Higher Education is Becoming Increasingly Irrelevant

Progs hold as an article of faith the inherent value of education. In leftist/equalist cosmology, education is imbued with magical properties of a sort that can transform dim students with IQs of 85 into latter day Einsteins while somehow preventing the 14 year old project chick with the 28 year old mother from becoming baby mama number 5 to a resident stoop goon. Not only is education so magical that it has the power to spin straw into gold, it is so powerful that it can defy the economic law of supply and demand and retain full potency even after its value is diluted as a result of overmatriculation. Progressives are above all Credentialists who regard the credential as an amulet, a modern day rune that brings the bearer success and fortune regardless of whether he majored in Transgender Unicorn Studies or Electrical Engineering. Colleges and universities are above all concerned with bottom lines, easy money, and indoctrination: thus a credentialist culture that acts as a pipeline, funneling kids from institution to institution comes as a boon to the college-industrial complex. Any policy working to put more asses in university seats will be welcomed by higher ed for pecuniary reasons while being passed off as high minded “social justice.”

So, it should come as no surprise that institutions of higher learning have begun to drop standardized testing as an admissions requirement. George Washington University is the latest to join the party.

George Washington University on Monday became one of the largest and most prestigious schools to join a nationwide movement against admissions tests, announcing that it will no longer require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. 

The Washington, D.C., school’s new policy will go into effect on Aug. 1 and applies to both freshman applicants and transfer students. The university said in a statement that it came to the decision based on the findings of its Task Force on Access and Success.

GWU now joins such (mostly) venerable schools as Wesleyan, Brandeis, Bryn Mawr and Temple in the standard lowering bonanza.

Members of the task force examined the value of test scores in understanding how a student performs at GW,” the statement said. “They reached the same conclusion as many other institutions: that the best predictor of academic success in college is a student’s high school record, especially their high school GPA. This conversation led GW to adopt a test-optional policy.

GWU should do whatever it wants with its admissions policy. What it shouldn’t do is try to force feed readers this disingenuous tripe. Everyone knows that not all high schools are created equal. The D student graduating from New Trier High School would be better equipped for life than the A student graduating from your average Chicago public high school. Common are the tales of public school graduates unable to properly read the words on the document certifying the achievement of basic academic proficiency. If 40% of incoming freshmen, whose high school grades were ostensibly solid enough to qualify for admission at public universities require at least one remedial course to bring them up to speed with the general college population, it would seem obvious that high school performance is not as predictive of fitness for or success in the university context as GWU and its ilk would like us to believe.

“The test-optional surge recognizes that no test — not the SAT, old or new, nor the ACT — is needed for high-quality admissions,” FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer said in a statement sent to The Huffington Post. “Many independent studies and practical experiences have shown that test-optional admission enhances both academic excellence and diversity.”

I hate to break it to you Bob, but there is no way that a lowering of standards will enhance both excellence and diversity. It will only enhance one at the expense of the other. GWU’s new admissions policy won’t attract “diverse” higher achievers capable of excelling in rigorous disciplines, but rather will attract “diverse” credentialist strivers who skate through cake majors. Consider this story:

Wake [Forest University]’s [test optional] policy drew Natalie Casimir to the university.

Casimir, 18, from Mooresville, N.C., said she thrived in the International Baccalaureate program at her public school and got mostly A’s and a few B’s. But she didn’t have the knack for testing. She took the ACT twice and got middling scores. Then she got a 1580 (out of 2400) on the SAT at the end of 11th grade. She was despondent.

“It really hit me hard,” she said. “I felt like my work in the classroom wasn’t adequately depicted in the test scores. I kind of panicked. I had only really known of schools that took SAT or ACT scores. I thought, maybe I’m not good enough to get into a really good school.”

Casimir’s gut conclusion was likely the correct conclusion. The story continues:

But she was. An older brother tipped her off to Wake Forest’s policy, and she fell in love with the school. She applied without submitting test scores and got in. A daughter of Haitian immigrants, Casimir is now a rising sophomore and plans to major in English with minors in political science and Spanish.

No further comment. Back to the original story.

A study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling last year found that at schools with test-optional policies, there was virtually no difference in cumulative GPA or graduation rates between students who submitted scores and those who did not.

Which is probative of nothing. As we’ve already established, high schools regularly churn out A average graduates who haven’t yet mastered the fundaments of reading and math. Furthermore, universities will stop at nothing to prevent attrition.

“For economic growth and social stability, America will need to find successful paths to higher education for hundreds of thousands of additional first-generation-to-college, minority, immigrant, rural and [learning differences] students,” the NACAC report said. “This study provides the research support for optional testing as at least one route by which that can happen.” 

But does it actually have this effect? What’s ironic about this push to foster “economic growth and social stability” through expanding access to higher ed will have the opposite effect. Academic rigor will become the first casualty, as standards are abandoned and fluff majors proliferate to accommodate the influx of inferior students. As educational standards plummet, the devaluation of the college degree will accelerate, leaving these subpar students with mountains of debt, no marketable skills to speak of, and a worthless degree. A glut of degrees on the market will depress the cost of hiring degree holders while intensifying competition for a dwindling number of positions.

Not only will credentialing even the most mediocre students not provide greater access to wealth for those students, it will entrench cronyism and nepotism, as employers scramble for ways to separate the wheat from the chaff of human capital. The marketplace will prove more brutal a threshing mechanism than university ever could be. Rather than becoming empowered, these students will become resentful and will blame the system for their inability to succeed, eventually becoming a critical mass of malcontents determined to topple the system they believe to have wronged them. They’ll become a huge liability.

Progressive utopianists will not stop their chimerical pursuit of equality. They can’t abide the thought that not everyone is capable of success in college. They won’t accept that not everyone should go to college or that the heritability of intelligence means that education cannot create what isn’t already there. The considered and compassionate response to these realities would be to encourage kids to pursue alternative paths to success and satisfaction, rather than forcing them in the direction of college where they will either become mediocrities or outright failures.

But who are we kidding. There’s nothing compassionate about prog social justice theology. They are happy to sacrifice as many lives as necessary on the altar of Leftism.  Education is magic!

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3 Comments

  1. Awesome blog. The fact that you would don the mantle of High Shitlord at the inception of your earning years just blows my mind. Either you’re a) crazy b) came into money c) assume your prospects were not that hot to start with.

    What can I do to help?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. […] URM students who are admitted to elite public colleges are by and large unable to compete with the rest of the student body and would be better off attending schools where the academic aptitudes of the student body are more in line with their own. Instead, they are pushed into and through colleges where they either fail out or flounder even after selecting economically useless social justice courses of subjective study guaranteed to saddle them with mountains of debt, chips on their shoulders, and no useful skills. […]

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