October 14, 2005

Elitist Bastards!

Inside Higher Ed recently reviewed the touchy and controversial book, The Chosen, Jerome Karabel. The book is a vigorous and thorough examination of admissions policy by the so called "Big Three," Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

The picture Karabel (or more accurately, Higher Ed writer Scott McLemee) paints is that these universities essentially admitted students on a grade-based meritocracy, with exceptions made for the not-so-bright progeny of wealthy alums. While mere academics were never the main focus of these institutions, admissions criteria expanded to account for "character" only when the intelligent and bright children of Jewish, Eastern European immigrants began to out-compete the more traditional stock of Ivy material.

In my opinion, the admissions process is part of a larger picture that includes prep schools, the public schools of wealthy suburbs (of which I am a graduate) - general social phenomena that combine with policy in a way that leaves America with lower social mobility than most other first-world nations. At the same time, while Dartmouth is in its largest minority recruitment event of the year, I'd like to think there is, at least at some level, an effort to build a fairer society instead of an effort to placate the non-elite segment of society.
Unfortunately, despite noble statements that have been made by the leaders of these institutions that would affirm my hopes, the socioeconomic composition of this institution and our peers indicates that this is just the same old game as always.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:41 PM

    Read Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich.

    And on a personal note: when schools accept individuals with high grades they 99.9% of the time open their doors to cheaters and individuals who have learned to coax the system not function in it.