There’s a great article in “The New York Times” today about admission to Bard that we thought we’d bring to the attention of our readers. In the piece on Bard College entitled “Didn’t Ace SAT? Just Design Microbe Transplant Research” written by Ariel Kaminer, Kaminer points out how Bard College is changing the way in which they conduct their admissions process. Deemed “proudly out of step with the times,” Bard is shaking things up. They already didn’t require the SAT or ACT. But now Bard is asking applicants that instead of being president of the debate club, they should write four 2,500-word research papers. That’s right — research papers for admission.
According to the piece on admission to Bard in “The New York Times,” “The research topics are formidable and include the cardinal virtue of ren in Confucius’s ‘The Analects,’ ‘the origin of chirality (or handedness) in a prebiotic life,’ Ezra Pound’s view of ‘The Canterbury Tales,’ and how to design a research trial using microbes transplanted from the human biome. If professors deem the papers to be worthy of a B+ or better by the college’s standards, you are in.” How simple, right?
At highly selective colleges like Bard College — notably one of the most expensive colleges in the nation — and the Ivy League colleges, so much of what students actually do in college is write papers. So why shouldn’t research papers be at the heart of the college admissions process? It makes logical sense to us and we salute Bard College for daring to go against the trend, for boldly seeking to change a flawed process. But do admissions officers at Bard really believe that students are going to submit their research papers without first getting help from, say, a great private college counselor? Good writing is good writing be it in the form of personal statements or haikus or research papers. We help our students become better writers. It’s what we do best.