Today, Peter Temes writes with characteristic brilliance about the competitive process for getting into universities in the U.S. Part of his message is that the admissions process for elite schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton is very good for those institutions and potentially destructive for the talented young people who strive to enter them — and even for many who succeed at that:

For better or worse – mostly, for worse – the most elite colleges spend millions of dollars a year to spread the appeal of their schools. They encourage bright students to apply, in order for as many as 95% of them to be rejected. And they know the ugly side of their business. They feel badly about it. But they serve the interest of their schools by keeping the selectivity of their admissions process as high as possible and razor sharp.

He lays out four observations to help young people and their parents and advocates navigate through the snake pit of university admissions, including

  • The importance of discerning the “easily observable criteria” for admissions at the top schools
  • The not-so-easy-to-understand role of diversity in admissions
  • The value of finding the best school for what you want to study
  • And the little understood “back doors” to some great schools.

AB — 2 July 2011

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