The Admissions Game

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The Admissions Game

Ah the joys of teaching! A couple of students in your honors class have asked you to write their teacher recommendation to United States University, a prestigious institution in New England. You have known each of them since 1865. It is now the fall of 1900. (Some of the students are dead, but that never stopped anyone from applying to college before.)

A week from today the references will be due at the admissions office, Room . (The students have waived the right to see what you will write.)
A couple of days later, all of you will magically change into members of the admissions board at U.S.U. It will be the job of each of you to “present” two applicants (the same two you wrote on in your previous persona) to the admissions board for consideration in a two-to-three minute talk. After discussion, each member of the board will write a paper, due in a week and a half, recommending 20 students for admission and, if you wish, up to seven on the waiting list. The paper should justify your decisions, including some commentary on those you wish to send thin envelopes. (You may cluster applicants in any way you wish to avoid a shopping list approach.) Your paper will be improved immeasurably if you state in an early paragraph your opinion of conditions in America in 1900 and your vision of the mission of U.S.U. Your admissions decisions should be directly related to your ideas in this paragraph. The director of admissions will total the responses and report the results to the admissions board.
In a final and immediate in-class essay, you will make roommate assignments and explain the

rationale for those placements.

The Students

Mark Twain, Chief Joseph

Thomas Nast, John D. Rockefeller

Lord James Bryce, General George Armstrong Custer

Hamlin Garland, Benjamin Harrison

William James, Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Anthony Comstock, J.P. Morgan

Dr. Marie Elizabeth Zakrzewska, Allan Pinkerton

P.T. Barnum, Mother Jones

Frederick Law Olmstead, William Graham Sumner

Horatio Alger, Henry Clay Frick

John Kehoe, William Jennings Bryan

Ignatius Donnelly, Henry Adams

William McKinley, Mary Elizabeth Lease

T.V. Powderly, Henry Ward Beecher

Edward Bellamy, Thomas A. Edison

Frank Norris, Washington Gladden

Coin Harvey, Jay Gould

James A. Garfield, Grover Cleveland

Chester Arthur, John Peter Altgeld

Eugene V. Debs, E.L. Godkin

Emma Goldman, Ulysses S. Grant

James J. Hill, Alexander Berkman

Henry George, Dwight Moody

John Muir, Charles Wesley Macune


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