Letters: 'Special treatment' for student athletes
I was surprised to learn that at the University of California Los Angeles and San Diego State University, an incoming freshman need not meet the requirements for entrance as long as they are a student with “special talents.”
As a school counselor for 16 years, I have counseled many students on the skills necessary to enter college. Many of them are under the impression that if they are good enough at a sport, they need not work hard in school. Am I mistaken when I tell these students they are held to the standards of all students – regardless of athletic ability? It sounds like at UCLA and SDSU (among many other universities), I may be giving out misinformation. Do I now tell my students, “As long as you are an exceptional athlete, your grades are not important?”
So if it comes down to one student who runs a 4:20 mile with a 4.2 GPA, and another who runs a 3:59 mile with a 2.5 GPA – the faster prospective student gets admitted while the other prospective student must look elsewhere? What is the message we are sending our kids?
While this might give the 2.5 GPA athlete an opportunity, it might very well close the door to a student who took the necessary steps to meet the admission requirements. Are the universities trying to say athletes are not as bright as non-athletes, therefore, we must make special accommodations for them?
The article also states that at the University of California San Diego all incoming student/athletes meet the admission criteria. UCSD has many exceptional athletic programs, many of which have claimed championship titles. An example is its men's and women's swim teams. They have no scholarship money, yet still manage to attract high caliber athletes – many of whom attend conference and national championships. Some may say there is a big difference with a Division I school. However, if all universities committed to the integrity of their admission standards, then all schools would have the same chance to build their athletic programs without “special admits.”
I am perhaps the most disappointed to learn that 64.5 percent of SDSU's scholarship athletes are “special admits” who don't meet regular admission criteria. Let us not compromise the integrity of a college education by lowering our standards for our kids.