To be excellent, or to be human?

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: March 2003 Archive: To be excellent, or to be human?
By Sar (Sar) on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 12:45 am: Edit

From what i'm seeing of counseling and advising services and letters from deans of admission today, it seems like the college app process is less about "being a good student" than it is about "seeming human." It's almost as if, if you can't "seem human" on your app, then your app is at a great risk of being dumped into the recycling bin. Jobs are not obtained and retained by people who "seem human." The big money and the big discoveries and inventions are usually made by... er... not-so-humanly types. I think.
What's going on in those admiss officers' minds?
Solid credentials are being turned down in favor of apps with personal personal essays.

... good or bad? I left lots of room for discussion...

By Thedad (Thedad) on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 01:41 am: Edit

Sar, the flip side is that most work today--from technical programs to the corporate world--are collaborative enterprises. The most brilliant person, lacking in perspective and social skills, will usually not advance overall progress as much as someone who can communicate, persuade, delegate, and collaborate in a positive manner.

A personal interest of mine is engineering. There are many brilliant engineers who are inadequate for either project leader or teaching positions because they can't communicate worth diddly; I've seen this in both the corporate world and academia.

There are niches for brilliant loners, to be sure. But companies and institutions are now often cautious about where they place them.

By kaeri on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 03:20 am: Edit

remember we were put on earth to live, not just to excel.

enjoy life while you're at it.

By Lucky (Lucky) on Friday, February 21, 2003 - 01:43 pm: Edit

In a way, you're arguing against diversity in schools, which I'm sure is not your intention. EVERYONE can "seem human." Solid credentials are no replacement for life experience. Classes take up much less than a quarter of your week at college. The rest of that time is filled with external social interactions. There's nothing wrong with wanting people who WILL interact.

The "brilliant loner," as Thedad correctly titled them, contributes largely to the classroom discussion but generally comes off as boring to admissions officers. Whose fault is that?

Look: the application process is prostitution. Just like when you apply for a job or meet a significant other's parents, you play up your best traits/skills and diminish those that are less attractive in the hopes of acceptance, whether it's literal (in the case of college) or illustrative (as in social situations).

"What's going on in (their) minds?" It seems you're overlooking the fact that these officers still have academic standards to maintain as well; their selected students represent this. They want the best of both worlds. Social academics and academic socialites are the ideal. Those with the highest test scores are often rejected by top universities because they, in all their scholastic intelligence, don't interest the admissions officers who in turn make the rather logical assumption that such students wouldn't contribute much to campus.

It is all about the intangibles. Once you're admitted no one cares about your SATs, HS GPA or the number of APs you aced. Again, high stats only prove you can handle college-level coursework: the SATs were after all initially created as a method of predicting first-year grades (and they're not particularly good at that either).

These scores are but a small part of you: the part in class. After classes are done for the day at high school, you go home, you play sports, you volunteer, you party. At a residential college, you're around the same people all the time. Those who are truly "smart" can not only manage themselves in social and academic situations but also express themselves well enough in both to get themselves admitted in the first place.

Just My $0.02,

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