College Acceptance Required?

Corbett High School in Oregon requires students to get accepted to college in order to graduate from high school:

What a bizarre requirement. They don’t have to go, they don’t even have to want to go. They can still choose to go into the military, travel the world, get a job, what-have-you. They just have to fill out at least one college application and get accepted. (Oregon community colleges apparently accept everyone who applies.)

The phrasing emphasizes the words “every” and “all” to the point where I almost cut-and-pasted the whole thing into something where I could downcase all of the letters. The word “choice” appears continuously, in what have to I assume is unrecognized irony. Yes, yes, I get the idea that removing students’ choice of whether or not to apply to a safety school opens up a choice for them later on, but I doubt that any of them were unaware of that particular choice.

This school, in particular, is likely to have a ~96% college entry rate to begin with. I’m not sure why this wasn’t just handled as an internal college counseling requirement, but perhaps that wasn’t easy to do with their current setup.

It’s fascinating to compare this to events in Texas, where Algebra II just came off the graduation requirements.

Wonderful quote from that one:

A 2003 Stanford University study (PDF link) of six states found that less than 12 percent of high school students were aware of course requirements for their local universities. In fact, simply mailing high-achieving low-income students more college-enrollment information increased the number of applications those students sent to selective colleges, researchers at Stanford and the University of Virginia recently found.

I added the PDF link; I’m fairly sure it’s the one they’re talking about.

I would say that I have nothing against every student applying to college, but I know how overloaded college admissions officers are. Applying for a dozen schools is not unusual these days. Even the college board now says “five to eight is usually enough.” Even if things stabilized at that number (and the average number has been climbing), if every high-schooler in the US were required to apply to college, the number of applications would be essentially impossible to handle well. From everything I’ve heard from admissions folks, the applications they receive now are not handled well, due primarily to a lack of manpower.

This post intentionally left without a concrete conclusion.


About Colin Fredericks

By day I help to create online courses at HarvardX. By night I write roleplaying games.

Posted on December 2, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Obligatory quip: The last paragraph of the post from Corbett High School is

    “I am happy to say that last night I read this document to our school board and they voted 6 to zero to support the language change that continues to give EVERY student a choice. The board will consider this topic two more times before the policy is finalized.”

    My thought? “Ah, so the school board needs things read to them… clearly these are the people that should be in charge of education.”

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