Posted by Curt on 11 April, 2017 at 4:49 pm. 6 comments already!


Naomi Schaefer Riley:

The college crackup is coming. That’s the message we should get after reading about the two different kinds of kids who were admitted to elite universities this month.

Take Martin Altenburg. A senior from Fargo, ND, who was accepted at all eight Ivy League schools, Altenburg had superior test scores (a 35 out of 36 on the ACT, a score of 5 on each of the AP exams he took), in addition to being a violinist and a three-sport athlete.

He wasn’t sure college was even a real option. “Originally my parents didn’t want me to apply to these schools because they thought we’d have to pay full price which, at a lot of these schools, is more than our yearly income,” he told his local paper.

Then there’s Ziad Ahmed, a senior at Princeton Day School in Princeton, NJ, who got into Stanford after he answered the application question, “What matters to you, and why?” by writing “Black Lives Matter” 100 times without further explanation.

Ahmed, who has given a TEDx talk about the impact of prejudice, already had a long history of activism before this most recent stunt. He interned for Martin O’Malley, volunteered for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and has been invited to the Obama White House.

And let’s just say getting into elite schools (he was also admitted to Yale and Princeton) was always the plan. His father, a hedge-fund manager, went to Yale. His mother is an electrical engineer-turned-stay-at-home mom.

Not too long ago, colleges were a vehicle for upward mobility; many of the best schools had a significant population of working-class kids who were hoping to be exposed to higher learning in part so that they could do better than their parents. Some of them came to love higher learning for its own sake too.

But in recent years, a kind of sorting has occurred — something Charles Murray wrote about in his book, “Coming Apart” — such that a greater and greater percentage of kids at four-year colleges are the children of parents (and even grandparents) who themselves went to such schools.

A study earlier this year by the Equality of Opportunity Project found that at 38 elite colleges, including five Ivy League schools, more students came from the top 1 percent than the bottom 60 percent.

Sure, these high-income kids got good grades in school — but many also attended the best high schools in the country. They do a lot of extracurricular activities — but their parents have paid through the nose for private coaches, expensive equipment and travel to faraway competitions.

We shouldn’t be surprised many of them see college activism as a way of expiating the guilt that they and their parents feel for being, well, privileged.

College administrators more and more are welcoming such budding activists. But universities reap what they sow. And so as campuses have filled up with the Zia Ahmeds of the world, they have become less hospitable to the Martin Altenburgs.

The Ahmeds of the world act like they already know everything. Recent surveys of college students seem to suggest that their support for the free and open exchange of ideas is limited. According to one by the Knight Foundation, 27 percent of college students supported restricting political ideas they found “upsetting.”

They’re the people for whom colleges construct safe spaces and issue trigger warnings. These are the students who shut down outside speakers and demand that professors censor their lectures.

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