I was half awake this morning and heard this report on NPR about the admissions process at Amherst.
Did you hear it?
I couldn't help wondering about FERPA. Did they read real admissions letters? (If not, it's more like a movie of the week than a journalistic report.) (Maybe FERPA only covers enrolled students?)
Imagine being the student who said he was uninterested in anything except music. Now imagine hearing the response of the faculty to what he thought was a decent letter (surely he thought he was sounding different from the pack). Ugh.
I've heard (but only heard) that there are people out there who sell their services to help students write their essays and such. Then I imagined what a disadvantage it would have been to be the music guy who would never have written that letter with coaching.
And then I thought, ooo, what if his admissions coach (I just heard them use the word in the report) told him that would work for sure. Ouch.
This seems to me like more commentary that adds to the worries and stresses of the (mostly) very privileged few who even bother to apply to a place like Amherst. Those same students would get in immediately at a place like mine. They wouldn't get the hand-holding that I was required to give students when I worked at an SLAC, but they'd be here, and they'd probably do great and get a great education. (Face it, students who excelled in their high schools and had this sort of privilege will do fine wherever they go. They won't make the same Wall St connections here that they would at an east coast SLAC, but they'd get a good edudation.)
I wonder what sort of chilling effect these reports have on our sorts of students, who hear these sorts of reports (or not? maybe the NPR audience doesn't include many of our prospective students or their parents?). I wonder if the student with a perfectly respectable ACT/SAT score, with some good school activities in a regular school (where there just aren't three clubs for people with interests in different religions or AP courses for HS freshmen) hears these and despairs.
If you were the admissions folks at Amherst, why would you agree to give NPR access to that meeting? Are they going with "any publicity is good publicity"? Are they playing the "we're so selective!" game that everyone plays?
I guess it's time to be done with spring break and back to the office!