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The nation's top colleges are turning our kids into zombies.

It's hardly breaking news, but more and more people are questioning the race to the Ivy League that in some cases begins as early as preschool. And in addition to perpetuating the increasingly-rigid class structure in the US, the Ivy League colleges are inadvertently creating and admitting students who have no idea how to really take advantage of the resources available to them. So writes William Deresiewicz in his article, "Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League" from the New Republic:
So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error. Once, a student at Pomona told me that she’d love to have a chance to think about the things she’s studying, only she doesn’t have the time. I asked her if she had ever considered not trying to get an A in every class. She looked at me as if I had made an indecent suggestion.
See also Deresiewicz's earlier article, "The Disadvantages of an Elite Education" from American Scholar, previously discussed on the blue.
posted by math on Jul 23, 2014 - 138 comments

NYC's push to change elite high school admissions

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for changing the admissions criteria of NYC's elite high schools, arguing that relying solely on a single exam (the SHSAT) "creates a “rich-get-richer” dynamic that benefits the wealthy, who can afford expensive test prep. However, the reality is just the opposite. It’s not affluent whites, but rather the city’s burgeoning population of Asian-American immigrants — a group that, despite its successes, remains disproportionately poor and working-class — whose children have aced the exam in overwhelming numbers." [more inside]
posted by gemutlichkeit on Jul 20, 2014 - 73 comments

We're looking for someone with character

Soft skills, such as "grit" and "creativity," are being increasingly considered in school admissions and job recruiting while standardized test scores and knowledge are being de-emphasized. But can you measure what they're looking for, or even gauge it holistically? [more inside]
posted by ChuckRamone on Apr 24, 2014 - 81 comments

I wasn't impressed

"33" is a video made by the students of color at UCLA Law School. There are 33 black law students at the UCLA law school out of 994 J.D. students, not including those pursuing an LL.M. degree, a one-year law degree program for international students. [more inside]
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Feb 12, 2014 - 86 comments

No SATs, No Grades, No Problem

Bard College has introduced a new admissions criteria: No consideration of SAT scores or grades. Students can now submit four 2500 word essays and be admitted if their work is judged to be of B+ or better quality by faculty. Is this system just waiting to be gamed?
posted by reenum on Oct 11, 2013 - 112 comments

Meritocracy is..fluid..

White definitions of merit and admissions change when they think about Asian-Americans.
posted by kanuck on Aug 13, 2013 - 60 comments

How the Other Half Tests

"Students are told, reassuringly, that there is no such thing as failing the Accuplacer or the COMPASS. But there is: students who score below a certain number, or “cut score,” flunk the test for credit-bearing work." The consequences can be dramatic.
posted by eotvos on Apr 21, 2013 - 55 comments

Application Inflation

"Measuring quality is difficult; measuring quantity is as easy as counting. The more apps a college receives, and rejects, the more impressive it seems." Eric Hoover in the Chronicle of Higher Ed takes on the arms race in college admissions offices. Hoover blogs about admissions issues at Head Count. Sadly, not everyone can write an essay like Hugh Gallagher.
posted by escabeche on Feb 28, 2011 - 20 comments

Gaming the metric at its worst

"Such announcements tell a story in which colleges get better — and students get more amazing — every year. In reality, the narrative is far more complex, and the implications far less sunny for students as well as colleges caught up in the cruel cycle of selectivity." (NYTimes feature on American undergraduate programs' efforts to increase selectivity, and the consequences of such tactics)
posted by d. z. wang on Nov 8, 2010 - 52 comments

Going SAT Free

Some colleges have decided to take SAT scores out of the admissions decision making process. But, some are alleging that this is only a way to game the rankings by excluding the scores of admitted students who didn't do well.
posted by reenum on Nov 5, 2010 - 105 comments

No College for You!

Dirty Secrets of College Admissions Via The Daily Beast
All of your worst suspicions confirmed. [more inside]
posted by mecran01 on Jan 9, 2009 - 155 comments

Legacy Admissions

Affirmative Action Texas Style
Typically, anywhere from 1,650 to more than 2,000 A&M applicants a year receive legacy points, so called because they reward the grandchildren, children or siblings of A&M graduates. Such applicants receive 4 points on a 100-point scale that also takes into account such factors as class rank, test scores, extracurricular activities, community service and others. Most A&M applicants admitted with legacy points don't need them to get in. But in 2003, 312 whites were admitted who wouldn't have been without their alumni ties. In 2002, that figure was 321. The legacy program was the difference for six blacks and 27 Hispanics in 2003, and three blacks and 25 Hispanics in 2002.
I expect we will hear from the White House any day now about how wrong this is.
posted by nofundy on Jan 6, 2004 - 34 comments

Prejudice! Deaf student turned down for place at Oxford University!

Prejudice! Deaf student turned down for place at Oxford University! Every year we have stories about how students were turned down for places at Oxford and Cambridge (the Yale and Harvard of the UK). The argument usually revolves around elitism, and that not enough state educated students are accepted into the top universities. This year, the story is of deaf student, Anastasia Fedotova, whose mother believes Oxford has discriminated against her daughter for not letting her in. And this just in, thousands of other parents are also claiming their able-bodied children have also been discriminated against. Oh, why can't those heartless admissions staff just accept every applicant!?
posted by wackybrit on Aug 19, 2002 - 26 comments

Princeton admissions officers broke into Yale's admissions system

Princeton admissions officers broke into Yale's admissions system using prospective students' birth dates and Social Security numbers. They "viewed Yale admissions decisions" of 11 students; Princeton's dean of admissions says "[i]t was really an innocent way for us to check out the security." The FBI is "assessing the information to see if there is a federal violation."
posted by realityblurred on Jul 25, 2002 - 27 comments

"For the first time

"For the first time since the University of California tossed out race-based admissions, the percentage of Latino, American Indian and black students admitted exceeds what it was during the last days of affirmative action.… 'On a personal level, I am glad to see it happen. It reinforces my view that black kids can perform as well as anyone else, and you don't need to give them any affirmative action,' [UC Regent Ward Connerly] said."
posted by darukaru on Apr 13, 2002 - 16 comments

Banker withdraws a £100,000 pledge to his old college at Oxford University after his son was turned down for a place

Banker withdraws a £100,000 pledge to his old college at Oxford University after his son was turned down for a place - a newsworthy event in the UK not because the man's son was refused, but because he presumed that his donations would have bought his son's entrance. An interesting comparison with family privilege and US private colleges, perhaps?
posted by kitschbitch on Dec 20, 2001 - 10 comments

Univ. of Georgia applicants evaluated on the basis of academics only.

Univ. of Georgia applicants evaluated on the basis of academics only. Without regard to race, gender or country of origin. On the other hand, we have the UC system undertaking a more "comprehensive" system. Predicition: If this continues for 20 years, there will be a huge shift in the academic centers. The UC system will be regarded as a diploma mill, while schools like UGA, which implement tough, academic-based admission policies will be the leading schools of the country.
posted by prodigal on Nov 30, 2001 - 31 comments

Princeton president pines for peculiar persons.

Princeton president pines for peculiar persons. "Princeton University's new president, Shirley Tilghman, says her campus has a problem: not enough weirdos. 'I would like to think we could begin to attract students with green hair. We will take pink and blue and orange hair, too.'" The rest of the article is pretty bland, but that quote is hilarious.
posted by jeb on Jul 10, 2001 - 9 comments

How to get into college

How to get into college Who needs good grades, hard work, and extra activities! All you need to get into college is determination and a gimmick! Look out Harvard here I come.
posted by aj100 on May 30, 2001 - 9 comments

The University of California may eliminate SATs scores

The University of California may eliminate SATs scores as a criterion for admission of undergraduates.
posted by MattD on Feb 17, 2001 - 38 comments

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