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Monday, November 25, 2013

Quotas. Again.

Here's the CavDog image I pull out anytime I fear I'm covering a topic so much that regular readers will be horribly bored by the post:

Really? You're talking about this again?

He's only about six months old in that picture. I think the dog was born to be on a blog because he gives me so many great expressions to use here. Anyway...


Let's talk about quotas
I'm going to talk about quotas again since it came up in the Washington Post today. Reporter Michael Chandler linked to my last post about quotas (unfortunately, it was the mobile version, so folks won't see that big, beautiful picture of CavDog), but I thought I'd revisit the topic just in case it will help quell some of the anxiety that will come up if people see this tweet and the related article:


I'll say something I've danced around through all of my posts about this topic. I think quotas are dumb. I want to concentrate on reading applications, not constantly have an eye on some counter that will stop me from admitting people. Quotas get in the way when you're building a great class. I don't think I could ever work for a school that has a cap on how many students we could take from a particular high school.

Look at posts on my Instagram account from the fall travel season and you'll see that I adore my high schools. I adore my applicants. I adore their Career Center Specialists (I'm resisting the urge to do shout outs right now). I spend a lot of time telling my colleagues about my fabulous visits to schools in Arlington, Fairfax, and Loudoun. If someone suddenly told me there was a cap on how many students we could take from each of those schools, I would be completely gobsmacked. Honestly, I would leave if that ever happened.


About those numbers...
A parent quoted in that WaPo article cited his daughter's GPA. The GPAs at many schools these days are approaching 5.0, so it's hard for some of us who grew up with unweighted 4.0 scales to understand what the numbers mean. What's more, the GPA doesn't tell us about the courses the student selected and the rigor of the applicant's high school program is hugely important in this process.

Each high school sends us a profile that explains how they calculate GPAs so admission officers understand the context. The profile explains the hierarchy of the curriculum at the school so we can assess how challenging the student's chosen program is. When you have lots of fabulous options, the expectation is obviously that you'll take advantage of them. Every school is different, of course.

If you haven't seen your school's profile, google it. You can usually find them online. If you don't see yours online, your school counselor can show it to you.


Feel free to ask questions in the comments. As always, this is anonymous, but please pick a nickname to use.