Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Can't Right Good. Need School Help.

The further removed I become from college, the more inane I realize my experiences as a legal (albeit young) adult were. About eight years ago I failed Washburn's writing exam, which was an awful member of this collection of experiences.

A couple levels of context should be leveled here. First, Washburn University was an open admissions school - get your high school diploma and you get in. Or your GED. Whichever. Aside from community college (which no one attends out here on the East Coast), I'm not sure if my friends really grasp the idea of not having to 'get into' college. You just graduate from high school and you go. This is why jokes about seniors not being able to get into college perplex me.*

Don't think for two seconds I'm talking down on the students that attend Washburn. Some, yes - the campus is rolling (har har!) with nontrads at a level unknown to most college campuses. However, our mock trial team took 3rd nationally my freshman year. And there are no divisions in this activity - we weren't competing against comparable institutions. First place was Virginia and second was Harvard. We kicked the shit out of schools that have average ACT scores of 28-30. Georgia Tech and Yale. And  those bastards from Washington-St. Louis. There's no chip on my shoulder, just highlighting that despite its low floor Washburn still enjoyed a high ceiling. We had kids would (literally) nail 179 on the LSAT, but were too modest to choose a private school at the age of 17.

I've digressed masterfully here, which may be one of my principal problems. Circling back to the writing exam, this is a written test given to all students to determine whether they must take English 201. 201 is a remedial course that must be completed before taking the junior English course, which must be completed by all students. A bit under 10 percent of the student body must take EN201. These are the kids that can't right good. Each essay is individually graded on a scale of 1-5, and the recipients of ones must take EN201. Easy enough - don't get a one.

I got a one.

The average ACT score at Washburn is 21 (equivalent to a score of 980-1010 on the SAT), and the bottom decile hovers around 17-18 (820-890). There's nothing wrong with falling in that range - someone has to squish into that end of the bell curve - but I'm a damn elitist. The notion of falling here kills pieces of me. Large, kill the dinosaurs asteroid-sized pieces. I wrote papers for money my freshman year, and provided partial refunds for non-As. I killed the the GRE writing exam. My work has been featured on Yahoo! and Sports Illustrated (ok, maybe I do have a chip on my shoulder). Point is, I shouldn't have fallen into the one category. And worst of all, there's no way to protest your score - you simply get shepherded onto the dolt track and live the rest of your life in embarrassment. I did not know a single friend who took English 201.

And neither did I. Washburn requires a freshman and junior English course, at minimum, and a sophomore English course to boot for the dumb-dumbs. Yet I only sat in on one English class during four years there. Not a semester course, mind you, but one, single, 75-minute class. Never went back. Still got my BA (I'd share more, but you know how I hate divulging trade secrets). Every system can be hacked if you're determined enough.

*Fearful of appearing to lie by omission, there are admittedly prescribed actions an incoming student must take if they don't meet some sort of minimum ACT/GPA criterion. The degree process will take longer due to the necessity of remedial coursework by approximately a semester, but this does not preclude enrollment in and of itself. GED still gets you in.

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