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Merit-Based and Need-Based College Admissions

The college admission process has evolved in dramatic fashion since the inception of higher education in the United States. Today, the admission process represents a complex interaction of investments and considerations on the part of both applicants and higher education institutions. The admissions process is typically thought of as driven largely by colleges and universities, wherein institutions simply select the most meritorious students. In fact, applicants and institutions find themselves immersed in a much more nuanced exchange. To understand this nuance, it is essential to describe the highly competitive market within which the admissions process exists. It is also useful to illuminate the ways in which the economics of colleges and universities drive institutions to make admissions decisions that extend beyond only considerations of merit; ...

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