Turning the Tide by W.B.

In the article “Turning the Tide” the authors argue that college admissions should focus less on test scores and AP/IB classes that a student takes, and more on the service they do in their community and their day to day conduct. First of all, this is almost impossible to measure. There is no realistic way to measure a potential student’s daily awareness of and contribution to others, short of following them around and observing their actions. Also, it is not the job of college admission counselors to find the most ethical students. They should instead be searching for the students that will perform best academically at their institution.

There is a large movement among students, parents, teachers, and counselors alike to make the college admission decision less about grades and test scores and more about other aspect of the students’ lives. This shift seems like a good thing at first. It will allow students that struggle with standardized tests and have had circumstances that hurt their grades, to look more appealing to colleges. But we need measures like grades and test scores. There is no way to measure a student’s overall kindness or daily ethicalness. Admissions teams can not survey everyone in students’ lives and find the most moral individuals. There is far too much room for error and way too much bias. Another possible way to measure this newly desired quality, would be to follow students around and watch their behavior. This is even more unrealistic. Having students writing an essay about their moral standings is another possible approach, but what person will tell you that they are not morally sound? There is no authentic way to measure a student’s daily awareness and contribution to others, and because of this we need to stick to the facts we can measure, grades and test scores.

Not only is it extremely difficult to measure, it is not the job of colleges to admit the most ethical students. College is an academic institution with the main purpose of education students. Colleges need to look for students that are appropriate for their school academically. In order for students to excel in college, they need to have a satisfactory high school education, and they need to have the ability to succeed in classes. These two factors are measured primarily by grades and test scores, and need to be continued. If a student with sub par grades and lacking test scores, but great volunteer work, is admitted to an extremely rigorous university, they will have a very hard time keeping up with the college workload and the rest of the student body that is more intelligent than them.

I do agree that there needs to be emphasis on areas of the students lives other than grades and test scores. A student’s ability to perform well in school, while participating in sports, clubs, and jobs, is also crucial to their ability to be successful in college. Colleges should look at students’ activities and time spent on other activities and judge their ability to manage their time. But this is not the most important factor. Also, volunteer work is great, and should be looked at highly on applications. Volunteering shows a student’s ability to think outside of himself and to balance their time in multiple activities. But once again this cannot be the main focus in admitting students to a college.

There are other valuable indicators of a student’s ability to excel in a college setting, but none are as easily attainable or as relevant as grades and test scores. For this reason colleges need to continue to look at these numbers and use them as tools for admitting students to their institutions.


Turning The Tide by D.W.

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.