Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How Lowering the Bar Helps Colleges Prosper

The Wall Street Journal chronicles how Duke and Brown transformed themselves and bolstered their reputations by targeting the children of the rich and famous.

I found this article very interesting, because in my day ("back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth," as my father used to say to me when I was a child), neither Brown nor Duke was any great shakes. Sure, Brown was (and is) part of the Ivy League, but it was definitely the stepchild. And I just thought of Duke as some big, mediocre, Southern, frat- and sports-oriented school. Today, both of them are considered to be among the finest (and most competitive) universities in the country: ironically, since they became more attractive (and therefore more competitive) by admitting the sons and daughters of celebrities who might not otherwise have qualified for admission.

Another school that has transformed itself in a different way is NYU, which was mostly a commuter school when I was applying to college in the late '70s. With lots of money, it's now a major research university, with its law school typically ranking in the top 10 (though I'm not sure where its undergraduate school fits in).

Anyway, it just goes to show what lots of money can do.


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