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Monday, April 4, 2016
The Ridiculousness of College Admissions
They say that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit (I disagree). Satire is sarcasm's intellectual counterpart-the constructive use of derision to illustrate a point, if you will.
You know things are bad when you have to turn to satire. This year's presidential campaign comes to mind, although satire has been used for centuries to skewer politicians.
This week, the New York Times' contributor Frank Bruni-a regular critic of the cut-throat college admissions system-turned to satire to remind us just how sad the current state of affairs is.
Colleges have long clamored for the top spot in the rankings. They understand the capriciousness of branding. People will want the things they cannot have. It's a bit like preschool squabbles. The red train only gains value once the other kid starts playing with it.
This absurd quirk of human nature has turned college rankings into a clown show. The inverse relationship between rankings and acceptance rates has to hit a mathematical roadblock at some point. And Bruni pokes fun at this notion. What if Stanford's acceptance rate really hit zero? Would it have finally reached the apex of prestige? Would people keep applying?
What will it take to get students to set realistic goals for college admissions? And at what point do we come to the collective realization that the ranking system is the emperor with no clothes?
I'm not going to suggest that pedigree isn't capital in the professional world. Yet, like Bruni, I believe the system is corrupted by bloated notions of prestige in a climate where there simply isn't enough room at the fabled apex. There are many different roads to success; Stanford's 5% aren't the only ones on that journey. NY Times >
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