BY EDITORIAL BOARD
As many of the Class of 2018’s seniors prepare for the arduous process of college applications and admission, one thing is clear: too many teenagers aren’t sure what they’re doing.
Out of 2016’s graduates, nearly 70 percent of high school graduates enrolled in college or universities, according to Bureau of Labor statistics. Attaining a bachelor degree today, many say, is now equivalent to earning a high school diploma and just as necessary. With test scores, essay supplements, transcripts and recommendations to send, not to mention learning how to use application portals themselves, seniors can often feel lost and overwhelmed amidst the frenzy of the college season. One way this issue could be resolved is by offering Cooper City High School seniors college admission assistance classes during their personalization.
Such an opportunity would look like this: once a week, seniors could leave their personalization class to attend college admission help classes in the college and career room. The classes would cover how to research universities, how to use various college application portals, how to write essays and how to find other college resources. The classes would span until the regular admission deadline, after which students could come in for moral support or help with navigating through the various paperwork needed after college acceptance, such as tax returns for financial aid packages.
The school has already taken steps to accommodate the dominant role college now plays in the last two years of high school by encouraging teachers to allot time in class for SAT preparation on free practice websites such as Khan Academy. The BRACE office is also available for student concerns and questions about future endeavors, and this year, CCHS has begun offering a course entitled Math for College Success to aid seniors in preparation for college entrance exams. But those students applying to selective universities realize the non-honors, non-AP class might make their application seem less competitive. Having the opportunity to learn about the admissions process in a class period that doesn’t count against GPA is undoubtedly attractive.
Test scores, too, are also only one way of measuring a student’s application. Colleges are increasingly turning to more holistic ways of application selection, valuing writing and storytelling skills in essays and letters of recommendation just as highly. English courses in school focus on academic writing, a stark contrast from the deeply personal and telling essays that colleges look for in an application. So, when a student who has been asked to write subjectively about themselves for the first time since grade school, it can be challenging. Due to the differences between entrance essays and the essays taught in English class, a class devoted to college essay style writing would benefit a large portion of the senior class. Students would be able to learn how to properly focus a college essay and write about the most compelling aspects of themselves.
Such a course has the potential to distribute resources among students evenly. Education, as historical educator Horace Mann wrote, is the great equalizer. But in truth, while everyone has the capacity to learn, not everyone has the same resources. Some college coaching classes can cost up to $120 hourly and add up to thousands of dollars, and private schools offer special classes after school for test tutoring. Clearly, not everyone can afford these types of resources, and every public school has a socioeconomic gap in regards to its students – CCHS is no exception. Running optional college classes during a personalization period gives every student the opportunity to learn essential tips for applying to college and level the playing field.
In the past decade, the number of applicants at the most competitive colleges has been increasing while acceptance rates have been dropping. In 2017, Brown University in Rhode Island received its largest number of applicants at 32,390 – with an acceptance rate of just 8.3 percent, the lowest it has ever been. As colleges become more selective, students who are looking to apply to four-year universities need to keep up with the pace – and offering optional college application classes during study hall periods is the perfect way to do that.
Essentially, if CCHS were to give students the opportunity to take a course on college essay writing, it would expand on the already quality education provided by the school. Offering a class on college essay writing would benefit all students, especially those who cannot afford private tutoring. Giving all students equal access to crucial information on how to write college essays would level the playing field for all students—despite financial differences.
Photo by Sabrine Brismeur