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Stop the madness

Peter Steiner | Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It’s a new year, but the same old news.

Yesterday, The Observer announced the statistics regarding regular decision admitted students and yet again, this year’s admitted pool is even better than the last.

Not only did the average SAT increase by 17 points and the average ACT rise from 32.7 to 33, but the University also admitted a smaller percentage of applicants this year than in the past.

First, I would like to extend my wholehearted congratulations to those admitted students. Your acceptance to Notre Dame is a testament to your hard work and achievement in high school and you will undoubtedly achieve remarkable things if you decide to attend our great institution.

In addition, Notre Dame also benefits from an improved class of incoming freshman, as they can only serve to improve our University. The fact that the University had to admit a smaller percentage of applicants also shows that more people want to come to our University.

But now that all the sentimentality is out of the way, I come to my real question. It’s great that the statistics of the admitted students improves every year, but when will the escalating statistics end?

No one should be surprised that this year’s admitted students are statistically better than last, because it happens every year. With these rising statistics, there are also many other questions that can be raised.

Even though a higher test score would suggest that a student is more intelligent, are the admitted students actually smarter than those of previous years? There are many ACT and SAT classes high school students can take to improve their test scores. But does all this preparation actually reflect a more intelligent applicant? In fact, some test-prep classes guarantee they will raise the student’s score or they will give them their money back. In addition, because higher test scores reflect a student’s education, high schools and even middle schools are changing their curriculums to teach to the test. This education strategy is something I don’t necessarily agree with.

It is certainly understandable that every student will do all they can to achieve the highest test score, because applying to college is a high-stakes game. I actually took the ACT three times in order to give myself the best opportunity to be admitted.

Finally, with test scores improving every year, what does all this mean for applicants years down the line? I, like many others, have a younger sibling who may wish to attend Notre Dame (I hope), but he will only be a freshman in high school next year. What will the standards be by the time he is applying for colleges?

Thankfully, an applicant is not solely assessed by his test score. Certainly at Notre Dame, characteristics like integrity, leadership, ambition and involvement in activities and service play a large role in an application. While they may not be progressing at the rate of test scores, I am sure that these factors of applications also improve every year.

In the end, increasing test scores and improving applications are advantageous for our University, but I wonder when or if they will ever plateau?

Contact Peter Steiner at psteiner@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.