Some of the quotes that really struck me in that essay:

Originally Posted by Article
At least the classes at elite schools are academically rigorous, demanding on their own terms, no? Not necessarily. In the sciences, usually; in other disciplines, not so much. There are exceptions, of course, but professors and students have largely entered into what one observer called a “nonaggression pact.” Students are regarded by the institution as “customers,” people to be pandered to instead of challenged. Professors are rewarded for research, so they want to spend as little time on their classes as they can. The profession’s whole incentive structure is biased against teaching, and the more prestigious the school, the stronger the bias is likely to be. The result is higher marks for shoddier work.

This has been increasingly true for at least 20 years in the Ivies themselves. I know someone who was personally told-- in a STEM field, no less-- to "look again" at a midterm that had been graded and earned a failing grade. The student was the child of a VERY prominent Federal official who shall remain nameless (but whose name everyone would instantly know). The graduate student was gently reminded whose child this person was, and again told to "Check it over again. It's okay-- we all make errors in grading, I'm sure."


So yeah, pardon me if I do NOT happen to buy into the thinking that HYPS is actually delivering a superior education to a regional public uni. COULD they, given the resources that they can bring to bear? Absolutely-- possible, yes. There's just about zero incentive to actually do so, however.

So yes, Intro to Botany is the same basic class at both Yale and at Southwest Missouri State, at least unless your last name happens to be {someone important}.

Originally Posted by Article
Why is it that people feel the need to go to places like Guatemala to do their projects of rescue or documentation, instead of Milwaukee or Arkansas? When students do stay in the States, why is it that so many head for New Orleans? Perhaps it’s no surprise, when kids are trained to think of service as something they are ultimately doing for themselves—that is, for their résumés. “Do well by doing good,” goes the slogan. How about just doing good?

A question that my daughter started asking back at about 8-9yo. Since I didn't have a good answer that didn't feel extremely repugnant from a moral and ethical stance, she got to drive the bus using HER conscience rather than my academic planning. She finds resume padding to be egregious and disgusting, and she avoids her peers who engage in it. I suspect that she'll be happier not spending the next four years surrounded by them, anyway-- and that is certainly not sour grapes talking.

Originally Posted by Article
I don’t think it occurs to the people in charge of elite colleges that the concept of leadership ought to have a higher meaning, or, really, any meaning.

YES. This is yet another facet to DD; her leadership style is SO non-aggressive that it doesn't translate into something that many people can see as "leadership." A lot of authentic leadership is intangible and hard work without glory and titles to point to-- none of which makes it easy to pick it out (for real, anyway) on a prospective student's resume. She didn't care, and found "playing the game" there to be utterly repugnant-- so she didn't.

She knew that it WAS a game, and she opted to not play in some very specific ways. She wanted to be competitive for being who she REALLY is-- or not at all. COULD we have forced her to do things to look like an Ivy-kid? You bet-- of course. But I think it would have been profoundly wrong to do that to a child who had such a clear moral compass about this-- it would have meant violating her personal values.

Finally, I loved the following (unintentional?) pithy summary of the article:

Originally Posted by Article
They aren’t called elite colleges for nothing. But apparently we like pretending otherwise. We live in a meritocracy, after all.

Haha! Nice sarcasm, that. I mean, sure-- we'd all like to THINK that this is a pure meritocracy, but the data there really doesn't support that particular conclusion very well. There are much simpler conclusions to be drawn. SES explains a LOT about educational attainment and outcomes. One need not resort to The Bell Curve at all.

Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.