Friday, October 26, 2007

Towson cuts special admissions program

I read on the Chronicle of Higher Education news blog about this story today. Towson University has decided to drop its “Academic Special Admissions Program,” a program designed to draw more men to the school, that it instituted during the 2005-06 school year. Towson’s student population is currently 63 percent female and 37 percent male, according to Collegeboard.com.

The program, which has already proven ineffective, had less strict standards for male students,and in my opinion, was completely unfair. The program’s main purpose was to give male students admission who did not meet the university’s standards for high school grades, but did well on the SAT.

One of the Chronicle’s articles discovered that the male students admitted under this program had an average GPA of 2.8 but an average SAT score of 1222, and students who have to meet the college’s regular standards had an average GPA of 3.4 but an average SAT score of 1075. Only 70 percent of the students admitted under this program stayed at Towson for more than a year, which is 15 percent less than students admitted under regular standards, according to the Baltimore Sun.

This program was used as an experiment, but the fact that Towson even implemented it in the first place angers me. Male students shouldn’t be expected to meet lower standards just because the college is trying to draw more of them in. Bentley's student population is 59 percent male, 41 percent female, and Wentworth's is 82 percent male and only 18 percent female, but you don’t see their officials lowering the standards for women to draw more to campus. Admissions standards should not be adjusted for applicants based on sex.

This program goes back to my last post about how time and time again, it has been proven that high school grades are much better predictors about college performance than SATs scores, so the way Towson officials designed this program doesn't make much sense. It doesn’t surprise me that the dropout rate among the students admitted under this program was higher than for regular students.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

University of California may abolish SAT subject tests

I read on the Chronicle of Higher Education news blog today that the University of California may drop its SAT subject tests requirement for in-state students. Currently, applicants have to take two tests in different subject areas, but UC’s Board of Admissions and Relations With Schools said the tests the tests don’t accurately represent African American and Hispanic students and the requirement:

“contributes very little to UC’s ability to predict which applicants will perform well initially at UC.”

This is a positive step for colleges who are starting to move away from standardized tests as a strict condition for judging applicants. While having a standard measuring tool for prospective students can be useful, it shouldn’t be one of the biggest factors in determining whether to accept students.

Many time SAT scores are completely inaccurate in predicting how students will fare in college. For example, one of my freshman year roommates got a score of over 1300 points (on the old 1600 point scale) on the regular SAT, then partied almost every night when she got to Northeastern and dropped out after one semester. I got a 1200, and have been doing very well in all my classes here.

Some have also called the SATs biased, and that they scores don’t accurately reflect the capabilities of minorities and students from low-income homes, which I completely agree with. It’s been proven that SAT scores do not predict future performance well and that high school grades are better to evaluate how a student will do in college.

Institutions of higher education should look at high school grades, extracurricular activities, the admissions essay and recommendations over standardized test scores when deciding whether to accept an applicant. It seems over the past few years that colleges have begun to place less importance on standardized tests scores, and I’m glad to see that the University of California is working toward getting rid of the SAT subject tests altogether.

Should professors have advanced degrees?


Check out my podcast about two Northeastern professors who were told their contracts would not be renewed because they don't have advanced degrees in their fields.

Here's the Northeastern News article on this controversy from last May.

I recently learned that Gladys McKie will be back at Northeastern in the spring to teach public relations classes; however, after the spring semester, there has been no decision as to whether she will be allowed to stay at the university.