Here in Louisiana, we’re watching a lively debate about the LSU admissions process. President F. King Alexander says he is taking advantage of a more holistic approach to admissions that is less reliant on test scores. Critics say he is lowering standards.
That dispute is nothing compared with what is going on in a courtroom in Boston, where Harvard University’s entire admissions process is on trial. Asian students have sued, claiming that Harvard’s procedures are discriminatory, and the resulting court case is revealing pretty much everything you might want to know about how to get into a school that admits fewer than 5 percent of applicants.
One thing we have learned through the trial is that Harvard sees Louisiana as one of 20 states in “sparse country” — meaning places that are underrepresented in Cambridge.
Most of the “sparse country” states are predictable, like North Dakota and South Dakota, though you might expect that students from those icy regions might find the Massachusetts winters mild compared with home.
Louisiana is one of only two “sparse country” states big enough to support an NFL team. The other is Arizona.
There are plenty of reasons Louisiana students might be staying away. For one thing, a four-year education at Harvard cost about $270,000. For the same money, you could send your kid to LSU and buy yourself a Jaguar, then buy another Jaguar to celebrate when he or she graduates.
Harvard’s best-known Louisiana alum is David Vitter, class of ’83. But in 2015, Louisiana voters decided they would rather have a West Point man as governor.
But there is one thing to be said for attending Harvard. Their football team doesn’t have to face off against Nick Saban.