Sometimes we find ourselves nodding our heads when we read college admissions articles online. And sometimes we find ourselves shaking our heads. Sometimes we find ourselves nodding and shaking our head all during the span of a single article. It can get rather dizzy at times. It’s precisely what was happening with our heads when we came across Neill Seltzer’s article up on “Forbes” entitled “3 Underrated Facts About College Admissions.”
Seltzer starts off the piece by writing about how college admissions is, in many ways, a right of passage in America. True statement. He also writes about how one’s choice of school has a lot to do with a student’s achievements, hopes and dreams, and status. We’re not sure precisely what he means by ‘status’ but again, it’s generally a true statement. Legacy status can help in highly selective college admission. Being an underrepresented minority can help. So we’re nodding and nodding. He goes on to write that getting into college is easy. True statement again. It is. Getting into a highly selective college in America? Now that’s another story, as Seltzer would agree. Still nodding.
Our heads even nod when Seltzer writes under the headline “The Quality Of Your Education Depends On You, Not Your School,” “There are some great professors at the top schools, and some terrible ones. There are some great professors at your local community college, and some terrible ones. Many undergraduate classes (even at many Ivies and other highly selective schools) are taught primarily by teaching assistants.” He’s certainly not wrong. When students and parents come to us and say they want to go to a certain school because of a couple of professors, we tell them that it’s not the individual professors they should be assigning such weight to but rather the students they’ll be surrounded by and the reputation of the institution. While it may surprise some of our (new) readers to hear us say this, we don’t believe the signature benefit of attending an elite institution like an Ivy League school is the in-classroom education. Rather, we firmly believe it’s the out-of-classroom experience, to be surrounded by smart, engaged young people who will be the future masters of the universe.
So basically we’ve been nodding through most of his piece, until we get to his grand finale. In his finale, Seltzer writes, “Pick the colleges that meet your criteria and tell them that they’d be lucky to have you.” Tell them that they’d be lucky to have you? If you’re looking to get into one of America’s most selective institution, such an approach is most unwise. It belies the principle of being likable, of being someone admissions officers will root for and champion. Tell them they’d be lucky to have you. Oy vey is right.