College admissions today so different from years ago

The recent scandal regarding college/university admissions got me to thinking about the time, over 60 years ago, when I was applying for entrance to a couple of schools. Needless to say, it is a heck of a lot different now.

I was confronted with an early decision upon finishing the eighth-grade. Back then there was a choice to be made upon entering high school. I had three different paths to complete high school: General Course, Industrial/Business Course, or College Preparation Course.

My sister was six years ahead of me and had opted for College Prep, while my brother who was three years ahead of me opted for Industrial/Business.

Not being a sort of hands-on type of person even though I still have a small table-lamp I made in shop in the eighth grade, I opted for College Prep. As I recall, my parents preferred a choice that was more directed toward some sort of future employment, so College Prep was better than General. Four years later, I disappointed my dad a bit when I actually chose a college – more about that later.

In the freshman year, most of the boys in Industrial/Business took four different shop-type classes: wood shop, drafting, print shop, and machine shop. Courses in later years were bookkeeping, typing, business math, etc.

College Prep was usually four years of math, at least two years of science, and at least two years of a foreign language. All students had English, U.S. and World History, PE, plus other electives like music, art, speech, civics, etc.

So comes senior year and it is time to apply for college. One big change from then to now is that ACT (American College Test) did not exist, having been instituted in 1959. The main test at the time was the 1926-founded SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test, later called Scholastic Assessment Test and much later just called the SAT.) Many colleges did not even require that.

From my 220+ fellow Stivers High School graduates I would guess that a maximum of 10 of us took the test. I submitted applications to just two schools: Denison University, one of Ohio’s small, liberal arts colleges, and the University of Cincinnati, essentially an engineering school. Both schools were considered expensive, but having applied for grants and scholarships, I was offered some help from both schools. The best financial offer was from the U. of Cincinnati and it was here that I disappointed my dad, because I chose Denison, the more expensive school and the one less job oriented.


Regarding the admissions scandal of today, maybe I was a bit naïve, but I don’t remember from my early college life even a rumor of having someone hired to take the SAT test to get a better score or bribery to get an entry not just to the schools I applied, but to any other schools as well.

After being in college I did become aware of some preferential treatment. For example finding students who were the second, third or fourth generation of a family all attending the same school – and I am not just talking about my alma mater, but many other “big-name” schools. I also wondered about some very wealthy students’ qualifications. Then there was also talk now and then about having certain academic standards waived for some athletes. Even more recently I have heard stories about rather loose standards in recruiting some high school students. And, there have been under-the-table payments made to college athletes.


A different story about colleges: In the May 2019 edition of the magazine Money, there was a listing of the 20 Best Colleges for Liberal Arts as well as the 20 Best Colleges for Merit Aid. I mention the latter because my Alma Mater Denison is listed as No. 9 in that list.

What I found interesting in the Liberal Arts list is where the colleges are located. I think the results make one think that those from the fly-over states don’t have vey good schools. Fifteen of the 20 schools are all from the west coast (i.e. bordering the Pacific Ocean) or from the east coast bordering the Atlantic Ocean.

Only two states not touching the oceans are listed. Minnesota has two schools listed and Pennsylvania has the other three schools listed. The two MN schools are St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict.

The Merit Aid schools are more broadly dispersed, but there is also a category of the Best Schools for Transfers. Out of the 20 schools in that category, 14 are all in California!


About 10 days ago there was no snow left on the Marshall Golf Club course. The MGC put flags on the greens and there were players galore out trying to rediscover their perfect form again to drive the ball and putt the greens.

The weather people last week then threatened us all with predicting snowfall again – maybe even a couple of inches of the white stuff that could also mean slushy streets and grounds. So Saturday morning there was indeed some snow in the air, though it melted instantly when hitting the ground. That wet, snowflake morning continued until about 12:30 p.m.

But some golfers are indeed a bit crazy or were so afraid of missing a day on the course that they played golf in the rain with some snow still in the air.

At about 11 a.m. my wiper blades were going steadily back and forth on my windshield to clear the “rain/melted snow” as I witnessed a couple of golfers making final putts while their umbrellas were open covering the clubs in their bags on hand carts parked next to the green.

Witnessing that, I suppose, I should have been surprised not to see them wearing T-shirts and shorts!

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!