In a new paper Carolyn Hoxby, Professor of Economics at Stanford demonstates while a few selective colleges have become more difficult to get into over past 5 decades, most colleges are easier to get into. For example, since 1955 the number of high school graduates is up 132%, but the number of freshman seats rose by 297%.Arnold Kling on the above referenced Hoxby paper:
I suspect that high school graduates nowadays are the product of assortive mating, and college has become the ultimate status good for their parents. Affluent parents want their children to attend the colleges that the children of other affluent parents attend. This creates a highly skewed equilibrium.Goldie Blumenstyk
Think of Harvard as like the Yankees. Enough money to buy whatever it needs to be a contender every year. Think of the typical college as like the Orioles or the Blue Jays. If they are fortunate, they can groom a few stars, but they will have too many weaknesses to be able to compete with the Yankees.
"Public higher education has done it to itself with generic state institutions" that all try to do the same thing, Mr. Crow told the gatheringThe Chronicle asks some scholars about various HE issues.