Sunday, January 16, 2011

College Application Separated At Birth

In 1994, Randy Moss was a high school student being heavily recruited to play college football. Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz was especially interested in signing Moss. Moss wanted to play for the coach that had helped turn Notre Dame receivers Tim Brown and "Rocket" Ismael into superstars. It seemed to be a match made in heaven. There was only one problem. Notre Dame, unlike many college football powers, required actual academic performance from its football players. In fact, football recruits were required to submit an application to the school, just like regular students.

Moss was denied admission based on his application, which included the following question: "Why do you want to attend the University of Notre Dame?" I remember answering the question with a full page of single spaced typing detailing the role of Catholic faith in my life, my academic interests, and my expectations of myself and my college. Legend has it that Moss provided a three word answer to the question, "To play football."

A cynic might suggest that the story, if true, reveals a weakness in Moss' character. On the other hand, he may have simply been following the model of John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy's application to Harvard was recently released to the general public. It contains this gem in response to a similar question regarding his motives for seeking admission to the Ivy League school:

The reasons that I have for wanting to go to Harvard are several. I feel that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college, but is a university with something definite to offer. Then to[sic], I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a 'Harvard man' is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.

In Harvard's defense, Notre Dame's admission decision regarding Moss was made easier by his conviction on assault charges while the University was reviewing his application. On the other hand, maybe Moss would have been granted admission if he had suggested that Notre Dame was a university with "something definite to offer."