College Admissions


The College Admissions Scandal

This week we added another crisis or scandal to the news feed. The news is disturbing and disheartening, and for a number or reasons. At the same time, it’s important to reflect on some of the root causes for this newest expose.

First, parents always want what’s best for their children. They should - that’s what it means to be a parent. One of the problems with this latest series of accusations is the scale or extent of parental oversight and overindulgence. When fantastically rich parents can afford to manipulate the system of college acceptance, they engage in far more than just illegal activities - they fundamentally undermine their children’s ability to find real success.

Now of course, our current national social situation provides far too few examples of good leadership for either parents or for students. We are currently living in a selfish, “me first and me only” society where so many of our leaders exemplify the antithesis of the Enlightenment social principles of our founding fathers - and mothers. But that is for another essay.

And perhaps the real tragedy in all of this is the plight of the children. When a parent buys access, they disable their own children - the very people they care about most. What does a child really learn from this? That everything is for sale? That they really can’t compete on their own? That they are exempt from normal processes and procedures? That they really are not able to make it without parental financial intercession?

What happens to the child’s sense of accomplishment and self-efficacy when letters of acceptance are really receipts?

But, underneath all is is another pernicious practice. When college acceptances are based on high-stakes static assessments - like SAT tests, single issue transcripts, and glorified extra-curricular descriptions - the pressure and the temptation to lie, cheat, and bribe is ramped up to the breaking point. After all, for many there is only one chance to show expertise in this high-states static assessment system.

Instead, schools and colleges should adopt a multi-faceted approach toward assessment that does include testing, but also includes examples of work done and work in progress, of multi-dimensional transcripts that reflect both grades and achievement on academic standards, and of extra-curricular and community involvement.

This is the world of e-portfolios and the Assessment and Learning Profile System which we advocate at Gryphondale.

And for some extra reading -

Admissions scandal highlights divide over class in America
ABC News

Let's talk about the real college admissions problem
The Hill

The College Admissions Scandal Makes It Clear We’ll Need Affirmative Action For As Long As There’s Still White Privilege
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The College Admissions Scandal Is Peak White Privilege — & It's Nothing New

Fallout from college admission scandal worsening for accused parents, schools
Los Angeles Times

An Idiot’s Guide to Bribing and Cheating Your Way Into College
The Wall Street Journal

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