Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Response to the Administration's Spin

In a recent issue of the Aviso, Malone University's newspaper, one of the administration whom I will call “Dr. S” addressed the concerns about the changes in Malone's admissions requirements. But very little of what he said sounded even possible to my ears, let alone true. I am so disturbed by the most recent article that I felt a response was not only in order, but absolutely necessary. This is a mildly revised version of my response, going play by play through Dr. S's article.

I'd like to begin by dealing with an ungrounded claim in Dr. S's first paragraph, which was also copied and had attention drawn to it as a particularly relevant quotation: “Please know that the leadership of Malone is committed to preserving and strengthening standards, quality and relationships.” This sounds very nice. My only problem with it is that it is in response to concerns that the admissions standards and thereby quality of academic achievement of Malone have been lowered and thereby weakened. I feel that I show in this response how the new system reduces the relationship potential of Malone admissions.

Dr. S first defends the new admissions standards by saying that the scholarships were not competitive, “were not distributed more broadly to our incoming students,” and that the school was “lagging behind in the timing in which we would make our scholarship awards.” Dr. S never defines what he meant by timing, but that is a minor issue. He only points out that “Now, every student that meets our admissions requirements will receive some form of... scholarship or grant.”

For those of you who don't know, the word “scholarship” comes from “scholar,” and refers to an amount of money awarded to students who excel in scholastic endeavors. To give a scholarship to everyone defeats its purpose, especially if done on an institutional level—after all, it would save a considerable amount of red tape if Malone simply cut tuition by the relevant amount for everyone, and this would not cheapen the word “scholarship” by broadening it out. I have no issue with grants being given to any student, but again, if you are going to give the money to everyone, it is much smarter to just cut the tuition.

Dr. S's second point is that the application pool has been redistributed among the admissions counselors according to the students' surnames instead of their geographic region. This is designed to broaden the focus of admissions, but will also have the negative effect of cutting down admissions relationships with particular regions.

Dr. S went on to say how Malone now receives a wider pool of “ethnic and geographic diversity.” He claims that both have been hindered by the smaller applicant pool, and that now we receive applications from students that will do well in college. This is quite possible—they may do very well. However, if they are admitted due to lower admissions standards, then many in this group will do less well than those admitted on the previous admissions standards. Not to mention, the claim that lowering the admissions requirements will allow more ethnic diversity at Malone does not strike me as the most appropriate of statements.

The next point Dr. S makes is that “one other impact of setting this new admissions requirement is related to college readiness.” He goes on to explain that these lower standards are still enough to project that the students will achieve a probational status GPA. That is ridiculous. We should not be aiming for probational students. Malone should certainly be admitting some probational students, but the general admissions standards should strive for excellence, not adequacy.

Dr. S's last point is that the new recruitment standard will be more aggressive and will be streamlined. The only specifics he mentions are eliminating brochures. I have no issue with this, it is one example of smart use of resources (although the majority of this claim is left unexplained, and I would have liked more information).

In his closing remarks, Dr. S reminds us of our Presidents words to “begin with the end in mind.” The end, for Dr. S in this article, is “to increase residential population, provide competitive scholarships, and strengthen our academic programs.” I have shown in this article that I do not believe the new standards accomplish this goal. But what is more importantly, we should focus less on academics, and more on what Malone claims is its continuing commitment: Christ's Kingdom First.