According to a Bard College press release and a recent New York Times article, “Didn’t Ace SAT? Just Design Microbe Transplant Research,” Bard College, located in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, will introduce a new admissions method – the Bard Entrance Examination – which will, for some students, replace the traditional requirements of transcripts, SAT scores, personal statements, and letters of recommendation.
This new approach requires that applicants submit four 2,500-word essays, totaling 10,000 words, or, as the New York Times article computes, about one-sixth the length of many novels.
Topics for these research papers are divided among four categories, Science/Mathematics, Arts/Humanities, and Social Sciences/History/Philosophy. Applicants must choose one topic from each category, plus one additional topic. Subjects are pretty tough and include: Confucius’ “The Analects,” Gogol’s “The Nose,” the Federalist Papers, Mary Shelley, Aeschylus, the origin of “chirality,” and “how to design a research trial using microbes transplanted from the human biome.”
If applicants receive a B+ or higher on all four papers, then they are granted admission, so long as a single character reference from their high school come through clean.
Bard’s president, Leon Botstein, explains:
“It’s kind of declaring war on the whole rigmarole of college admissions and the failure to foreground the curriculum and learning…[the traditional system is] loaded with a lot of nonsense that has nothing to do with learning….[The new approach offers a] return to basics, to common sense. You ask the young person: are they prepared to do university-level work?”
The Bard Entrance Examination will be available to applicants on October 1, 2013.
What do you think? Would you prefer to write these essays? Or the good ol’ fashioned way: take the SAT and complete the Common App?