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Phi Beta Cons

The Right take on higher education.

Is This the Way to Improve College Admissions?



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In the most recent Pope Center Clarion Call, I review Robert Sternberg’s recent book College Admissions for the 21st Century.

Sternberg’s contention is that colleges can admit a better student body — more students with leadership potential, creativity, and wisdom — if they would plumb students for their hidden talents. I doubt that it’s really possible to engage in anything more than guesswork in that regard from reading essays by college applicants. Even if it’s possible to accurately identify those with stellar hidden talents, all that accomplishes is a slight redistribution of where kids go to college. It’s not worth the considerable cost.

Sternberg argues that revising college admissions as he suggests will help bring about greater “equity” and “social justice” in the world. Color me skeptical about that, too.



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