The College Process NEEDS to be Altered

“An intelligent person is open minded, an outside the box thinker, an effective communicator, is prudent, self-critical, consistent, and so on. These are not qualities readily subject to measurement.”  The author of Live and Learn, Louis Menand voices his opinion that an IQ test – such as the SAT or ACT – is not a legitimate way to measure a student’s intelligence in regards to being accepted to college. Similarly to Menand’s opinion, the NY Times article “Throw Out the College System” by Adam Grant posits that the way the American college system functions is inaccurate and should be revised. I, too, think that the college process needs to be revised.

Adam Grant truly believes that “the college admissions system is broken” and I completely concur with that statement. In high school, I was told that there are 5 things that prospective colleges look for in a student: your GPA, letters of recommendation, extracurricular involvement, essay quality, and most importantly SAT/ACT scores. I am someone who had almost a 4.0 in high school and exceeded the expectations of the other 3 categories, but no matter how much I studied or how many tutors I had for the SAT, I just could not score above a 2000. I was blatantly told that unless I got my SAT scores up, I was not getting into my dream school.

Louis Menand believes that the best type of intelligence test is college. According to his first theory of higher education, Menand compares college to a “big picture sorting hat that separates the best from the good, the good from the average, the average from the weak, and the weak from the failure.” With a high GPA and a degree from the University of Michigan, students should succeed in their future. Both Adam Grant and I would agree with this point of view because it makes the most logistical sense. The SAT/ACT is clearly not a truthful representation about an individual’s life.

I will never forget the feeling I had when I got rejected from my dream school. I simply do not understand how one test could have such a huge impact on my life. I knew I was qualified for that school. I studied so hard for the stupid SAT and still could not increase my scores. I felt like a failure.

Adam Grant postulates an alternative theory to these standardized tests: assessment centers. Assessment centers evaluate a candidate’s capability to succeed in whichever area said candidate is applying. However, these assessment centers are incredibly uncommon to use in the college process. I agree with Adam Grant’s opinion that these assessment centers would be a much more accurate measurement of a student’s proficiency to succeed in college.

These assessment centers would provide alternative approaches in evaluating these candidates. Primarily, the center would give students “standardized questions” and then grade them on a “common standard” by numerous evaluators, which simulates college on a more accurate level more than that of the SAT/ACT. In addition, it is hard for colleges to determine a student’s “interpersonal and emotional skills” by their score on the SAT/ACT. The assessment center would provide these students with “moral dilemmas” and base the evaluation on a student at a deeper level, while measuring their “creativity and street smarts” simultaneously. Finally, it is impossible for college admissions to know how much external help a student is receiving from tutors, parents, mentors, teachers, etc. in their college portfolios. By determining whether or not a student is accepted into college in an assessment center, this would eliminate those worries and ensure that it is the student providing the work entirely.

“More students would have a fair chance to demonstrate their distinctive talents and qualifications, and colleges might be less likely to reject the next Walt Disney.” In this statement, Adam Grant is justifying the reasons why assessment centers would be more effective than that of standardized tests. Furthermore, Walt Disney probably would not have scored very high on the SAT because he is incredibly gifted in his creative talents, something that the SAT does not measure. With these assessment centers, we could see student’s creative sides and determine their futures more accurately. Clearly, I am completely on board with establishing assessment centers and getting rid of the current college process. We need more people with this mindset in order to make a difference!

3 thoughts on “The College Process NEEDS to be Altered

  1. I really enjoyed this post and completely agree with your argument. The college admissions process is clearly flawed and needs to be changed. These assessment centers that you mentioned would be a great way to ensure that colleges are assessing applicants on an even playing field and are making sure that they evaluate them on a more wholesome level and not just for their ability to take standardized tests. As Menand and this post stated, college is the best test of intelligence. However, these standardized tests do not really test what college tests. In order to ensure that the college admissions process is completely fair, standardized tests need to be reformatted in a way that every person, no matter the extent of specific test prep, can have the opportunity to succeed if they have a good work ethic. The morality test suggested in the assessment centers would be a great way for colleges to get to know their applicants on a more intellectual and personal level, thus ensuring that well deserving students will be accepted to these schools.


  2. While I enjoyed reading your post and am intrigued by the idea of “assessment centers,” I definitely disagree with you about the state of the college application process. I’d first like to point out that standardized test scores don’t make or break an application. They are one component of many that are looked at by college admissions offices. The truth is, admissions offices need a way to directly compare students from varying backgrounds and schools and there really is no way to do that without some type of standardized test. The idea of an “assessment center” is nice in theory, but I don’t think its realistic or practical. It would be nearly impossible to “assess” students in the exact same way in different assessment centers all over the country. I’m not trying to say standardized tests are the perfect way to determine intelligence and how prepared a student is for college – they’re not. I think of them more as a sort of necessary evil. Admissions offices need a way to directly compare students from all over the country, and I don’t think there is a realistic way to do that besides standardized testing of some sort.


  3. While I found your article interesting, I disagree with the implementation of assessment centers rather than SAT testing. I do agree that the college process is quite flawed and there are numerous extraneous variables which could provide advantages or disadvantages to an applying student, I do not think that assessment centers would properly assess a students intelligence either. Firstly, the idea of assessment centers sounds unrealistic. It would be extremely expensive to open up so many assessment centers and create proper tests of intelligence. Secondly, it is completely unbiased. If everyone can answer questions in their own way, then there is no right or wrong answer. Therefore, it would be up to the tester/distributor to evaluate the students answers. This provides a huge chance for bias, even more than the SAT’s and other standardized testing. Thus while I do agree the application process is flawed, I don’t agree with your mode of changing the process.


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