Originally Posted By: madeinuk

I share your pain, I think.

I am just as puzzled with the 'hows/whys' of this sorry state that the US colleges have allowed themselves to lapse into. I think that this is the end state of the 'college as a business/college for all' model, though.

I continually oscillate between the extremes of thinking; 'Well this is the World we live in so deal with it!' and being in an almost catatonic state of utter revulsion that things have become so corrupted.

Precisely. I saw this happening from the inside, and it STILL horrifies and stuns me, the transformation that higher ed has undergone.

The closer your kids are to this milestone, the more keenly one tends to feel this particular conundrum.

Okay, so I want my kid to be who she is, not a "produced" item intended to garner money, Ivy acceptances, and maximum prestige and vicarious parenting victory for us.

So what if Prestigious Institution doesn't want her, right?? It's clearly not the right place if they don't want her the way that she ACTUALLY IS.

But then... you look at the other side of that equation, and realize that this means that your child may well be going to Podunk U unless you're willing to shell out Ivy-level money for a degree that isn't appreciably any better than a regional state uni... (and by this, I mean places like Lewis & Clark College, Pacific Lutheran, etc) so why not do the latter in light of the cost alone, KWIM?

It's become a two tier system in some ways, now. There's the TigerSystem. And then there is everything else, which (administratively) apparently exists to process maximum "product" per unit time. Faculty are punished for anything that doesn't fulfill that mission efficiently, by the way. This is new-- and has been the case since 'retention' became a huge buzz in higher ed about 15y ago... so parents whose experiences are older than that probably don't truly understand how far down that rabbit hole the lower tier institutions have gone.

Your choices are Ferran AdriÓ's latest restaurant... (if you can get a reservation, that is, and if you can afford it); if you opt out of that, you can still enjoy your meal at McDonald's, Taco Bell, or Pizza Hut. Or you can pay 40%-70% of the AdriÓ cost to eat at Denny's, Cracker Barrel or IHOP. We're hoping that AdriÓ is worth it, because we can see perfectly well how little the rest of it is worth relative to the expense.

There are bright pinpricks shining in that dark wasteland, to be sure... but only if your kid is lucky enough to encounter stubborn old goats with tenure who still know that there is a RIGHT way to do higher ed... and then there's the administrator's way...or is nearly 100% autodidactic and not that concerned about interaction with classmates as peers... if unlucky, though, they will be surrounded by the same mediocre and kinda slow classmates and instructional hand-holding that they've spent high school with. WHY BOTHER?

This is where I am now. Like intparent, we're looking at this system and could care LESS about prestige or selectivity per se. It's just that to get the intellectualism that DD needs in order to justify paying for any sort of college experience at all... (because let's face it, if your choices are paying 25K annually for more high school, or... not... er... yeah. Not a fair question, I know) then you do seem to wind up looking at places like Harvey Mudd, Claremont-McKenna, U-Chi, MIT, etc.

Oh-- and Bostonian is completely correct here, I think. Both about the particulars of what elite colleges PREFER to recruit, and also why.

I also agree that when Unis convert their methodology in admissions to "maximizing cash accumulation + enhancement of prestige via our prospective ALUMNI DONORS" and subvert everything about the organization's mission to serve those twin goals, they are at that point functionally corporate, and ought to be taxed like it. I'm a liberal and humanist, and there aren't a lot of things that I find morally reprehensible and indefensible, but that's one of them.

This all amounts to a hideous Venn diagram in a lot of ways. I envy parents for whom this decision is easy because the only suitable schools are (relatively) inexpensive state schools. Those schools-- and we've visited a few-- are really not very suitable environments for my DD, given her particular learning style, interests, and expressed ambitions. She is, in a word, interested in some disciplines which skew low in terms of student ability at those places.

So there is a component for me personally that wants to RUN from that TigerSystem in its entirety; that was always my plan, in fact. I figured that we'd steer DD into physics or theoretical mathematics, and let her go the local state Uni route.

But it's not me seeking higher education-- it's my DD. If she wants a high level instructional environment, she needs to enter the fray like she means it-- and hope she hasn't left it too late.

I will say that considering MIT's selectivity has lit a fire under her the likes of which we've seldom seen.

Schr÷dinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.