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· Three men, two kids, and an immoral US college admissions racket.

AS ECONOMIES FALTER AND parents struggle to help their children obtain a now-mandatory university education, the inherent moral problems in the admission process grow more obvious each year, starting with the application fee. In 2011, Harvard University charged 34,000 applicants $65 each, adding more than $2 million to the university’s treasury – even though the university knew it would reject nearly 95 percent of those applicants.

By KEVIN CAREY [Chronicle of Higher Education] – All three men are working hard to contend with the college-admissions world as they have found it. But despite their good intentions, none of them can entirely break free.

Big Frank wants what’s best for his daughter, I assume. He drove all the way out to the convention center and waded into the madding crowd. But his confusion and frustration were palpable, and understandable. The hundreds of college booths offered barely any information that can’t be found online or in dozens of commercial guides…

If Big Frank wants to know what his daughter will learn while she is in college, or what kind of job she can expect to get afterward, he will have to go elsewhere, or nowhere, because most colleges don’t really know.

Andy Ferguson’s journey [documented in Crazy U] through the college-admissions odyssey­—the siren song of the high-priced admissions consultant, the agonies of the Fafsa and personal essay, the bizarre puppet show of the college tour—eventually leads him to wonder if college hasn’t become just one more speculative bubble, a kind of debt-fueled mass psychosis that will be punctured by reality in the end. If true, the logical course would be to steer his children away from the elite universities into discount colleges, or maybe put the whole thing off. Near the book’s conclusion, a friend asks Ferguson if he’s going to do just that. He says absolutely not—he’s not going to risk having his kids hate him for their rest of their lives. They are too far inside the system to break out. Ferguson is a critic and a skeptic, but he’s a father first, and he can’t put his suspicions before the love of his son.

[Yale admissions dean] Jeff Brenzel, meanwhile, has to live within the structures he and Yale inhabit. The university is growing, to its credit. But it can’t just slap up more of the dark stone residential quadrangles that define the Gothic campus to create more admissions spots. Yale is a node in a web of money, power, and status that exerts constant pressure on admissions decisions. Making the process more egalitarian and morally defensible will take years of incremental work…

When do minuscule acceptance rates stop being something to boast about and start becoming signs of archaic, insulated, overly wealthy institutions that are badly out of step with their times?

Continued at The Chronicle of Higher Education | More Chronicle & Notices.

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