A key objective of our college admissions blog is to correct misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process, misconceptions that are often put out there in the press for all to read. Today, we came across a piece in “The Sacramento Bee” written by Karin Klein, a freelance journalist in Orange County, California entitled “Today’s college admissions are out of control” that is among the most inaccurate pieces on college admissions we’ve seen in some time.
Ms. Klein starts off by describing how a student with a perfect SAT score as well as perfect SAT Subject Test scores didn’t get into his dream school. And why? As she writes, “Despite the student’s sterling academic record, he killed his chances with an essay about – guess what – his perfect scores on all the tests. ‘Students just have to be better rounded than that,’ a former member of the admissions committee told me.” So the applicant wrote his Personal Statement boasting about his perfect SAT scores? We have a difficult time thinking of a worse topic to write about, a topic that will most certainly all but assure his rejection. Oy vey. What was he thinking? The answer is that he wasn’t. He wasn’t thinking that admissions officers want to get a window into his world, that writing about his perfect SATs will only sway admissions officers to root against him. It makes him entirely unlikeable.
An editorial in “The Sacramento Bee” is brimming with misconceptions about highly selective college admissions.
Ms. Klein defends this student. She writes about how he might change the world one day. Yes, he might. But so too might the student who writes an outstanding essay in which they don’t boast about their perfect SAT scores. Also, Ms. Klein writes numerous times throughout the piece that highly selective colleges seek well-rounded students. She uses this as the basis for her argument that college admissions is out of control. For instance, she writes, “If colleges really want applicants to be more authentic, they need to stop harping on being well-rounded because rare is the high school student who authentically wants to get four hours of sleep a night or phony up another part of her résumé to look like she effortlessly completes college courses at night while foraging greens during the afternoon so her family can eat.” Ms. Klein, highly selective colleges absolutely do not seek well-rounded students. They haven’t sought well-rounded students in decades. Rather, they seek singularly talented students — students who show a passion or talent in a given area. Your argument is grounded entirely in misconception and untruth.