I read this op-ed in the Times today and it really got me thinking, so I thought I’d share it. Jennifer Delahunty Britz, dean of admissions at Kenyon College, explained how so many qualified women applying to college has flooded the pool and made it more difficult for women to get into top schools. The result is less qualified men can get into top schools easier than their counterparts. We saw this in my family this year as my sister managed to get rejected from the honors college I am in, despite having significantly higher grades than I did.
Still as a guy I got a little ticked off at the notion that getting accepted into colleges was easier for us. I got rejected from good schools as did my friends and I never noticed any visible difference between the schools guys and girls got into. The whole thing raised a lot of questions for me, so I am going to just throw these out there for discussion:
- If young women are better students and are outnumbering men on campuses, why have we not seen this translate into more women in leadership positions? Is this just old fashioned sexism or are there other issues in play?
- If talented candidates are being rejected purely because of lesser performance in metrics such as SATs and GPA, what good are these statistics? I found that very interesting, because I have heard that standardized testing and grading models typically favor girls’ learning styles.
- Do they have the same problems at MIT and CalTech? Or is this a phenomena exclusive to liberal arts schools like Kenyon? Note I am not arguing that women cannot succeed in math or science. Fewer women study technical fields though, so perhaps the problem is all these strong applicants are interested in the same fields. Women in the sciences and technology is an important social challenge that we need to fix.
- Likewise, who is to say that the girls who are rejected from Kenyon and other schools can’t succeed elsewhere? I go to a large state-affiliated public school and am getting a first-class education. So I’m not crying a river for the girls who are stuck at a Big Ten school after getting the thin envelope from the Ivys.
- Back to over-qualified applicants, isn’t it kind of ridiculous how much “experience” some of these high school students have? I kind of find all these trips and councils and things that have been invented to bolster college applications ridiculous. They also favor people have the time and money to participate.
- Isn’t it just as alarming that young men are often weaker applicants, can we do anything to fix that? I don’t believe gender equity is a zero sum game and I think that there’s plenty that can be done to encourage academic achievement among boys that would keep them at least on a par with their counterparts.
I think those questions sum up my thoughts and I’d love to hear some answers if someone wants to comment. Higher education is one of the strengths of our country, but I think we could do an even better job. However, the one point I think we can all agree with Ms. Britz on is that getting the thin envelope sucks.