By Mackenzie Dineen & Chris Bretti – Features Editor & 1851 Staff
What does a GPA say about a student? It may reflect their test-taking abilities, attendance and completion of assignments. However, there are infinite factors that could make up this number. A biased high school teacher, a leave of absence or even a technological issue could drastically change this number. Furthermore, why must students be judged as a number? Isn’t that a bit de-humanizing? Are the skills evaluated by this number evident the student learned anything?
According to the Admissions office, 99 percent of Lasell students receive some sort of financial aid. This year, several merit scholarships were awarded to both incoming freshmen and transfer students. Merit Scholarships are awarded based on a candidate’s academic ability as determined by the strength of the student’s high school, their curriculum and recalculated high school GPA. The admissions office reviews academic courses only: math, English, history, and science.
It is no secret the American education system values quantification of its students above their actual education. Obviously, there must be criteria to award scholarships because neither private nor public higher education is free. It’s important to award those who’ve worked hard and perform well in academics. However, students attending Lasell have much more to offer than their skills deemed “academic.” If a college seeks to offer an education that trains students for their industry, they should rarely be concerned with high school standards.
What about a student who is embarking on a career in fine arts? Why should they be proficient in math, English, history or science? Their skills are different and the work they make is subjective- so why is their funding determined by these irrelevant criteria? How about an IT genius whose learning disorder prevents them from being able to focus on a traditional test format? Or a student whose second language is English but can create a beautiful garment at the drop of a hat? Is our student body really represented if only evaluated by four basic skills?
Sometimes, students build art portfolios in high school in hopes of being able to use it to their advantage. However, often times that portfolio is overlooked for a student’s academic profile. It is unfathomable that any school would disregard the unique qualities of an individual, and select them systematically by grades instead.
Lasell does offer need-based financial aid to eligible students who apply by completing the FAFSA and has a number of named and endowed scholarships that students may also be awarded, that can also help students who do or do not receive merit scholarships.
More schools, including Lasell, should take the time to consider students’ unique skills, and determine scholarships based outside of academic merit. Face it, colleges and universities look for students who will make their school look good. Of course they will select students who have exceptional abilities because it raises the academic standard the school tries to achieve. However, this system of acceptance could reject some of the most talented students.
It is time to re-evaluate the application process. In addition to looking for common application or core requirements, Lasell should provide an opportunity for students to submit non-academic portfolios to highlight what separates them and what they can offer.