The Miami Student has a Web site, in case you didn’t know. Yep, at www.miamistudent.net we publish 100 percent of our content (and a little bit more) online, and-in the spirit of true democracy-we allow comments generated by readers on our articles. As a nerd, one of my favorite pastimes is to peruse our Web site and see what feedback you, the readers, give back to us.
On Thursday, I was reading the comments for a story we published Tuesday about Miami University receiving its largest number of applications in two years. Two notable related aspects of the story, among other things, were a 125 percent increase in applications from international students and a 40 percent increase from African American students.
I thought this was great news. However, one commenter disagreed:
“Anyone think [sic] that Miami’s trolling for diversity is going to up the standards and the quality of the freshman class is seriously kidding themselves. I have no problem with qualified minority applicants being admitted to Miami. When you have a 40 percent increase in one year, you clearly have the situation where Miami is encouraging minorities of lesser ability to apply … Either way, that is not a predictor for higher ACT scores in next year’s freshman class.”
Although I don’t doubt that the commenter is an engaged learner under President Hodge’s student as scholar model, I personally found this comment painfully ignorant.
It’s illogical to think that just because more minorities are applying, the standards and quality of the class of 2013 will drop. I also don’t see how anyone could complain about Miami striving to improve the diversity of its student body, especially on the basis that it might lower the average ACT score for the incoming first-year class … like that even matters anyway. Like one education professor has said:
“Standardized tests can’t measure initiative, creativity, imagination, conceptual thinking, curiosity, effort, irony, judgment, commitment, nuance, good will, ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes. What they can measure and count are isolated skills, specific facts and function, the least interesting and least significant aspects of learning.”
It is growing increasingly clear that standardized testing is an inconsistent (to say the least) way of evaluating how high school students will perform in college classrooms. ACT scores become irrelevant as soon as first-years step on campus, and employers certainly will not care how well you did on the science (a.k.a. graph reading) section, or any other section of the ACT once you leave Miami. According to The National Center for Fair & Open Testing, 775 four year colleges don’t even use the SAT I or the ACT when admitting “substantial numbers of bachelor degree applicants.” I imagine more will join their ranks when they realize that the ACT is only consistent at judging how well students can take the ACT.
And if it isn’t obvious enough, I’ll tell you that Miami has consistently ranked as one of the most homogenous, narrow-minded and sheltered student bodies for years, hence all those generalizations like “J. Crew U,” and “The Miami Bubble” our admissions office likes to avoid when sending out glossy brochures to America’s best and brightest. Call me radical, but I think it’s a good idea that Miami-a school that Princeton Review ranked No. 2 on its latest list of campuses with “Little Race/Class Interaction,” No. 4 for “Homogeneous Student Population,” and No. 11 for “Alternative Lifestyles not an Alternative”-is making efforts to obtain a student body representative of the working world outside of Oxford, instead of admitting legions of the best multiple-choice test takers available.
Some of you out there may be saying, “well Dave, since you think pigeon-holing college admission to a test is silly, don’t you think it’s also unfair to generalize Miami based off of one organization’s rankings?”
Well, yes, to a point I agree. I have personally met many, many people of all ideologies and from all walks of life with different stories to tell, but that process has taken years, and I’m no social recluse. As I plan on graduating this semester, I can say it took far less time on campus for me to notice that half the students here drive cars nicer than 90 percent of my hometown, and that Miami always seems to get OAR or a similar band play our big spring semester concert in Millett Hall every year. Those are the things that the Princeton Review notices. And this is coming from a kid named Dave Matthews, about as WASP-y a name that you could ask for.
So despite what anyone might say, I give Miami kudos for shifting its recruiting efforts to help make the student body here more conducive to participating in an ever-shrinking world. With a constantly globalizing economy, it is more than likely our future business partners will not have an upper-middle class, suburban background. And unless you also still think the sun revolves around the Earth, you’d agree with me that those Princeton Review rankings are both a turn-off for many of the brightest students in America and a straight embarrassment to a school that advertises itself as one of the best public universities in the nation.
Clearly, Miami is adapting itself to change for the better. We students should as well.