Is the College Admissions Bubble About to Burst?


Parents all over the United States of America are hovering over brochures and pamphlets depicting images of students in front of green and lively trees. High school students are thinking about which activities are the “perfect” ones to take part in. Admissions personnel in the country’s elite colleges are beginning to cater not just high schools’ graduating seniors to fill their next year of students, but also juniors, sophomores, and even freshmen.
This “perfect college” hysteria is responsible for literally hundreds of millions worth of dollars in revenue for organizations directly involved in university prepping and college enrollments and it’s cutting down the childhood of our country’s future. It’s not exactly sustainable, either.
“It’s not a pretty picture in the ecology overall,” stated Mitchell Stevens, a longstanding professor at Stanford and the brilliant writer of “Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites.” “It’s a hyper competitiveness for a small number of schools and a misdistribution of seats in the more open access. There are 5,000 colleges and universities in the United States; there are plenty of seats in the system overall. There are just a limited number of seats at the top.”
Also because of multiple evolving factors over the past few decades, the offspring of the baby boomers of the 1950’s walked into a college landscape extremely different from the one their mother and fathers saw. The bunch of university-going students is extremely larger and different than in the past and goes through more stress and a faster timeline for university admissions. While most see the payoff in the form of increased and better salaries post-graduation, a large majority never even finishes college or, if they do end up finishing, they don’t retain the necessary skills needed for an employment, and therefore are baffled with loans they can’t ever pay off. All of these factors have led to an upsurge over the last few decades that will most definitely change the entire landscape of university admissions, yet again.
Prices have also spiked all over the board for universities, as they are bringing down teaching loads, paying administrators a lot more, hiring more and more administrators, and building more and more luxurious buildings and even providing luxurious accommodations. A fairly recent piece in The New York Times has reported on the climb of lethargic rivers, water themed recreational parks and dive-in movies at university campuses. All of these facilities come including multi-million dollar price cards.
Although a majority would most likely say, at its face, educating more and more students, in the long run, is a good thing, but not all will agree with this sentiment. Steve Schneider, a guidance counselor at the Sheboygan South High School in Wisconsin says the he has been putting his efforts to encourage less of his students to go to college and achieve a degree and more of his students to get the tech skills required in the community they call home, these come at a relatively cheaper cost and almost always result in very lucrative careers. He blames America’s divide in the STEM skills as one other result.
Part of the blame for high college dropout rates and underemployment rests on the shoulders of high schools, he says, which have used a “lazy approach” to push all students toward college.
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