The invisible force behind college admissions

Stefanie Botelho's picture

Despite the windowless, bunker-like atmosphere inside the Erie conference room of the Sheraton in downtown Chicago, Galen Graber has to be impressed by his audience: a swath of the 1,500 top admissions and financial aid officials from 635 different schools who have gathered to set policies that determine which kids get into which college and how much money they’ll receive.

Cutting to the chase, Graber, a consultant, launches by taking a poll: “How many of you would say that the primary motivation for offering students merit scholarships is to reward academic achievement?”

Not a single person raises his or her hand.

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