TCS Daily

The New College Entrance Exam

By Douglas Kern - September 7, 2004 12:00 AM

Why should hapless high school seniors have to apply to colleges? Why shouldn't colleges apply to them?

College is a massive investment of time, energy, and money. Ordinarily, endeavors that require massive investment try to make themselves appealing to the consumer, and not vice versa.

Forget those stupid brochures and meaningless entries in college guide books. It's time for America's colleges to load a fresh sheet of paper in the typewriter and get to work.

Colleges must answer three of the following 15 questions. Space limit is 250 words.

1) If you are a private school: as the price difference between a private university and a comparable state university is often $10,000 per year, students who choose to attend private universities may well spend $40,000 more for their educations than students who attend state schools. Over the course of a twenty-year college loan, a $40,000 education may actually cost $120,000. Demonstrate how a degree from your university will produce benefits for your students in excess of $120,000 over the next twenty years. Give special attention to liberal arts majors, particularly those who do not go on to graduate school. Graphs and charts may be appended.

2) If you are a state school: what percentage of your student body hails from out of state? How do you justify taxing working-class people from State A in order to subsidize the college education of students from State B?

3) Your catalog repeatedly indicates that your college is devoted to creating an ethnically, racially, and socially inclusive campus. Describe what prevents your students from spending every moment of their collegiate lives with people who look, think, and act just like they do.

4) Your catalog also indicates your commitment to intellectual diversity. Please state the percentage of your faculty that votes Republican. Please attach the names of outspoken conservatives on your faculty. Use additional sheets if necessary.

5) You express a commitment to academic excellence. Please indicate the money that your school dedicates to athletic scholarships. Please indicate the money that your school dedicates to scholarships for excellence in music, theater, the graphic arts, creative writing, the natural sciences, and philosophy. Explain.

6) What specific job skills must all students possess prior to receiving their diplomas? What steps does your school take to ensure that students are making adequate progress in acquiring those skills? What actions do you take in regard to students who fail to acquire those skills? If the answer to these questions is "none," please provide the page in your catalog wherein you express to prospective students your indifference to their future careers.

7) Your application forms give applicants specific areas in which they may declare their ethnic background. Explain how you verify that this information is correct. Contrast this process to the efforts you make to verify the submitted financial aid information. Discuss.

8) Is your school listed in the U.S. News and World Report Top 50? If not, would you like us to consider any factors in mitigation of your poor performance?

9) What percentage of your student body participates in community service? By contrast, what percentage of your student body expressed an interest in performing community service in their application packets?

     9a) As your catalog states that your school takes a strong interest in community service, what does your school do to ensure that students perform such service?

9b) Do you see a connection between the answers to 9) and 9a)? Explain.

9c) Does your campus have an ROTC program? If not, do you believe that military service is not community service? If it is not, what steps have you taken to prevent the military from inadvertently protecting you?

10) Your application forms ask applicants to list their extra-curricular activities. Explain how one's ardor for extra-curricular activities has any bearing whatsoever on one's ability to perform difficult academic coursework.

11) If your school has an honor code, present empirical evidence to demonstrate that your honor code leads to fewer acts of dishonesty at your campus than at similarly-situated universities that lack such a code.

12) What percentage of tuition funds is allocated to the non-instructional research and writing of faculty members? Why is that number higher than zero?

13) What grade percentage must a student achieve in order to pass your math, science, and engineering classes? If the number is below 50%, is it troubling that your students are collecting diplomas while learning less than half of what they are being taught?

14) Given your answer to question 13, discuss the dearth of engineering and science majors in the United States.

15) Given the choice, which would you rather have: the education that your school provides, without the diploma - or the diploma that your school provides, without the education?

Thanks, colleges of America. Don't worry -- I'll take care of distributing your answers. Be sure to send your applications to me, c/o Tech Central Station, along with your check for $50. We'll get back to you in March.

Douglas Kern is a frequent TCS contributor. He recently wrote about Why The Lord of the Rings Will - and Must Be - Remade.


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