The Trophy System


The Atlantic's first annual issue on college admissions draws a useful distinction between America's open, sprawling system of higher education, where virtually everyone has room to learn, and the much narrower field available for status-seekers and the would-be elite:

There are thousands of institutions of post-high school instruction in the United States: more than 2,300 four-year colleges, more than 1,800 two-year colleges, and an unknown but large number of trade schools, technical institutes, art or music centers, and other specialized schools. There are night schools for people with jobs; online or written correspondence courses for people in remote locations; universities in big cities and on secluded campuses in Oregon and Maine. There are technical institutes?for music, nursing, forestry, aviation?and colleges that emphasize the classics. The American higher-education establishment includes the Air Force Academy and Juilliard, Bob Jones University and Caltech….

Then we have the reality that none of these counselors and officers like but all of them recognize: admissions is a battlefield in a brutal competition for prestige. Everyone in America's college-aspirant class understands how this works. "Going Ivy" is a win. Being stuck at a safety school is a loss. The real admissions system is creative in finding room for everyone. The trophy admissions system is a you-versus-me competition for a limited number of spaces at a handful of schools. The real system emphasizes how many places a student might be happy. The trophy system emphasizes how few. The real system puts its greatest stress on what a student will do after he or she starts college. The trophy system cares only where he or she gets in.

NEXT: Good Teachers Need Not Apply

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  1. One other aspect of the elite schools is that their admissions policies are post facto — they are used to justify admitting the select few, rather than for admitting those who their policies would select. Mathews’s article in “The Atlantic” series discusses this, and notes that minorities outscore others on hard questions – those that feature school taught learning – but lose out on the easier questions – those that reflect lessons taught at home.
    As the elite exists primarily to extend their influence forever (isn’t that what “legacy admissions” do), they must come up with socially acceptable ways to filter out the undesirables. Using a test that rewards right thinking (as the easier questions on the SAT do) is just another way to weed out those who aren’t like them. The R-SAT corrects for this, and could do much to help correct many mis-percetions in the US, including that mentioned above that many if not most minorities in the Ivies are considered being unqualified for admission. Read Mathews’s article. It’s valuable info.

  2. Jean, you’ve touched on one thing I respect about France–more so than any other Continental country, it defines its citizens as people who have chosen the culture and society, much more than it defines them in terms of ethnicity. A lot like the U.S., in that respect.

    From the other side of the Atlantic, it seems this French tradition might be slipping, based on stories of the government’s pandering to the Arab underclass in the cites. I do hope that’s not the case.

  3. hey Raymund!

    Jean Bart’s description is consistent with the on-paper, “correct” answer given in scandinavia, too. there are too many aspects of a national culture, especially in the larger countries with a colonial past to go so narrow-band on the definition.

    “it defines its citizens as people who have chosen the culture and society, much more than it defines them in terms of ethnicity”

    speaking with the wrong accent is, esp. for Jungian types, a way of manifesting a rejection of the culture and society. while what you note is not without merit, it feels too much like the application of the jantelov in scandinavia: it’s a way of the culture to hold all variables closer to the established norms. it is against difference. sorta the anti virginia postrel.

    i don’t think that description is useful when looking at actual “us vs them” relations over there.

    another way of looking at that: the “colorblind” society. are we expecting the “thems” to accept our norms and through that recognize their choice of “our” culture and society? how can a german from bavaria ever expect to adopt the same norms and mores as a berliner? or how could someone from birmingham be like someone from bismarck?

    you could be right in the small homogeneous countries, but still, that thought of assimilation without any ripples makes my toes curl.



  4. Jeff, I have to disagree with part of your point #4: “a good liberal arts education” is an oxymoron:)

  5. Joe –

    I’ve met folks who had good liberal arts
    educations so I know they exist. Most of them
    went to Chicago as undergrads.


  6. Jean Bart

    Sounds a lot like the Republican position.:)

    In this and many other things there is oft a wide gulf between rhetoric and action.

  7. david f.,

    Well, I did say that it was the official policy; the mere fact that we still have so many regional diets and cooking systems undermines this to a degree. The creation of France since the revolution also involved the creation of Frenchmen; you cannot view these as seperate events or periods (in fact, you can look at the revolution and the following period as a mere acceleration of what preceded it – making Frenchmen). But while accepting – often grudgingly – the end of regional dialects, the various regions of the country held to various region traditions all the same.

    I perfer this history, though it often did create conflict, to what eventually occurred in for example the Balkans.

    BTW, the government policy of not counting, etc. attributes like race, etc. stems from the Vichy period, or rather, a reaction to it. Its interesting that the US went in the opposite direction after the Civil Rights movement.


    Well, the issue of the France’s Arab population or “beurs” in France is complicated and all that will solve it is time and resistance to terrorism and cultural attributes (such as anal raping young women as a male rite of passage – which has become common and scandalous in beur neighborhoods) which degrade human beings. BTW, I did see a beur gay chat room the day, and I have many friends who are secular beurs, so its not as desperate as some wish to think.

  8. ‘By the same token (so to speak), it also suggests that the alleged benefits of affirmative action “amount to something less than it is made out to be.”‘

    Token. heh

    Your statement is only true if your support for affirmative action is based on a reparations model, ie, black people have had it hard, so let’s give them something – a good college education. I reject this thinking.

    On the other hand, if you support affirmative action for the purpose of desegregation (and the benefits of diversity compared to segregation), then the benefits of racially diverse classes is as real at Harvard as it is at Mt. Wachusett Community College.

  9. Heavens, lovey, it’s a Yale man!

  10. One net effect of affirmative action, as well as a number of other policies that use something other than merit for admissions, is that the degree from the “prestige” school has been devalued.

    In my position, I’ve interviewed job candidates from a wide variety of schools. I’ve interviewed Harvard MBAs who couldn’t even do the most basic quantitative analysis, and I’ve interviewed undergrads from a large local public university who really impressed me with their skills and poise. The point is, the Harvard MBA was once an indisputable mark of quality. If I knew that you had a Harvard MBA, that was all I needed to know about you. Today, that’s not the case. There are excellent Harvard MBAs, and there are very poor Harvard MBAs.

    The one advantage that the prestige schools still do have is one of networking. They have a very successful set of alumni to talk to and network with. Also, there are still many employers in a variety of fields who recruit every year at the Harvards of the world but don’t set foot on the campus of non-prestige schools. So, if you go to a non-prestige school, you are at a disadvantage in the job search. You may be able to ultimately get the same job as the Harvard grad, but you will probably have to be a lot more proactive and do a lot of networking on your own to find it and get your foot in the door.

    More generally, I would argue that, at least at the undergraduate level, there’s very little difference between prestige and non-prestige schools. For example, in math/engineering, dy/dx is dy/dx, whether you learn it from a Harvard prof or a $10 an hour Graduate Teaching Assistant at State U. Now, in some “softer” fields of study like psychology, philosophy, sociology, etc, one might get a more stirring lecture at Harvard than at State U, but by and large, undergrad material is general (non-specialized) enough that one can get a reasonably comparable basic undergrad education at State U vis-a-vis Harvard. In graduate studies, when one starts to really specialize in his/her chosen field of study, the “prestige” school can really make a difference. Or, perhaps better stated, the “right” school can really make a difference (i.e. State U may have one or two professors in a very specific area who are better than anyone at Harvard, but it’s more likely that the opposite would be true).

    Bottom line – there’s no reason to fret over affirmative action, because admission to a “prestige” school is not as big a deal as it once was. Regardless of race, Harvard grads will eventually be judged on their relative merits, just as State U grads will. If a minority is admitted to Harvard solely on the basis of race, but doesn’t really have what it takes to hack it at Harvard, this will eventually catch up with him/her. Similarly, if a non-minority is denied admission to Harvard but nevertheless has what it takes to succeed at Harvard, then he/she should have no problem succeeding somewhere else as well.

    On strictly philosophical grounds, I still find it hard for anyone to deny that, fundamentally, affirmative action is state-sanctioned racism, albeit the reverse of “traditional” racism.

  11. On the other hand, if you support affirmative action for the purpose of desegregation (and the benefits of diversity compared to segregation), then the benefits of racially diverse classes is as real at Harvard as it is at Mt. Wachusett Community College.

    I don’t think that “diversity” of race is much of a benefit in and of itself, really. If a black person is no different, melanin aside, than a white person, what special benefit devolves on the black person just because the person they sit next to is white instead of black? I just don’t see it.

    The benefits of association, after all, flow from being exposed to different ideas, values, attitudes, etc. Unless you think that ideas and values are racially determined or associated, I don’t see how racial diversity corresponds to real diversity. Associating racial characteristics with personal values and characteristics is classic racism, and surely not a road anyone wants to do down.

    The whole diversity as an end in itself thing might be more convincing if it wasn’t a one way street. Somehow, no one is complaining that students at all-female or all-black schools are being denied some critical educational benefit. Why not? If diversity is good enough for white males, why isn’t it good enough for everyone?

    Finally, of course, whether racial diversity is a good begs the question of whether the government should be involved in promoting it. Surely we have seen the dangers of race-conscious governing by now; why would we want to encourage this invidious practice?

  12. rutgers is an elite institution, when compared to ASU!!!!

    and both are elite compard to NW Mississippi State (or CSUx for that matter)

    going the other way, brown & cornell aren’t really the same as yale or harvard… they’re sorta ivies, mostly based on tradition rather than actual talent…

    and then there’s mit and cal tech, that make fun of everybody else (since they’re mostly not taking real degrees)

  13. “If a black person is no different, melanin aside, than a white person, what special benefit devolves on the black person just because the person they sit next to is white instead of black? I just don’t see it…The benefits of association, after all, flow from being exposed to different ideas, values, attitudes, etc. Unless you think that ideas and values are racially determined or associated, I don’t see how racial diversity corresponds to real diversity. ”

    In this country, with our unique history of race relations, geographic and cultural segregation, and economic equality that tracks closely with race, racial desegregation/diversity within schools provides two significant benefits.

    First, it creates networks that transcend racial lines. In this country (the real one, not the ideal colorblind one we hope to achieve), social and professional networks play a significant role in determining one’s social and economic opportunities. Because of our history, there tend to be very few networks that aren’t either white networks or black networks. This barrier must be overcome. Even if we presume that there are no cultural differences between black Americans and the mainstream white culture, the exposure of people who haven’t had the opportunity to learn this fact to each other is a good thing, which enriches their experience.

    But the fact is, there are cultural differences that correlate closely to race. These are not inherent or genetic, but result from the de jure and de facto segregation that has always plagued our country. Exposing people of different races to each other in a learning environment provides the benefits of intellectual diversity that you extol.

    One final question: why do conservatives continually celebrate “true diversity” – that is, diversity of thought and experience – when running down race-based affirmative action, but then turn around and slag colleges that attempt to focus on the cultural differences, and accuse them of “back door affirmative action?” I have my own suspicions, but I’d like to hear it from you.

  14. Madog,

    What’s that, Ivy Plus Two? So who does Yale consider to be the FIRST tier? How about Duke, Chicago, Cal Tech, UC-Berkeley, UCSB, Southern Cal, Carnegie Mellon & Case Western? 😀 Actually, I’m kind of surprised that Stanford showed up on the list, what with the nose-in-the-air Northeast chauvinism the rest of the list exhibit so well. And what of Bates, Williams, Bowdoin, and the rest of those snotty little liberal arts schools nobody’s ever heard of or cares about outside the Northeast?

    Jeff, I don’t think selectivity can be underrated — it is all but useless. Being highly selective is just a lazy way to approach higher education. ANYBODY can teach those students — or nobody. They are on auto-pilot and will succeed anywhere they go with minimal guidance. They are very good at doing schoolwork and (generally; I won’t say universally) neurotically over-achieving. I know — I married one. So these schools go bidding after ‘big name’ academics who rarely have time for students, who do well anyway because that is exactly what they were selected for, and these universities fall all over themselves in a self-congratulatory euphoria. Oh yeah, I’m real impressed.

    I think it is far, far more difficult to take in the more typical public school product and teach them something. Many schools try, and succeed with a small percentage. You could argue (cynically, but admittedly with a grain of truth) that these schools intentionally admit more students than they know will make it to sophomore year just to get a year’s tuition out of the students. They do not, however, know absolutely which ones won’t make it. At least these students get a chance that was robbed from them by the deplorable public school systems in this country. Kudos to these colleges, I say.
    My feeling is that you are better off going to either A) a medium/ large-city school where there is much beyond the college/ university to enhance the overall collegiate experience (Ohio State, Pitt, USC, UCLA, etc.); or B) any large school which is at the center of life in it’s town (college town). Small schools out in the country or in small towns would be at the bottom of my list. In both cases I favor LARGE over small, since these schools can offer a wider variety of classes and curricula for the student to explore (and more parties).

  15. Brad S., I don’t know where the stuff about the more stirring lectures came from, I guess I am unwilling to concede even the small possibility that you allowed for. Also, the playing field changes dramatically when all the small colleges drop off the radar. When you start talking graduate programs, the big players in things like business (say, Dartmouth) are pretty much middle-of-the-pack at best when it comes to top-notch research and research dollars. Think Big Ten. As a group, they have the most research cache, followed by a bunch of CA schools. The Ivies fight it out for third with the SEC. Also, there are players whom you may never have heard of, like Florida International, which have a ton of research dollars. And, unlike undergraduate learning, there is a much stronger correlation (bringing it up to modest) between research dollars and graduate education quality.

  16. Oops, I meant “The Ivies fight it out for third with the ACC.”

  17. Because of our history, there tend to be very few networks that aren’t either white networks or black networks. This barrier must be overcome.

    There is something to this, I suppose. It does beg the question of why isn’t anyone pushing to “integrate” all-black and all-female schools?

    Really, what you are talking about is part integration and part assimilation. Much of the diversity agenda has nothing much to do with either, and is particularly oppposed to assimilation of minority groups. A big part of the diversity agenda is maintaining separate, group-based identities for different ethnic groups, not bringing everyone together into big color-blind networks.

    Schools with big affirmative action programs generally pair them with little segregated niches for all the different groups that they are courting, so that the black students and the gay students and the mestizos, etc. all have dorms, support groups, etc. that are just for them, all in the name of “diversity,” of course.

    People also have a tendency to self-segregate of course, so I don’t know if all this diversity is really creating multi-racial networks or not.

    But the fact is, there are cultural differences that correlate closely to race.

    And thus we start down the very dangerous path of classifying people by race and treating them differently based on skin color.

    If its sauce for the goose (special (good) treatment for blacks because of their culture) why isn’t it sauce for the gander (special (bad) treatment of blacks because of their culture)?

    The danger with diversity rhetoric is that it seems to be well-suited for creating and perpetuating a society based on group-based identities, and this rhetoric can easily be turned from “good” purposes (raising up oppressed minorities) to bad (oppressing groups based on ethnic identity, particularly when dealing with zero-sum games such as university admissions).

    Can anyone doubt that Asians, and even Jews, are getting short shrift at many universities (based on their qualifications) because they are allegedly overrepresented?

  18. The problem here is, the state sponsoring education to begin with. Some have claimed that affirmative action admission policies are wrong because they are racist. It is true that they do discriminate on the basis of race, but why is that any more egregious than discriminating on the basis of anything else. Is it really more acceptable to discriminate on the basis of athletic prowess, or being able to walk and play the french horn, or having alumni parents? For that matter, I don’t see that discriminating on the basis of merit is of any greater ethical character. Why should the smart students be given preferential treatment? After all, wouldn’t additional education be of greatest value to those students with the poorest academic performance?

    The dirty secret of state schools is; they are effectively reverse welfare programs, redistributing money from the middle class to the elite. Often, as in the case of the University of Michigan’s Law School, to the elite of other states. Even if the student is a native of Michigan they are likely to work outside the state after having their education subsidized by the membership of the UAW.

    Private Schools should be allowed to admit whomever they want for any reason they want. State schools should have to admit every resident of the state that applies. Anything else is unfair discrimination.

  19. As a graduate of an Ivy League school (Penn), and currently attending a second-tier law school (Case Western), I can you that the difference in opportunities is not a gap but an engulfing chasm.

    Case in point, tomorrow is the Career Fair at Case Law. The flyers say that such luminous institutions as the Ohio Board of Education, Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) Prosecutor’s Office, Ohio Board of Labor and Employment Law, and so on and so forth are going to be here. Contrast that with the biggest, best firms in the country going to the Yales, Penns, Michigans, and Virginias. For those of us who hope to use law school as a stepping stone to a pro-rights, anti-state career, things look incredibly bleak.

    – Josh

  20. As someone who graduated from the Masochistic’s Institute of Technocracy (yes, we do call it that, also IHTFP) I can sincerely tell you that our major attitude towards Harvard and the rest of the Ivies is trying to figure out how to pull yet another neat hack on their football games.

    I went to U. of I. for grad school (best in the world for solid-state physics.) The difference in atmosphere was that between, oh, a fine Mouton-Rothschild and watered-down plonk. The reason why U. of I. keeps churning out physics Nobel laureates is because there’s damned little else to do.

  21. Mark A.,

    From what I can tell, Yale looks down on those without the same “tradition”, with bonus points for those located in the Northeast.

    The faculty and staff I work with are more charitable, and grant equal prestige to Duke, Chicago, and the UC system (as a whole).

  22. Princeton is a pretty good school.

  23. Slight change of topic, to the UCLA and UC Berkeley controversy over admitting students with low SAT scores. Same article had a chart of the top 50 colleges:

    Of the top 50 schools in the country, UCLA, UCB and UCSD are at the top in percent of students from top 10% of the class. They are at the bottom in SATs of students in the lower quartile of the class. The differences are striking. Don’t bother applying to one of those three if you are in the 11th percentile of a good high school.

    I think the UCs are saying “We are going to take the top students from each high school in California”. That solves the diversity problem, and has a certain broad political appeal. It is a radically different approach from the other 47 schools.

  24. This article would seem to suggest that the “harm” suffered by applicants denied admission because of affirmative action policies amounts to something less than it is made out to be.

  25. which may very well be true. still doesn’t make affirmative action anything less than state-sponsored racism, however.

    it’s all about the extracurriculars…

  26. Yes and no. I don’t think where “a student might be happy” is all that relevant to the realities of how where students go to college affects their future, and it’s not just a question of being a status seeker or a would-be elite.

    The fact is that graduation from the competitive universities opens doors to students in ways (some subtle, some not so subtle) the non-competitive schools do not afford their graduates. Certainly, some graduates of the non-competitive colleges do as well or better than the “elites,” but it is foolish or disingenuous to argue (as Washington Post reporter and, I believe, Harvard graduate, Jay Mathews does) that it really doesn’t matter where one goes to college.

    Yes, there are thousands of colleges and universities in which high school graduates can find a good education. But look at the undergraduate academic institutions of those who go on to law or medical school or, dare I add?, newsrooms and magazine staffs, and one finds a highly disproportionate number of people who attended the competitive schools.

    (At REASON, for example, Mr. Walker attended Michigan, Mr. Bailey went to U.Va., Mr. Gillespie went to Rutgers, Mr. Sullum to Cornell, and so forth.)

    Of course, most such people would be successful regardless of where they went to college — Harvard only accepts people who are already likely to be highly successful in life, so it is little wonder (and less credit to Harvard) that its graduates continue to achieve after graduation. But regardless of which is the cause and which is the effect, the truth is that students (and their anxious parents) are not merely seeking status, they are seeking the imprimatur that facilitates later success.

  27. This article would seem to suggest that the “harm” suffered by applicants denied admission because of affirmative action policies amounts to something less than it is made out to be.

    By the same token (so to speak), it also suggests that the alleged benefits of affirmative action “amount to something less than it is made out to be.”

    Thus making state-sponsored racial discrimination even harder to justify.

  28. “At REASON, for example, Mr. Walker attended Michigan, Mr. Bailey went to U.Va., Mr. Gillespie went to Rutgers, Mr. Sullum to Cornell, and so forth”


    um… since when is that a presteige school?


  29. In fact, affirmative action is even more invidious in elite universities because of the widely held presumption virtually all minority students would not be there but for their lowered admissions standard. They are thus looked upon as “inferior” to the rest of the undergraduate class and the value of *their* otherwise prestigious diplomas is thereby lessened.

    Meanwhile, since affirmative action students constitute a significant percentage of the overall class, the value of the regularly admitted students’ diplomas is that much greater. If, for example, Princeton takes 1000 freshmen a year but 200 are admitted under affirmative action, the “real” freshman class is only 800 freshmen — an even more elite cohort than the gross numbers would suggest. Thus affirmative action in selective universities both perpetuates and reinforces negative racial and ethnic stereotypes.

  30. Yale seems to limit it’s peers to Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, MIT, and Stanford.

    no Rutgers.

  31. In France we don’t have affirmative action (at least officially), and the government does not tally or otherwise recognise racial, ethnic or religious attributes. Once you are French, so the spirit of law and such is, you are French; everything else is unimportant to the government.

  32. I was disappointed by the Atlantic’s articles
    on college admissions for four reasons.

    First, they really understate the value of the
    observable characteristics used in the US News
    rankings. There are plenty of academic papers
    showing a correlation between attending a higher
    quality college, as measured by these variables,
    and outcomes such as later earnings and going
    on to graduate school. The Atlantic neglects
    to cite this literature (which, full disclosure,
    includes papers by me).

    Second, their articles understate the value of
    selectivity in particular. They cite the Dale
    and Krueger paper in the Quarterly Journal of
    Economics on this question, but neglect to
    point out that it considers only a small number
    of relatively high quality schools (the same
    data used in the Bowen and Bok Shape of the
    River Book on affirmative action in college
    admissions), with the lowest quality school
    being Penn State. A number of other papers
    looking at the full distribution of college
    quality as measured by selectivity do find
    important effects, conditional on very rich
    sets of covariates. The Dale and Krueger
    piece should not be ignored, but it is an
    outlier in this literature – which is something
    that the Atlantic should have made clear to
    its readers.

    Third, there is no discussion of mismatch.
    There is some evidence that there is a benefit
    to going to a school with others who are like
    you in terms of test scores – neither higher
    nor lower. Though this issue is controversial
    (largely because it plays a key role in economic
    justifications of affirmative action) I think
    the weight of the evidence favors such effects.

    Fourth, and finally, there is a huge amount of
    “within” variation. That is, within a given
    university different programs often have very
    different faculty qualities and class sizes.
    Moreover, a motivated student who knows what
    he or she is doing can get the equivalent of
    a good liberal arts education at most any big
    state university. The student just has to
    take actions that make sure he or she is not
    just another face in the crowd.


  33. “Everyone in America’s college-aspirant class understands how this works. “Going Ivy” is a win. Being stuck at a safety school is a loss. ”

    What a load of crap.

    There are millions of people who are college-aspirant but have the self-awareness to understand, quite early, that “Going Ivy” simply isn’t within the realm of possibility.

    What is this, the Atlantic Guide To Colleges For 1904?

    The “college-aspirant class” is really freaking huge now, and includes many people with academic skills like George W. Bush’s but who don’t have the family ties to get into Yale and HBS.

    (I must say, now when I see a Yale student, I’m now inclined to assume he or she is an idiot. What a legacy! Bush does Yale no credit, since he shows damn near anyone can get in if the price is right.)

  34. D.A. Ridgely: the perfect coming together of hammer and nailhead!

  35. Furthering Jon H’s point…

    My sister runs a curriculum at Harvard Med. I just asked her how she goes about “marketing” her program; in other words, is she apt to invoke the “Harvard prestige” versus the actual content/utility of the courses. Here was her reply:

    I try not to make a big deal of Harvard, using the name as a way of implying excellence, mainly because I see a great deal of mediocrity around here. Lots of other people use it judiciously, however. Interesting that you would ask the question today, since I spent almost the entire day w/ an influential surgeon at HMS and a guy from DARPA who basically told us that UWash will soon surpass some of its Ivy-league counterparts in the ?innovative ideas? area. He said that lesser known universities have something to prove and will take the necessary risks to create new initiatives, whereas places like Harvard rest on their laurels and will, ultimately, no longer be ?on top? by the year 2025. I think he?s probably right.

    Please please please don’t get my sister in trouble!!!

  36. And then there’s those of us who attend third and fourth-tier schools. I go to Southern Illinois, a fourth-tier school if there ever was one. My ACT score has to be at least in the 98th percentile of all the attendees.. most people who at least manage a 28 go to somewhere better, like UIUC.

  37. Steve C.

    SIU slight personally taken.
    Give the alma mater a few points.
    4th tier, what are you doing there then.
    SAT in the 98 percentile, highly doubtful.
    You could always transfer to UIC.
    No University is capable of guranteing success.
    That would be your job.

  38. Jon: Are you arguing with the post or agreeing with it? You wrote “what a load of crap” but your point seems to be the same as the Atlantic’s.

  39. Jon misses the point of Yale and HBS taking Geo. W. Bush. These schools take students who have the highest likelihood of succeeding for *whatever* reason. Then they try to take credit for that success. Needless to say, they also accept the children of the wealthy and powerful precisely because they (the colleges) need those contacts in order to perpetuate their own “elite” status. In any case, it probably never really was the case that admission to the Ivies was sufficient evidence of intelligence. The little “meritocratic” blip in the 60s and 70s is the exception to the social elitism that preceeded it and the social engineering that followed. Or, as Bertrand Russell famously noted, “It is no contradiction at all to say that Jones is a Cambridge MA and an idiot.”

  40. ‘why isn’t anyone pushing to “integrate” all-black and all-female schools?’

    Howard U actively works to recruit white students, in order to create an adequately diverse student body. I suspect this is true of most other historically black colleges. But on a larger level, black people have a much greater opportunity to experience mainstream culture as a normal part of their lives. Think of colonial India; a British officer on his estate could hold all sorts of silly ideas about Indians in his head without suffering significant consequences, while the Indians living around the garrison damn well better know what they’re doing around British people!

    “A big part of the diversity agenda is maintaining separate, group-based identities for different ethnic groups, not bringing everyone together into big color-blind networks.” You assume that people have to be culturally similar in order to be part of a network. This is untrue. The multicultural ideal is not different people leading seperate lives, but different people working and living together, and learing from each other.

    If the “short shrift” you’re referring to comes down to attending NYU instead of Columbia, you’ll understand if I’m not rending my garments. I agree with the article; they get just as good an eduction at the second tier school.

  41. Responding to the question posed above: why does diversity-value apply to a school with white students but not to an all-black or all-female school… This is because the pro-diversity is anti-dominant, and the diversity means that which tends to compete for resources with the dominant. Also , the dominant means that which tends to spread at the expense of the diversity. The races have just been declared to be in such a relation, because it is convenient to do so, and especially so when the objective is to intensify racial conflict in such a way as increase the power of officials. One gets called anti-diversity, racist and so on for speaking of these relations, but the truth is what it is. As is pointed out in one of the above posts, it is the pro-diversity policies which are perfectly racist in their assumption of ideas tracking with racial classification to that extent. Other countries are less enthusiastic for promoting racial hostilities in the population; but our officials have had little or no success in starting a class war. Does this explain why race (and ethnicity) have been chosen as the central preoccupation of public policy?

  42. EMAIL:
    DATE: 11/28/2003 04:12:42
    Perceptions do not limit reality.

  43. EMAIL:

    DATE: 12/10/2003 04:26:04
    We are the master of

  44. EMAIL:
    DATE: 12/20/2003 08:49:27
    He does not seem to me to be a free man who does not sometimes do nothing.

  45. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/08/2004 09:37:50
    There are no weird people – some just require more understanding.

  46. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/09/2004 11:28:15
    Very interesting things in you site

  47. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/19/2004 11:56:24
    Very interesting things in you site

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