beyond the essays and interviews that highly selective schools do, how else do you measure for people who aren't just "good at school" and churn out perfect scores on tests due to photographic memories or intense pressure?

    My story is interesting - I've always been a mediocre (B or B+) student and a lot of it comes down to my lack of talent at memorizing stuff for tests. Even now that I'm out of school, I play the vendor certification game and often get mediocre (but passing) scores on those tests. I think I'd do a lot better if I had a photographic memory. Same goes for math -- I find the concepts very interesting but have some sort of calculating disability that I still haven't been able to figure out. Put stuff like that together, plus my insistence on pursuing a difficult degree (chemistry,) and my grades were no great shakes. I really don't know which is better -- the rote memorization method that China and India use, or our method which, if you ask a random sample of people, apparently doesn't work well enough.

    One of the problems with lowering standards in the highly selective private schools is that you'd be opening the doors of a closed club to more people, and I'm not sure these institutions want to do that. I went to Big No Name State U, and the experience in these places is very much what you make of it. Especially if the place is big, you need to seek out every advantage and opportunity rather than have it handed to you. I read something a few months ago that compared the experience at a state university to that of the Ivy League, but of course my memory sucks so I'll have to look it up later. :-) Anyway, this author seemed to indicate that the primary difference is that once you're in the private university system, they don't let you fail. Opportunities to make up work, etc. that don't exist in a lecture class of 400 students are given to people who have trouble. The alumni network ensures that anyone who makes it through will get a good job, and the brand name on the degree will follow you forever. It's like you're in a club, and it's your reward for working like a dog (and paying a lot of money) to get into the top tier.

  • by mordred99 ( 895063 ) on Monday October 06, 2014 @11:41AM (#48073701)

    This is again why people are looking at this the wrong way because college is not a job training tool. Companies have just pushed colleges to do this because they want to get what people used to spend 3 years as an apprentice in a company learning directly day one. The point of college academics is to create .. wait for it .. more academics. People who will know how to think, do research, and contribute to society from an academic standpoint. Yes the first 4 years give you a basic world point of view, and help you with critical thinking, and some basic skills for a career path.

    This is why (among many reasons) colleges in the US fail to setup people for the workplace. It is used as a baseline template of what someone needs to know to work in a job. It is like someone with the right degrees or certifications after their names being the only people who can apply for a jobs. I know more than many CISSPs that I have met but never felt compelled to plop down a grand to take a test. Does that mean I am not as good as those that have the discretionary (or their company has) funds to pay for that test? It is a benchmark for people but does not mean it has to be used.

    College has a goal, a task, and a process for creating graduates. If you want to just learn skills, but not know how they work, or why they work, then go to a trade school. That is what trade schools were setup for originally, to give someone the skills that you learn in college without the theory.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears

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