Yes, yes, I’m in a political mood. But my addressing of Mr. Trump’s misunderstandings does not arise from any concern that he will become President, but rather that from his pulpit he may spread the misundertandings themselves. Much as he misunderstood the presidency, he misunderstands the educational system. His argument basically comes down to saying that if Barry Obama was a poor student at Occidental College, then there is something inappropriate about him being accepted to Harvard Law School.
That suggests the assumption that a graduate school exists to reward undergraduate achievement, which doesn’t hold up in any reasonable amount of light. It may often be seen as having the effect of bestowing some reward, but that is incidental. There are three reasonable selection goals, and which of these (and in what combination) any school is actually seeking is a matter of interpretation. These goals are:
- to select students who will gain from the education.
- to select students whose admission will serve the institution.
- to select students who, through the education they gain, will better serve the world.
So, does Obama fit these criteria? He went on to become a law school professor before launching his career in politics, so 1 seems to be achieve. He served Harvard as president of the Harvard Law Review, which is probably the most prestigious non-athletic student position in higher education, and not something granted lightly, so 2 is achieved. And as for 3, he used his learning to spread education, to organize in the community, and, oh yes, to become the popularly elected leader of the most powerful country in the world. Whatever criteria Harvard Law used, they seem to have been very effective at meeting whatever goals they may have.