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The Realities of College Today

The Spokesman ran a very intriguing column today. My history teacher brought it up in class, and I thought it was worth sharing.

The whole idea is that big-name schools aren't all they're cracked up to be. What's worse, they may be encouraging you to apply just so they can reject you.

Some students may feel flattered that Harvard, Yale or M.I.T. seems to be dying to have them apply. But the brutal reality is that the reason for wanting so many youngsters to apply is so that they can be rejected.

Why? Because the prestige ranking of a college or university as a "selective" institution is measured by how small a percentage of its applicants are accepted. So they have to get thousands of young people to apply, so that they can be rejected.


You may never have heard of Harvey Mudd College but a higher percentage of its graduates go on to get Ph.D.s than do the graduates of Harvard, Yale, Stanford or M.I.T. So do the graduates of Grinnell, Reed, and various other small colleges.

Of the chief executive officers of the 50 largest American corporations surveyed in 2006, only four had Ivy League degrees. Some -- including Michael Dell of Dell computers and Bill Gates of Microsoft -- had no degree at all.

Apparently getting into Prestige U. is not the life or death thing that some students or their parents think it is.

Unfortunately, prestige rankings are so hyped in the media -- especially by U.S. News & World Report magazine -- that many people think that is how to choose a college.

The full column is here.

For those of you perusing college options, how much does prestige factor into your decisions? Do you consult ranking guides?

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In 2006, then-editor Steve Smith of The Spokesman-Review had the idea of starting a publication for an often forgotten audience: teenagers. The Vox Box was a continuation of the Vox, an all-student staffed newspaper published by The Spokesman-Review. High school student journalists who staffed the Vox made all content decisions as they learn about the trade of journalism. This blog's mission was to give students an opportunity to publish their voices. The Vox Box and the Vox wrapped up in June 2009, but you can follow former staffers' new blog at