Jockeying for College Admission

College Admissions Jockeying, Admissions Jockeying, Jockeying for Ivy Admission

Even someone who questions the world’s obsession with the Ivy League on the pages of “The Columbia Tribune” comes away urging readers to go to Harvard if they get into Harvard. Unless, of course, they get into Yale. Cute.

There is a piece in the “Columbia Tribune” by Ruth Marcus entitled “Those jockeying for elite colleges have nothing to worry about” that we figured we’d discuss on our college admissions blog. Ms. Marcus essentially articulates that while she was one stressed out parent going through the highly selective college admissions process — paying for private college counselors (how many exactly did she hire — yikes!) and tutors —  there is no reason to be stressed out. Her piece is in response to Frank Bruni’s book, which we’ve rightly critiqued on our blog for its dearth of research and his overarching point that going to an Ivy League college just doesn’t really matter. We have no problem with that claim so long as it’s based on evidence and the lack of evidence with which Mr. Bruni supports his argument — an argument, we might add, that is very easily disputable by anyone with any knowledge whatsoever of the highly selective college admissions process — is rather surprising to say the least.

But we’d like to draw your attention to the close of Ms. Marcus’ piece more so than Mr. Bruni’s ill-conceived book (although we suspect we’ve contributed to increasing his book sales!). As Ms. Marcus writes, “I entirely agree with his message that we have unduly fetishized the Ivy League and its counterparts, and that success in life — economic and otherwise — is not determined by your college degree. But I retain a nagging conviction, Krueger-Dale notwithstanding, that the credential helps. At the very least, it doesn’t hurt. It signifies competence, a sort of Good Housekeeping seal of academic approval. It provides an on-ramp to internships and connections. So here’s my advice: If you get into Harvard and you can afford it, by all means go — unless, of course, you also get into Yale.” We’ll take it, Ms. Marcus.

What do you think about Mr. Bruni’s book or about this piece by Ms. Bruni on jockeying for college admission? We’re curious to hear from you. We’ve certainly discussed it a bunch on the pages of our college admissions blog and a number of folks have been writing in about the merits of his fundamental argument. Let us know what you think by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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