What if schools did away with transcripts?
I’m not sure how much useful data we get from transcripts. For example, I received an A in my high school chemistry class, but that’s about the only thing I remember from it. I don’t know anything about chemistry. I got an A because I followed directions. I understood what the teacher wanted me to do, and I did it.
That’s really all a grade is: a measure of the extent to which the student follows directions.
And there’s something to be said for that. If I’m hiring someone and I see that she earned all A’s in high school, I can be confident that she’ll probably show up for work on time and effectively blend in to the workplace culture. That’s important.
But it’s not nearly enough. If I’m hiring someone, what I really want to know is whether or not they’re going to add value to the organization. If all they can do is follow directions and blend in . . . well, there are plenty of people who can do that. How are you going to change the organization for the better? What possibilities can you show us that we never knew existed?
Don’t show me your transcript. Show me your resume. Show me what you’ve done. Show me that you know how to take a risk, overcome your fear, make something, add value.
* * *
BORING = Algebra II A+
BETTER = Student Body Treasurer
BEST = Organized a fundraiser that raised $7,000 to make prom free for kids who otherwise couldn’t afford to go.
* * *
BORING = American Government A+
BETTER = Intern for the Yes on Initiative 653! campaign
BEST = Registered more than 2,000 new voters in time for the mid-term Congressional elections.
* * *
BORING = Physical Education A+
BETTER = “My hobbies include skateboarding”
BEST = “Took third place in a regional skateboarding competition, even though it my first one and I was ridiculously scared to do it.”
* * *
You get the idea.
If high schools could eliminate transcripts and replace them with resumes, colleges would have a better of idea of which applicants are serious about having an impact on the world. If high schools were resources rather than factories, college would get to see which kids know how to take advantage of the opportunities available to them, and which kids prefer to be told what to do.
And more importantly, high school kids could redirect the energy they now spend grade grubbing towards activities that make their heart sing.