My son has taken his parents for quite a “ride” over the last few months as he waited and waited to make a decision about which of the three colleges where he was accepted he would attend. As May 1 seemed to be looming, his father and I kept at him about that deadline and the need to make ANY decision!
He finally told us his decision, which I suspect has been his decision for a very long, but a little part of him just enjoyed watching his parents squirm. Last week, upon my insistence, he and his father went directly the admissions office of his chosen college to hand in the deposit and sign the financial aid paperwork.
When he arrived, he was met with the typical “You’ve made a great choice!” that any admissions counselor will give a kid who has decided to attend their college. But, here’s where it gets interesting………
He was remembered by the admissions counselor for his ESSAY! Yes, the essay that he wrote as part of his application, which was on the “topic of his choice” – not for his SAT or ACT scores, or even his high school transcript, and most definitely NOT for his ELA and MATH test scores in grades 3-8!!
Interestingly, this is the same child who had to be cajoled into attending a “Scholarship Invitational” at this college. He finally went, but only AFTER someone called him and told him it consisted of a 20 minute oral interview. (and being lured in by some free tickets to a sporting event) From what I can gather, the interview was conducted by 4 people, each asking him “some question” (his words, not mine). At the end, he was told that he could ask THEM a question. His question was “So, tell me, how has being part of this college community changed YOU?” One of the panel replied “What a great question! I don’t think anyone has asked me that before.”
A few weeks later, an envelope arrived. Inside was a letter stating “You have been awarded an additional scholarship of $3000/year based on your interview.” Let me repeat : BASED ON YOUR INTERVIEW!
I tell this story not because I want a forum to sing the praises of my own child (obviously since my name isn’t on this) but because I want to point out that the line we are being fed as parents and as teachers that somehow NYS TESTING ‘proves’ college readiness is LIE! NO ONE has ever asked to see his test scores from those tests. NO ONE cares if he was a 2, a 3 or a 4 when he was 10 years old. Yes, he submitted SAT and ACT scores and his HS transcript (which at the time was only HALF of his last year in high school), and yes those things factored into his admission, but remember – he was REMEMBERED for his writing and his speaking – both of which were his CHOICE!
As a parent, I have concerns about college readiness, but honestly none of them have to do with TESTS. I wonder about students’ ability to manage time and tasks when school is structured most often in a way where those are managed for them. I wonder about students’ ability to balance fun and work when most of the time constraints that schools put on them are taken away. I wonder about students’ ability to collaborate when school has become a test prep factory and everything is about competing NOT cooperating. I wonder about students’ ability to ‘think on their feet’ and make decisions after having spent 13 years in school where they were told what to learn and when to learn it.