Monday, August 20, 2007

College Admissions: A "Thumb on the Scale" for Men?

US News & World Report offers this article on the new trend in college admissions: giving boys a boost in the admissions process to maintain a roughly equal number of men and women undergraduates at an institution. The article points out that women tend to have higher overall scores from high school (considering both the SAT and high school grade point average), meaning that in order for colleges to admit equal numbers of men and women, they need to "put a thumb on the scale" to give men a boost.

Some schools, such as Lake Erie College in Ohio and Husson College in Maine, are "making extra efforts to attract male applicants by creating football teams." Further, college counselors are sometimes advising male applicants to "emphasize their maleness," says Steve Goodman, a longtime independent college counselor. He encourages male students to submit pictures or trumpet their sports activities "anything to catch an admissions officer's eye." (The article doesn't say what a male applicant who's interested in, say, the art club, is supposed to do to emphasize his maleness).

This article is fascinating from numerous angles: is there a need for a certain ratio of men and women at a college to achieve an optimum learning environment? If so, does that rationale carry over to racial or ethic groups? Certainly this quota system for admitting male students, if used in a racial context, would have affirmative action opponents screaming for reform (or lawsuits).

Also, what does it mean to be representatively male at a school? Some colleges and college counselors seem to think that athletics is the key, hence the creation of football teams or emphasizing one's athletic accomplishments in the application process. But what does this say about gender stereotyping and the expectations that we have for male students in our schools, or in society generally?

1 comment:

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