There was a piece published this week in The New York Times Magazine penned by Paul Tough that focuses on how our nation’s elite colleges covet diversity in all forms — including socioeconomic diversity — but they also covet money. And ultimately, their “thirst for tuition revenue means that wealth trumps all,” as Tough puts it. But while the piece is extremely well written and we particularly liked how it focused on the story of one of the longtime heroes of our college admissions blog, Angel Pérez, the fact that our nation’s elite colleges covet revenue even more so than diversity isn’t exactly news to our readers. It’s more of a duh. So instead, we figured we’d focus on one exceptional point in the piece that should be highlighted in yellow marker and underlined in red pen.
The point is raised by Jon Boeckenstedt, another longtime hero of our college admissions blog for his habit of telling it like it is and a longtime admissions czar. In the piece, entitled “What College Admissions Offices Really Want,” Boeckenstedt is quoted as saying, “Few enrollment-management people will admit this publicly, but we’re all sort of in the same boat. Admissions for us is not a matter of turning down students we’d like to admit. It’s a matter of admitting students we’d like to turn down.” Well said, Jon Boeckenstedt! Well said indeed.
That recruited baseball player who has a 98 mile an hour fastball and isn’t shy of talking about it? That swimmer who goes a :56 in the 100 yard-breaststroke but can’t string together a sentence? That student with a 1320 SAT score and a bunch of B’s whose parents happened to donate the campus special collections library, the ice hockey stadium, and the main dining hall? …Do you think admissions officers want to admit these students? Of course not. Admissions officers are human. They don’t like the arrogant teenager anymore than anyone else. But the baseball coach has pull. A good baseball team attracts donations — the quality of a school’s athletic teams matter. Major donors have pull — heck, their donations facilitate the admission and ultimately the education of deserving low-income students who often happen to be underrepresented minorities as well.
You see, admissions officers don’t necessarily want to admit these students. But they have to. And why? To be able to admit the students they wish to admit. Well said, Jon Bockenstedt! We at Ivy Coach salute you for your commendable habit of telling it like it is!