That’s the question I put to a someone close to the admissions process at a reasonably selective school recently. His/her reply, which he/she would be the first to admit was deliberately highly exaggerated for maximum epigraphical effect is below (I’ve edited and cleaned up a disjointed conversation, so this is not a literal transcription). You can understand why my discussant was not interested in being identified and, as I say, this was exaggerated for maximum shock value.
(Although this is perhaps less shocking to Our Readership than I think, I still have a feeling I am going to regret putting this up. On the other hand, as an official card-carrying Bobo and father of a teen daughter coming up on college admissions, I have this undeniable fascination.)
Selective schools are not interested these days in girls who like English and history, like to read and are able to write clearly and well. Those skills fill the bell curve for smart girls … Selective schools have absorbed the folk myths of bobo culture. So cool girls are math smart, genetically destined to be hackers, risk takers, and into competitive sports. Cool girls for selective schools prefer engineering over history, math over English, computer science over political science, and economics over psychology. A touch of Asperger’s isn’t a bad thing for a girl, either. Actually, it’s a great thing. It will be a long time before being able to write well, disconnected from technical skills in math or science, will be a valued skill for its own sake in admissions. Actually, I don’t think writing as a valued skill is ever coming back. That’s why writing got transferred over to the SAT.