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Any Changes In College Prestige?
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October 04, 2010, 02:25 PM
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The prestige of colleges is a topic of broad interest, but it doesn`t seem like it has been studied objectively very much. In particular, the list of prestigious colleges in 2010 seems quite similar to that of 1975. Moreover, being a prestigious college like Harvard in 2010 seems like even a bigger deal than being Harvard in 1975. This suggests that the people running colleges have largely not messed up.

But, they mostly all do roughly what their peers do — for example, admissions policy generally consists of special advantages for blacks and (to a lesser extent Hispanics), legacies, and athletes, with some discrimination against Asians. It`s hard to tell if this is a wise policy, though, since it`s a consensus policy. For example, the Ivies, plus MIT and some other northeastern colleges used to get together in a conference room each year to fix prices for individual students that more than one colleges wanted to admit: the Ivy Overlap Group.

So, I`m looking for outliers. For example, Caltech doesn`t have legacy admissions and doesn`t seem to care much about affirmative action. Reed, which aims at the intellectually serious hippie niche, doesn`t do affirmative action. It doesn`t strike me that either one has gotten much of a boost in prestige over the last 35 years from its independent attitudes. The UC schools aren`t supposed to discriminate on race anymore, so there may be less discrimination against Asians there than elsewhere.

What other outlier schools are there in terms of admissions policies?

What about outliers who have climbed or fallen in prestige? What did they do right or wrong?