2013-08-23

Too Much Help, or Too Little?

So I've initiated a conversation with some of the folks who are currently involved in an annual workshop on US college / university applications. I'm querying them on whether it would be helpful or harmful to have a continuous forum on say, Facebook, to facilitate this. (There used to be such an independent forum called Recom, which died.) Some are concerned that this is spoon-feeding, and that it encourages applicants to ask trivial questions. Here are my thoughts on that:
Your question - my short answer is "yes, they should be encouraged to ask the right questions," if you agree that whole point of this education-counseling stuff is to improve the ease of access to educational opportunities, at an aggregate level (perhaps with a focus on Malaysia).

What I'm NOT proposing: that we give them easy answers to any and all questions.

Colleges are the gatekeepers here - we're not helping anyone by adding friction, we can only help students (etc.) by reducing their waste of energy in applying. If you're worried about us spoon-feeding Malaysian applicants, then consider this analogy: top Singaporean applicants are receiving intravenous college-application-steroids from the age of two. :P

The purpose of a "marketplace/exchange," in the economic sense is to reduce logistical costs for everyone, so that people have less guess-work to do when looking to buy/sell/trade something - in this case, it would be 'commodity-grade information' about applying to college. There are more important 'boutiquey' things that applicants should be grappling with (i.e. spending their energy on) - like improving their writing technique, and application strategy.

I think we're further contributing to the process of education, by also encouraging applicants to practice "Internet literacy," - teaching them to use search engines, Wikis (also contributing to them), self-organizing their meetups (a forum provides a place for them to maximize reach discovering others who share their interests), etc.

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