No place in the workplace
Why the post-college exam should be a non-option for graduates
After two years of college, four years of high school and 11 years of grade school, let me say: I am just about done with exams. APs? Check. SAT? You bet. Finals? Way too many to count — and many more to come.
At this point in my life, I can summarize my collegiate success into a three-digit GPA, fit 20 years worth of sweat and tears into a one-page resume and measure the quality of my education based on the Princeton Review’s rating of my university. In other words, if need be, I am 100 percent quantifiable. And truth be told, you are too.
Needless to say, the advent of the new “Post-College SAT” does nothing short of tick me off. According to the Wall Street Journal, the College Learning Assessment, as it has been officially dubbed, will be tested out on 200 collegiate seniors in the United States this spring.
Officially, it’s designed to reassure employers previously duped into hiring employees boasting shiny resumes who produced less-than-shiny results. Unofficially, they may want to dip into the pockets of the lucky graduates escaping the MCAT, GMAT or LSAT.
As I begin the second half of my college career and my third decade of life, I can think of nothing less appealing than studying to obtain yet another number needed to validate my hard work. Graduation has always been the promise of freedom from the chains of a GPA that has shackled me for a lifetime. Knowing the exact specifics of life after college has always seemed to be a luxury — I’ve always been content knowing that at least that future did not rest on a single number, but rather on my personal performance and reliability.
Yet here we are, on the brink of being done, and they want to throw one last wrench into our plans to ride off into the sunset. From where I stand, it’s painfully simple. You cannot sum up potential or intelligence with a single exam, and if you try — as we’ve learned only too well with the ACT and SAT — students will circumvent legitimacy with test prep and tutors.
Soon, it becomes a matter of who can write the biggest check — obviously not the best way to find a qualified applicant. It seems these already disgruntled employers will face the exact same problem colleges are currently confronting: an application process that doesn’t weed the cherries out from the lemons.
The solution? If you want something done right, do it yourself. It’s not our fault GPAs have steadily risen in the past 60 years, or that every school operates at different levels of difficulty. I also have yet to meet anyone — college-aged or 50-plus — who has not tailored his resume to Times-New-Roman-on-eggshell-cardstock perfection. Relying on yet another arbitrary number is only going to exacerbate these problems.
What we need is more interview time with you: the boss. We need and want to show you how we would deal with the situations you deal with every day, because working — and doing good work — is not about what you can cram into your head and regurgitate, but about figuring out what to do when everything you’ve learned fails you. Put us on the spot and see for yourself what my American Studies degree from the University of Virginia is actually worth.
This exam, at its core, is just a Band-Aid for problems my column couldn’t cover even if it were 10,000 words. Unqualified candidates come from our under-funded, overwhelmed and grossly neglected school systems. A surplus of these kinds of candidates can only mean our education system lies at the root of this problem. Instead of simply recognizing symptoms, we need to start treating the issue’s cause. With unemployment rates for young adults sky high, the stakes have really never been higher.
So pencils down, heads up — the test is over. It’s time to find some real world solutions now.