In a recent discussion at Palo Alto and Gunn High School in the Bay Area, high school juniors, Stanford professors, and radio show hosts discussed competitive college admissions and the toll that the admissions process takes on students going through it (or about to go through it). The group discussed how colleges recruit applicants that don’t have a chance of gaining admission simply to boost their own admission numbers and to appear more exclusive. In fact, the group likened the ritual to the nightclub “velvet-rope syndrome.” The club is only as exclusive as the quality of the people it doesn’t let in.
According to the “Palo Alto Weekly,” “[Ken] Taylor, [a radio show host], marveled at the ‘extraordinary obsession with pedigree and prestige’ in American society. ‘The reason colleges want to be part of the selectivity is that they’re selling themselves as a ticket into the elite class,’ he said. ‘They’re not just selling research and knowledge, they’re selling prestige — that’s a branding thing.'”
The group also proposed that colleges should only look at the numbers – SAT/ACT scores, GPAs, and other test scores – so as to make the process more in their control and more objective. The students voiced displeasure with having to rack up a ton of extracurricular activities to gain admission to competitive colleges. It should be noted that racking up a ton of activities is not a good admissions strategy. Colleges don’t want to see a laundry list of activities. They want to see genuine, passionate interest and love for students’ pursuits outside of the classroom.
If you could change one thing about competitive college admissions, what would it be? Let us know your thoughts by posting below! And take a look at the “Palo Alto Weekly” article on highly competitive college admission or our blog on getting into highly competitive colleges.