Why I’m Optimistic About the Future of Race Relations

As a high school teacher, I often use articles about provocative current events to stimulate student discussion and writing.  Last year, in one such journaling assignment, we read this piece about how Asian students are discriminated against in college admissions.

The article described how students are asked to check a box for their race on application forms, which may then be used to give them extra “points” or–especially if you’re Asian–be held against you.

I couldn’t have predicted the most common response: students wanted to know what box they should check, because of their multi-racial background.  Several students in each class said that they didn’t identify themselves as any major race at all.

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Name Brand Colleges

Deep into application season, here’s some advice I’ve been giving high school seniors for years: it doesn’t matter what college you go to.

There is no good reason to spend many times more on a fancy, “name brand,” out-of-state school.  It may look a little more impressive on paper, but that’ s about all the difference you’re likely to ever get out of that extra huge investment.

In the real world, most companies and colleagues won’t care where you went to school; it’ll just matter that you went at all.  Just as it’s better to take a harder class and get a lower grade, it’s better to go to a less distinguished school and finish what you start.

Ultimately, the point of college, for career purposes, isn’t skill training or networking: it’s to prove that you can make a difficult long-term commitment and see it through.  That’s what people want to see.  That’s what makes your college degree important.

Besides, paying ten times more for a name brand school is absolutely not going to earn you ten times more salary in life.  It’s a poor investment.

Yes, there are exceptions: colleges that specialize in a certain field, for instance.  But generally, in education just as in medicine, the generic stuff is just as good as the designer brand.  (The same, really: what do you think Harvard knows about teaching college algebra or Shakespeare that your local school doesn’t?)

Don’t waste your money.  Go to Hometown U.  And graduate.