The Curse of Being a Highly Selective College

Getting into America’s top colleges is extremely hard, but making sense of how it’s decided who gets in is arguably even harder. By and large, colleges—especially the most selective ones—are allowed to keep their methods to themselves.

Terry Hartle, of the American Council on Education, the leading group representing colleges and universities, calls admission to an elite college “very desirable, exceptionally competitive, and inherently subjective.” Hartle’s first two descriptors are reason enough to examine how institutions choose who to let in, but—given how lucrative it is to hold a degree from such institutions—it’s the third that most invites scrutiny.

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