I have two degrees from places that don’t practice holistic admissions, plus two years as an undergrad in one of them (this at a top European university).

Overall, the students I knew were more interesting, better educated, and more fun than their American counterparts. They worked hard to get the exam results they needed for admission, but they weren’t drones.

Student life was steeped in historical traditions like Renaissance choral groups giving lunchtime performances and debate societies and conversations both philosophical and foolish.

The undergraduate programs were better and cost less than here. Even today, when my alma mater is “expensive,” it’s not even half of what you’d pay for a place like Stanford. And the graduate programs: let’s just say that the situation where you’re a serf until your supervisor decides to sign off on your thesis doesn’t exist. I was appalled by the system here when I returned. I still am.