Service of Student Coddling on Steroids

September 18th, 2014

Categories: Coddling, College, Education, Students


Application form 3

NPR’s coverage of Goucher College’s innovative application process was an eye-opener and not in a good way.

Juana Summers, in “Lights, Camera College? Goucher College Introduces Video Applications,” wrote “Goucher College, a liberal arts school in Baltimore, is offering students the opportunity to skip submitting standardized SAT and ACT scores, as well as the traditional college application packet that includes a transcript, letters of recommendation and essays. Instead, students can apply with a self-produced, two-minute video that explains how they see themselves thriving at Goucher, and why they want to go there. Students are also asked to submit two ‘works of scholarship.'”

She quotes the new president, José Bowen: “The college admissions process is broken. The Application form 1application process is complicated; it’s stressful.”

Summers reports that the president hopes to increase “diverstiy of thought” and, she posits, add to the number of applicants and the student body. She quoted Cornell professor and former Tufts dean of arts and sciences, Robert Sternberg, who agrees with the concept of “overhauling a college admissions process that he says lacks creativity and doesn’t serve students well…But, he warned, video applications might backfire for some students. ‘It puts an emphasis on how well you perform for a camera,’ says Sternberg, the author of College Admissions for the 21st Century. ‘Unfortunately, people can’t help things like interpersonal skills and attractiveness.'”

Will cushioning students’ path to college entrance help them in equally stressful internship and job searches and the inevitable knocks that life brings or is keeping a college open at all costs more important?  Is the idea for a college to gather and educate the brightest students or to get any old student who can pay the freight or collect enough scholarships to do so? Is the goal to reinforce the easy out when successful people work hard? Will lowering the bar help students and a college in the long run?




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4 Responses to “Service of Student Coddling on Steroids”

  1. Stephen Carr Said:

    I recall a time when colleges and universities aspired to be institutions of higher learning. Some were. Others were a mix of that and other priorities.

    I think there has been a not so subtle change in their goals since then, seemingly most attributable to the country having bought into President Johnson’s “Great Society.”

    Scholarship has been consigned to the rumble seat or heaved out of the learning jalopy entirely and left far behind, a stale pancake flattened out crumbling on the asphalt.

    Money dominates, and for the idealistic, there is diversity as a secondary goal. Goucher needs students to survive and pay faculty salaries, and not requiring them to be able to read and write should help ensure that they get them.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I can’t pinpoint when it happened as you do–no doubt after the baby boomers were no longer of college age. There were all these dorms and seats to fill as the target population decreased.

    Simultaneously, tuitions skyrocketed, which doesn’t make sense at a time colleges were faced with fewer takers. Department heads are faced with quotas–so what if a student can hardly speak or write in English, no biggie. A college president does what a college president has to do….as do department heads.

    The goal becomes fill those seats at all cost. The image of a stale pancake makes me sad. Next we’ll hear of college admissions via emoticon.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Creativity is often born of stress, so Goucher should be the last school any ambitious student should want to attend.0

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Amen. A shame, too as it once was an excellent school.

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