GRE doesn’t make the grade for grad students
Published: Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 22:11
Why would you test a fifth grader on the sharing skills they learned in kindergarten before allowing them to enter middle school?
Requiring the GRE is along the same concept. I just took the $150 standardized Graduate Record Exam last month as part of my admission process for the history graduate studies here at FGCU. The entire time I was taking the test I was plagued by two thoughts, "man, if I flunk this I'm out 150 bucks, I have to take it again, and its going to be time consuming" and "this is so stupid, I'm never going to use this in my field."
I'm working at a museum right now doing similar tasks to what I would like to perform in my career. You know what, never once have I been asked to find the radius of a WWII American Army helmet. So far I haven't had to figure out how many miles per hour cattle baron had to drive his herd if he had five hours to travel to Punta Rassa from Arcadia with 230 head, 20 of which were calves and often fell behind with their mother.
The verbal and analytical sections I completely understand. I will use verbal, comprehensive, and analytical skills for the rest of my life. But as far as the quantitative section is concerned, I think it pretty irrelevant to most majors.
I'm sorry mathematics professors; I haven't used algebra since I finished my gen ed courses. I'm going to be writing with either of my career fields, be it journalism or history. I'm going to have to analyze information, and use critical thinking skills. Yet I don't think that a standardized test is the answer to assessing what you learned while earning your bachelor degree.
Doesn't earning the degree speak to anything? At this point money should have a little say as well. Understandably, we can't just let any fool who can pay tuition into graduate school, but if we've earned our bachelor degree and have the desire to continue, doesn't that say something?
The admission process should be based on the students' personal statements, recommendation letters, GPA, and transcripts from the desired field of study.
My GRE scores were not what I hoped they would be. Thankfully, the history program also looks at the other information required during the admission process, and the program gives a little forgiveness to test bombers like me. (It is so frustrating to know you can perform better on a test than you did- especially when you feel the test was pointless.)
I hope that FGCU does eliminate the GRE requirement for grad school and just looks at the previously mentioned
qualifications. If you are
going to grad school for history, criminal forensics, or philosophy, the GRE doesn't prove that you learned anything during your bachelor coursework. All the test shows is that you can either retain what you learned 2-3 years ago really well, or you did a fantastic job retaining what you studied your butt off to re-learn right before walking into the testing room.
The proposed plan is to make students with a GPA under a 3.0 still take the GRE for admission. Why bother? This person couldn't cut it in their bachelors work, how are they going to handle the coursework of a graduate program? And what is their work ethic like? How much care do they put into their work?
Seriously, what professor wants to be teaching a "grad student" who couldn't even pull a 3.0 during their undergrad coursework?
What I'm curious about is if the GRE is eradicated, how will scholarships and financial aid be awarded? In the past, assistance has always gone to those with good GRE scores. This is what separated them from their peers and made it easier to award. If they can find a solution to this, I'm all in.
I believe based on recommendation letters and personal statements, faculty should be able to see which students are going to be the better investments. Lets face it- that's what it's all about. Who is going to be the better investment in the program?
Do programs want to say "we had 100 students graduate this semester! We wanted to build a huge program and we did. Too bad none of them are going to really amount to a hill of beans- but we got all 100 of them out!"
Or would programs rather say "we had five students graduate this semester and the quality of their work was top notch. We can't wait to hear back about the successes of those students." A university is a business. We don't want to produce defective goods with the company name on it.
If this initiative passes, it will be a step in the right direction. Most graduate programs despise the GRE and sympathize with the students who have to take it.
I wish this would have came a semester sooner- I can think of lots of other things I would do with $150. As long as a fair and reliable system is worked out for financial aid awarding, cutting the GRE would be every potential grad student's dream.