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College Admissions

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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?

--Cosgrove

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Cosgrove, I just finished an associate's, a bachelor's and a master's since 2005. However, I never stopped going to school, actually, and my first freshman year was 1967. I have been to eight colleges and universities, large and small, public and private.

It does not matter where you spend your first four years, and I recommend a small liberal arts school in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin or Michigan. Yale and Michigan State and schools like that never deliver what they promise undergraduates. At a small school, you not only have the actual professor teaching the class, rather than a "teaching assistant" a few years ahead of yourself, you stand a good chance of meeting the prof in a bar or restaurant or (at worst) the library after school.

Yes, there are exceptions. The big schools have "honors colleges" but you are still one out of many, even within that cohort, but, more to the point, outside of that, no one knows or cares about you. At a smaller school, you can be an honors student or not, you are still visible and important.

And this goes also for engineering, etc., where a smaller school is better than a larger one for the first four years. Once you get into graduate through post-doctoral studiens, yes, the school matters based on its present status. You probably know about the scandals in research fraud that periodically rock places like Cornell and Boston University. Those in particular, but all big schools with huge research projects have that problem, so you have to know the news before you apply. You cannot know now where you will get the master's or doctorate.

There are many ways to gimmick admissions and they apply to graduate school as well as to college. Schools look for "ocmmunity involvement" and "extra curriculars." I know of people (high school kids as well as college adults) who form clubs just for that purpose, even get their pictures in the yearbook. Heck, form an honor society while you are at it.

My last bachelor's major was criminology, which required a lot of sociology. Admissions to college is like admissions to any society. The rules may be "fair" or "unfair" (even or weighted; meritorious or meritricious) but they exist everywhere and always have and always will. In times gone by, you had to come from the right family. It is hard to say that the academic admissions processes were ever "fair."

You have to find the school that is best for you. It's a sales job and a shopping venture. Paying attention to everyone else just opens the door to envy and jealousy.

Go your own way.

Edited by Hermes
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