Last week, the University of Chicago announced that they are becoming “test-optional.” In other words, they will allow but no longer require domestic applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission consideration. This news comes rather unexpectedly from one of the most selective schools in the country, and immediately raises questions: Why change the requirements? Should I still be preparing for and taking these tests? If I do take the tests, should I still submit my scores to such schools? Will other top schools do likewise?
In every sphere of life, success and the attainment of excellence is impossible without the ambition to learn and to apply that knowledge. The will to succeed is more important than any single tool to do so. We could bludgeon knowledge into the minds of students, but, no matter how hard we try, we will never succeed as thoroughly unless a student wants to learn. Even better: is driven to learn. Best: craves learning. Fostering the appetite for learning and excellence is a topic I have thought about and experimented with for years. Here is what I have learned:
Now that summer is here, it is time to kick back, relax, and never go to school, ever again. Well, definitely kick back and relax, but after school is more school and then real life work, so better to kick back with a book that is fun and will help you stay sharp.
Sound bite answer: Always take the SAT and ACT essay. Here’s why: First, we have to understand whether students should take the “optional” SAT and ACT essay at all. A student might get lucky and apply only to colleges that do not consider the SAT or ACT essay in their admission decisions, but, chances are, at least one college on a student’s list will recommend or require the essay. And, if students do not take the essay but then later change their mind and want to apply to a college that requires the essay, they will either not be able to apply or will have to re-take the SAT or ACT solely for the purpose of getting an essay score. The wise choice is to take the SAT and ACT with the essay at least once.
What do you care most about in life? If you have children, it is likely them. While there are many important facets of parenthood and to preparing a child to be successful, providing them with the opportunity of a quality education is one of the most important facets. Knowledge can never be taken away. A college degree is an asset that does not decay and cannot be lost or stolen, and it will benefit them for the rest of their life. But, a quality education rarely, if ever, comes cheap. That is why we work so hard for our children: so that we can afford to give them an advantage and allow them to achieve their potential.
Math has a bad reputation. How often do you hear students say, “I’ll never use this in life”? There are a myriad of rebuttals to that statement, but let’s use an application of probability that’s relevant to most of our lives, particularly if we have teenage children, as a small proof of how useful Math can be: the safety or risk of driving.
For the good of humanity, by far the most important quality of a person is his or her character. Take the comparison between intelligence and integrity. A brilliant, evil person can do incredible harm. But an uneducated, good person will still likely have a net positive effect (bringing happiness to others, improving the bonds of our social contract and the soul of society, etc). Thus, brilliance can actually be detrimental to society when not paired with virtue. But, integrity, even when not paired with brilliance, can only be beneficial. Yet, when combined, brilliance and character have incredible potential to do a vast amount of good for the world.