Evaluating The Goodness of Fit For Students Planning to Go to College | Jim Wickenden | 4 Min Read

May 23, 2023

On Sunday, April 2, 2023, I read an interesting and provocative article by Frank Bruni that was published in the New York Times.  The title of the article was “There’s Only One College Rankings List that Matters.”  Having worked as the Dean of Admission from 1978 to 1983 at Princeton University, and having evaluated the credentials of literally thousands of applicants, I was intrigued by what Mr. Bruni had to say.  In brief, I’ll quote five of the major points that he made.  They are:

  • For almost a decade now, I’ve been writing and railing against the way in which so many Americans, especially affluent ones, approach the process of applying to colleges, which at some point over the past quarter century devolved into a scholastic version of “The Hunger Games.”  I’ve lamented its toll on mental health.  I’ve rued its emphasis on credentials over character and on a rigid, cautious script of education over an organic plot of genuine discovery. I’ve bemoaned its conflation of brand with worth.
  • Over recent decades, tuition at many public and private schools has risen much faster than inflation in general, to heights that have led…
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Jim Wickenden

Jim is a Principal at DRG and Founder of Wickenden Associates, an affiliate of DRG. Having been the CEO of one of the premier education executive search firms in the United States, Jim brings unparalleled experience and networks to best serve clients. With over 30 years of experience identifying and guiding Heads of Schools and other senior administrators of schools across the country, Jim approaches each search with flexibility and openness that responds to the individual needs and concerns of schools and their leaders. Before founding Wickenden Associates, Jim served as the Dean of Admissions at Princeton University and Director of Student and Alumni Affairs at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A graduate of Tabor Academy and Princeton University, Jim holds a master’s degree in Counselor Education from Rutgers University, a master’s degree in the General Purposes of Education from Harvard University, and a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Boston University. As a former member of eight boards of independent schools with a wide range of missions and resource levels, Jim also knows firsthand the responsibilities shouldered by today’s trustees; and knows how to guide boards through tough transition processes and on good governance practices. Jim lives in Princeton, NJ, and when he is not at the office he enjoys reading enlightening books.