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Defending College Admissions - Why Numbers Matter

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Millions of high school seniors have found out over the past few weeks that they did not get into the college of their dreams. While some never really expected to, others are bitter as hell that they weren’t accepted. A recent op-ed in the Washington Post by Suzy Lee Weiss, a high school senior from Pittsburgh, has brought this issue of the college admissions process to the forefront.

The outrage over this issue is definitely not unfounded. The college admissions process is nothing less than a rat race. Students are constantly fighting for leadership positions, most interesting extra-curricular activities, highest class rankings and best standardized test scores -- only to hear that all of their hard work was for naught because their dream school denied them. This process leaves students feeling depressed, bitter, and compelled to express their outrage in some form.

I’ve found that students are most infuriated by the weight in which a student’s GPA and standardized test scores have in the final decision of admission or rejection. A majority of high school students feel that their scores and grades do not accurately portray their character or level of intelligence. This belief definitely has merit ; however, students must also look at the situation from an admissions officer’s perspective.

Due to the Common App, students can now apply to more schools, much more simply. Thus, the most prestigious schools are receiving close to 30,000 applications per year, with a very short amount of time to get through all of them and judge each applicant objectively.

Universities must then set unspoken standardized test score bench marks, before they even read an application. Thus, if a student applies to the Ivy League with a low ACT/SAT score, his or her essays aren’t going to be read, plain and simple. This might strike you as unfair, which it is, but keep in mind that these universities have 30,000 applications to get through! They do not have the time to read about the fantastic projects a student has committed themselves to every summer, if that student’s scores are not up to par.

While the ACT/SAT may not be a true test of a student’s intelligence or self-worth, it is a good test of a student’s ability to succeed in college and graduate -- something that college admissions officers want to ensure before accepting any student.

A student’s GPA and standardized test scores are not something that either students or college admissions officers want to seriously affect application statuses ; however, it is a necessary evil. GPA and test scores do not define students, but they are a distinct part of every student, a significant part, a part that matters.




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