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Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Are the Ivies our New Celebrity Culture?
I'll be the first to admit it: I find it hard to rise above the temptation of click-bait. Just yesterday, I skimmed through a toothless piece about Brad and Angelina's ex-bodyguard. If you don't know who I'm talking about, consider yourself lucky.
About six months ago, I read a Washington Post article about America's "dangerous" obsession with elite universities. It struck a chord with me. If you read about college admissions with any vigor, you'll find it impossible to ignore the mania over Stanford, Harvard and Yale. There's no one disputing their excellence.
The problem is their relevance to the average person.
The vast-and I mean vast-majority of Americans stand no chance of admission to any of them. Put another way in the WP article, just 4% of American students attend universities with an acceptance rate of 25% or less.
Let that sink in. Harvard, by the way, accepts 5.2% of its applicants.
So why, oh why, do we keep fixating on universities that will have little to no impact upon American college graduates? What is so addictive about the unattainable?
Perhaps it is because the ordinary just isn't interesting enough for our byte-sized attention spans. The idea that thousands of hard-working Americans will graduate from solid, regional public universities each year-it's just not a story.
The problem is that it should be. Because our high school students are paying attention. They need to know that success isn't hog-tied to low acceptance rates.
This isn't about settling for less. It's about focusing on what students can and should be doing with their educations. It is about shifting the conversation. In the words of Ben Casselman, it's time to "Shut Up About Harvard".
The Washington Post
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