Island of Misfit Toys or Aspiring Harvard?

“68. We should be selective regarding our student body and we should bring in the highest level of students. They should have high SAT scores and class ranking.”
“368. There should always be room at Guilford for the kids who hated high school.”

To me, these two cards from the Strategic Long Range Planning’s Card Sort exercise, to establish Guilford’s core values, are intrinsically linked. The first one annoys me to no end, the second one delights me; both represent the internal struggle that is Guilford’s identity crisis.
Number 68 reflects a community that strives to be like Harvard. I would never have gotten into Harvard, but I didn’t want to either. What I want is for people like me, who hated the S.A.T.s (not that anyone likes it) and did not have scores through the roof, to still have a place to come that can help them create a life they want. The mentality behind higher S.A.T. scores is one that encourages the idea that screwing up on one test will ruin your life. It is elitist and not very Quaker, at least not as I know the Friends.

I feel as if number 368 saves me from 68. Over breakfast this morning I was reminded again how much different my life is here compared to high school, and how much better it is. I went to a very conservative and large high school. I hated it, and Guilford, in my eyes, is my reward for surviving. If Guilford decides that it will only accept students that have 1200+ S.A.T. scores than many students here would never have been rescued. And I’m definitely not the only student here that needed rescuing.

Guilford proudly claims in admissions packets its spot in Loren Pope’s Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools You Should Know About Even If You’re Not a Straight-A Student. The title should say it all, but someone doesn’t get it and believes that the only people whose lives need changing are those with high S.A.T.s. Yes, Guilford should have high quality, but never based on SAT scores alone, but rather, based on the individual people.

Guilford’s academic standards aren’t slipping by letting in lots of diverse people, which we need to do more actively. We are creating an environment that is much more rewarding than one based simply on grades. We are creating an environment where people learn from each other. The most valuable learning experiences come from life and are not represented in these highly respected scores.

One of my friends compared Guilford College with the Island of Misfit Toys from the Rudolph claymation movies. I don’t mind that I’m not perfect as far as tests are concerned; I put my values in something different than scores only. In fact, I love that I’m a misfit toy.