Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford. For many Mt. SAC students these names invoke a dream. The problem is these schools do not seem to care for community college students. In an astonishing show of arrogance, elitism, and hypocrisy these storied institutions are accepting few, if any, transfer students. Especially transfer students from community colleges.
Perhaps the best place to see this trend is the emperor of American universities, Harvard. According to an Aug. 31, 2011 Harvard Crimson article, “A miniscule 1 percent—that was the admissions rate for transfer students last year after Harvard decided to accept just 15 students of the 1,486 who applied to transfer to the college.”
This is a stunningly small number, especially considering the size of the freshman class that was admitted.
According to a March 30, 2011 Harvard Gazette article, “Nearly 35,000 students applied to Harvard College this year for admission to the Class of 2015 entering in August. Letters of admission (and email notifications) were sent on March 30 to 2,158 students, 6.2 percent of the record pool of 34,950.”
It must be noted that many of these Harvard transfer students are not coming from community colleges.
The Aug. 31, 2011 Harvard Crimson noted, “In what Mascolo describes as a ‘total coincidence,’ three of the admitted students previously attended Vanderbilt. Two lived in the same residential hall.”
Stanford was a bit more generous, but not much.
According to the Stanford University website, the elite university admitted 58 transfer students out of a total of 1,413 applicants. Yale also admitted transfer students, but again it was a very small number according to their transfer admission website. These universities use many lame excuses to justify their transfer admissions policy.
According to a Jan. 15, 2010 Harvard Crimson article, “’Residential space is essential to our ability to support a successful transfer program.
Harvard does not admit transfer students to nonresidential status because, in important respects, undergraduate education at Harvard College is residential in character. Students learn a great deal from the House experience, which complements activities in our classrooms and laboratories.’” So we are to understand that the ability to dorm is essential to a student’s education. I suggest that this is merely another form of Ivy League elitism, a silly tradition that has no practical merit.
However, when one examines admission statistics for many of these elite colleges, a funny form of prejudice becomes apparent. Age discrimination seems to be in style in America’s premiere universities. According to Harvard’s admissions website, “Students who have completed more than two years of college study with transferable credit, and those who have earned a bachelor’s degree, are not eligible to transfer to Harvard College. Students may not choose to relinquish academic credits, or a degree, in order to apply for transfer admission.”
Yale has a similar policy. Apparently these two legendary institutions believe that undergraduates are supposed to look a certain way.
After all, they would not want a bunch of older kids ruining the ambiance. This policy is completely out of touch with the realities of society at large and today’s community colleges.
With classes becoming harder and harder to come by, many students are simply not ready to apply for transfer at the beginning of their second year. Thus, this policy is both discriminatory and snobbish.
Perhaps the worst display of this arrogance is Princeton.
Unlike Harvard and Yale, where a tiny fraction of community college students might have a chance, Princeton accepts absolutely no transfer students.
Just to add insult to injury, Harvard seems to have no problem hooking up the legacies. According to a May 2011 Harvard Crimson article, Harvard’s legacy admission rate stands at 30 percent.
Just so we are clear that means that if mommy or daddy went to Harvard, your chances just skyrocketed. This is a disgusting form of hypocrisy. Contrary to all the rhetoric, Harvard has no interest in diversity.
Sure, racially and religiously things are better, but classism is the name of the game now. I doubt the sons and daughters of Harvard alums are very bad off. Is this the message Harvard wants to send: education for the wealthy, by the wealthy?
The sad thing is it does not have to be like this. Columbia University’s School of General Studies allows a real path to the Ivy League for non-traditional students, including those from community colleges.
With the exception of housing, students here attend the same classes and get the same experience as their more traditional colleagues. There is no reason why colleges like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford cannot have similar programs.
The elitism shown by these colleges is a symptom of the sickness that festers in our society. Republican candidates denigrate the poor and vulnerable. Occupy Wall Street is losing steam, few if any of the bankers and executives responsible for the financial crisis are in jail, and our elite universities have no interest in admitting students from community colleges.
This problem will not be solved until we examine our societal values. We need to stop wasting time and invest in education. We need to levy higher taxes against the wealthy to pay for social programs that will uplift those in need.
Most of all, we must demand that any university receiving federal funds of any kind make room for more than a token number of community college transfer students. This is what is right, this is what is fair, and if we are lucky by breaking down the walls of elitism in academia, the rest of society just might follow.
- Mathew Foresta