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Felicia's picture

Jessica and Rebecca bring

Jessica and Rebecca bring up interesting points about the value placed on formal education. I think it's so important to take into consideration, as Rebecca said, the educational inequalities that exist in the current system, but reading Jessica's post made me think about different kinds of education and the apparent superiority of some.

As an interviewer in the admissions office, we're told to look for diversity of all kinds - if nothing else, it's one way to distinguish thousands of applicants from one another. I can't help but notice the disparities in formal education, which ironically are to some extent viewed as diversity. Is it OK that formal education is valued over lesser paid trades? No, probably not, but I think that's a seperate issue. It would be great to let those who wanted to pursue academic endeavors fight it out if everyone was given the same opportunity to fight. If everyone had the choice to become an assembly line worker, janitor, or obtain a higher degree and allowed the opportunities to do so, I think it's a great idea to let those who wish for a higher degree work hard for it. However, most (not all) of my friends from home dropped out of college not because learning wasn't something they valued, not because they didn't want to work hard to earn a degree, but rather because they couldn't keep up with working full time while going to school, or because test-prep resources weren't available, etc, etc...I know I'm beating a dead horse here, but without a level playing field and equal opportunities for everyone we can't assume "self-selection" is as cut-and-dry as it seems.

I haven't much questioned whether or not diversity in an educational setting is valuable, partially because as a high school student I thought that some of my characteristics that made me a strong applicant were also the ones that seperated me from the stacks of applications they went through. But in this case, embodying "diversity" (in the form of geographical, interests, etc) was the means to and end - getting into college. I wonder, however, how much of that diversity is maintained and how much is lost in the educational setting. Although I'm the same person as I was four years ago, my ideas and interests have no doubt been influenced by my diverse peers. We may create a diverse or wide range of thoughts/interests as an institution, but it's interesting to see how the individual responds. Is exposure to diversity beneficial for the individual?

 

We've pointed to quite a few flaws in the system, and I'm fascinated by the power it has - the ramifications of a standardized testing score can dictate the school a person is admitted to, but what is that score really saying? I think Kara's right in that the assessment of students is way off, it seems almost industrial and streamlined. I think an adjustment or at least reassessment of what's important is in order.

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