Goucher College is going transcript free. Yes, you read that right. No longer will you need to submit your grades if you’re applying to Goucher College, a school that has chosen to defy the status quo of college admissions by requiring a two-minute video in place of the traditional transcript, test scores, college essays, etc. The move is radical. It is perhaps the most radical move in the last couple of decades of college admissions policy. According to an article on the shift within the Goucher admissions office in “Inside Higher Ed” by Scott Jaschik, “Asked why the college would make such a radical shift, [Goucher president José Antonio] Bowen spoke of the way scores on the standardized SAT and ACT exams correlate with family wealth, and noted that essays can reflect the ideas of parents or writers for hire. But Goucher has been test-optional since 2007.”
The article in “Inside Higher Ed” goes on to say, “Most colleges that eliminate SAT or ACT requirements cite research that the best predictor of college success is grades in college preparatory courses in high school. So why eliminate the transcript requirement in favor of a two-minute video? ‘There are a lot of students out there [for whom] the transcript doesn’t look the way they want it to look,’ Bowen said. ‘They were totally focused on music or drama or the soccer team, and so for whatever reason, they have a smudge or two on their transcripts.’ He added that while transcripts may predict academic success in college, that’s not all that matters. ‘They are predictors of how well you will do in school, not how well you will do in life.’ Bowen said he believes many people are unfairly judged based on less-than-perfect grades and test scores, and sense that they won’t be admitted to a good college — despite their many abilities.”
We’re not so sure this is a very bright idea. The Goucher president says that a lot of students don’t like the look of their transcript. Well, of course! Students who don’t excel academically in high school often don’t like the look of subpar grades on their transcript. That’s a no-brainer. And they don’t want to see a writing sample? How will they know if a student can string together two sentences in a row? A video doesn’t exactly seem like the most unbiased medium through which to apply if that’s what the Goucher president was going for. So now applicants will be judged based on their looks? Even if they say that’s not the case, admissions officers are human beings. They are influenced by a student’s appearance. At least appearance isn’t on display in transcripts, test scores, and college essays. And how exactly does submitting a video lessen the impact of privilege in college admissions? Does the Goucher president not think students will seek outside counsel as they prepare these videos just as they do for essays and SAT/ACT prep, etc.?
Do you think this is a good idea or a bad one? We’re curious to hear from our readers!