Miss Self-Important has a post up on affirmative action and holistic admissions. WWPD readers may be familiar with my apparently bizarre stance - in favor of or at the very least neutral to affirmative action, but not in favor of holistic college admissions. I don't think racism is over. I do, however, think there's something ridiculous about telling 17-year-old applicants that they do or don't get into a school on the basis of what they're like as a person. What I've said about this in the past is that it's then unnecessarily devastating to kids when they don't get in somewhere. It's not that you flaked out on too many math homeworks to get into Yale. It's that Yale examined your deepest soul and found it wanting.
But what I hadn't considered was what this process does to those who do get in. MSI nails it:
[T]he opacity of admissions is actually an asset for the most selective schools, a kind of metaphorical analog to the statistical reality. [....] It's because we Harvard students are all so amazing that you can't ever prove that you deserved to dwell among us. No one deserves such favor; it is a pure act of divine sovereign grace to be admitted.Rather than taking pride in the achievements that got them in, those admitted to top colleges are basically asked to believe they were selected as individuals and are simply better people than the other high-GPA, high-SAT applicants, better in an unquantifiable way. Not more/better leadership positions, sportiveness. No, just plain better. What does this mean for the egos of the meritocratic elite? Can't be good.