Misconceptions About Admissions

Misconceptions in Admissions, College Admissions Misconceptions, Admission Misconception

An opinion piece up on “MarketWatch” perpetuates misconceptions about the college admissions process.

One of the core objectives of our college admissions blog is to debunk misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process — misconceptions perpetuated by parents, students, uninformed school counselors (yes, there are informed ones too!), the press, your local baker, and even the colleges themselves. You didn’t think everything college admissions officers tell you is actually the case, did you? Colleges are not truly need-blind. They’re need-aware. Indian and Chinese American applicants will be stereotyped in the admissions process. Admissions officers can’t tell you these things. In many instances, they don’t even realize they’re stereotyping an applicant — but they sure are. And the list doesn’t end there.

Indeed we came across a piece today up on “MarketWatch” by Elliot Blair Smith entitled “College admissions are already a lottery, so why not really make them one?” that is filled with misconceptions and inaccuracies about the highly selective college admissions process. The title itself is grossly misleading. College admissions is certainly not a lottery. It’s not random. Not even close. Read our Founder’s piece up on “The Huffington Post” entitled “Ivy League Admission Isn’t Random” if you still aren’t sure it’s anything but random. Anyone who should suggest that college admissions is random…they just, frankly, don’t get it. Or even likelier, maybe they’re projecting. Maybe they were denied admission by the college of their dreams or maybe their child experienced such rejection. So, naturally, they assert that it’s a random process. A lottery even.

If college admissions is a lottery, then so too is March Madness. It must be a bizarre coincidence that teams like Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina so often make the field of 64.

In his piece, Smith writes, “Barry Schwartz, a professor of social theory at Swarthmore College, and lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, suggests the college admissions process is little more than a lottery, having less to do with student achievement and school discernment than a certain randomness, such as being in the right place at the right time: a lot like falling in love, or finding a job.” Being in the right place at the right time? What on earth does this have to do with the highly selective college admissions process? Sure, being in the right place at the right time can have a big impact on your love life but college admissions? Nonsense. Utter nonsense perpetuated by a professor of social theory.

There was a great line in “Billy Madison” in which the school principal told students that they’d be “stupider” for listening to Adam Sandler’s character’s speech. Likewise, students and parents will be less informed for reading Elliot Blair Smith’s piece on the college admissions process in which he unnecessarily rails against various highly selective colleges and compares the process to a lottery. In fact, we were going to dissect the piece further and correct point after point, but we figured we’d only make our readers, well, “stupider.”


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