“Soft Barriers” and Testing
My sister, who works in GIS for the Kansas government, recently posted the following on Facebook:
Time to draw the line in the sand. If the State of Kansas decides to adopt “innovation” and no longer requires Professional Engineers and Architects to be licensed, I’m moving somewhere with guaranteed structural integrity regardless of “oppressive rules only sufficed by arduous and expensive course work from colleges hundreds of miles away.”
Everyone Should Have Access, But…
While I currently tutor college admissions tests (read below for why), my friends, family, and students all know that I have some major difficulties with the current college admissions process that students are prodded through.
The anti-testing/anti-ranking/anti-barrier movement snowballed in 2014 and 2015. High schools are abandoning class rank, 160+ universities are now “test optional” or “test flexible,” and there are movements to get rid of the LSAT, MCAT, and GRE. (Note that none of this is referring to the rampant year-long standardized testing of primary and secondary students)
What Would It Actually Mean?
While all these SEEM like positive things for students, they’re actually counter-intuitive. I finished reading “Think Like a Freak” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner yesterday. They brought up the example of the classic “Nigerian Prince” scam and posed the following question:
If the scammers really want to convince people to send them money, why do they make their emails so obviously scammy?
The answer: If the emails were truly convincing at face value, the scammers would receive thousands of replies, of which a very small percentage would actually pan out and fall for the scam. By making the emails incredibly shady, they remove thousands of false positives and only get replies from the TRUE gullibles (and steal millions of dollars in the process).
Why There Need To Be Hurdles
It’s great to fantasize that “removing barriers” to Engineering, Architecture, certified professions, graduate schools, professional schools, and even Bachelors programs provide more widespread opportunities and make for a healthier system. Those barriers, however, are pure GOLD when weeding out non-committed applicants.
If a job application, school application, certification course, or test prep requires significant sweat and dedication, only the candidates willing to sweat and dedicate their time will push through. The non-committeds weed themselves out by poo-pooing the process and saying it’s inherently “unfair.” By removing the soft barriers in place, total applications to each institution or certification program would sky rocket, and guess what? Acceptance numbers would PLUMMET.
Having natural barriers forces the strong to show their stuff and forces the “weak” to find something that’s a better fit. I teach test prep because I help dedicated, committed students whose testing abilities don’t match their dreams overcome the soft barriers keeping them from their dreams. To succeed, they need to demonstrate commitment, grit, openness to new ideas, and WORK. What’s wrong with that?