Friday, April 27, 2007

She's a hypocrite, but it doesn't make her wrong.

Ugh. Check out this story about MIT's now-former Dean of Admissions. I had thought it was just a small news story (I found out about it by someone passing me a Boston Globe link), but now it's hit

I read a book a while back, "The Overachievers", that quoted this woman, Marilee Jones, a LOT, and it intrigued me enough to read about her a little. She seemed to be a very down-to-earth woman and a good admissions officer to have at an Ivy-League-type school whose admissions process must be overrun with freaked-out parents, anal overachievers, legacies, etc. And now it turns out she lied about three degrees she didn't have.

It's really too bad, since, as the article says, she really did seem to be a voice of reason for kids and parents in the college admissions process. Lots of excellent advice along the lines of "stop bolstering your resume and go play outside, for gods' sake." "The Overachievers" was a fascinating study of how freaked-out college admissions have become, and while admittedly all of the administrators quoted in the book were pretty chill (not the vicious "3000 AP classes or die!" beasts high school students make them out to be), she stood out as the best one.

Sucks that someone who emphasizes relaxing about your resume went and falsified hers. Like, hardcore falsified.

Mostly I'm just wincing and waiting for the backlash. A friend who went to MIT for undergrad passed this on to me, and he's livid. He pointed out quite rightly that if this was a politician they'd sweep it under the rug, issue a public statement, and happily bop along doing their job. He also pointed out how ridiculously emphatic people are about degrees. According to him she had done an excellent job during her time at MIT, the students were fans of her, and admissions had really benefited from her influence. Ostensibly, she was a great person for the job. Yet she still felt it necessary to lie - drastically - on her resume to GET that job. And MIT went for it. Because what mattered wasn't her abilities - it was the shiny degree(s) after her name.

I agree with him and understand where he's coming from. Still - way to screw up your message. Yes, students should chill out about their resumes, and yes, there is too much emphasis on numbers and degrees...but now her motives have seriously been called into question, which is enough for some people to stomp all over her otherwise good ideas. Plus, how long until some Larry Summers peon chimes in with "see? Teh Women don't deserve jobs they get! They lie! Even when women *appear* to be qualified, they're really just lying to break into our hallowed halls of education. Cuz bitches is crazy."

I predict the main backlash reaction will be some version of her lowering academic standards or tainting higher education with her girly womanly "stop taking the SAT fifteen times and go be a human being" message. We can't have anyone encouraging our academics to be balanced! That dilutes the quality of our institutions!!!


(and yes, i'm not dead! Things have been really really busy, but actually been going rather well, and we all know that none of us blog until we have something to complain about :P But never fear, classes will start winding down soon...and in a month or so we'll have summer students arriving. THAT'LL surely be fodder for some posts.)

1 comment:

Jenny F. Scientist said...

Summer students! Run for the hills!

And yes, the poor woman had a good point. Suffice it to say that my current institution is mightily afflicted with children who think that public recognition and snooty schools are all that matter in life. They're wretched to teach.