Guest Blog #30 – Anand C
We’ve all heard the “graduation speech” bit in most schools about the need for the young to dream. But it’s interesting to see Ms. Marilee Jones, the Dean of Admissions at MIT, integrate “day-dreaming” more of a criteria in the application process. More importantly, kudos to her for coming out and telling the public about it.
This response from her captures the essence of the problem with conventional admission systems:
Baby boomers have such high expectations for themselves and for their kids. The parents think kids have to have music lessons. They’re expected to play two or three sports. They’re expected to belong to certain clubs. They’re expected to do community service. Each one of those activities is headed up by an adult, who expects a lot from those kids.
We have a whole generation of kids who are being trained to be workaholics. They have no free time. They are being trained to please adults. And what started as a natural reaction to not wanting to have your kid home while you’re working has been reinforced by the college admission process that expects kids to have lots of activities.
About three years ago, I asked a group of students: “What do you daydream about?” And one kid said to me: “We don’t daydream. There’s no reward for it, so we don’t do it.” Boy, that hit me right between the eyes.
We tend to make our lives appear planned, smooth and thought-through on any college application, because “sat next to the window and dreamed about doing good for my hometown” or “read every spy novel in my library for no good reason” does not get any points or consideration in an admission process – until now. By giving kids the ability to be flexible and by giving the admissions process the flexibility to take in these flexible kids, MIT is sending out the impression that it’s OK to not be perfect and still succeed.
This new system (50 out of 1,665 would not have made the cut otherwise), is definitely a first step in the right direction.
Maybe we will discover the Ramanujans when they are young if our school systems thought about a similiar system of admission…