Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fixing Something That Isn't Broken

At the usual cohort meeting this afternoon, we discussed something quite interesting: how to improve the Ivy League Connection. The I.L.C. itself is fairly refined as is. I myself could not argue that the I.L.C. has not come a tremendous way in less than a decade to date, but there's always room for adjustment as long as its in the collective interest of the program.

Our small cohort for the day, myself, Irene, and Milani (Beilul and Eric were on an R.A. trip), hit Mrs. L. with what seemed like a barrage of ideas to better the I.L.C. We all had our fair share of thoughts on the matter, and we all had different perspectives on some of the different approaches to improve the scholarship. I'd like to share my top 3 reforms/additions to the I.L.C. policy. I would share more, but I'm guessing this will be entirely too long as is, especially in recognition that I have a lot of homework assigned tonight. Here we go.

1) The W.C.C.U.S.D. Spokesperson:

To me, the school board never existed until the 10th grade. I didn't even know there was a school board! I thought the superintendent was the last in the chain, and the only link in between my teacher and that superintendent was the principal. Obviously, my view was quite obscure and blatantly inaccurate.

Once I found out that there was a thriving school board, I wondered what they did. And, it wasn't until I joined the W.C.C.U.S.D. Youth Commission later in my Junior year that I discovered some of the minor workings of the school board. To my surprise they handle a lot more than the average student might expect, especially the average student whom is ignorant to the existence of such an educational committee.

The school board could only benefit from additional exposure to the students and parents alike. I think, though not everyone else may, that the school board should be a visible component of a high school--and even middle school--atmosphere. That said, I propose the hiring or deeming of a school board publicity agent/spokesperson.

The I.L.C. itself could have its own spokesperson, but I am not suggesting that, per se, because that would entitle a fairly limited job description. So, a spokesperson to the school board, in my eyes, would essentially be the voice outside of the biweekly sessions. That spokesperson would be the connecting bridge between the public and the committee. Granted, there are several ways to find out and educate one's self about our W.C.C.U.S.D. school board already. But, for those whom aren't able or aren't willing to put in that extra effort to involve themselves within the school board's matters, the spokesperson would be there to serve as that link in the chain between the public's ear and school board's voice.

More specifically, and more on-topic, this spokesperson, in relation to the I.L.C., could travel amongst the high schools--and even middle schools--in the district and do a sort-of information session for the I.L.C. This spokesperson would without a doubt possess a charismatic, interesting presence and be naturally adept at public speaking and personal relations. And, in my experience, a great speaker tends to get greater results. And, in reference to the I.L.C., those greater results would yield more interest from the students, subsequently resulting in a greater applicant pool and providing a greater opportunity to the kids of the many high schools in the school district. Those greater results might even produce more funding for the I.L.C., let alone other school board projects.

This spokesperson could also, if desired, be the connection to local news and media. More press for more school board decisions, programs, and opportunities would raise even more awareness within the general masses. For the I.L.C. specifically, I know that knowledge is an instrumental flaw. Students and parents alike are simply unaware, uninformed, and in some cases unwilling to pursue such knowledge on their own. The spokesperson serves as the intermediary in such and would be responsible for marketing and educating the public and press of the given programs and policies of the school board.

This spokesperson is essentially an advertising and interest-raising outlet among the students and parents alike of the W.C.C.U.S.D. community, and with the exception of one additional salary to pay, I see many-a-benefit stemming from such a position.

2) I.L.C. Alumni Participation:

Though it is a requirement in completion of the I.L.C. to spread the word for future student generations, this post-summer policy is often neglected by many of the I.L.C. alumni. I believe they need more responsibility than a conversation or two to persuade them to actively pursue such requirements. In saying such, I propose alumni information sessions and leadership integration, as well as able student panelists during the interview stage.

Alumni information sessions would, at its core, be supplementary, or in combination with the I.L.C. spokesperson, in identifying and exposing what the I.L.C. is all about and why students should take the time out of their day to pursue such an incredible scholarship and eventual experience. Student alumni, I guarantee you, will speak with much more enthusiasm and general authenticity than, say, a high school staff member, like a teacher or a counselor. I would also venture to claim that students talking to other students would be, in general, more convincing and more engaging to the potential applicants. Seeing students who have already been accepted to, completed, and gained from the I.L.C. can have a tremendous impact on the applicants themselves. No one enjoys buying a product or service before witnessing the end-result; it's a blind bid, otherwise.

In terms of leadership, I see great things in the integration of the I.L.C. with the premier student task force of any given school. Leadership naturally attracts some of the most gifted speakers, planners, advocates, and advertisers of a given high school. If an I.L.C. alumnus/alumna were to incorporate their ideas of such into the leadership atmosphere, I feel as though, with enough persuasion and rhetoric, the leadership team could be a potential ally in getting the word out about the I.L.C. They would be able to speak volumes for the program and cover all of our bases, so-to-speak. It's efficient, effective, and almost effortless to attempt such, at the least.

Lastly, student panelists on the interview portion of the I.L.C. admissions process would provide the adult and administrative panel with a student perspective. If I, or any other student alumnus/alumna, were to serve on the panel for upcoming I.L.C. participants, I feel as though the breaks in the chain or holes in the picture of the applicant could be filled by that I.L.C. alum. At the end of the day, not to say adults do not understand us (on the contrary, they do, for the most part) students will have a more holistic and accurate portrayal of the applicant. We are just able to recognize and characterize certain attributes and characteristics of a student applicant that may not be addressed or considered in the absence of a student panelist. Some may worry about potential bias, but if the applicants are presented to the panelists on a school-blind basis, than that is of no worry. And, if for some reason, the student recognizes the applicant and bias were to surface (though, I would heavily argue against such bias forming being the mature, responsible, and young adults that the I.L.C. alumni produces), the other six adult votes in the room would drown out the student voice and vote, given the student votes unwisely toward a candidate. As a last pro, student interviewee's would, I believe, find a more soothing comfort knowing that there would be a student him/herself also reviewing his/her interview and application. Essentially, it would reduce nervousness. But, of course, it would not erase it. I strongly advise a student panelist for the interview stage; it's one of my firmer beliefs in my grand improvement layout!

3) Holistic Application Review:

This is probably my strongest urge for the I.L.C. One of the most heartbreaking and disappointing things I endured during my own application process was that some of my brightest and gifted friends could not even apply. It's not that they didn't have a good G.P.A. It's not that their classroom behavior was ill. It's not that their attendance was narrow, or that their teachers and counselors advised against them, or that they couldn't write an impeccable essay. It was that they had slacked off, or in less frequent cases performed under-par, on the SAT or PSAT.

I would propose a holistic application review in that the following would be submitted: one teacher or counselor recommendation, a transcript, an extracurricular list (define "list" however you'd like), an essay to the associated prompt, and a PSAT/SAT/ACT score. But, and this is a huge but, there should not--not--be a limit, or a minimum standard, or a cut-off point for any of the required application components. In example, a 140 minimum on the PSAT should not be part of the application policy. There can be red flags, no doubt. I definitely suggest that the application reader raise an eyebrow upon seeing a 1000 score on the SAT or a 2.0 G.P.A., but to deny a student--a prospective I.L.C. applicant--the right to apply to the scholarship based on a solidified standard is unwise.

To elaborate, if the student scores a whopping 125 on the PSAT, in spite of that same student carrying a 4.0. G.P.A. (.5 above the G.P.A. requirement), being secretary to the student body, playing varsity basketball, and submitting a formidable essay and enlightening recommendation, he/she would not even have the chance to submit their application, and if they did, it would be surpassed the moment the PSAT score was reviewed. I do not think that this policy encourages the maximum amount of able students to apply and vie for acceptance into the program. With more leniency toward the initial application, or even with more vagueness regarding threshold indicators such as a 3.5 G.P.A. or 1600 SAT score, the I.L.C. would see an increase in its applicant pool and ultimately a greater I.L.C. student cast toward the latter end of the year.

Those are my principal suggestions to the program. Let me reassure that I only wish the best for this program, and I think that the program as it stands is a definite success. But, I want to make it more successful, as I'm sure the majority of people reading this would agree. These are my potential routes to that greater success, if you will.

On that note, I'm going to go, now, and pound my face against my book until I complete the reading for tomorrow's morning session. Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. Responding truthfully to Will’s suggestions for improvement of the ILC would potentially elicit negative comments about the District, some District personnel and others. I don’t feel that posting comments on a public blog is the appropriate venue for such a response.

    A detailed response has been sent via email--a much more private venue.