|Admissions Essays Blog|
|Through our very own editors and guest writers, this blog will discuss the INSIDE scoop on the admissions process of various schools and programs. If you wish to ask a specific question, please write to us, and we will make every attempt to address your questions in our future blog discussions.|
Sunday, August 28, 2011
The Standardized Test and College Admissions
It's no secret that the college admissions process isn't for the faint of heart, and one of the major roadblocks for students is the standardized test. From a theoretical standpoint, it makes sense. Colleges simply don't have space for everyone who applies. The standardized test helps to weed out the less desirable students. It is billed as an objective marker that helps admissions officers evaluate students from a vast array of backgrounds and educational institutions. So what if you really struggle with timed testing environments and scantron sheets?
Here is some food for thought. In case you hadn't figured it out, standardized testing preparation is big business. Feeding off the fear of hopeful college students, test-prep courses charge exorbitant fees to help students learn how to tame the multiple-choice beasts. Eduventures, a higher education research and consulting firm estimates that American students spend over $530 million a year on SAT prep alone. Students are being encouraged to take tests more often and earlier in an attempt to secure the highest scores. However, several recent studies have concluded that repeat-takers do not improve their scores by large margins, and that students taking the test too early, don't benefit from the experience. Examiner
Aspiring students may also find this recent study to be helpful. Admissions officers surveyed by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, placed a greater weight on grades and strength of high school curriculum than test scores in college admissions. USA Today Educate This is not to say that test scores don't matter, or that taking the test more than once won't be helpful to some students. Instead, this research serves as a reminder that college education need not rise and fall with the tide of standardized testing scores. Like everything else, standardized tests are but one hurdle in the very long road towards higher education and future professional success. They should be revered, but not necessarily feared.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Does "Well-Rounded" Mean "No Edge"?
In the college admissions game, much ado is made about the Summer. Those months of long, lazy afternoons that lure the average teenager into a full-time diet of languishing. The same months that are (sigh) absolutely ripe for packing in the experiences that will soon crowd the lines of the dreaded college admissions essay. Since the school year is reserved for, well, school, what better time than summer to create the kind of life experiences that every teenager needs to make themselves sound interesting come admission time?
You'll forgive this writer's wearied derision. I have noted before the importance of using the summer wisely. However, a recent New York Times article tackles the "Summer" issue anew by noting that scooping ice cream for pay can be as significant as traipsing along China's Great Wall. It isn't what you do but what you learn from it and how you're able to reflect upon those lessons in an admission essay. The article also raises the notion that college admissions officers aren't necessarily looking for the most well-rounded student anymore. One former admissions dean is quoted in the story as saying that " 'well rounded' [now] means 'no edge'". What does this mean for a high school student's summer calendar?
Seems to me that the substance of the ideal college admission essay is still a moving target. It will remain so as long as students try to tailor their experiences to the perfect essay, and not the other way around. Whether an admission officer will prefer a well-rounded student to the one who has mastered a single skill is anyone's guess. The best admission essay is one that is filled with genuine reflection upon experiences that have truly helped a young person grow as a human being. Where and how those experiences are formulated is unimportant. Maybe--just maybe--it'll happen in summertime.
Labels: does well-rounded mean no edge
Sunday, August 14, 2011
American Bar Association Makes Move towards Transparency in Job Statistics
Yielding to pressure from a broad swath of the public, ranging from law students to legislators, the American Bar Association (ABA), announced this week that they will approve changes to their annual questionnaire to include more information regarding job placement and employment prospects for law school graduates. What this essentially means is that law schools will now be forced to release information about the kinds of jobs that their graduates are taking, or--not taking. Why is this seemingly technical change important? Here is the explanation, in a nutshell:
Students are often drawn to specific law schools based upon the schools' national rankings. Rankings are based, in part, upon the job prospects for graduates from a given school. Obviously, there are many different factors that affect the 'employability' of graduates. Critics argue, however, that law students should at least be able to assess the cost-benefit analysis of a law school education before investing in several expensive years of legal education. Historically, the ABA, the body that oversees the bulk of the accredited law schools in the U.S., has not pressed law schools to release such information.
The new questionnaire supplied to schools by the ABA will require the law schools to answer questions about whether or not their law school graduates are employed, and in what sector. For potential law students, getting a clearer picture of their professional options will enable them to make an educated decision. On the other hand, what school can really promise you employment on graduation day? Whatever your take, the outlook for law school graduates is at least easier to see.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
UC Davis Business School Now Taking GRE Scores
Making itself one of a handful leading graduate business schools in California, UC Davis recently announced its intent to allow incoming applicants to submit Graduate Record Examination scores in lieu of Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) scores. Like UC Berkeley and UCLA, Davis is initially offering the option only to part-time MBA students, but will expand it to full-time applicants for the 2012 academic year.
This trend was arguably started when Stanford's Graduate School of Business instituted the idea back in 2006. The idea behind the shift was to increase the diversity of the pool of business school applicants. With the world of business now encompassing a more connected global market, ethnic, racial and national diversity is also key for business schools hoping to offer students access to a diverse learning environment.
The GRE has historically been accepted by a wide variety of graduate schools while the GMAT has been reserved specifically for business school admissions. The GRE is slightly less expensive and more generous with fee-waiver applications than the GMAT. These differences mean that accepting GRE scores hypothetically draws students from a broader educational milieu (the arts and the sciences), and different socioeconomic backgrounds across the world.
Loosening the reins on the standardized test requirements may help in that regard. Both exams test similar quantitative and analytical skills so admissions officers will continue to get a solid read on their applicants' testing abilities. Students interested in some sort of graduate education need not be pigeonholed for a single degree (as are GMAT test takers). With all of the additional entrance requirements of most business schools, the demographic shift may be slender, but the door is now ever so slightly more ajar.
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