Cowabunga! A Princeton campus ... in Pismo Beach?
Before you get too excited — or outraged — we need to explain that’s only a tongue-in-cheek suggestion from a Washington Post education columnist who advocates making Ivy League degrees more accessible to the masses.
In a column posted on Sunday, Jay Mathews points out that top-ranked colleges routinely accept fewer than 10 percent of their applicants. That means they arbitrarily wind up rejecting thousands of prospective students who are every bit as good as the ones they admit.
Mathews’ solution to this supply vs. demand dilemma: The exalted Ivies could open up franchises around the nation, sort of like an educational version of McDonald’s. He suggests that Pismo Beach is just the spot for a West Coast version of Princeton.
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We believe the alliteration — Pismo and Princeton — has something to do with his choice, though we would argue that Princeton pairs better with Portland
At any rate, here’s what Mathews has to say about Pismo:
“... I Googled a lovely photo of Price Canyon Road just north of Pismo Beach on the central California coast,” he writes. “The hills of golden grass dotted with dark green oaks seem a perfect spot for Princeton at Pismo Beach, my dream of what could happen if our crustiest Ivy League schools finally woke up and started franchising themselves.”
He goes on to say that Pismo Beach — aka the Clam Capital of the World — has “plenty of room for a surge of undergraduates.”
Sorry, Mr. Washington Post columnist, but we have enough trouble finding room for our own “surge” of undergraduates at Cal Poly.
As for developing Price Canyon, good luck winning over the locals. When a large subdivision was proposed in Price Canyon a few years ago, a group called Save Price Canyon succeeded in getting a ballot measure passed that limits development there. And we’re not at all sure that a county worried about water shortages, a lack of affordable housing and billions of dollars in infrastructure needs is going to welcome even the toniest of institutions.
Not that we completely pooh-pooh the idea of making higher education more accessible. We’re just not convinced we need a Princeton or a Harvard or a Yale in our backyard.
We have our own university that’s doing a fine job of turning students away: 65,000 students applied to Cal Poly for fall admission — of which the vast majority will be rejected — compared to 26,641 who applied to Princeton.
Admittedly, price may have something to do with the discrepancy in those application numbers. A year at Princeton costs $61,160 (yes, that includes room and board) though the majority of students receive financial aid.
At Cal Poly, tuition, room and board for California residents comes to $27,225. (For out-of-state students, it’s $39,105 and for international students, it’s $41,070.)
Hands down, Cal Poly is a better bargain. We also would argue that it’s every bit as prestigious as Princeton. Really.
Sure, three presidents — James Madison, Woodrow Wilson and John Kennedy (though he wound up graduating from Harvard) — attended Princeton. But how many awards has Princeton taken home from the Tournament of Roses Parade?
So, Princeton, should you ever entertain the idea of putting down roots in the West — and again, we don’t think it’s such a bad suggestion — we would urge you to cross Pismo Beach off your list.
But you might want to reach out to Palm Springs, Provo or Parkfield ...