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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Getting boned by college system

    Colleges are prostitutes. They do their best to impress you so that you pay them tons of money to be in their company for four years. In the process of attempting to earn your business, colleges will try all kinds of tricks to make themselves attractive. They’ll boast about the size (of their classes) and their body (of students) so they can get the best applicants and be ranked among the best educational prostitutes in the country.

    Every year, U.S. News and World Report comes out with its prostitute — whoops, college — rankings. Each university in the U.S. earns a score based on a variety of factors. These rankings often will influence the choice of a prospective freshman, or of a wealthy donor.

    Recently, Claremont McKenna College admitted that a senior administrator had inflated the average SAT score of the school’s students to improve its rankings. A small private liberal arts college in California, Clermont McKenna was ranked the ninth-best liberal arts college according to U.S. News and World Report.

    The bigger question to ask is, who cares?

    Yes, the general public was lied to. Yes, it causes us to question the integrity of colleges. But the inflated scores only affect about 7.5 percent of the overall ranking. The real issue is the fact that a college would waste its time inflating SAT scores for a magazine ranking system.

    Colleges spend a lot of time boasting about the average SAT scores of their students, the retention rate and other statistics that don’t mean much more than the effort it took to calculate them. While a school may attract a higher-caliber student, the student may not be getting a higher caliber education.

    Our entire education system is based on a numbers game. Students try to get into colleges with their grade point average, while colleges try to impress students with their statistics. The vicious cycle causes both students and colleges to forget what is actually important — learning.

    GPA doesn’t measure how much students learn, in fact, often times it can detract from learning opportunities. Many pre-medicine or pre-law students stay away from classes that could jeopardize their GPAs, even if it means not learning as much in the process. While standardized tests are in place to bridge the gap between inflated GPAs and learning, they often fail to really grasp the extent of a person’s knowledge.

    The time has come for schools to focus on learning instead of grades. Grades are arbitrary numbers, based on the results of a couple of tests, not knowledge attained over time. Through forcing the intellectual bulimia of test taking, the American education system hurts the learning process. Students should be challenged and take a class not because of its easiness, but because of the amount of knowledge it offers.

    College administrators may lie to us, but it’s no different than the lies students are feeding to them. Resume building and GPA boosting are students’ ways of inflating their eligibility, but somehow that seems to outrage fewer people.

    A degree from an “elite” college may land you a better job, it’s true. But without knowledge, that job is pointless. In the end we’re all paying for the same educational prostitution, and unless we’re really learning, we’re screwing ourselves.

    — Dan Desrochers is a chemistry freshman. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions.

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