College Name Game “Major Act of Irrationality”

29 04 2007

Snook already brought you this and this.

And JJ at Culture Kitchen was on the case last summer:

. . . here’s the blue-book exam question for our class today: If America gives a private party — or an obscenely overpriced, elite, self-congratulatory and rarified college education — and nobody comes to eat the cake, will it make a sound as it falls over of its own impressive age and weight?

Not to mention Poison Ivy commentary and the peculiar faith in winter sports as academic excellence that apparently animates Ivy admissions. Now, here’s more in our ongoing honors seminar for Thinking Parents about what is so Unthinking these days about the good intentions that pave the hellish road to academe. . .by any name. (This time it’s Yale, last time it was Harvard and Princeton.)

“Rethinking the Path to Prestige”
Sunday New York Times, April 29, 2007

. . .high school counselors and admissions experts who aren’t invested in the game say there really is a backlash building against the notions that a college’s ranking or status is a proxy for educational quality, and that teenagers should spend their high school years in a frenzy of résumé building, the better to get into the college most esteemed by guidebook editors and readers. . .
where “prestige and reputation tend to depend on how many students you reject.”

Lloyd Thacker, a former high school guidance counselor [and author of “College Unranked”] who founded the Education Conservancy, a nonprofit group that has become a persistent voice against admissions hysteria, criticizes what he calls “driving under the influence of rankings.”

The question now, he says, is who will take the lead in changing the way the game is played. A few years back it was a fringe question. Now it’s one that a lot of people within education, not just high school seniors with tread marks on their backs, are asking — even if no one has figured out what to do about it.

“Admissions professionals are engaging in a lot of soul-searching about what we’re doing,” said Barmak Nassirian, a spokesman for the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

“People realize the system as a whole is getting out of hand. They’re aware we have set up a system in which rational behavior on the part of each player is contributing to a major national act of irrationality.”



5 responses

29 04 2007

That last sentence would explain a lot about a LOT of things in current culture!

4 05 2007

Just getting around to reading this in the NYTimes:

It’s very moving meeting all these bright young people who won’t get into Harvard. Recent news articles make it sound unbearably tragic. Several Ivies, including Harvard, rejected a record number of applicants this year.

Actually, meeting the soon-to-be rejected makes me hopeful about young people. They are far more accomplished than I was at their age and without a doubt will do superbly wherever they go.

25 07 2007
Harvard: More Marine Corps or Modeling Agency? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] stuff and just came across Malcolm Gladwell’s “GETTING IN” on the social logic of Ivy League admissions: Social scientists distinguish between what are known as treatment effects and selection […]

24 10 2007
How Do You Solve a Problem Like the Ivies? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] more interesting than the debate itself was the audience reaction. Anti-Ivy proclamations were greeted with enthusiastic whoops. It was as if everyone had finally been given permission to voice their long-held antipathy toward […]

9 03 2008
College Admission Advice I’ve Thought Better Than. . . « Cocking A Snook!

[…] “College Name Game Major Act of Irrationality” […]

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