Blog: The Educated Reporter

Gilding the lily in college admissions offices.

Eric Hoover of the Chronicle of Higher Education did a terrific job in the New York Times this weekend—as part of a new collaboration between the two publications—exploring the aggressive recruiting top colleges conduct even among students they don’t have any intention of admitting.I tend to dislike admissions stories because they too often take the flavor of, “Dylan applied to 19 Ivies and she doesn’t know where she’ll get in!” (Yes, I know there are not 19 Ivies.)

But this piece lays out a far more meaningful issue than stressed-out affluent teenagers and parents. Universities clearly have become far more ambitious about drawing in applicants even though they are not actually increasing the size of their freshman classes. The goal is more impressive selectivity numbers. And the consensus seems to be that the larger applicant pools do not improve the quality of the student body; after all, Hoover points out, “the most competitive applicants couldn’t get more amazing if they levitated.”

This is a good story to localize: students who were recruited only to be rejected.