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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: Ivy of the south

Family+Weekend
Photo by Photo by Alyssa Denson
Family Weekend

After a very lengthy freshman admissions process at Texas A&M, admissions decisions have finally come to an end. Many students and their families are left distraught and confused at their final decisions. Families who aspired to add another generation of Aggie Rings are left scrambling to justify what the Admissions Board so ignorantly misjudged. 

Applying for colleges can be one of the most daunting things a parent, I mean, a student can do, especially juggling other commitments. The long list of to-dos for each college is more and more specific than the last. Just think, it’s many people’s life purpose to get into specific colleges or — the “dream school,” A&M. 

For the thousands not admitted, it can be devastating to families to know that even with the 63.3% acceptance rate, somehow their GPA didn’t secure a spot in the engineering program. After all, for many, they were accepted into engineering programs at world-renowned institutions — some even more prestigious than MIT — like Arkansas and Oklahoma

“How on earth could this have happened?” parents may ask. “Why is my child not admitted?”

“They’re significantly smarter than their friend who was just admitted.”

“This system only prioritizes kids in the top 10%.”
Working in the Admissions office, these are the most frequent calls I answer.

It’s unfortunate that the top 10% of students in each school are automatically admitted into the university without second consideration, with the exception of engineering. It’s even more unfortunate that the state of Texas requires publicly funded institutions to do so. Think of all the other 4.0 GPA students who didn’t rank into that category, regardless of the fact they took all on-level courses during high school. 

There are many factors that go into applying for college, specifically A&M. Like most schools, it requires an application to start, then transcripts and an essay. From there, students are given the opportunity to include their resumes and letters of recommendation, if they so choose. 

The resume is where each student can really shine. It’s where applicants can repeatedly showcase their shocking athletic accomplishments, whole entire one hour’s worth of community service and their oh-so covetable National Honor Society enrollment. Between billions of applicants a year, every application somehow includes the unparalleled student council membership and a 1050 SAT score. 
It’s absurd that applicants who ranked in the first-to-second quartile and played basketball, allegedly like Kobe, aren’t given full admission, even though they applied to the architecture school the day the application was due. 

To those parents who would bring a wrecking ball to Rudder Tower so their son gets into college — there is a silver lining that avoids property damage entirely. Students who aren’t given full admission are instead offered alternative pathways. There are programs that, if completed, lead to automatic admission into the university. 
For instance, there’s Texas A&M-Blinn TEAM, which offers students co-enrollment into A&M and Blinn Community College. Then there’s the Gateway to Success, which offers students the opportunity to start classes in the summer and pass with a 2.0 GPA to receive full admission starting in the fall. 

Something that also surprises applicants when they are applying to the College of Engineering is they are applying to multiple campuses: College Station, Galveston and McAllen. While students may be offered other campuses, they are still full-time A&M students.

If only that information was blasted across every admissions page, applicants and/or parents would have known to expect this possibility. 

The most frequently received pathway is the Program for System Admission, or PSA. PSA offers applicants the chance to enroll in a system school and complete certain requirements for a year to receive full admission into their major in College Station. 

Despite these “opportunities,” it’s nonsensical, even to me, that students are forced to go somewhere else. On top of this, not every major participates in PSA. The students who dream of being in Mays Business School will have to pick another major. God forbid they graduate with an economics degree in the College of Liberal Arts. 
Absurd, I know.

It’s not like we don’t have the infrastructure to house additional students. We could just throw cots into Hullabaloo and call it a day!

What catches a lot of applicants off guard is A&M’s requirement for the Self-Reported Academic Record, or SRAR, which replaces paper copies of transcripts. It’s meant to make it easier on the processing office, which was originally flooded with stacks of transcripts to process. What they don’t realize — even though it’s advertised on the Admissions website and every freshman pamphlet — is that it’s a requirement due at the same time as all other additional documents, on Dec. 15 every year. 

It simply isn’t fair to applicants who are juggling multiple applications due at the same time. How can we expect students, or parents, to distinguish between different requirements and due dates? Sure, it’s easier on the admissions committee and processing office when sifting through 60,000-plus applications, but it’s callous to put that kind of pressure on the applicants or their parents. 
It’s a no-brainer why so many applications went incomplete. 

Our admissions process has failed our applicants. We haven’t made it explicitly clear to applicants and their parents what is required. We need to do better. For example, we could send student workers to every applicant’s house and coach mom and dad on how to articulate the perfect essay.

Whether it’s cramming 73,000 students on top of each other like Lincoln Logs in Blocker and Heldenfels or opening make-shift camps on the golf course, every student deserves to be admitted, regardless of their statistics. 
Respectfully, we need to focus less on the academic integrity of our institution and shift our gaze to what matters most — giving every student a shot.

Kaelin Connor is a psychology senior and opinion columnist for The Battalion. 
Editor’s note: Kaelin Connor is an employee of the Texas A&M University Office of Admissions.

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