The Arms Race for Top Colleges

We are all caught up in a crazy arms race to send our kids to prestigious colleges, where the order of the day (to borrow a useful term from the Cold War) is "escalation dominance."

Is going to a so-called "better" college worth it? Is the system fair? The first question is the subject of seemingly endless study, which almost always concludes: It depends. The second question is easier to answer: Of course it isn't fair. Despite diversity goals, scholarships, loans, all kinds of waivers of application fees, and various other leg-up programs, the entire application system is so unjust that it makes the House of Lords look like a New England town meeting. This is especially true now, when the tanking economy puts college more and more out of reach for just about everyone other than the financially secure.