5/5/06

Relax Parents, Most Colleges are Highly Selective


Why do I write to the Times? They've published ten letters of mine, but none for a while. Where has our love gone?


Admissions dean JENNIFER BRITZ ("To All the Girls I've Rejected," March
23) need not apologize to parents for rejecting their daughters from her
selective college. Expectations are largely to blame, and that's a
shame. Middle class parents, and many media commentators, remain
convinced that success is highly correlated with college selectivity.
But as James Fallows and others showed in 2001, "the economic benefit of
attending a more selective school was negligible."


As a professor recently on both sides of the interviewing table, I can assure parents that there is
selectivity where it counts most: among college faculty. Competition for
faculty jobs is fierce, often with several hundred applications per job.
By forgetting this other type of selectivity, parents and guidance
counselors consign their children to both disappointment and an
unhealthy rat race at the same time.