Is the College System Flawed?

Is the College System Flawed?

Sarah Smith, Reporter


I am by no means an expert on this subject. My opinions have been popularized by social media, mental health activists, and even Arapahoe’s own teachers. Not every kid goes to college or even graduates from college, not to mention how many people switch majors or transfer schools entirely. I understand how difficult it must be to gage a potential student’s personality, qualifications, and work ethic based on a cliff notes version of their life story sent in very fall. Thousands flood through the admissions offices and I realize that counselors must make life altering decisions based on a couple of facts- assuming that there are indeed facts to observe and process over. With all of this said and acknowledged, I still believe and value humans as individual pockets of knowledge and memory; each unique and worth the time to know and understand. We are not simple, and complexity is not a weakness. 

As a potential college student from ages seven to 17, my parents dressed me in sweatshirts, hats, jerseys: what they call “college garb”. I was going to be a legacy to colleges they attended no matter what. I was taught good grades and hard work would open up choices of which schools I could possibly attend. College seemed far away and and futuristic, like a rosy colored fever dream. I was destined to get a degree and make money for myself, classic capitalism. As I grew up, I came to discover the flawed outlook of this plan considering there are many other options than college, and the fact that the system is unjust. Let’s not forget the Olivia Jade scandal or the many times the rich are handed opportunities whether they see it or not. 

Let’s start with the facts. The SAT and ACT tests are necessary when applying to college. Both of these baseline prices are around $50. Taken many times and outside of school, a student must have money to spare to get a better score to widen their opportunities. Not to mention the times these tests were altered and cheaten on after bribing. The SAT and ACT tests are a way to make sure that tests are not biased based on different student backgrounds. An unbiased perspective of students is a step in the right direction, but this strategy doesn’t consider the lack of funding schools might receive in different areas and how that might affect a student’s score. Once again equality is not equity. The world’s platform is unjust. These tests add to financial discrimination. One source states that “The reality that there has been a long-standing and clear racial, gender, and economic bias in both tests is the larger problem”. Even though these companies are considered nonprofits, they still make a huge revenue in tax returns estimated to be in the billions. Therefore, the College Board and Educational Testing service relies on the money of students, and if students are willing to take the tests, pay for tutors, buy the companies’ study guides, etc. they have a better chance of getting in. Rich students play the game, and give big companies exactly what they want, while the poor are unable to join. 

Next, GPA. A student’s grade point average become their official transcript along with the AP classes they have taken. AP classes are run by the college board, which I previously mentioned. Grades are a way to measure a student’s learning even though they specifically measure if a student can play the system. Students that know how to take tests and get A’s can succeed. Those they don’t, are still smart. Grades don’t reflect intelligence. They don’t reflect problem-solving skills, critical thinking, or progress. They don’t really reflect anything. Success can not be measured by a number. Well-known names did poorly in school: “Al Gore didn’t do so well in college, finishing in the bottom 20 percent of his class with Cs and Ds”. Similarly, “Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden were all mediocre at best when it came to school but went on to have long, prestigious careers in public service”. True value and worth lies in every individual whether they can finesse a test or not. 

Finally as a second semester senior, I can agree with the many teachers who insisted that “it” didn’t matter. Grades, tests, and any other number that can be used to measure worth is a flawed mindset. One cannot begin to measure another human. Students are much more than what authority chooses to appraise them as. If schools and college systems used skills like creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, respect, etc. try to imagine the raise in self-esteem and confidence in students. Even though other toxic habits lead to anxiety, grades and college also add to stress. School should not be anxiety ridden and stressful to those who learn in different ways and lead lives that cannot be structured. Worth is a universal value that everyone has. It cannot be earned by a number.