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Monday, May 19, 2014
College: Just a Reward for the Best Self-Branders?
In an incisive article for The Atlantic, author Rob Goodman boldly proposes a rather preposterous hypothetical. Make college admissions a true lottery. Throw out meritocratic system and base admissions purely on chance. Like pulling names out of a hat.
Clearly Goodman isn't being literal but rather building a discussion on the back of an outrageous proposition. Following his logic takes the reader to a rather eye-opening place of clarity.
The most "prestigious" institutions in the country are now accepting fewer than ten percent of applicants. This year Stanford took in just five percent. This doesn't mean that only five percent of the US population is qualified enough to get into Stanford. It merely means that Stanford received so many applications, the university could only give seats to five percent of applicants.
As Goodman points out, the internet and the ease of actually applying to universities has caused exponential growth in the number of college applications. So while this pool may contain many students who really aren't qualified to get into Stanford, it also means that many students who are have no chance of getting in. Goodman suggests throwing all qualified candidates' names into the hat, then drawing out the number that Stanford is able to admit.
The article highlights one of the great conflicts inherent in the selection process-the idea that colleges are looking for diversity and intellectual curiosity, when in fact, they end up simply admitting the students with the best self-marketing skills. As Goodman puts it: "Can you build a robust intellectual community only made up of self-salespeople?"
On the other hand, "self-salespeople" are the ones leading the pack in real life, even if they aren't the most interesting or the most deserving. Why should college-the first step up that ladder-be any different?
For the full article: The Atlantic
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