Getting Into College: The Things People Do

Teens trade lazy summer days for jobs / Work experience seen improving college prospects:

"Instead, many college-bound young people are in summer school, doing volunteer work, or on a trip to the Third World -- sometimes more to spice up their college applications than out of genuine interest, admissions officers say.
Admissions deans are loath to suggest that certain types of experiences are better than others, and say they do not hold a lack of paid work against applicants. Still, deans at several elite schools said they are taking more notice when students have unglamorous jobs."


Back in my country, I have seen students in my school join clubs and societies just for the sake of putting it down on their university applications. They would show up during the early weeks of the school term to every club and society meeting so that they may be elected as committee members. And the education system in my country has a completely bogus and ridiculous scoring system for club participation: It is scored on a scale of 1-10. You are scored between 1-4 if you are just a normal member - length of participation determines what score you get. You get a 5 if you are one of the committee members. The only way you can get above a 5 is if you have represented your school, district, state or country. This forces everyone to compete for a position in the committee even if they are not fit for the post in the first place.

And not surprisingly, it is usually the loud-mouths who manage to get the position. They will try to convince their friends and teachers that they are suitable for that position. And when they finally get that position, they do not live up to their promises. The normal members end up doing much of the work without receiving any credit (remember the bogus system? You cannot get above a 5 if you are not a committee member). And what is worse is that our education system does not really rely on recommendation letters. So even if the teacher decides to write a letter for you, it is not going to be read by the admissions committee.

This was during my high school years and they might have already abolished this system. However, I seriously doubt it since I still hear tales of people doing these activities as a means to boost their application.

I have also heard stories of students who try all sorts of methods to get into medical school in this country. There was someone who was working in a lab during his undergraduate years where he received proper training. He exhibited great leadership, motivation and potential. Thus, he was able to garner a good recommendation letter from his mentor. Then poof, once he got accepted into medical school, he stopped showing up to the lab altogether. When contacted, he just brushed it off as saying that he is now extremely busy.

I don't pretend to have a solution for this. There is no bullshit detector at the moment nor will there ever be one. It's just sad that such things are so prevalent. And it's even more sad that just because everyone is doing it, good honest kids are also compelled to follow. What happened to being who you are and sticking to your own opinions?

comments powered by Disqus