New subjectivity in college admissions

The pandemic has resulted in about 400 more schools eliminating the SAT for admission and placing greater emphasis on grades and recommendations (“College Admissions in a Covid Year: SATs Are Out, Personal Stories Are In,” The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 18).  Those are the only two possibilities left because extracurricular activities and attendance at college fairs have also been curtailed.

This situation means that applicants who can present compelling personal stories will have a decided edge.  Their experiences can make the difference between acceptance and rejection.  But by their very nature, such accounts are totally subjective.  How can admission officers decide whose story is worthier than another?  Recommendations are virtually worthless because they come from only those people applicants know will give them highest praise.

Higher education is undergoing far-reaching changes that I think will permanently change the landscape.  I hope that more and more high school seniors will rethink whether a four-year degree is worth the time, effort and cost. 

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2 Replies to “New subjectivity in college admissions”

  1. I can understand why colleges might drop the SAT/ACT for the covid duration — when, as a practical matter, it’s not possible to administer the SAT/ACT under rigorous test conditions. Beyond covid, agree that abandoning the SAT/ACT gives an irrational advantage to applicants who attend less-competitive high schools and indirectly dumbs-down academic standards.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: Relying heavily on personal stories rather than on data will not serve these students well once they are enrolled because they will soon find out that they are over their heads.

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