Today's Slate includes an intriguing report of the non-traditional application process for Bard College. Rebecca Shuman presents the new elective small-college alternative:
a highly selective liberal-arts school in Annandale-on-Hudson, New
York, is about to enter the second year of a revolutionary
college-admissions experiment: four wickedly challenging essays, 2,500 words each, reviewed by Bard faculty (who, I assume, enjoy grading papers). All four essays get a B+ or higher? You’re in, period. No standardized test, no GPA, no CV inflated with disingenuous volunteer work.
How cool is that?!
There are some additional safeguards; incoming freshmen take a pre-matriculation language and thinking workshop. If their work there doesn't seem to measure up to (read "come from the same person as") their admissions essays, their entrance into the freshman class just doesn't happen.
The program is not huge at this point-- only forty-some prospective freshmen took the essay route last year. But it is a great example of what can happen when a college decides to create an authentic measure of the skills they want for their incoming students, instead of simply processing some off-the-shelf data points gathered by third parties whose main interest is their own business and not the interests of either the college or the students.
It is, of course, the opposite of where we're headed. The pull quote from the article is:
It’s preposterous to determine a young person’s entire future based on her choices as a 14-year-old.
If Shuman thinks that is preposterous, she's going to love the brave new world in which we tell seven year olds whether or not they are "on track" for college.