There was a story in today's local paper that to me defines what's wrong with journalism. It's about admissions to Ivy League schools. And the article was just chock full of inconsistencies and just plain wrong, bad information. So here's what I wrote to the editor.

I’ve never read an article as incoherent as the one you printed concerning admissions at Ivy League Schools. One paragraph tells us that “fewer kids are applying and few kids are getting in,” and a couple of paragraphs later we’re told that “They’re not increasing the size of their freshman class, but their applicant pool is increasing.” So which is it, fewer kids applying or an increasing applicant pool? I believe the numbers concerning the dropping admissions rates, and using the magic or arithmetic conclude that it’s the latter that’s correct: more applicants, but the same number of admissions means a lower acceptance rate.

When not incoherent, the article is incorrect in its information. Yes those Ivy schools are expensive, and the sticker price is a shock. But how can the cost mean that fewer people are applying when “their applicant pool is increasing”? One reason for the increase is that what you say about financial aid is just wrong. At Harvard, for instance, students whose household income is under 65,000 pay nothing at all.

The statement that all financial aid is merit based is equally wrong. All students who go to Harvard or Yale have merit. If they didn’t they wouldn’t get in. Here’s what Harvard has to say about its financial aid policy: “Financial aid is available to all students based on assessed need.” Not a word about merit.

Not really trying to defend the cost of colleges, which is really an outrage--but at least get the facts right!
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