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Required Reading

A sampling of what Harvard people are saying, and what is being said about Harvard, in the press.

Divided Loyola-ties

Part I: William Desmond, a graduate of Loyola High School in Baltimore, recently bragged in a "Voice of the New Generation" piece on the New York Times Op-Ed page, that he had been accepted to Harvard, Yale and Princeton, but decided to attend Loyola College in Baltimore, which impressed him more:

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Naturally, I was overjoyed by all the attention given me by these fancy institutions. When my friends and teachers heard of my acceptance, they showered me with praise. At parties, strangers would lift their eyebrows in admiration, or so I fancied. Normally overlooked, I had become the one who had gotten into Harvard.

But my euphoria started to fade. I began to wonder about schools that send out slick admission packages that cost $3 to mail. I was puzzled why my peers were so thunderstruck by the name of a school they knew little about. At the same time, of course, I felt like a fool even to question the worth of places like Harvard.

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Over the next two weeks, I visited schools and classes, quizzed alumni and teachers, talked with students and pored through course catalogues. The experience was disappointing.

Many teachers I saw did not strike me as the world-renowned experts described by admissions offices. Most students seemed more concerned with weekend parties than with their courses or reading. To them, college was a place to get away from the restraints or parents, to go wild and to study a little on the side--never mind the $24,000 price tag.

Students gone wild? Students who only care about partying? Professors who aren't experts? Young Mr. Desmond, are you sure that you conducted your research at Harvard University? The one in Cambridge? If that's the most accurate research you can conduct, the Harvard admissions office--whose offer you most gleefully scorn--might want to reconsider its decision.

Part II: The very next day, in a front-page article about colleges ending financial aid collaboration, the Times shed some light on Mr. Desmond's bizzare opinions, but in doing so committed one of the most obvious and egregious errors of lazy reporting. Out of all the parents of college students in the entire country, whom did the Times reporter choose to present as a supposed representative of "some students and their parents"? "Maria G. Desmond of Baltimore, whose 17-year-old son William was accepted by Harvard, Princeton and Yale this spring."

And what did we learn from the news story? Mr. Desmond decided to attend Loyola College because it gave him a full scholarhip--a fact which he conveniently omitted from his half-baked indictment of Harvard education. It seems that both his parents are on the faculty of Loyola, and all children of professors there get a free ride. This fact was not mentioned in the Op-Ed piece, making it look like Desmond had chosen Loyola over Harvard, Yale and Princeton on merits alone. How enlightening. Maybe the Times should print news stories on their Op-Ed contributors more often.

Items in Required Reading are submitted by the staff of The Crimson and are compiled and edited by Brian R. Hecht

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