Elite colleges no assurance of quality education

By this week, almost all colleges and universities have notified applicants who have been accepted.  Rejection can feel devastating for those who don’t get into their first choice.  But I maintain that a marquee-name school is no guarantee of anything more than a brand (“Let’s Hear It for State U.” The New York Times, Mar. 25).

The truth is that many undergraduate classes at elite schools are taught by teaching assistants, rather than by advertised professors.  As a result, students are essentially paying for the cachet of the degree they receive.  They could just as well have gone to a community college or a state university at a fraction of the cost.

I’m not saying that community colleges and state universities don’t have their problems.  But what they offer on average is equal to what elite schools offer.  I received my B.A. from an Ivy League university.  The quality of instruction there varied widely.  In fact, the most lionized professor I had was the worst teacher by far.  His lectures were enough to put students to sleep.  He was a great researcher but an incompetent instructor.

So before assuming that being denied admittance to the school of their dreams, students need to get real about what actually takes place on many campuses.

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