Phi Beta Cons

Getting into a Top College

It depends in large part on whether you’re perceived as having “interesting things to say about American society.” That’s the message in this Wall Street Journal piece based on an interview Naomi Schaefer Riley did with the admissions director at the University of Chicago.

Here’s Ms. Riley’s summation:

I suspect that what bothers kids most about the process is not the cutthroat competition they face, but the arbitrary nature of the whole thing. You struggle to give schools what they want. But ultimately folks like Mr. O’Neill may simply ignore your grades and your test scores, focusing instead on whether you’ve had the right ‘experiences’ or have the right skin color to be admitted to the sacred city.

Excellent point. Here’s the question for admissions directors at selective schools: Why should the accident of their ancestry make Barack Obama’s children more attractive to a school than a white or Asian applicant? Why is it assumed that they would have more “interesting things to say” than others? And, more important still, why place any weight on what a student might have to say about society when the purpose of a college is to teach the students?

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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