The college admissions process is a twisted process. The number of applicants each year has risen dramatically, meaning that the acceptance rates have dropped, some to less than 8%. I think the fact that there are more applicants is great, because colleges have more students to choose from in order to admit the best students. However, colleges have not been especially objective about who they admit. Private colleges in the US by law cannot set "quotas," or limits of how many students of each race they admit (even though it is fully within their right to do so, as their owners should have say), yet they make sure that they have a good percentage of "underprivileged minorities," often at the expense of other, more qualified applicants. For example, Asians are hugely over-represented in the college process: in private colleges such as Yale, Asians make up about 13% while at public universities of a similar caliber, such as Berkeley, Asians make up nearly half of the student population.
These colleges are sacrificing these brilliant applicants for the sake of diversity. They are also more willing to accept already accomplished students and looking less and less to accept students who haven't done much but have potential (i.e. potential that can be seen from test scores, initiatives in high school, etc.). Sometimes, they would much rather take a great pianist or a legacy student rather than a straight-A student at the top of his class yet has no special "hook." They're not technically doing anything wrong, however, because they never say that they choose the students that are the best academically, even though their reputations seem to imply this, but the side effects include taking valuable education away from someone who deserves it more.
Though, great men find their own way to create and are not reliant on what college they attend. However, it would be more difficult for them if they are forced to find mediocre alternatives and do the rest on their own. The elite colleges hold an oligopoly over higher education for the greatest students, yet I find the values of the colleges disconcerting. Especially when most, if not all, of the Ivy schools are adherents of saltwater economics, i.e. a mixed economy.
As a past applicant, I watched as definitely less qualified classmates get into schools from which I (and a few friends like me) had been rejected simply because of their race and their connections. It sickened and angered me, but I don't care about that anymore. I'm curious, however, about the alternatives. New schools founded upon Objectivism, that have an explicit method for recruiting students? It's a possibility. What do you guys think of this?