Forcing Students to Apply for College
A new bill getting considered by the DC government would compel its students not just to take the SAT/ACT but also apply to college:
Under the bill, all 75,000 students in D.C. public schools, including charters, would have to take the SAT or ACT college entrance exam to graduate from high school.
Every student would also be required to complete “at least one” application for admission to college or vocational or trade school — even if the student does not intend to continue schooling beyond 12th grade.
If approved, according to several education advocates, the District would have among the most aggressive requirements in the nation for prodding students to pursue college. But Brown’s bill makes no exceptions for students who want to join the military or seek a career that does not require a degree.
This is awfully paternalistic—then again, so is forcing all students under 18 to attend school—but at the risk of actually agreeing with the bill’s sponsor, Kwame R. Brown, I’d say that DC is a very unique place and sometimes radical ideas might just be worthwhile.
It’s hard to see the downside to this. So some kids have to take a test and apply to a college. The worst case scenario is they get rejected from the school and life continues as it otherwise might. Best case scenario, a student who otherwise never thought he or she would be able to go to college actually does.
Granted, it does take a lot of choices out of the hands of students, and the problems with DC students don’t just have to do with college attainment. Many are also struggling with broken homes, poverty, and issues related to racism. But it’s hard not to hope that leading DC public school students a bit further down the process of applying to college won’t make them see it as an attainable path.
Someone I know who teaches at a PG county school just over the Anacostia river from DC (and therefore this proposed law wouldn’t apply to them if passed, but the populations are similar), says that his high school freshman say they’re interested in going to college but don’t often see the kind of work they need to put in to get there. Forcing them to take the SAT may or may not make them take the idea of college more seriously, but it might just be worth a shot. Record the data and see what happens.