Will they look or won’t they? Would you chance it?

Doesnt mean you CAN’T find success in these fields!

Trend or Aberration?

Should Colleges Use Admissions Criteria Other Than SAT Scores and Grades?


  • Bard College, a prestigious liberal arts college in upstate New York, will offer students admission if they can write four 2,500-word research papers that earn a B+ or better by the college’s standards. That means no need to worry about low grades or SAT scores.

Is Bard onto something? Should colleges use other admissions criteria instead of SAT scores and grades to find the best candidates?

In “Didn’t Ace SAT? Just Design Microbe Transplant Research,” Ariel Kaminer writes about Bard’s new experiment in college admissions.

High school seniors with poor grades and even worse SAT scores, you may be just what one of the nation’s most prestigious liberal arts colleges is looking for.

You need not be president of the debate club or captain of the track team. No glowing teacher recommendations are required. You just need to be smart, curious and motivated, and prove it with words — 10,000 words, in the form of four, 2,500-word research papers.

The research topics are formidable and include the cardinal virtue of ren in Confucius’s “The Analects,” “the origin of chirality (or handedness) in a prebiotic life,” Ezra Pound’s view of “The Canterbury Tales,” and how to design a research trial using microbes transplanted from the human biome. If professors deem the papers to be worthy of a B+ or better by the college’s standards, you are in.

The college is Bard, in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and it says the new option, which has not previously been announced but is to begin this fall, is an attempt to return the application process to its fundamental goal: rewarding the best candidates, rather than just those who are best able to market themselves to admissions committees.


  • Should colleges use other admissions criteria instead of SAT scores and grades to find the best candidates? Do you think Bard College’s experiment is a good one?
  • Do you think that SAT scores or grades are the best indicators of who will be successful in college? Why?
  • Look at the sample topics for research papers that Bard is offering to applicants. Do you think you could do well writing these research papers?
  • If you were a college admissions officer, what criteria would you deem most important when looking at an applicant? How would you select which candidates to admit to your college?