Kevin Carey’s argument in his March 22 Outlook essay, “So long, SAT. Admissions are about to change,” for massive open online courses (MOOCs) replacing the SAT and ACT was compelling, but having just endured the college application marathon with my two children, I am fairly certain that MOOCs will not bring fairness or better selection to the admissions process.
The test-prep industry will soon offer MOOC coaching, if it doesn’t exist already. So online courses would become just one more hurdle for ambitious parents to help their kids jump. MOOCs will allow students in remote locations to distinguish themselves, but any wide-awake admissions dean knows that brilliant performance on any single criterion does not guarantee that the applicant has the maturity necessary to succeed at college. MOOCs could level the playing field, but I don’t think they will.
No matter what new criteria are devised, technological or otherwise, the fairness of the admissions process and the retention rate of each freshman class will vary greatly, depending on the skill and integrity in each admissions office.
Karen Schwarz, Alexandria