Cynical about Pinnacle

Many academically-advanced students hope to be invited into an honors program when they get to college. However, how does this work in a school such as Stevens where the majority of students are used to being the best of the best? You get a bunch of students who deserve to be in the program but only a small percentage that are lucky enough to participate. When the topic of Pinnacle Scholars comes up in conversation on campus, it is pretty evident that emotions can run high. There are the students who think that the system is not fair and the scholars who feel attacked for simply being a part of it.

From the point of view of the Pinnacle students, other students’ jealousy can be a bit aggressive, especially when you think of how academically-inclined many Stevens students are. However, from the point of view of the non-Pinnacle students, it can be frustrating since the requirements for the program are very vague. Most students aren’t even aware of the program until they attend Stevens, even though the Pinnacle Scholars Program has its own website under special programs. However, if an applicant does not search for a special program, then they would not know about it. Of course, that is the case for most colleges that offer honors programs. This isn’t where most of the frustrations come from. It comes from the very vague and almost nonexistent requirements.

According to the Pinnacle Scholars Program website, “Invitations for the Pinnacle Scholars Program are made at the time of admission and based on your academic record and potential impact at Stevens.” I think the problem with this statement is that it is very vague since it is hard to predict potential impact. I’m not saying that an application process should be implemented, though it might be beneficial for all involved parties if there were a more specific definition for a Pinnacle Scholar. For instance, the new A. James Clark Scholars Program website lists the characteristics that will be used to choose Clark Scholars – high academic achievement, demonstrated leadership, financial need, and community involvement. This kind of a list gives a better picture of what kind of an applicant would be best suited for the program.

“Academic record and potential impact at Stevens” is a much too broad statement when the program has such amazing opportunities like a cultural passport, the 4+1 program, a stipend for research, study abroad, or classes, and so many more. Now I realize this might sound like the ramblings of a sore loser, but my feelings come from not my own personal loss (I know there are smarter people than me), but from seeing examples of how certain people are cheated. I have seen brilliant students who not only had and continue to show high academic achievement and who contribute to Stevens in multiple ways. Why is it that these students didn’t make the cut when other students with less involvement in both college and high school did? I think this goes back to the requirements being too vague.

This is an amazing program that is offered to Stevens students, but I think this program can be improved by the mere act of making the requirements more specific. This way it is ensured that the best of the best are in the program.