Colleges shouldn’t use grit as a college entrance exam


Jennifer Espinoza, Opinions Editor

Grit is the latest buzzword in education that is being seen as a silver bullet to assess the potential of students to be successful.

It’s no surprise to anybody that colleges look into how smart a student is in their high school career instead of finding out the amount of hard work they had to put into getting those grades. There are definitely instances where a person’s grade may not reflect the work they did to receive it.

High school definitely a start before the start of college but there is still that system of holding a students hand at the beginning, middle, and end of high school. During the high school years, students get told that college will be different which also includes how they will not receive the type of help.

Recently, Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University and a former governor of Indiana, wrote a column in e Washington Post in which he advocated for the creation of a Grit Potential Assessment that could be used by colleges as a tool to decide who should be admitted to college. According to Daniels’ article, there is a currently a trend in which some U.S. colleges have announced that they will no longer require applicants to provide standardized test scores, but instead will look to high school grade-point averages and subjective information. Daniels writes that these colleges are doing this because they believe that a student’s GPA is a better indicator of gritty characteristics like discipline, persistence, and resilience — all of which are necessary to succeed at the college level. However, Daniels cautions that GPA may not be a great indicator of grit because of a rampant grade in inflation that occurs in high schools.

What’s truly troubling is that Daniels believes that grit can be objectively measured with some kind of test. it would shock and appall Angela Duckworth, who is the social scientist who is recognized as the most prominent advocate of the power of grit to improve student success.

While Duckworth promotes the development of gritty characteristics among young people she has adamantly opposed the idea of using Grit over GPA.

According to a piece that Duckworth wrote in e New York Times, she is excited that policymakers are interested in emphasizing the importance of gritty characteristics in young people, but she says it is a bad idea to “turn measures of a character intended for research and self-discovery into high-stakes metrics for accountability.”

For some students who work hard during high school, this change doesn’t affect them as much because they are used to working independently and persevering from difficult problems or hard work. here are instances where there are students who do try their best and work the extra mile but have trouble with reaching their desired goal. This is reflected on their GPA and of course, colleges look at these GPAs and makes a decision of how smart that person is but will never look of how studious and driven the person actually is which could shatter that drive that they have hoped would take them into a college they would love to attend.

There are also instances where there are students who by chance have a teacher’s favoritism or receives answers from outside sources that, of course, improperly raises the student’s GPA and deceives college admissions workers into approving students who have not truly proven themselves as ready for the rigors of college. Many of these students drop out of college during their freshman year when they realize that college isn’t like high school and there is more independence required.

When also thinking of Grit it can also be argued that people may also cheat or lie so it may seem that they can take more than they could. I also worry that there is not much information on even how to measure Grit and encouraging the system to basically reset all the research that was done to create GPA sounds reckless.

Morally speaking, there are good intentions with measuring with Grit but without much information about how we can replace with years of research that GPA has. Although it is a morally good suggestion it can also exclude does who do not have the proper tools to improve themselves or do not have the privilege to be in an environment that can provide the necessary ways to show a student’s full potential.

There is also the factor that Grit can’t be taught, which can be di cult for those who have a strong mind but simply can’t persevere. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they shouldn’t go to school because of this law because the GPA system works the same way with measuring how intelligent a person is and using that knowledge to see if they are eligible to go to school. It excludes a lot of people who have Grit but their GPAs don’t showcase their hard work or their problems that happen such as jobs, helping parents, and participating in clubs. Instead, they only see the GPA numbers

As a method, I do like the idea of incorporating some sort of a way where students can show their grit such as writing an essay in which they explain how they have overcome adversity in their life. I do not, however, like the idea with just having that as the deciding factor to let students be accepted to college because there is not much evidence that this could be a successful deciding factor.

I think the idea of measuring grit is wrongheaded and is susceptible to abuse and fakery.

Nonetheless, in a society like ours in which we are obsessed with testing, there will be proponents of pushing proposals to test grit and use this as the basis of college admissions or other important evaluations of student achievement and potential. After all, grit is an unmeasurable characteristic that can’t be taught.