SATs Should Not Be the First Impression
The SATs do not measure what people think it measures. The Princeton Review’s Cracking the SAT 2015 book states, “Just because the SAT features math, reading, and writing questions does not mean that it reflects what you learned in school… The test writers claim that the test predicts how well you will do in college by measuring “reasoning ability,” but all the SAT really measures is how well you take the SAT. It does not reveal how smart- or how good of- a person you are”(Robinson 4). Coming from “America’s most popular college prep company,” it is clear that these authors know what they are talking about. Keep in mind that this essay is not about how ineffective standardized tests are, but this essay is more geared towards the idea that standardized tests should be less important in a college application.
Realizing this, it is important to see that colleges should not look to the SATs as a first impression, but instead look towards extracurricular activities, classes and GPA, and recommendation letters. Extracurriculars are beneficial for socialization and success. Extracurriculars teach teens important disciplinary skills and results in improved grades. More specifically, extracurriculars benefits students’ time management skills. Jennie Kelley, contributor to Helium(an online community that shares information on a wide variety of topics), states that students learn organizational skills from having to wisely budget their time. Kelley also finds that better grades can stem from the discipline that extra-curriculars teach.
Eileen O’Brien of Policy Studies Associates and Mary Rollefson of the National Center for Education Statistics compiled an article in 1992 from the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and National Education Longitudinal Study. The two authors put together data into two tables, table on and two, the first of which indicates the successful participation of high school seniors. They found the”Indicators of successful participation in school include consistent attendance, academic achievement, and aspirations for continuing education beyond high school.
Extracurricular participation(1) was positively associated with each of these success indicators among public high school seniors in 1992″ (O’Brien). More specifically, O’Brien & Rollefson found out of all of the high school seniors, “students who participated were three times as likely to perform in the top quartile on a composite math and reading assessment compared with nonparticipants.” Clearly, extracurricular activities benefit students’ grades because these students are more disciplined with themselves and their time. Secondly, extracurriculars cause students to work well with others. Kelley’s article furthers by mentioning how “failing at a group activity affects everyone.
Involved students learn this truth quickly, and loyalty to themselves and teammates becomes an important priority.” As a result, students realize the discipline and the consequences of failing their teammates, which stems into the realization of failing themselves. She continues by showing how “in extracurriculars, students learn to encourage others, lift others’ spirits, celebrate wins and learn from losses. Teamwork creates a humble nature; therefore, we know that a success is not solely ours to take credit for, just as losses are not only our responsibility. Teamwork is well applied to studies” (Kelley).
Lastly, extracurriculars causes students to develop critical skills for their career paths. Amy Tenhouse, an active contributor to Congressmen and Senate representatives, finds that “students also develop skills specific to their career path and imperative for future job success.” She also provides, in her article, the 1991 study from Ernest T. Pascarella and Patrick T. Terenzini.
This study indicates that “extracurricular involvement has a positive impact on attaining a bachelor’s degree and on educational aspirations” (Tenhouse).The O’Brien article also mentioned how “participants were also more likely than nonparticipants to aspire to higher education: two-thirds of participants expected to complete at least a bachelor’s degree while about half of nonparticipants expected to do so.” Clearly, students have been benefitting from extracurriculars, which also extends through their lives as adults. Not only do extracurriculars help with time management, grades, and teamwork, but these activities also aids in the success of students’ futures. Colleges should look at extracurricular because it shows that students are interested in other activities, which shows how good of a student he/she is.
A popular argument against this topic states that not all schools are created equal. Some schools do not have as many extracurricular activities, challenging classes, and effective teachers as other schools. Therefore, colleges should have standardized tests in order to compare schools. However, referencing the same study done by O’Brien & Rollefson in the extracurriculars paragraph of this essay, their data also addressed the availability of extracurricular activities. In their second table, they found that “Virtually all students in public schools reported that a core of extracurricular activities was available to them, including sports, performing arts, publications, and honor societies; and all but a small percentage had access to academic clubs and student government (O’Brien). Furthermore, despite concerns about scarce resources in schools serving poor students, no important differences in availability of extracurricular activities in relatively less affluent and more affluent schools(2) were found” (O’Brien).
This shocking evidence successfully puts down any “schools are not equal” arguments, for there really are no major extracurricular differences between schools. Even if there was a major difference, colleges would look at the student’s accomplishments in comparison to the school and the area. Secondly, the opposition can say that not all schools are equal in the amount and difficulty of classes. Obviously, that is true. However, one must realize that the college cannot blame you for not taking AP courses if the high school one attends does not provide AP courses.
Again, colleges should look at the potential a student can achieve at a school, and how much he/she has achieved. Same thing applies to the third point of teacher recommendation letters. All teachers are not of the same caliber, but a student’s ability to receive a recommendation letter from the best teachers at his/her school is one of the most significant thing for a college to see. Obviously, not all students have the same opportunities as each other, which is why colleges do notice that and consider that. Therefore, extracurriculars, classes and GPA, and teacher recommendation letters still hold strong without the nationwide basis of standardized tests. “If my future were determined just by a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here.
I guarantee you that” ~Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama, one of the most influential and active First Ladies in the history of the United States, acknowledges standardized tests and their importance in getting into college. While standardized tests are not the sole factor in a college’s decision for acceptance, it plays a large role in applications. Considering that lower income students statistically perform worse on standardized tests, due to their education limitations, standardized tests inherently hinder these students’ future educations. As a result, the SATs should not be the first impression, and instead, extracurricular activities, classes and GPA, and teacher recommendation letters should be more impactful.