Gallery of art and thoughts

The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Short people with big ears

Malcolm Gladwell has a fascinating New Yorker article on how Harvard selects its students. It's thought-provoking (and sometimes disturbing). Gladwell details how Harvard purged, as much as possible, Jews, shy people, physically unattractive people, et al. from its ranks of accepted students for much of the past century. (Gosh, I'm lucky I applied when these policies ended! I would have been what Gladwell terms a J1, "for someone who is 'conclusively Jewish.'")

In the end, it's all about preserving image. Harvard wants loyal and successful alums, and Gladwell explains why admitting athletes and legacies makes sense in fulfilling these goals. It's disheartening, sure. At Harvard, I met classmates from Harlem projects and Southern trailer parks. But we were, it seems, an afterthought.


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