Colleges aren't there to reward you for doing your homework in high school
Great advice from an anonymous poster on reddit.
The college admissions process is not about “personally rewarding young people for what they did in high school,” says anonymous poster on reddit. Rather, admissions committees serve the the interest of their institutions.
That’s good advice. Here’s the full post.
Hi guys, I'm a college professor. I think you guys are working so hard and doing such a great job, and I just wanted to say a few words to explain why one aspect of the admissions process is the way it is. Namely, the emphasis on "selecting a class."
The reason that admissions officers put so much effort into selecting a class is that the university is trying to sustain a healthy research community. Let's say you used a random number generator to select your class from the pool of qualified applicants. And let's say your random number generator chose, one year, no students interested in dance, 2 interested in literature, 2 interested in evolutionary biology, and 400 CS majors when the maximum number of freshmen that classes usually accommodate is 200 (I'm making up this number).
Now the dance professors have vastly reduced class sizes, and the dance troupes have no new recruits. The dance professors leave to teach somewhere else. So do the evolutionary biology professors and the literature professors. Teaching isn't the main thing they were hired to do, but they like teaching and they want to have a consistent flow of students.
The school is losing money on the PHD programs in evolutionary biology and literature because the PhD students make their value by serving as teaching assistants. The PhD students, who want to become professors, complain because they aren't getting necessary teaching experience.
The campus literary magazines fold because there's no new talent to keep them going; this is especially likely to happen if the random number generator doesn't favor literature for a few years in a row. If freshmen suddenly arrive who want to run campus literary magazines, they have nobody to learn it from. This isn't something you learn in a class.
The dance troupes also fold, or at least they struggle to find enough members to keep going.
The biggest problem happens in CS. The class sizes are too big and there aren't enough people to teach all of the students. The professors (at this school) have contracts that limit them to teaching 2/2; you can't demand that they suddenly teach 4/4. If you did, they would leave. If you make them teach gigantic lecture classes, somebody has to do the grading, and there aren't enough CS PhDs to do the grading as TAs, because you didn't plan for this large of a population of CS undergrads. The professors, furious that they have no time for research, leave for schools that give them consistent class sizes. The university loses a massive amount of money because the CS professors aren't getting outside grants for their research.
All of this happens in just a year or two. And maybe the year after that, the random number generator selects just 50 CS students, and the CS department descends into chaos again.
There's a lot that could be improved in college admissions! But colleges simply aren't trying to admit students in order to reward them for their intelligence and hard work. They're trying to sustain healthy research communities. Professors - who at many schools are hired and evaluated as researchers, though they love to teach - don't get out of bed in the morning saying, "It's time for another day of personally rewarding young people for what they did in high school!" They often do get out of bed in the morning saying, "I'm so happy for another day of research and teaching in this amazing community!" And so do the students. And you can find amazing communities at colleges all over the United States, not just in a handful of schools. I promise.
Anyway, that's why admissions officers put so much effort into selecting a class.
EDIT: If you guys want to ask questions, I'll be happy to answer in a comment thread in this post. I'm too old to learn how to chat! Please respect my advanced old age
In other words, the admissions decision is not about your inherent worth. No, college admissions offices choose students who will help their institutions fulfill their own institutional goals.
What can high school students take away from this information?
Relax and develop yourself into the person you want to be. The college choice process and the decisions of admissions committees will lead you to the best place for you.
Remember that your application is part of a conversation and that if you are rejected, then you may not have been a great fit for that particular institution in the first place.
A successful application is one that leads you to the best college for you.