Phi Beta Cons

What’s the purpose of college?

Last week, I copied in a letter from a writer who took issue with the statement by Chicago’s admissions director that he’d give preferential treatment if Barack Obama’s daughters applied there because they’d presumably have “interesting things to say about society.” That letter has drawn this feeble reply:

Try to Stay Calm
The outrage of William E. Jones in his Oct. 2 Letter reacting to “The College Try May Not Get You Into College,” by Naomi Schaefer Riley (de gustibus, Taste Page, Weekend Journal, Sept. 28) seems overworked. I would venture that Barack Obama’s children might have “interesting things to say about society” because they are the children of a presidential candidate. Much like the Clintons’ daughter and the Bush daughters have interesting things to say being the children of presidents. I think Mr. Jones is imparting racial prejudices on the part of admissions director Theodore O’Neill and the University of Chicago without cause. We are now an advanced enough society that we can give ostensible worth to college applicants of color without the assumption of that worth being based on said color. To society, I say, hooray. To Mr. Jones, I say, “il faut fait tranquille.”
E. Hagemann

Look, the point has nothing to do with color. The point is about the purpose of a college education. A lot of people, such as O’Neill, evidently think that it’s for young adults to get together and share their views and experiences so they can come to understand and appreciate each other’s “culture.” On the other hand, there are a few people who think that students go to college to learn useful subjects from professors.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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