College admissions will never be the same again

Although change in how students are admitted to college has long been underway in this country, the pandemic has accelerated it (“Will the Pandemic Revolutionize College Admissions? The Wall Street Journal, May 30.)  Yet no matter how much effort is put into making admissions fairer, there will always be complaints.

I’m referring now to the decision by the University of California to eliminate the SAT and ACT.  As long as no national curriculum exists in this country, UC cannot possibly come up with its own version that is a significant improvement.  Other countries serve as evidence.  In Japan, for example, the curriculums are almost all the same throughout the country, even though standards vary among upper secondary schools.  It’s not surprising, therefore, that its students perform so well.

I still maintain that college is not necessary for a good life.  I say that particularly today because of the cost of getting a degree.  What about vocational education?

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

4 Replies to “College admissions will never be the same again”

  1. Absent a widely-accepted definition of what is “fair” in college admissions, it’s impossible to develop “fair” admissions criteria.

    We do not have anywhere near a consensus re what a college’s goal is. Probably, most people would agree that a college has multiple goals and the disagreement would be regarding how much weight the college should give towards achieving each goal.

    Absent consensus re what a college goal is, it’s impossible to decide what admissions criteria the college should use.

    If the college’s goal is financial security for the college as an institution, then favor affluent applicants (particularly legacies) and star football/basketball athletes.

    If the college’s goal is training society’s leaders, then favor the children of today’s leaders, high school athletic captains, and high school student govt types.

    If the college’s goal is attracting federal research $, then favor students with strong STEM credentials.

    If the college’s goal is advancing knowledge generally, then favor students with the strongest broad academic records and those with demonstrated very high IQ.

    If the college’s goal is reducing poverty and/or discrimination in society, then favor low-income and/or minority applicants.

    No easy answers.


  2. Labor Lawyer: Quite true what you say. I remain convinced that college today is a bad investment for too many students. They would be far better off pursuing a vocational curriculum, coupled with an apprenticeship.


    1. Agree that many students — and society generally — would be better off if they pursued voc ed + an apprenticeship. But, at least for those students (perhaps for all students), I’d like to see them enroll immediately post-high school in something like a national service program in which they would live away from their family in a quasi-military environment (coed) where they could transition from high school/at-home lives to adult lives while still enjoying some degree of oversight. The idea would be to provide the socializing/horizon-broadening/maturing aspects of the college experience w/o the high cost and w/o the wasted academic effort.


  3. Labor Lawyer: During the Depression, FDR created the Civilian Conservation Corps, which provided young men with a salary and meals while they did useful work. Perhaps something similar would appeal to young people today. Let’s not forget that the Peace Corps under Kennedy attracted many.


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