Who needs a lunch period when you can take an extra AP class?
My high school was teeming with overachievers. Friends were in constant competition to see who could balance our rigorous selections with the most extracurricular activities. Tragically, not everyone could always pull off that A+ in Calc BC. But hey, when you're playing varsity soccer, leading the Model UN and starring in the upcoming musical, sometimes you had to just be satisfied with that A.
Getting dizzy yet? Now try to imagine the atmosphere when college applications rolled around the corner. Trust me, it wasn't pretty.
But up in New York's infamous Westchester County, educators are trying to fix such problems and aim to reduce the amount of competition among students.
Scarsdale Senior High School is among the major feeder public high schools for Penn and the other Ivy League equivalent universities.
"If a student is accepted at a non-binding Ivy League school [Early Action], we will only process one additional application anywhere," Scarsdale Dean Barbara Sarullo said.
Whether or not this is in the student's best interest, the school arbitrarily decides to limit freedoms and corner their most hardworking pupils into premature decisions.
Such policies serve to "even the playing field for everyone, to discourage our top students from competing with each other and from trophy-hunting," Sarullo said.
If counselors tried to force this upon my high school, students would've pillaged the guidance office. These restrictions generate an unconstitutional sense of authority, which is particularly inappropriate in a public school setting. Competition is part of the real world, and high school should mirror the rigors of later life as much as possible.
"The policy might have helped me, but it's unfair to students. For better or worse, we're a capitalistic society, and we need a free market of college applicants," said College senior and valedictorian of my high school, Jessica Dweck.
Although she was at the top of our graduating class, Dweck was admitted to our Ivy League institution only after applying as a transfer student. She will now graduate summa cum laude from Penn, but chances are she would've been here a year sooner if East Brunswick had followed the Scarsdale model.
Theoretically, as Dweck mentioned, the restrictions might initially make sense on a superficial level. In competitive high schools, the same five people would no longer dominate the pool of accepted students.
Yet a student should retain the freedom to apply to as many schools as he desires - universities aren't setting limits and neither should high schools. Such is the reality of a competitive America.
Even if an applicant isn't sure that Yale is his top choice, it is in his best interest to apply Early Action because according to Yale admissions, "historically, the rate of admission among early applicants has been higher than the overall admission rate." And if the student isn't bound to accept, there's no reason to apply later.
Combined with the Scarsdale restrictions, such a scenario would pose a threat to a school like Penn. If the student was accepted Early Action to Yale, his advisor would allow him to apply to only one additional school. With such narrow options, he'll probably take his chances on Harvard or Princeton. And the good old Red and the Blue would lose its chance to charm away a potential Yalie during Penn Preview week.
Scarsdale Senior High School and all similar institutions need to swallow their pride and allow students to make admissions decisions independently of school influence. Besides, if the administrations anger too many parents, they'll see top-notch applicants crawling away to other towns.
Before we know it, students may be eating lunch again - the horror!
Sharon Udasin is a College senior from East Brunswick, N.J. Her e-mail address is email@example.com. Sharon is a former columnist and current blogger for The Spin.Comments powered by Disqus
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