Monday, January 10, 2011

tell it like it is

Caltech has no dumb jocks, dumb legacies, or dumb affirmative action admits. And the result is pretty great.

(Says the girl who, as a math major at Caltech, was outnumbered by men approximately ten to one. Don't try to lecture me about the value of a diverse student body. I'd obviously much rather be part of a smart student body.)

Also, since I served on the admissions committee for two years, I can comment on the comment by a member of the basketball team, that "the admissions committee probably does take into consideration athletic background of Caltech applicants, particularly if an existing sports team is so poor that it loses by too many points, but ... the large pool of indistinguishably well-qualified candidates makes it possible for Caltech to give a small boost to a needed athletic recruit without compromising its off-the-charts academic standards." Nope, not at all. The forms filled out by coach recruiters sometimes made for some good laughs ("They want us to take this kid who got a B in multivariable calculus just because he played water polo? Hahahahahaha...") but had zero impact on the admissions decision.

I should also mention, though, that the "pure meritocracy" of Caltech only applies to students from the United States. Due to cutbacks in the last few decades, I don't remember when exactly, foreign students are ineligible for financial aid, and the quality of applicants from around the globe that they have to reject is absolutely tragic.

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