The assignment was to write a modest proposal in the style of John Swift's modest proposal, and I wrote about the college application process.

Essay by Regina2004High School, 11th gradeA+, September 2003

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A Modest Proposal

With the approach of senior year, I have become conscious of a variety of easily avoidable factors that contribute to excessive stress. The principal flaw in the college admissions process is that the admissions committee does not categorize students enough. In encouraging applicants to portray their paltry personalities through the essay portion of the application, colleges effectively complicate the process for themselves and the hopeful high school senior. The entire system could become far less stressful if the only factors taken into consideration were scores and grade point averages. The higher the level of student categorization that school and college administrators are able to achieve, the less painful it is for the student to secure a future in a college that is truly suited for him or her. Not only should the transcript be the student's only characteristic taken into account, but immediately after final GPA's and Student Aptitude Test scores are available, students should be sorted into categories based solely on the numbers.

The "A Group" would be admitted to Ivy League schools, the "B Group" to those of a slightly lower academic standing, and so on. Because a student's scores would be a direct reflection of the amount of effort and time he decides to devote to his academics, he would be in complete control of his future. By receiving such freedom, young people would learn how to be independent, responsible, and civically minded adults.

The advantages to this system are undeniable. By discarding all other information except the bare numbers, the endless amount of time spent writing the perfect college essay could be used much more productively. Students would have more time to concentrate on grades or, depending on their goals, have the opportunity to do the extracurricular activities colleges so admire. Since...