Collegiate opportunities induce unfair acceptance rates


Emily Franke

Art by Maddy Meuller
High achievement should merit reward, especially for high school students. RBHS is an above average school filled with above average students who deserve recognition for their accomplishments.
For example, on the 2011 ACT, 65 percent of RBHS students scored at or above the national average, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MDESE). A school filled with excellence, then, is expected to provide rewarding opportunities to its students.
On the rare occasion a prestigious opportunity is offered to a student, it is considered a bonus, a great opportunity and, in most cases, a reward for their success. However, these rewards come infrequently, often with highly selective requirements and a price far too steep for the average teen.
Beyond extracurricular activities, the school introduces qualified students to distinguished programs for which they must compete for a spot. Missouri Scholars Academy (MSA) and the Missouri Fine Arts Academy (MFAA) are just two of a number of programs created for high achieving high schoolers to extend their educational experience.
MSA is an academic program for gifted Missouri students. Held at the University of Missouri, it is funded by the University, the Gifted Association of Missouri, the MSA Alumni Association and various philanthropic donors. Only 330 students from across Missouri attend, which presents a problem.
This degree of selectivity is based on the populations of all CPS high schools. Only 10 applicant spots are open to the district and, consequently, only five to each high school in the 2013 application process. Considering 20 students met the standards for the initial process of the selection, it is difficult to imagine the ease of cutting down the number to just five.
According to their website, MSA believes “Missouri’s gifted youth must be provided with special opportunities for learning and personal development in order for them to realize their full potential.”
If this is the case, MSA excludes thousands of gifted students from this gifted opportunity. In the 2012-2013 school year alone, 38,045 students constituted the state’s gifted programs, according to MDESE.
In contrast to the restrictive selectivity of MSA, MFAA’s selectivity increases the prestige of the program and, as a result, the potential educational gain for the students. According to MFAA’s website, it is a three-week summer program that provides intensive classes for, “highly motivated student artists in visual arts, theatre, dance, creative writing, and music.”
A panel of judges and artists review the applicants’ submissions based on merit.
MFAA seems like an ideal honor program ­— until you see the cost. Every student must pay $1,500 to attend. Some need-based scholarships are provided for eligible applicants, but not every applicant in need of additional finances will be eligible for aid. If a student makes the cut for the program, but cannot find the money to pay for it, that student loses the chance to extend their artistic skills through the esteemed program.
Absurd factors limit the number of students who can attend prestigious events such as these. Because a predetermined amount of students can participate, because the cost of the program is too great, these programs deprive commendable scholars of the option to acquire knowledge. The number of students allowed to participate is not an accurate representation of the student body of RBHS or the state of Missouri. The fact that these programs cater to a miniscule sample of the masses of students deemed “gifted” is both unfair and dishonest. The limitations in the number of applicants and the numbers admitted prevents deserving students from enjoying a well-deserved educational opportunity. If the goal of these programs is to provide the experience to deserving students, they should cater to a greater amount of those students who meet the requirements to participate, rather than the few who have the good fortune of being selected.
There should be far more equal opportunities for all students who succeed, rather than an opportunity offered based on population and limited by a wholistic number. This is a right which should be given to all students who have proven themselves in the classroom.
By Emily Franke