Monday, March 24, 2008

Get your MIT degree now while it still means something

A letter from Jerry Pournell's Chaos Manor.

WRT MIT, Hahvahd, Yale, et al opting to provide free tuition for the poor folks making under a hundred grand a year or thereabouts, I can foresee a very interesting if unintended consequence.

They are fiddling with ONE variable in a dynamic system -- apparently in the belief that OTHER variables will behave as constants.

What *I* expect is that the new regime will result in a massive *increase* in applications to these schools, because the previous tuition levels acted as a self-limiting mechanism. In other words, scads of students who *would* have applied -- and qualified -- did NOT apply, because they knew they could not afford the tuition, so why bother applying in the first place?

Now, though, with *that* out of the way, they will be buried in applications -- and the only way they'll be able to deal with this is via triage.

The only question is what they will use as triage criteria. I suspect they will be uber-PC about it, and amp-up the quotas -- "privileged classes" will be given "preferences" and "non-minority" students will be confronted by aa spectacular raising of the height-bar.

The first graduating class under this new system ought to be... interesting. A small number of VERY qualified graduates, and a LOT of "eased-through the system" kids who will expect to *continue* the "preferential ride" in the real world. (Of course, given current events, the "real world" will not likely be of a mind -- or ability -- to provide a "nurturing environment" to those who've become accustomed to it. Yes, interesting. That's the word for it. Interesting.)


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