Kadir: Changes to the college admissions process needed


Yousuf Kadir, Columnist


I’m a spring semester junior in high school and I just opened a letter in the mail. I see that I got a 28 on my first ACT.

I thought my life was a failure. Northwestern had always been my dream school, but everyone from my high school who got in the past five years always had a 32 or above.

I had only one more opportunity to bring my ACT to the level of the “accepted” data points on my high school’s Naviance charts. I got down to it and studied a bit harder for the second time, eventually ending up with my goal score. Given my credentials, I had a 75 percent chance of an early admission acceptance to NU according to the people of College Confidential and the data analysis of Parchment.

On Dec. 12, 2013 I received the good news. I was thrilled by my acceptance, but I couldn’t help discuss with my college counselor the reason why I got into NU. It was only because I was able to read a bit faster and answer a few more questions right on a test that made my application stronger. I was still the same Yousuf. I wasn’t any smarter than when I first took the ACT two months earlier. I still had the same interests, friends and knowledge. I would do just as well as I am doing now at Northwestern had I gotten in with my 28 ACT score. But, somehow I managed to bring my chances of acceptance from 5 percent to 75 percent by getting a few more questions right on a standardized test.

Harvard University, along with a coalition from many other colleges and universities including University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago and University of Michigan recently endorsed a report that called for changing the college admissions process. Their recommendations include a proposal to make the ACT and SAT optional. No administrator from Northwestern had endorsed the coalition as of Jan. 23, 2016.

I absolutely, wholeheartedly agree with some form of universal change addressing these issues in the college admissions process. The overall collegiate experience has changed and an emphasis on academic pressure and competition dominate Northwestern and other Ivy League caliber schools’ admissions process. 50 years ago, there was not as much competition to get into college. This generation has experienced the most competitive college process. Northwestern’s acceptance rate has dropped to about 13 percent in 2015 from about 43 percent just 13 years earlier. Many other schools follow this same trend as well.

With the excess competition, ACT and SAT scores became as important as college essays, since college applications are at an all time high.

I believe an unweighted GPA over the course of four years of high school is a much better indicator of academic intelligence than a four hour long test. Colleges should place more emphasis on essays and extracurricular activities, which are more important factors to consider. After all, they are the skills a student will bring to campus to help make it a better place.

Coming off of my experience, I believe NU should follow the report’s recommendations and make the SAT and ACT optional in the college application process. There are more important reasons to let a student into Northwestern than doing well on one specific test.

Yousuf Kadir is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].

The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.