A Law Professor's Take on College Admissions

Does anybody else use Google Alert to see what other people are saying about you?

I confess I do. I have Google alert me if someone mentions me or my college blogs on the Internet.

And that’s how I stumbled across a post written by Tom Smith, a law professor, at a blog called, The Right Coast: Thoughts from San Diego on Law, Politics, and Culture. You can read his entertaining and flattering rift on my book on his blog post entitled, The College Solution.

What I want to share here, however, is his observation about incredible demands that schools place on parents when their children are applying to colleges.

The Strange World of College Admissions

Here’s what Smith had to say:

Without passing moral judgment in any way, I will just observe it is astonishing that higher education in this country has managed to get established a system where consumers have to disclose in detail how much money they have before they are told what they must pay.

I mean Ralph’s has to establish a Price Club and airlines First Class and Coach and so on, but Yale and the University of the Ozarks just have you tell them in detail every last thing about your finances and precisely how desirable your offspring is. Amazing.  And then they squeeze really, really hard.

The producer surplus they are extracting must be simply massive.  Of course, I am paid out of this surplus, so I can’t complain too much.  But it has got to be just hugely inefficient.  And, just to make it perfect, it all gets justified as redistribution to help that most worthy of souls, the very smart but very poor kid from Hellovanotion, Nevada, who works 40 hours a week delousing donkeys and caring for his quadriplegic mother, while still getting 1600 SATs, a 4.6 and captaining his/her wind ensemble to international glory.  And is President of Key Club.

And yet, how much of the surplus extracted actually goes to put the poor, deserving kid through Duke?  I tend to think, probably not that much, percentage-wise.  Maybe about as much as my income taxes go to support the hard working but poor single mom who just needs a little help so she can get that community college degree and never be on welfare again.  So big emotional but relatively small statistical impact. Just expressin’ a natural curiosity here.  Anyway, check out the book. – Tom Smith

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she has just released an eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree. Follow me on Twitter.

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