QOTD (2009-09-04)

I bet former UChicago dean of admissions Ted O’Neill thinks the culture of college rankings is stupid:

[Colleges] are all different: We all have our own strengths and our own cultures. Test scores tell us next to nothing about who a student is, how he/she thinks, what they care about…. We want to know how a student will behave around a seminar table at the University of Chicago.

I don’t know whether there’s any truth to the rumor that O’Neill resigned in protest at UChicago moving to the Common Application, but I do know that, when I applied in O’Neill’s last admissions season, the UChic application was my favorite one to complete. I also felt the most certain that the folks there weren’t judging me on the basis of my SAT scores or some artificial resume or my family history—they were assessing whether I would actually flourish at their school.

I’ve since had conversations with a number of people at Princeton that have convinced me that Princeton admissions cares about more than just test scores, too. But it certainly wasn’t something I believed at the time, and I wish other admissions deans who do follow the whole student approach could be as blatant as Ted O’Neill in breaking away from the rankings culture.

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