Why Yale should build a campus in Houston — or Harvard in San Diego

Yale University.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz, File)

"If Yale can open a campus in Singapore, why can't it start one in Houston?," asks David Kirp in an opinion piece for The New York Times.

Elite universities have miniscule acceptance rates that often mean qualified students are left out, and applicants' backgrounds play a large role in determining who gets a shot. A 2017 study, Kirp notes, found that at 38 top universities more students came from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the bottom 60 percent.

So if schools like Yale, Harvard, or Stanford really want to make wealth a non-factor in admissions, they should take their cues from public universities like Arizona State University — which now has more than 128,000 undergraduate and graduate students at campuses across Arizona and online — and open a second campus, Kirp argues. ASU has actually seen its graduation rate improve amid the expansion, and Kirp believes the Ivies and other prestigious institutions would not be sacrificing any academic quality if they did something similar (on a relative scale).

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A college that takes that step "would not have to lower its standards, because the best and brightest would queue for admission. Professors with glittering resumes would jump at the opportunity to teach there ... cities would perform handstands to land such a school."

Kirp acknowledges that his idea, while simple, is probably not right around the corner since the universities "guard their reputation with mother-bear fierceness." But he suggests that perhaps some could eventually be swayed by the notion that they'd be "lionized" for such a pioneering move. Read more at The New York Times.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.