I had a conversation with a very nice woman whom I like very much. She hit on several of my pet peeves in the span of 2 minutes while talking about her daughter not going to UT.
1) She mentioned the evil (not really) "ten percent rule". She said, "you know, you and I wouldn't even be able to get into UT these days." Speak for yourself, I feel quite confident that I could. And over 10,000 people enroll each year, so somebody is getting in. Why would you assume that I could not be one of those 10,000? Do I come across as being that stupid?
2) She referred to the evil (not really) "ten percent rule" as new (that is to say that it was not in place when we went to school). Not true. When I was a senior in high school in 1990 applying for UT, the criteria to get in were: Top 10% - automatic acceptance Top 25% - needed a 1,000 on the SAT Any ranking - 1,200 on the SAT gave an automatic acceptance.
I was both top 10% and over 1,200 on the SAT, so I got into UT.
The top ten percent rule has been around for at least 18 years (I can not say for certain how long), it just has become more important because the number of people who automatically qualify under this rule has grown so much that the people who get into UT without being top 10% is small. I used to be confused by this. After all, I thought, the population of college-bound people in Texas has not grown considerably and UT has not gotten smaller and there are no more people in the top 10%, so what gives? My esteemed colleague, KTL, offered some insight: The amount of financial aid to get into UT (btw, I think everything I am writing here is equally true of A&M) has increased dramatically, so you have a lot of people applying that previously weren't applying because they could never afford to go there without aid. Aha! Well, if this is the cause, and the effect is that people who aren't smart enough to be in the top 10% of their class have to go to OU ;-) then is that really a bad thing? Shouldn't we be happy that well-qualified poor people also get the opportunity of a public college education?
Back to my point. It is not a new rule. Sorry for the tangent.
3) She said that she knew parents who took their kid out of School X and put them into School Y their senior year just so that they could be top 10%. Not being from Dallas, I didn't recognize either school. I asked, "I take it that Y is an easier school than X?" It wasn't what she said as much as the tone, but she said, "Well X is private." The tone said "Of course, stupid." Oh, I forgot. All private schools are fantastic, and all public schools are full of idiots. Stupid me. My public school friend, John Greene, went to Harvard. This public school kid graduated cum laude from UT. But obviously public schools are the suck. That is the peeve - the suggestion that private schools are better than public schools. In her case, she was horrified that a kid would have to go to the public school, so it wasn't just the suggestion of the relative "better" or "worse", she basically categorized this school as "unacceptable."
It was later pointed out to me that the schools she chose had another difference: one is lily white, the other is black as night. It would be speculation on my part to say that she was suggesting that white kids are smarter than black kids, but if she does think that, then I would have another pet peeve to write up.
4) She was just so upset that her daughter could not go to UT. You know, there are 50,000 kids at UT. Maybe your daughter is not one of the 50,000 brightest kids in the state.. If so - if you can't be Top 50K - maybe you aren't as smart as you think you are (or as your parents think you are). If you graduate with 600 kids and you aren't one of the 60 smartest, well, maybe you shouldn't be entitled to go to whatever school you want. And this is my thesis statement. The real issue is that parents have too high of an opinion of their kids. When reality deals a blow to their imaginary world, they can't accept it. They have to blame the system. It is like UT fans that complain about the BCS. You can blame the system or you can admit that you lost to Tech. Personally, I start with the man in the mirror when I am trying to figure out why life doesn't turn out as I hope. I wish others did the same.
5) She said that her daughter had a bad SAT score because she "doesn't test well."
That is funny for two reasons:
a) Do you know the leading cause for people not testing well? You don't? It's because they don't know the freaking answer! And that is, btw, precisely what a test is designed to ascertain.
b) Doesn't this totally fly in the face of her top 10% criticism? So her daughter had bad standardized tests scores and a low (relative) GPA? What, exactly, were her qualifications? Extracurricular activities?
Statistically speaking, most of the educated people on the planet did not, do not, and will not attend the University of Texas. In fact, lots of people on the planet raise their children to aspire to attend alternative institutions. Further, most of the United States and almost all of the rest of the world does not reside in Texas nor want to. It's brave and wise of you to point out there is a whole world that should not be going there, either. I extend your five point grumble to conclude that there is almost a whole planet of people who flat out do not care about whatever it is that is so allegedly appealing about Austin and its industrial scale state supported machine. Please keep up the excellent analysis.
I laughed at your entire post and even harder at the comment you added. I worked all through UT as a teacher/tutor for the SAT for a private company in Westlake that catered to the upper socioeconomic strata (westlake, austin high, st. stephens, st. michaels, etc.). I swear that if I had a dollar for every excuse that parents gave me why their kids didn't "test well," i would never have to work.
fro, this public school guy agrees with all you wrote. if i ever have kids, you can be sure i wont make excuses as to why they didnt get in wherever...its called taking responsibility. too little of that going around these days.