Selective enrollment needs to change

Kris Long, Opinions Editor

Tribe, the Manhattan High spirit club, recently announced they plan to change their admissions process to be more similar to a club. MHS has a number of “special admission classes,” including Interpersonal Skills, Wide Horizons and Tribe. All of these classes require prerequisites other than strictly academic achievements, such as a certain grade in a particular class or audition for classes like Pops Choir and Wind Ensemble. 

It is the opinion of The Mentor Editorial Board that all special admissions classes need to look back at their enrollment policies. 

In previous years Tribe operated on an anonymous application process, which they adopted after the original policy of nomination was phased out. They are now changing it to be more like a club, with 8-10 officers anonymously selected and anyone else who wants to join being assigned the position of representative. Representatives won’t take time out of their schedules for Tribe, but will be involved outside of the school day. 

Tribe shifting towards the position of a club is better suited to its role in the school. A spirit club is supposed to organize school spirit activities, and that isn’t something large numbers of people need to be getting graduation credit for. However, Tribe would benefit from a larger, more diverse group of people making decisions. This means the representative system will be beneficial. 

But Tribe could make their officer selection better suited to its purposes and more like typical clubs by having specific applications based on each officer position, only evaluated by sponsors instead of the club’s current members. Not including members could help lesson the cliquishness of Tribe. Along with that, current members won’t be attending MHS the next year so including them in admissions about what the school should look like next year is illogical. Having sponsor-evaluated students chosen for specific roles such as president or social media manager would benefit the club by making sure students chosen are the best qualified for their role. 

Currently, the system for Wide Horizons enrollment is nomination by former students to take care of a specific animal. This doesn’t ensure that the student chosen is suitable for the job, as there aren’t a prerequisites involving experience in small animal care. It also means that the class can be isolated to the same group of people, excluding those who might be more qualified but have less social connections.  

Wide Horizons should run more like IPS does, with an interview and nomination by a teacher — in this case a science teacher. Students could then get inducted to the class and assigned an animal based on their interests. This would mean more students with interests in small animal veterinary or science education would have the chance to join the class. 

Selective enrollment is sometimes necessary, and when done correctly can make sure the people who would most benefit from a sought-after class get in. IPS does a good job of this. However, when selective enrollment is left to the students currently in the class, whether or not people are accepted into a program depends more on who they know than what they know. Allowing students into classes based on connections is fundamentally unfair, and needs to change.

Apart from equity, a purely selfish reason for selective enrollment classes to improve their admissions process is it would improve their programs. If the people selected for a class are truly the best applicants, the program would grow and improve with those people and their ideas.