Monday, April 20, 2015

The Disappearance of Democratic Merit?


                           
    Do we as Americans value individual competition above all else? I would argue yes.
   
     I am in the middle of reading The Tyranny of the Meritocracy by Lani Guinier. Within the introduction of I found myself asking the question previously mentioned. Guinier argues that college admissions place a very high value on testocratic merit which is: “The assumption that test scores are the best evidence of applicants’ worth” (5). I could not agree more and I would further expand the argument adding that communities with demographics similar to New Trier perpetuate the popularity surrounding testocratic merit. We do this by signing up for countless ACT and SAT prep courses and constantly comparing ourselves to our peers based on a number given to us by a computer.

     From my understanding of what school is used for in our country, we participate and value education allegedly to prepare ourselves to participate and contribute to society in a productive way while collaborating with others.
    
    I have high hopes that one day our country will reconsider the status quo and readjust what we value as a society because I think it is incredibly unhealthy and dis-concerning that we place such a high value on defining students’ merit through grades and standardized test scores. This should not be used to define the worth of an individual because it is one minuscule part of who we are as people.

What do you think we as Americans value more: testocratic merit or democratic merit? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Uncertainties of College Admissions

            For my Junior Theme I was interested in doing something within the realms of looking into how the college admissions process has transformed so drastically over past few years.
            I read through the article "The Thin Envelope" by Louis Menand which was featured in the New Yorker in 2003. Although this may seem outdated I think it had a lot of relevant information and ideas. 
            The article basically talks about how unpredictable the admissions process has become in the past few years and highlights many of the aspects that go into the decision of accepting and denying students at top schools. 
            I found it particularly shocking how much the numbers have changed over time: "In 1932, 1,330 people applied for admission to Yale. Seventy-two percent-nine hundred and fifty-nine-were accepted. Eight hundred and eighty-four students enrolled;twenty-seven percent of them were the sons of Yale graduates"(Menand 3). This quote shows how the college admissions process used to work in the early 1900's. You only applied to top schools like Yale if you were wealthy enough. Most students who attended schools like the Ivies were rich and as a result of their college education they would go on to get good jobs and continue to be wealthy. This creates a cycle of the same demographic of people who are applying to college and that is why we see such a high percentage of Yale students admitted in 1932 that had their fathers also attend Yale. 
            In 2003 Yale had 15,466 applicants and accepted 2,009 and of this number 16% were legacies. It is very interesting to me to see that there is still a high percentage of legacies that are accepted and enrolling into the same top colleges. This further proves the idea I stated earlier that there is a cycle that is repeating itself year after year. This causes me to wonder if the wealthier are truly given a leg up in the college admissions process.