In the article Turning the Tide, Harvard University tries to make college applications more authentic in wholesome. They recommend different application requirements that put more emphasis on character instead of academic achievement. However, these requirements seem to defeat the purpose as they create more hoops to jump through and make it harder for students with little time to get accepted.
Harvard University gives many recommendations as to how to make a better application process, and they all center around having good and character and rewarding students who contribute to their community. The good news is that this would make sure students don’t put all their time into getting A’s and could spend time helping their community. However, we are met with the same problems that grade requirements give us: just as applicants won’t try to get good grades for more than college acceptance, many students would just do community service for the credentials, even if they don’t care about others.
This gets into a sticky issue. How can you measure character in a way that is fair and genuine? It’s hard to teach morals or grade someone on their character without dehumanizing them. Without getting too off topic, putting emphasis and servicing the communities doesn’t really do a whole lot more than grades do. And while it favors students with less academic ability and more time, it hurts another demographic.
I have barely any time any more. I had to quit my job because I practice for hours a day on my instrument to prepare for performances and auditions. My college audition was based on my musical performance, so thankfully I wasn’t hurt by a lack of time. But if my application wanted me to complete services for my community, there is no way I would have gotten in with such little time to begin with. This demographic, busy people, are hurt. If you’re very smart and play a sport, it might not matter because you have little time and can’t volunteer locally like these applications ask.
In addition, Harvard argues that the application process makes students value all of their self worth based on their grades and ability to get into colleges. While this is true, it’s a problem that our culture has and that kids learn from a young age and hardly has to do with college. We enjoy seeing our achievements in front us in the form of trophies or awards. Material possessions help remind us that we have worth, so colleges have little do with it.
In short, to completely address the problems that college applications pose, we will have to completely restructure school without grades and society without material-based self worth. This problem is a small piece in a much larger puzzle that we have to address from the top down instead of starting with colleges.
Writer’s memo: This is an informative piece to let readers know about Harvard’s proposed changes to their application process, and how applicants sometimes have to lie and combat unrealistic requirements to stay competitive.