They shouldn't worry so much. If they have the right credentials--beginning with a very high SAT or ACT score, they are most certainly going to get into a prestigious college. That is the message that Kevin Carey delivered in a recent New York Times essay. According to Carey, 80 percent of applicants with combined SAT scores of at least 1300 or above and who applied at several institutions will get into at least one elite college.
As Carey explained:
Since there has never been a time when 100 percent of well-qualified students were successful in the college admissions market, the truism that elite colleges are far more difficult to crack than in years gone by can't be correct: 80 percent is too close, mathematically, to nearly everyone.It's true of course that admission rates at elite colleges have been heading downward, but that is largely because more people are applying to the top-tier schools. Many applicants will be winnowed out after only a quick glance by pitiless admissions officials. But the applicants with high SAT scores and at least one other attractive attribute (musical talent, outstanding athlete, minority status, etc.) will likely get in somewhere.
What does the perfect Ivy League applicant look like? Meet Kwasi Enin, who received acceptance letters from all eight Ivy League colleges. That's right: Kwasi was admitted to Harvard, Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, Columbia, Penn, Cornell, and Princeton. He scored in the 96th percentile on his SAT, plays three musical instruments, threw the shot put on his high school track team, and volunteered at a hospital. Kwasi's achievements are remarkable, especially when one considers that he is a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Ghana.
You may not have all the attractive attributes that Kwasi Enin has; but if you have some of them--starting with a very high SAT score--you are likely to be accepted by at least one top-tier college.
Nevertheless, before you decide to go to an elite American college, you should ask yourself two questions:
How will I pay for my elite college education?
First, you should ask yourself how you plan to pay for the privilege of attending an elite college. Ivy League schools now charge around $50,000 a year for tuition, room and board. It is true that the actual price is often a lot less than the sticker price. You might be offered a financial aid package that will reduce your costs substantially. But unless you have credentials like Kwasi Enin, you are probably going to take out some loans to attend Ivy League U.
So before you say yes to an admissions offer at a fancy East Coast school, ask yourself how much debt you are willing to assume for the right to wear a Dartmouth sweatshirt. How will you manage a debt load of say $100,000 if you don't get a good job after you graduate or if you go on to graduate school and take on even more debt?
Do I want to become the kind of person that elite schools are producing?
Second, ask yourself an even more important question. Do you want to become the kind of person that our nation's elitist institutions are turning out? Without question, most of the people who teach in our nation's most prestigious colleges are postmodernists. In other words, they are relativists and secularists. Most professors and administrators who populate our top-tier universities believe there are no ultimate human values and that all values are shaped by self interest or by race, class, and gender. And most of the people who work in our elite colleges are atheists.
Of course it is possible to be an atheist and still care deeply about other people. In fact, most atheistic academics will make that claim. Many prefer to call themselves humanists rather than atheists because the word humanist conjures up a picture of a warm and caring person. But in my experience, most of the people who don't believe in God are materialists. After all, one has to believe in something in order to avoid nihilism; and a great many atheists have made material things their god.
In addition, I have observed that most postmodernist academicians have another characteristic--they are disdainful of people with traditional American values. Having embraced materialism, atheism and relativism, many postmodernists are contemptuous of ordinary Americans.
MIT professor Jonathan Gruber is a prime example of elite-college arrogance. He bragged publicly that the Affordable Care Act that he helped design only passed Congress because the American people were too stupid to realize what the law would cost them.
As for the secularist leanings of the nation's most prestigious colleges, it is no accident that some of our most elite institutions have driven Christian student groups off campus even as they appoint atheist chaplains. That's right--some of our most exclusive and expensive colleges--Harvard, Stanford, and Tufts, for example--have atheist chaplains. They aren't called atheists, of course; that would be too transparent. Most of these folks call themselves "humanist chaplains." You should check it out. The Harvard humanist chaplain, Greg Epstein, and his Stanford counterpart, John Figdor, have both written books that promote atheism.
So here's the bottom line. Before enrolling in a prestigious and expensive private college, come to terms with two realities: First, you will probably have to borrow a lot of money to get an elite-college degree. Second, you will spend at least four years immersed in an arrogant and materialistic postmodern culture that has rejected religion and is disdainful of traditional American values.
If you accept these two realities and still want to to attend an elitist private college, I say go for it.
|Greg Epstein: Good Without God at Harvard
Lex Bayer & John Figdor. Atheist Mind, Humanist Heart: Rewriting the Ten Commandments for the 21st Century. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.
Kevin Carey. The Truth Behind College Admission. New York Times, Sunday Review Section, p. 2.
Frank Eltman. Suburban NY Student Picks Yale Among All 8 Ivies. Huffington Post, April 30, 2014. Accessible at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/30/kwasi-enin-yale_n_5242602.html
Greg Epstein. Good Without God: What A Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. New York: Harper Collins, 2009.
Martha Ross. Making case for atheism's friendlier, humanist face. Baton Rouge Advocate, November 29, 2014.