There is a column in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution questioning whether Georgia Tech has gotten “too elite” for the residents of Georgia. (You can read it here: https://www.ajc.com/blog/get-schooled/has-georgia-tech-rise-elite-college-status-come-with-price/X3EIocuu9mZbKizrtswT2L/?utm_source=newspaper&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=8637906&& ) It raises some good questions.
First of all, what is the purpose of state supported higher education? Is it mainly to educate the student of THAT STATE? The children of the tax payers whose money helps to fund it? And do Georgia’s public schools owe us extra consideration because of the Hope Scholarship?
For those of you who live elsewhere, the Hope Scholarship is a lottery funded program that provides tuition for Georgia students who receive good grades. So, if Georgia Tech rejects a state resident for admission and he or she is forced to go out of state to attend engineering school, they lose out on what might have been a free ride. Is that fair? Does Georgia Tech owe first priority to residents of this state?
First of all, the AJC hits on an important point: we should have more than one school in Georgia providing engineering degrees. With all the emphasis on STEM education, and with the growing tech industry here, it’s unconscionable that we DON’T. But beyond that, should an institution that receives so much public funding be required to admit in state residents first?
One of the biggest reasons that the Hope Scholarship was started was that state legislators felt it was a problem that so many Georgia students were traveling elsewhere to attend college. Personally, I don’t know if that was a worthwhile policy objective, but then again, my main factor in deciding where to attend college was moving as far away from my parents as I could without having to learn a foreign language (a decision I came to regret, but that’s a different rant for a different day.) But offering students free tuition and then driving them out of state and causing them to lose out seems pretty counter productive.
Another question raised by the AJC is whether Ga Tech owes special consideration to children of alumni. That’s a much trickier question. It is typical for any school, public or private, to give extra admissions weight to the children of alumni. The justification is that alumni support the school financially and this is part of their reward. But is that a good idea, especially in today’s environment? If as a conservative you believe that race based admissions is wrong, then how can you justify legacy admissions? After all, most of today’s colleges started out as schools for white (men) only. How can minority parents get their kids into schools that give preference to the children and grandchildren of those who were admitted in the past under those restrictions? I can understand the anger of the father whose family tradition of attending Tech is ending now, but why are his feelings more important than the dad of a black kid from the Atlanta City school system whose son was also rejected?
Normally, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about college admissions. As I’ve written before, the whole thing is a racket. And kids who were rejected by Harvard end up doing just fine at other schools. Most of the students rejected by Tech have been admitted to engineering schools nearby and are happy there. Some will even be able to transfer to Tech after a couple of years. But as a Georgia taxpayer, I DO care about this. The current administration may care more about building an elite institution than they do about admitting locals, but the people providing their funding would like to see their own kids succeed first.