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New Admissions Standards: A Step In The Wrong Direction This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   UMass was the school of choice for approximately 11 members of the Dedham High Class of '95 and 17 members of the Class of '94. Whether this choice was academically or financially motivated, it may not be available to this many students who graduate in 1997. As a result of a recent vote by the Higher Education Coordinating Council (ostensibly aimed at enhancing the quality and reputation of the Massachusetts state college system), applicants to UMass must have a G.P.A. of 2.75 (and for the other state colleges 2.6) or post an SAT score ranging from 890 to 1130 according to a sliding scale in order to satisfy the new admissions standards, which go into effect next year. In 1998 the requirements will rise to 3.0 at UMass and 2.7 at other state schools.

The impact of this change, says Dedham High Guidance Director Edward Coffey, will make for a better learning environment in the public schools for serious students who can meet the requirements, while below average students will benefit from the increased individual attention at community colleges and have the opportunity to transfer into a state university after two years, when they are more prepared to meet the challenges.

Many students who will face the new standards see the policy in a different light, however. The excellent Massachusetts state college system has long been a refuge for those seeking a second chance academically, or an economically viable alternative to private college. Both types of students believe they are entitled to a quality education above the community college level; and the promise of a transfer is not a source of comfort to them.

But the powers that be on the Education Council, like their counterparts nationwide, seem more interested in prestige and competition than serving the purpose that justifies the millions of dollars taxpayers pour into them annually - to provide a quality education to every American, regardless of their race, gender, or socio-economic status.

The University of Florida recently raised their standards too. And in a resulting New York Times report, neither the president nor its director of admissions had one iota to say about how it would help their current students or what effect it would have on the less advantaged members of their community who couldn't meet the new requirements. Instead they triumphantly cited their school's ascent in meaningless rankings, the increase in their ability to attract out-of-state students and steal ones from private colleges. Apparently in all their zeal, they forgot that they have a special role to play - to make sure no one is denied a fair shot at an education.

The Education Council is expected to review the admissions policy again in 1998; at which time they are likely to toughen standards further. But hopefully by then at least a few will wake up to the fact that you can't force a man to run fast merely by putting a gun to his head and ordering him to do so. If he hasn't trained, if he hasn't been given the opportunity to train, he simply cannot do what you are asking of him. The answer is certainly not pulling the trigger.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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