Gregg Easterbrook, ever a heretic, thinks going to a super-selective college is not the essential ticket to human happiness, wealth or power. In Who Needs Harvard? in The Atlantic (non-subscription link thanks to Volokh), and a follow-up interview, Easterbrook argues that students will do just as well at second-tier schools such as Michigan, Virginia, Grinnell, Claremont McKenna, Vanderbilt, Emory, etc.
The twenty-five Gotta-Get-Ins of the moment, according to admissions officers, are the Ivies (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale), plus Amherst, Berkeley, Caltech, Chicago, Duke, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Northwestern, Pomona, Smith, Stanford, Swarthmore, Vassar, Washington University in St. Louis, Wellesley, and Williams. Some students and their parents have always been obsessed with getting into the best colleges, of course. But as a result of rising population, rising affluence, and rising awareness of the value of education, millions of families are now in a state of nervous collapse regarding college admissions. Moreover, although the total number of college applicants keeps increasing, the number of freshman slots at the elite colleges has changed little. Thus competition for elite-college admission has grown ever more cutthroat.
Easterbrook’s sources estimate the top 100 colleges, or even the top 200, provide a good education and access to opportunities. (He does say that law firms can be quite snobby about hiring graduates of elite colleges.)
My daughter, a Stanford graduate, can’t get a callback for a part-time job at a book store. (She’s the unpaid managing editor of Citizen Culture (“The Magazine For The Young Intellectual”), which was launched yesterday.) On the flip side, she’s interviewing for a tutoring job, allegedly paying up to $60 an hour, to help wealthy Manhattan kids get into elite colleges. The tutoring service only hires graduates of Ivy and Ivy-equivalent universities.
Update: University of California at Santa Cruz is “the most stoned campus”, says a Rolling Stone feature. Only it’s not, really, says the San Jose Merc.
In the latest survey of the Princeton Review — which ranks schools on just about everything — UCSC doesn’t even make the Top 10 “reefer madness” list. It’s rated No. 17. Bard College, a small liberal arts school on New York’s Hudson River, was No. 1.
Another hit to mainstream media credibility. And, yes, I think Rolling Stone rolled into the mainstream quite awhile ago.