Against the College Admissions Essay: The SAT might have flaws, but the college essay is much worse

Jeff Maurer in Persuasion:

I have no special love for the SAT. Aside from the fact that my test came back with a big, red, “NO HARVARD FOR YOU, DUMMY” stamped on it, it always seemed a bit arbitrary. After all: Why should my eligibility for college depend on knowing words like “nefarious” and “egregious”? That seems…there must be a better word for this…crappy. We know that SAT scores correlate with household income, and evidence suggests that studying helps a bit, and though I’m not ready to join those who view the SAT as history’s most biased test that doesn’t involve phrenology, I agree that the test has flaws.

But you don’t have to love the SAT to feel that the absolute last thing we should do if we care about fairness is to increase the relative importance of the college application essay. College essays make Tinder profiles look like sworn court testimony from Lincoln himself. Every alleged problem with the SAT—that it’s arbitrary, that it privileges kids with resources, that it can be gamed—is magnified by a factor of ten in the essay. And, as colleges move away from requiring the SAT, we should consider whether it’s wise to give more weight to an application component that makes about as much sense as having a swimsuit round for federal judgeships.

More here.