Robert J. Samuelson believes that people like me should not be pursing higher education {"The College Charade," op-ed, June 13}. I graduated from high school with a 2.05 grade point average, a 1,100 total SAT score and little motivation.

I was expected to attend college, and I diligently -- though half-heartedly -- applied. One of my "shot in the dark" schools was The American University. Wonder of wonders, I was accepted. I began in the spring of 1987, an undeclared communications major -- according to Samuelson, a wimpy course of study.

I moved to a city I had never visited, lived with people I had never met and did things I would never have tried as a shy and bored high school student. I became involved with A-TV, the student-run television station.

During the past four years, thanks to my involvement with A-TV and my "undemanding" major of broadcast journalism, I have gone from a self-conscious kid who wouldn't talk in front of a group to a reporter and anchor; from a person who thought of herself as uncreative to the producer of a weekly, 30-minute experimental film show; from a follower, both socially and politically, to a news director who runs a staff of 50. My college education has given me not only knowledge but assurance, poise, pride and motivation.

And if these qualities are not educational enough for Samuelson, let me assure him that my curriculum has covered upper-level courses in psychology, history, economics, physics, literature, justice and education. I have not scored lower than a 3.0 in the last two years, and my GPA has increased every semester.

I will concede that I have known students who have dropped out or transferred to state schools. But it wasn't because they were failing, as Samuelson implied. In every case, it was a lack of money -- a parent laid off, a scholarship lost.

Which brings me to another point. Samuelson believes we should require scholarship students to maintain a C average. Students would cheer this move unabashedly, because in most cases they already are required to maintain at least a 3.22 average. Samuelson would also require loan applicants to "pass a test showing they can do 12th-grade work," but don't SAT scores perform that function?

Finally, Samuelson claimed that colleges "subtly lower academic standards to ensure the flow of students and subsidies." I cannot speak for all institutions, but The American University has raised its standards with each ensuing applicant pool in the past five years.

Many students may not appear to "belong" in college. But they may surprise you yet. I'm still pretty surprised, myself. -- Siobhan McGowan