Higher Ed

Inside and Outed

Bard College "declaring war on the whole rigmarole of college admissions"

CJ Westerberg, April 15, 2013 8:23 PM


Classic post via The Daily Riff
"It's kind of declaring war
on the whole rigmarole of college admissions
and the failure to foreground the curriculum and learning,'

Leon Botstein, Bard's president of 38 years, said in an interview.
Saying the prevailing system was
loaded with a lot of nonsense
that has nothing to do with learning,'

 he hailed the new approach as a
'return to basics, to common sense'
and added,

'You ask the young person:
are they prepared to do university-level work?'"

Didn't Ace the SAT?

What's a student to do?

by C.J. Westerberg

Woo-hoo.  Finally, a prestigious higher education institution calls it like it is? Is it possible? 

A higher education (university and college) conversation that isn't about MOOCs and whether college "is worth it"?

Why and how haven't any other universities and colleges stepped up to call the admissions process for what it is - antiquated, skewed, and responsible for warping K-12 curriculum and time spent, especially high school?

 Bard College stepped up to the plate to call out the one-dimensionality of college admissions (easy to look at a score, folks) in Didn't Ace SAT? Just Design Microbe Transplant Research.
Too often we hear the excuse "well, SAT or ACT scores or GPA are the best we've got" to evaluate incoming students even though we know this route is seriously flawed, limiting and brutal on students. True story - overheard from one student on the first day of high school in Freshman year:  "Here is this week's list of SAT vocabulary words to memorize that you will be tested on this week. Every week you will have a new list so by the time you take the SAT, you will be prepared."

While this article begins with students with "poor" grades and scores, one could easily substitute the word "average" for the same relevance, including far many more students:

High school seniors with poor grades and even worse SAT scores, you may be just what one of the nation's most prestigious liberal arts colleges is looking for.
You need not be president of the debate club or captain of the track team. No glowing teacher recommendations are required. You just need to be smart, curious and motivated, and prove it with words - 10,000 words, in the form of four, 2,500-word research papers.

"You just need to be smart, curious and motivated,
and prove it . . ."

The research topics are formidable and include the cardinal virtue of ren in Confucius's "The Analects," "the origin of chirality (or handedness) in a prebiotic life," Ezra Pound's view of "The Canterbury Tales," and how to design a research trial using microbes transplanted from the human biome.

If professors deem the papers to be worthy of a B+ or better by the college's standards, you are in.

The college is Bard, in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and it says the new option, which has not previously been announced but is to begin this fall, is an attempt to return the application process to its fundamental goal: rewarding the best candidates, rather than just those who are best able to market themselves to admissions committees . . . .

FairTest has been the most pro-active and visible in this realm with a list of test-optional colleges and advocacy, and while we've read the horror stories about testing inaccuracies  cheating and schemes, heard the jokes about SAT prep such as from Stephen Colbert, learned about alternatives such as portfolios, standardized tests are still the benchmark for most and are big business, from a test-prep perspective and from the test costs per student.


Related articles via The Daily Riff:
I can write a 20-page research paper and my roommate can't

Why Testing Fails by Dr. Joseph Ganem

Are We Creating Innovators?  22 Insights featuring alternative college admissions predictions

Not only do these star students typically fail on these performances of understanding, but more dramatically, their responses are often indistinguishable from those obtained from students who have never studied physics. by Howard Gardner, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Too young to research?

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