Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy,
San Diego State University
Posted: 03/28/11 10:42 AM ET
Is who gets admitted to one of America’s coveted universities each year mostly a numbers process that is badly flawed? You are more likely to have success at LOTTO.
Depending on the college, admissions people like to think that they have set the bar at the right level to screen out only those applicants that meet the colleges’ requirements. Some look closely at the personal letter, if required, to find the young man or woman who offers the creativity the college demands, or the empathy or the passion. But this only comes after the combined scores are tailed and the cut offs are applied.
The truth is that most schools, particularly given the sheer number of applications, rely on GPA and SAT scores. According to the New York Times, Harvard received a record 27,278 applicants “for its next freshman class, a 19 percent increase over last year. Other campuses reporting double-digit increases included the University of Chicago (18 percent), Amherst College (17 percent), Northwestern (14 percent) and Dartmouth (10 percent).”
The problem is that GPAs vary school to school. The SAT, formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. It doesn’t vary as much, but is increasingly being discounted by colleges because, many critics have accused, has a cultural bias toward the white and wealthy kids.