Why are our elite institutions admitting more foreign students? Because they can pay the full freight of tuition, room and board without the need for grants or scholarships In other words, foreign students from wealthy families are an important revenue source for America's most prestigious colleges and universities.
Leonhardt's essay appeared just a few days after Evan Mandery published an article in the Times deploring the fact that the nation's most elite institutions give admission preferences to the children of their alumni. Mandery said that legacies have a big edge in the admissions process similar to the edge given to African Americans, Hispanics, and varsity athletes.
Take together, Leonhardt's essay and Mandery's essay convey a very clear message. If you want to go to an Ivy League college or a handful of other selective institutions it will help you if you are Hispanic, African American, the child of an alumnus, a varsity athlete or a wealthy foreigner. And as Leonhardt pointed out, a "large fraction" of students from all these categories come from high-income families.
I could not tell whether Leonhardt was critical of this trend or a supporter. Like so many New York Times op ed essays, Leonhardt's article wallows in cryptic indecision. Leonhardt concludes his essay with these lines: "[T]hese [elite] schools have become a patchwork of diversity--gender, race, religion, and now geography. Underneath the surface, though, that patchwork still has some common threads."
I have no idea what that means.
I do know that white male Southerners and Midwesterners who come from low-income families have very little chance of being admitted to an Ivy League school. But so what? Why would anyone who grew up living in the real world want to enter a higher education environment in which admission decisions are based--even in part--on race and greed?
In my opinion, young people who want to expand their horizons by going to college should skip the elitist institutions--Harvard, Yale, Emory, Brown, etc. etc. Instead, they should consider studying outside the United States. Why not attend college in Monterrey or Guadalajara, for example? Even if the educational experience is unexceptional, Americans studying in Mexico will learn an important second language and immerse themselves in another culture.
As it happened, Leonhardt's essay appeared in the same issue of the Times as an article about Elizabeth Warren, a former Harvard Law professor and now U.S. Senator. Warren has been critical of the federal government for regulating the finance industry in a way that favors Wall Street. "The game is rigged," Warren was quoted as saying, "and the American people know it."
Warren is right of course, but it is not only Wall Street that has rigged the game against the American people. Our elite colleges and universities have rigged the game as well. It is no accident that Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard, has also been a hedge fund manager and was one of President Obama's top economic advisers.
Warren quotes Summers as telling her she could be an outsider or an insider, and Warren obviously portrays herself as an outsider and friend of the little guy. And maybe she is. But we should not forget that Warren advanced herself in the world of academia by portraying herself as being part Native American--specifically a Cherokee--when in fact she almost certainlyis not.
And so I repeat my question. Why would anyone want to attend an elite college where a person's advancement can be enhanced by the fact that he or she might have a trace of Native American blood?
Yes indeed, Elizabeth. The game is rigged.
|"The game is rigged."
David Leonhardt. Getting Into the Ivies. New York Times, April 27, 2014, Sunday Review Section, p. 1.
Gretchen Morgenson. From Outside or Inside, the Deck Looks Stacked. New York Times, April 27, 2014, Sunday Business Section, p. 1.