Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Daniel W. Drezner: Useful Software I Would like to Destroy

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Daniel W. Drezner: Useful Software I Would like to Destroy

Article excerpt

My oldest child is now a high school senior, which means that he is just starting to gear up his applications to college. Ha ha ha, I kid, I kid. We live in an affluent, well-educated suburb in Massachusetts: College has been on the agenda in our house for at least a year now.

Still, as the applications are beginning, I get to see how this process has changed since I was applying in the mid-1980s. For one thing, Wite-Out and a typewriter no longer appear to be necessary. For another, students looking to attend a selective college are applying to a lot more of them than when I was a callow youth.

Perhaps the biggest difference, however, is how much technology has facilitated the process. The common application is now pretty standard (though the coalition application is starting to catch on). This makes it much easier to apply to a plethora of schools. Furthermore, the common app software now plays well with high school software programs that collect student data on grades, test scores, extracurriculars, student résumés and recommendations.

I speak, of course, of Naviance. It is a software program that eliminates much of the drudgery of the application process. If you do not yet have a college-age child, there is no reason to have heard of it. If you do have a child who wants to apply to college, you should be worried if Naviance sounds unfamiliar.

Naviance is a nifty, award-winning piece of software. The thing is, I would very much like to destroy every copy of it in existence. You see, Naviance serves two purposes in the application process. The first is to act as a repository of information that can then be transferred to a college application. It does that job quite well.

The other purpose Naviance serves is to inform students about colleges of interest. A high school student who uses Naviance can enter the college in question, and the program will immediately spit out an informative scatterplot. The x-axis is the SAT scores of every applicant to that college from that high school from the past three years. The y-axis is the grade-point average. Naviance then computes the average SAT score and GPA of the students who were admitted into the queried college. …

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