Tuesday, April 26, 2016

An unconditional offer

I was having a conversation with a colleague yesterday about unconditional university offers and how in my experience of being an IB DP teacher this led to students "slowing down" and getting poorer final grades than they would have got if they had been given an offer to "reach" for.  And this led onto a bigger discussion about how students applying to American universities, whose offers are based on SATS and who are mostly are told to maintain their school grades (and so where the IB exam scores are not an entry requirement) tend to do poorer than those students who are applying to universities in countries like the UK where their place is dependent on getting a particular IB score.  And then this led onto a big picture discussion about IB scores in schools where the majority of students go to American universities when compared to schools where the majority of students do not.  I wanted to do a bit of research on this and so found an article in The Guardian from January this year about UK universities.  Apparently only 2.5% of all UK university offers are unconditional, the rest require a final score, or sometimes are specific about needing certain scores in certain subjects.

As a teacher it's always disheartening to see students "taking their foot off the pedal" when they know their grades don't matter, kicking back and going for the easy life in the crucial months before their exams.  This is especially true in schools where teachers are seen as "good" or "bad" depending on the scores their students achieve in their final exams.  In my case it was also a bit more personal.  The students I taught in my IB Geography class were my son's friends.  As a parent I wanted them to do their best, to get a score that was a reflection of their 12 years of schooling, that was a credit to all the hard work they had put in over the years.  I remember hounding a couple of students that year who were given unconditional offers and who by February of their final year appeared to have stopped working.  When I was applying for my job at ASB, one of these students wrote me an open reference.  In that she wrote that I almost single-handedly saved her grade.  She ended up with a 7 in Geography, the top score.  She's still a friend of mine on Facebook.

An unconditional offer can take the pressure off in the short-term, by giving you security of a university place.  It can also mean that your attitude is "stuff the exams" and that you slack off and don't get the best results you are capable of.  Some schools proudly publish their IB scores on their website; for others, even among the staff who teach there, they remain a secret.  I guess there is no way of getting accurate data on what is simply a hunch, and my own experience in the schools where I have worked in Europe and Asia might not be typical.  What do you think?  Do unconditional offers help or hinder our students?

Photo Credit: CollegeDegrees360 via Compfight cc

No comments:

Post a Comment