Today’s column by Frank Bruni in the New York Times should make all college bound families pause and think.  Just consider the opening statement “Cementing its standing as the most selective institution of higher education in the country, Stanford University announced this week that it had once again received a record-setting number of applications and that its acceptance rate — which had dropped to a previously uncharted low of 5 percent last year.”

The opening paragraph gives you an idea of the discussion but the irony that follows is worth a serious discussion.  We question why Stanford and so many schools are focused on the scarcity question that promotes selectivity instead of asking how to serve more equally talented students.

The Atlantic also discusses the topic of elite college admissions in its excellent article The Absurdity of College Admissions.Aburdity of College Admissions clip copy

Shouldn’t we look for new models that promote access and excellence at the same time. Shouldn’t the alumni and leaders of our wealthiest institutions ask how they can serve more students instead racing to the bottom to the lowest admission number  – the most selective institution in the nation?

Given the public support our colleges and universities receive, let’s begin asking our most elite institutions to serve more students and to consider the following questions.

  • How have your grown your student population and the number of students you serve?
  • Measure exceptional schools by not only admission rates but student growth.  In business, the exceptional companies are those that produce high growth and strong earnings.
  • Many elite schools have the space and financial capacity to grow their student body –  so what prevents it from expanding the student population it serves?
  • Reward exceptional schools that grow undergraduate class by 10% each of the next 10 years while maintaining its quality.  Even if admissions rates grow, isn’t this a greater outcome for society?

What do you think?