What is the hardest school in the world for a student to get into? Harvard? Yale? Duke? Columbia? Stanford? Northwestern? University of Arizona? No, none of the above. IIT is the answer. IIT stands for the India Institute of Technology. Watching CBS's 60 Minutes tonight I saw an interesting article about IIT. The United States needs an IIT. Or maybe it doesn't because 80% of IIT's graduates come to the United States to work and most do not return home. The US could never have an IIT. IIT admits all of its students based strictly on on the results of a rigorous 6 hour exam. No legacies, no minority preferences, no fudging of any kind. Only 2% of all applicants are accepted. If you are good enough, you get in and if you are not, you don't. This type of system is totally unacceptable in the US as we all know. Our colleges and universities have to be fair to all. Accepting only the best qualified is not the American idea of being fair. Our colleges, even the best ones, let underqualified students in then give them remedial work to help them catch up with those that are qualified. Our universities cannot never reach the bar set by IIT in India because our educational systems will bend the bar to let in those who would not make it otherwise. To be fair. There can be a lot said for our educational system's willingness to do this. But on the other hand when those that are underqualified are accepted along with the qualified then it contaminates the educational environment in such a way where standards throughout the system are compromised. Teachers seem to naturally teach to the least able in their class rooms so if the least abled are allowed into an institution they will lower standards everywhere they show up.
In the US our technological unversities have an ideal of developing a well-rounded person and, therefore, subject this person to humanities requirements. When a student is in a humanities class, they are not in a class studying a technolgical subject that will prepare them for a career in science or engineering. Look at IIT's curriculum. No history, no language arts, etc., just math, engineering and science. Look at course descriptions. Math I? OMG! And I was a math major. There are no humanities departments at IIT. The IIT graduates have no problems finding jobs even though they are not, what we call, well-rounded by US educational standards. US Corporations stand in line to hire IIT graduates. At my daughter's graduation ceremony at Northwestern, the engineering graduates were standing and jeering the Liberal Arts graduates with the chat "We have jobs. We have jobs." In a way it was funny and in another way it was very sad because I just closed the checkbook on a $30-$40,000 investment in my daughter's Liberal Arts education.
We have to wake up in the United States. We have to develop and fund elite unversities devoted to technical education of those that can meet the most rigorous qualifications. Those who cannot meet those qualifications can go to Harvard.