robertogreco + admissions   106

Almost All the Colleges I Wanted to Go to Rejected Me. Now What? - The New York Times
"There’s a greater delusion here. We’re often encouraged to imagine our society as an egg-sorting machine: jumbo, extra-large, large, medium (and then the sizes that don’t show up in the supermarket: small, peewee). We’re drawn to the idea that the rewards of social life — money, esteem, opportunities at college and then, later, at work — are determined by talent and dedication. In this picture, everyone can be ranked on a scale of how meritorious they are. True, we can complicate that picture a little and acknowledge that skills are various; that one person might be a fine mathematician and another a fine musician. But even if you had multiple scales for multiple skills, you would find that the vast majority of us aren’t great at anything. A person can only be at the top if there are lots of people ranged below.

If your self-worth is tied to being better than others, then, you’re headed for trouble. Your classmate in the honors program can feel inadequate compared with a higher-performing classmate in that program, who can feel inadequate compared with a still-higher-performing classmate and so on up the line. They could all walk around in a state of dejection. But that would be an ethical error. Why ethical? Because ethics, in its classical sense, concerns itself with what makes a life go well.

In the end, what matters isn’t how we rank against others. (Though my hunch is that you’re the only student at your school to be published in The New York Times this week!) You started out with a bundle of talents and interests unlike anyone else’s — yes, even if you have an identical twin. Your life so far has allowed you to develop some of them and to take up projects that you are committed to: Maybe it’s playing the guitar decently, writing a short story, serving the needs of the less well off in your community, being a good Christian or Muslim. Maybe your aim right now is simply being a good friend, taking genuine pleasure in the good fortune of those you care about. “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other?” Dorothea asks in George Eliot’s “Middlemarch.”

You may acquit yourself, in these various endeavors, better or worse than another person, but nobody else is trying to do exactly the things you are trying to do with exactly the developed talents you have. Because we all come equipped with different capacities and have been born into different circumstances, and because we choose our own projects, each of us faces his or her own challenge, one that is, like you, unique. You have, as the great German thinker Johann Gottfried Herder once put it, your own measure.

The goal, therefore, isn’t to be the best; it’s to do your best. And don’t think this lets you off the hook. To become a better version of yourself is quite demanding enough. The 18th-century Hasidic rabbi Zusha is supposed to have said that when he died and appeared before the heavenly court, they could ask him, “Why were you not as great as Abraham?” and he wouldn’t be afraid; after all, he wasn’t given Abraham’s intellectual gifts. They could ask him, “Why weren’t you Moses?” and he wouldn’t be afraid; he didn’t have Moses’ skills as a leader. The question that frightened him was this: “Why weren’t you Zusha?” The scholar Martin Buber, writing in the past century, called this the “question of questions.”

I’ve talked about delusions. Here’s what’s true: Lots of things that happen to you — a good number of which will be a matter of sheer luck — will affect the life you make. But what will make your life a good one, along with luck, is a willingness to run with the opportunities that come your way.

Mourning all the things that didn’t turn out in your college-admissions season, you say that you can’t see yourself thriving in any school that has accepted you. Don’t trust that intuition for a moment. If acceptance from elite colleges is hard, self-acceptance can be harder.

Take up that question of questions. Think about what you can do with the opportunities you have, like going to a good college near home. If you do the work, make friends and enjoy reasonable luck there, you’ll come away from the college enriched and ready for the next phase of your life. So seize the day. The race you’re running has only one competitor, and it’s you."
colleges  universities  admissions  collegeadmissions  2019  kwameanthonyappiah  education  highered  highereducation  meritocracy  sorting  ranking  hierarchy  ethics  inequality  selectivity  personhood  acceptance  elitism  self-acceptance  delusions  measurement 
19 days ago by robertogreco
From Harvard to UChicago, Elite Colleges Are an Anomaly - The Atlantic
"A focus on highly selective schools obscures the experience of the vast majority of American undergraduates."



"Every year at this time, headlines reveal once again what everyone already knows: America’s top institutions are selective—very. Harvard took a record-low 4.5 percent of the applicants to its 2023 class. Yale accepted 5.9 percent, the same as the University of Chicago.

These numbers—albeit wild—are outliers, representing an almost-negligible slice of the United States’ higher-education ecosystem. Approximately 10.8 million undergraduates were enrolled in the country’s more than 2,500 four-year universities in the fall of 2017, according to an Atlantic analysis of raw figures from the Education Department’s data center.

The majority of students—more than 80 percent—attend schools, such as Texas A&M, Rutgers, and Simmons University, that accept more than half their applicants. In 2017, our analysis shows, roughly 3 percent of the country’s bachelor’s-degree candidates were enrolled at a four-year university that accepts fewer than a quarter of undergraduate applicants; only 0.8 percent of undergraduates were attending one of the handful of universities that accept fewer than one in 10 applicants.

Most schools are not these highly selective institutions, and the application process for millions of students is not the stress-inducing nightmare that gets so much public attention. Excluded from the narrative are the thousands of four-year colleges that serve millions of undergraduates, including many historically black colleges and universities—not to mention the 1,000-plus community colleges.

Various characteristics set these more-typical institutions apart from their brand-name counterparts, such as the fact that the former are more likely to enroll Pell grant recipients (read: very low-income individuals), as well as “nontraditional” students (that is, those who are 24 or older and/or have children of their own) and military veterans, according to the New America higher-education policy analyst Iris Palmer. They’re also less likely to be considered research universities—generally those that offer doctoral-degree programs—and more likely to be commuter campuses, according to Georgetown University researchers. Of all the country’s four-year institutions, slightly more than half are private, nonprofit schools, such as Massachusetts’s Endicott College and Texas’s Trinity University. About 29 percent are public—Mississippi’s Alcorn State University, for instance, and the University of California at Merced, near Fresno. The remaining 17 percent are for-profit, such as the College of Westchester in New York, and Oregon’s Pioneer Pacific College.

These schools dominate the options for most American high schoolers; attending them is a far more common experience than that provided by the Dartmouths and Dukes and Davidsons of the country. The landscape of higher education is far more sprawling than a focus on selective schools allows.

Moreover, the student bodies of the upper tier of competitive colleges are not representative of the demographics of the country at large. Research published by Opportunity Insights, a think tank led by the economists Raj Chetty, John Friedman, and Nathaniel Hendren, has found that roughly three dozen of the country’s “elite” colleges—schools including Washington University in St. Louis, Trinity College (Connecticut), Tufts, Yale, and Brown—enroll more students from households in the top 1 percent of the income scale than they do students from the bottom 60 percent of that scale. In fact, students from the top 1 percent are 77 times more likely to attend “elite” colleges, here defined as schools that accept fewer than a quarter of undergraduate applicants, than are their peers in the bottom 20 percent.

Another often-overlooked feature of higher education in the U.S.: community colleges. Of the nearly 2 million bachelor’s degrees granted last year, roughly half of the recipients had community-college credit. In some states, a solid majority of bachelor’s-degree recipients at some point attended community college—in Texas, for example, the rate last year was three in four. In the fall of 2017, 5.8 million people were enrolled at community colleges, most of them as part-time students.

The most selective schools produce many of the people who populate the top ranks of American business, media, and political leadership. But the country is much bigger and more multitudinous. The work of educating its people falls by and large not to the small set of famous schools, but to the much wider array of ordinary schools, where millions of Americans go to learn every day."
admissions  collegeadmissions  2019  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  elitism  anxiety  education 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
An Honest College Rejection Letter - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
"Dear Applicant,

The Admissions Committee has carefully considered your application and we regret to inform you that we will not be able to offer you admission in the entering class, or a position on one of our alternate lists. The applicant pool this year was particularly strong, and by that I mean the Admissions Committee once again sent candidates like you multiple enticing pamphlets encouraging you to apply, knowing full well we had no intention of accepting you.

However, you will be pleased to know that you have contributed to our declining admissions rate, which has helped our university appear exclusive. This allows us to attract our real candidates: upper-class kids and certified geniuses who will glean no new information from our courses or faculty, whose parents can incentivize us with a new swimming pool or lacrosse stadium.

As a reminder, we don’t aspire to be a socially exclusive learning environment. In fact, we have chosen to actively pursue a more diverse campus and welcome all minorities. But our admissions program is quite unique; we combat past discrimination by discriminating in the present. It is one of the many techniques that our Nobel, Peabody, and Oscar award-winning faculty has helped to develop.

While we consider applicants from all backgrounds who excel both in and out of the classroom, we really want student savants who relentlessly pursue a single instrument, sport, or other activity. Unless you have written a New York Times bestseller, won first place in the Intel Science Fair, or cured type 1 diabetes using only solar power and a tampon string, we’ll put you at the bottom of the pool.

You may be wondering how a near-perfect SAT and ACT, a dozen perfect AP scores, and your presidency of four clubs did not distinguish you from the pack. Please know that we take many other factors into account as well, including socio-political-monetary context, Asian-ness of name, BMI, and modified-Rorschach (in which one of our assistants holds your application from across the room and we try to discern the outline of your profile).

You should also know that our committee did not fall for your attempts to look “humble” or “well-rounded.” Volunteering in developing countries is nice, but truly generous individuals volunteer to improve their local communities, while truly wealthy families buy a third-world country for their child to gentrify. We also realize that your extensive study of how “Novel cyclic di-GMP effectors of the YajQ protein family control bacterial virulence” was not influenced by your passion for “volunteering with the elderly,” nor was it anything but a résumé inflator. Most importantly, we know that your minimum-wage job did not teach you “patience, teamwork and leadership.” No one learns anything from minimum-wage jobs except how much they hate people and that they shouldn’t have majored in political science.

The reality is that we are no longer looking for students who are remarkable candidates for college; we are looking for people who have already made a difference, so that we can grow our list of impressive alumni. Your value to our college depends solely on your ability to attract future applicants. Since you are no Emma Watson or James Franco, we urge you to consider your acceptance letters from state universities and equally expensive second-tier schools, and commence nursing an inferiority complex for the rest of your life.

We sincerely hope that you find it in your heart to forgive us for not “seeing” your “full potential.” Please remember that we will need your tiger-parent instincts in approximately three decades when you push your own children to the brink of death, and once again help us boost our US News & World Report ranking.

Best,
Dean of Admissions"
education  colleges  universities  diversity  admissions  collegeadmissions  2019  satire  mimievans  selectivity  competition  rankings  highered  highereducation 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Great American Meritocracy Machine – alex posecznick
"Cheating is a thing. It happens a lot. A few years ago, I was having a conversation with Gregoire, who ran the testing center at an institution I will call “Ravenwood College.” Although Ravenwood accepted SAT and ACT scores, they also had their own in-house entrance exam which was administered on site. Gregoire was meticulous in proctoring exams, checking paperwork and especially photo identification carefully. He recalled one time, when an applicant claimed to have left her ID in the Office of Admissions and said she would be right back. Later, the applicant returned with the ID and escorted by an admissions counselor, but it was an entirely different person.

She tried to persuade Gregoire that he was mistaken – that they had just spoken and she had come back as instructed. But he responded, with a roll of the eyes and a dry comment: “Okay, who did you get to take your exam for you?”

Sound familiar?

The Operation Varsity Blues admissions scandal has splatted hard in the middle of the media, and already faded from our attention. Several days of non-stop coverage and opinion, followed by fatigue. Our attention is nothing if not fickle. It is outrageous that wealthy elites and influential celebrities and their consultants have falsified documents and bribed coaches so their kids can go to extremely selective universities. And it makes sense that this would catch our collective attention. The story fundamentally undermines our trust in American meritocracy.

Maybe it should. Maybe that’s a good thing. Because the most noteworthy thing about the scandal is not the cheating. There are other important observations to be made. And there have been many who have made important observations about how affluent families already game the system in entirely legal ways. But there is more still to consider here.

I’ve spent a lot of my professional life around colleges and universities and seen wonderful and transformative things happen there. But we have to also recognize that a big part of what colleges do is sort students into piles based on merit. “Going to college” is one sort of meritorious pile that employers pay a lot of attention to; and in some circles the most relevant pile is which college we went to. And even affluent parents are under a tremendous amount of pressure to make sure their kids are sorted into the most distinctive pile. There is thus a lot of consequence here.

The contradiction, however, is that the more people obtain degrees, the less distinctive those degrees become. This pushes people to find new ways to be distinctive: a degree from this elite college, or perhaps a master’s degree. But this is an anxiety-fueled, credentials arms race – and although it can benefit colleges and universities financially, I’m not sure it is sustainable. How many loans can the average American family bear?

Elite institutions flourish when demand is high and admission low. Demand is measured by how many people you reject every year. But admission offices need to constantly balance the demands of coaches, wealthy donors, trustees, campus executives, ranking metrics, and alumni. One’s job could be at risk if the wrong donor is unhappy, or if the institution falls in a popular ranking system. We therefore need to acknowledge that colleges and universities are not the ivory towers we like to pretend they are. Not any longer. Colleges and universities are extremely competitive, profit-focused enterprises that must reconcile competing aims: educational mission on one side and market on the other. The big secret is that admission offices are under as much pressure as parents are.

This pressure shifts in less-selective spaces, but does not diminish.

Less-selective institutions flourish based on higher enrollments, because their budgets are so closely tied to the number of students sitting in their classrooms. Such institutions may have some strong standing locally, but like “Ravenwood” College, are not household names across the country. For these colleges, the consequence to a bad year could be layoffs, contractions, budget cuts, or closures. In fact, Ravenwood itself experienced some of these challenges. And this is increasingly a concern: by some accounts, private colleges are closing at the rate of 11 per year!

Public universities are not cushioned from such pressures either; many states have so severely cut funding to public higher education in recent years that they must learn to play the market like private institutions. Colleges and universities want to appear distinctive for the same reasons that we all do.

In short, we have built a massive, comprehensive infrastructure to “objectively” identify, evaluate, measure, and sort us into piles. And this sorting machinery involves high school administrations, college recruiters, College Board test designers, marketing teams, private test prep centers, university administrations, college athletics, federal regulatory agencies, voluntary accrediting agencies, magazine publishers, student loan lenders, employers, faculty, students, and their families.

Attending college does not define our value as human beings, but it would be naïve to pretend that there was no consequence to how we get sorted. When employers take note of a particular name or brand, what they are really interested in is how we’ve been continuously sorted into the right bins across our lifetimes. This scandal (and the many editorials since it broke) has revealed that this infrastructure is not objective. The notion of meritocracy has long been at the heart of the rhetoric of education in American society, but is that machinery broken?

Students of history should know that we’ve never had an objective, merit-measuring machine; this is not the story of national decline that some have been preaching. As many have been pointing out, affluent families systemically use their resources to give their kids advantage all the time – and always have. There are boarding schools, expensive test-prep programs, legacy admissions, private counselors and coaches, private violin lessons and extravagant service trips to other countries that make for a great personal statement. And despite some recent and limited interventions through affirmative action, communities of color have been systematically and appallingly excluded for centuries.

Operation Varsity Blues reveals that although the meritocracy machine is powerful and active, we should not always accept it at face value. Not only in elite space, but at all levels, we must recognize individuals for their achievements while weighing them critically and skeptically. In short, the best measure against a broken meritocracy machine is vigilant, morally-grounded people willing to challenge what they see. As long as we have the credentials arms race, there will be cheats and scammers – and the most noteworthy part of this scandal is not that some cheated, but that the wealthy perpetrators will face consequences.

Unless of course the siren call of some new big scandal distracts us."
meritocracy  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  2019  operationvaristyblues  alexposecznick  markets  degree  sorting  ranking  rankings  society  degreeinflation  employment  elitism  objectivity  testing  standardizedtesting  cheating  credentials  scams  corruption  admissions  anxiety  education 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Christina Torres on Twitter: "writing about "the canon" today. I have grown A LOT in thoughts on it. "well those old white dudes did say some good stuff..." no one is saying they didn't write great stuff. The problem is that it's all we've had, which perp
"writing about "the canon" today. I have grown A LOT in thoughts on it.

"well those old white dudes did say some good stuff..."

no one is saying they didn't write great stuff. The problem is that it's all we've had, which perpetuates idea that ONLY white dudes write great stuff.

honestly I bless @ChimamandaReal's name nearly every day for this TED talk so I can just link to it tbh https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story

really I'm just reading myself in this piece

... and not really writing because I'm on here instead lol
Still, over the past year, I've really sat with that question: how much am I actually dismantling systemic oppression in my work if I'm still teaching within the confines of its language?

yup I'm putting together a chart folks. Send me arguments you've heard in favor of the canon and your rebuttal! https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CaQ7OhhZlY1V_0xfoDxtzk0QtOjzuW8TKgttoGNfxH0/edit?usp=sharing

also: anyone interested in this, please know that #disrupttexts has been doing this work and got me on this train so mad props to them

https://twitter.com/DulceFlecha/status/1116459497768275969
ever since seeing Julia Alvarez and Elizabeth Acevedo I've been thinking about how kids of color are conditioned to write for white audiences, too. who do we teach young writers to prioritize.

and its perpetuated over and over, through canon, through college admissions, through the whiteness of the profession. I keep meaning to write about it.

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116458774405971968
For me, one of the deepest issues is that folks defend it using the words "tradition" and "shared knowledge" ignoring the fact that it centers only SOME traditions and SOME shared knowledge.

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116460583350669318
I cannot state this enough because a "shared cultural heritage" dominated by one culture at the exclusion of so many others is damaging and not a heritage I will choose to claim as my own. "Educational malpractice"...

https://twitter.com/triciaebarvia/status/1116638447484190720
Yup. And reminds me of what I think @Ready4rigor wrote (paraphrasing) about how all teaching is culturally responsive—it’s just a question of whose culture we’re responsive to. 🤔 #DisruptTexts

https://twitter.com/juliaerin80/status/1116458934582304768
So, we need to all circle around whiteness and protect it by making sure kids learn MOSTLY about it for the sake of tradition? Nah, fam...

https://twitter.com/UmmJuwayriyah1/status/1116516073673842688
Definitely, nah! As an indigenous American Muslim author, I see it happening on this side of the pond, too! Asian and/or Middle Eastern and mostly male narratives are amplified for inclusion in the canon. While Black/Brown American Muslim narratives sit outside the door.

https://twitter.com/MelAlterSmith/status/1116461945731858437
Hard to believe there are still teachers out there who have “canon defender” in their bio. Actually, it’s not hard to believe at all... sigh. 😩

#DisruptTexts #THEBOOKCHAT & #TeachLivingPoets are growing- I hope we can help to make some serious change in complicating the canon

https://twitter.com/javramgoldsc/status/1116809046437183489
Covered Octavia Butler in class this yr (tbf I'm in Uni), but I think the hopepunk canon will be a major catalyst

https://twitter.com/Altair4_2381/status/1116091237281533954
I’m a white woman, and even I felt like my tastes were mostly ignored in HS, except when we read something like Pride and Prejudice (optional because we can’t make the boys read about women!).

https://twitter.com/biblio_phile/status/1116092299669229568
right?!?! honestly it was a few white women I was battling this out with. I wanted to be like-- if you were given books ONLY by men, you would have been ticked. Why is that okay when it comes to race/sexuality/class/other non-canon perspectives!??!?!

https://twitter.com/Altair4_2381/status/1116093753641644033
It makes me wonder how much the canon-lovers read. If they had experienced more variety, some classics by other types of people, some modern books, some great graphic novels, maybe they’d be more open to teaching more variety.

https://twitter.com/NaomiH_nothing/status/1116603199605989378
"History is written by the victors"~Churchill
Yes! Great stuff was written & said by victors:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created.." (only ~200 years before MLK was murdered)
"Liberty and Justice for.." [embedded: https://twitter.com/NaomiH_nothing/status/904754635222663169 ]
"Land of the.." etc.
thecanon  canon  christinatorres  2019  inclusion  inclusivity  tradition  chimamandaadichie  juliaalvarez  elizabethacevedo  admissions  colleges  education  inequality  universities  culture  heritage  exclusion  gender  race  racism  sexism  octaviabutler  hopepunk  sexuality  class  diversity  classics 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Luxury Interiors – Popula
"The question of “U.S.C. versus A.S.U.” in this piece was unclear to me; to what extent was Hess underwriting this hierarchy? I wrote to ask her, and she replied that she wished she’d had the space to elaborate in the piece. And for good reason:
I’m from a Sun Devil family. My mom worked at Arizona State… I don’t think any of the jokes about ASU are based on a real understanding of the kind of education you could receive there; it’s based on the number of people who can access that education […]

The same people who surely believe that every child should have access to a college education also make sure to rank some of those educations as enviable and others as embarrassing. The idea of an elite, high-class education must be hoarded by a select few, because if everybody had it, it would lose its value to the elite.

Which just begins to explain why someone like Mossimo Giannulli might want to be able to say, “my daughter is at U.S.C.”

***

When people are willing to drown themselves in debt and even commit literal crimes in order to obtain an elite college education for themselves or their kids, what, really, what exactly, do they they think they are buying?

Or selling. What are people thinking, who are selling an “education” that is actively harming a whole society; that wrecks the fabric of a city, that causes people to lose their grip on their conscience, their sanity; that makes them set so catastrophic an example, somehow both before, and on behalf of, their children. All this makes a mockery of the Enlightenment values—by which I mean the egalitarianism and erudition of Alexander Pope, and not Edmund Burke getting himself in a lather over Marie Antoinette—that a Western education was once imagined to represent.

Reaction to the admissions scandal has so far centered on these rich parents and their unworthy spawn, whose lawyers now prepare to spin a tale of misguided, but forgivable, parental devotion. No less a cultural authority than the playwright David Mamet wrote an “open letter” defending accused admissions cheat Felicity Huffman; according to him, “a parent’s zeal for her children’s future may have overcome her better judgment for a moment.” Except that the “moment” went on for months, according to court filings, and involved Huffman’s paying $15,000 to ensure that her daughter would have twice the time to complete her SAT exam that an ordinary, non-bribery-enabled kid would have. Also to hire a crooked proctor afterwards, who could change some of her daughter’s wrong answers to correct ones.

In any case, Hess is right: You can get an ultrafine education at A.S.U. That place is an R1 university, positively bristling with Nobel laureates and MacArthur fellows. Walter V. Robinson, who led the famous “Spotlight” newsroom at the Boston Globe, teaches there. It’s wild to think anyone would be willing to blow half a million dollars to ensure an admission to U.S.C. over A.S.U.

Anyone who has been to (any) college can tell you that the proportion of enlightenment to hangovers varies greatly from customer to customer. It’s something else altogether that calls for the half-million bucks.

***

Coming from a quite different angle—and on March 27th, the very same day as Hess’s piece—Herb Childress, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, asked: “How did we decide that professors don’t deserve job security or a decent salary?” (“This is How You Kill a Profession.”) Childress is one of tens of thousands of Ph.D.s in the United States who failed to find a place on the tenure track, and who were slowly forced out of a professional academic career as their prospects faded year by year in the academic Hunger Games, as this brutal process is not uncommonly described.

You might assume that people like Childress just “didn’t make it” through some fault of their own, but you’d be wrong. Over the last fifty years academic work has come to look more and more like indentured servitude: Grad students and postdocs are a species of flexible workers in a gig economy, toiling in low-paying jobs waiting for their once-a-year chance to play the tenure track lottery.

Please note that these are the very people who work in the “good schools,” who are compelled to “teach,” for insanely low pay—like, a few thousand dollars per class—people like Mossimo Giannulli’s daughter Olivia Jade, a famous YouTube “Influencer.” This lady’s dad paid hundreds of thousands to put her in the orbit of hugely educated, committed, job-insecure people like Childress. She, meanwhile, impishly bragged to her legion of YouTube followers that she doesn’t really “care about school.”

And yet scholars like Childress can’t let go of their romantic notions of the academy, and their sense of vocation, which can easily be exploited; unfortunately they’ll agree to live the dream even at cut rates, as Childress himself openly admitted in the Chron.
The grief of not finding a home in higher ed—of having done everything as well as I was capable of doing, and having it not pan out; of being told over and over how well I was doing and how much my contributions mattered, even as the prize was withheld—consumed more than a decade. It affected my physical health. It affected my mental health. It ended my first marriage. […]

Like any addict, I have to be vigilant whenever higher ed calls again. I know what it means to be a member of that cult, to believe in the face of all evidence, to persevere, to serve. I know what it means to take a 50-percent pay cut and move across the country to be allowed back inside the academy as a postdoc after six years in the secular professions. To be grateful to give up a career, to give up economic comfort, in order to once again be a member.

Consider the benefits-free, pension-free pittance paid to the vast majority of people providing the elite education, who never saw a dime of all those millions in bribes, and a more complicated and larger picture than we’ve yet seen emerges."



"I wasn’t nearly as much of a paragon, but as a brown-trash “gifted” kid who came up poor and went to fancy schools I can easily understand how listening to this brilliant lecturer dazzled my friend, and changed the course of his life. This feeling comes to students anywhere, everywhere, in every school with a good teacher with time and attention to give us. There was and still is something vital, something good and real, to want out of an “education,” something quite beyond the ken of the kind of people who would pay an SAT proctor to cheat.

Then there’s this other angle. I first went off to college already inured to the idea that I was involved in an economy; that we were trading. Everything had been made easier for the rich kids, of course, and it wasn’t their fault, all had been bought and paid for by their parents and grandparents, but also—a crucial thing—they had also lacked our luck; they lacked certain desirable qualities, qualities as randomly distributed as wealth, things with which some of us had won a different lottery, had skipped grades with and been celebrated for: the sort of “intelligence” that made school easy. There seemed to be a natural symbiosis in this structure, crazy and shameful as the whole business of “meritocracy” appears to me now.

But also like all college kids we mainly didn’t give a fuck about any of that and just got to be friends for true reasons, just loved one another. The rich kids happened to be able to teach the poor ones what fork to use and how to ski, and the poor and/or brown kids of halfway reasonable intelligence gave them books, new kinds of food and family, music and art, a view of the other side of the tracks, new ways to have fun. We poor ones brought, say, a taste for Lester Bangs, arroz con pollo, Brian Eno and Virginia Woolf; they treated us to foie gras and Tahoe and big old California cabs on our 18th birthday. Gross, right? Really gross. But the (grotesquely mistaken) idea was that we were bringing each other into a better world, a different world, and a little at a time the true, good world would finally come.

This may sound a bit tinfoil but now I suspect that the problem may have been, all along, that all the college kids started to realize together (as I think they are still) that there was something sick at the roots of this tree of knowledge as it was then constituted. Strangely, dangerously healing, egalitarian ideas began to take hold; demographics changed, and the country began to move to the left. The 90s was the era of the tenured radical on campus, and the culture wars grew white-hot. Al Gore was elected president, and was prevented by the merest whisker from taking office. Even a barely left of center President Gore would have made things a little too parlous for the powers that be, who are on the same side as the Giannullis of the world.

Hess told me that some people think there’s one kind of education within the purview of everyone willing to work to get it, the “embarrassing” kind, and then there’s another kind that is luxury goods, strictly for “elites” from “elite” institutions—however corrupt the latter may be—served tableside by an underpaid servant class.

But the egalitarian view of education and the luxury view are mutually exclusive. Pulling up the drawbridge around your ivory tower only cuts it off from the global commons, which alone can provide the intellectual atmosphere in which a free society, and its academy, can breathe and thrive. Power wants its “meritocracy”: thus the eternal cake-having rhetoric around higher education, the queasy mingling of “exclusivity” and “diversity.”

Note too that the ruling class protects its interests as starkly on the fake left of the centrist Democrats as it does on the right, where the Koch brothers have long bought professors like they were so many cups of coffee. In Jacobin, Liza Featherstone’s … [more]
education  elitism  highered  highereducation  2019  mariabustillos  culture  society  smartness  petebuttigieg  operationvaristyblues  meritocracy  us  capitalism  competition  scarcity  lizafeatherstone  donaldtrump  centrism  herbchildress  academia  colleges  universities  rankings  admissions 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
What Makes a Fair College Admissions Process? | JSTOR Daily
"Move Away from Meritocracy
Nadirah Farah Foley

Especially in the wake of the recent news of a coordinated bribery scheme, many people seem to agree our selective college admissions process is broken. There is far less consensus, however, about why we think it’s broken, and what a better, fairer admissions process would look like. Some think that the process would be fair if it were conducted without special considerations for legacy students, development cases, or athletic recruitment. Others go further, focusing on the myriad mundane ways—aside from bribery and donations—that the system allows privileged people to leverage their resources to secure and perpetuate their advantages. But I contend the process is inherently unfair because it is based on meritocratic principles designed to produce unequal outcomes. A truly fair system would reject meritocratic logics and instead operate on the principle that high-quality education is not a reward for the few, but a right of the many.

Our current process, in which applicants are stratified into a hierarchical higher education landscape, takes a meritocratic ideology as its foundational premise. Meritocracy, the term popularized by British sociologist Michael Young’s 1958 The Rise of the Meritocracy, is typically imagined as a system in which all have equal opportunity to compete on a “level playing field” on the basis of “talent” and “ability,” and all are rewarded equitably based on their “merit.” While this system sounds fair at first blush, a meritocratic ideology poses two problems, either of which should be sufficient cause to critically question it, and perhaps abandon it entirely.

First, upholding meritocracy necessarily entails accepting and upholding inequality. In the case of college admissions, we currently have a system in which some schools have more resources, are more prestigious, and are deemed “better” than others, and those schools have limited seats. We try to allocate those seats “fairly,” on the basis of demonstrated past success and evaluations of future potential. It’s far from a perfect system, but we can rationalize it as ideologically consistent with a meritocratic ideal of equal opportunity and reward for individual talent, effort, and ability. But perhaps, rather than focusing on who “deserves” the “best” schooling, our societal commitment should be to making a high-quality education available to all. Such a commitment would require a rejection of the stratification and inequality presupposed by a meritocratic system and lead us to question whether a stratified society—and assignment to places in an unequal education system—could ever be just.

Second, even if one were inclined to find inequality and stratification acceptable, the reality is that we are so far from the ideals of equal opportunity and a level playing field that the unfairness is glaringly obvious. As sociologist Jonathan Mijs argues, opportunities for demonstrating merit are far from equally distributed. In the United States, where racial residential segregation and local control of schools combine to disproportionately relegate nonwhite (especially black) students to underfunded schools, the claim that anything approaching equal opportunity exists is laughable. Our emphasis on standardized tests, which have roots in racist, ableist, eugenicist science, evinces a narrow understanding of what intelligence is or could be. Holistic admissions evaluations, which provide necessary latitude to consider students’ contexts and lived experiences, also provide privileged applicants another opportunity to show off well-filled extracurricular profiles and essays carefully coached and edited by counselors and consultants. In sum, our current admissions process is—top to bottom—built to misrecognize privilege as “merit,” and thus advantage the already advantaged. To say wealthy white applicants are gaming the system belies the fact that they’re really just playing the game—a game in which only they have full access to the equipment. Perhaps the way to fix this is not to try to change the rules, but to stop playing the meritocratic game entirely.

If that seems a drastic proposal, let me try to convince you it’s a necessary one. We could try to work within the current system, striking the policies that are most obviously and egregiously unfair: legacy, donor admissions, early decision, recruitment of athletes in country club sports. While an improvement, this does nothing to address the fact that even with those components stripped out, the process still falls far short of fairness, because our very metrics of merit are skewed toward privilege. We could try to calibrate for disadvantage, but that’s essentially what holistic evaluation tries to do now—and it’s not enough. Meritocracy is an arms race, one in which the privileged are always better equipped.

We could, as many scholars have proposed, move toward a lottery, which would go a long way toward making explicit the role of luck in college admissions. But I’m concerned by the way some thinkers discuss a potential admissions lottery. Proponents of a lottery often suggest that there should be some baseline level of “merit” in order to enter the lottery. Such a formulation of the lottery doesn’t entail a rejection of our metrics of merit, meaning it would likely reproduce existing inequalities. To avoid that, a lottery would need to not use simple random selection, but instead be carefully calibrated to ensure the resulting class is not just representative of the pool (in which wealthy white students are overrepresented), but of graduating high school students. That could be achieved by assigning different weights to students depending on their background, or by using a form of stratified random selection, in which the applicant pool would be divided into smaller pools based on, for example, demographic factors, and a certain number of students would be accepted at random from each pool.

The lottery is an exciting idea, but one likely to run into legal challenges. And beyond that, it doesn’t do enough to address the unfairness inherent in our unequal education system. I think we need to go a step further than asking what constitutes a fair admissions process, and instead ask what constitutes a fair society. We should recognize that our college admissions process is merely holding a mirror up to our society, reflecting how competitive, individualistic, unequal, and unfair the United States is. A truly radical solution would require the reorganization of our entire class structure and the redistribution of resources, thus obviating the need for such a high-stakes college application process.

It seems that we cling to meritocracy as a way of clinging to some hope of a better life in an increasingly unequal world. But rather than investing our hope in a fairer admissions system, I think we should dream bigger, and invest our hope in a more just society—one in which we live in community rather than competition. That might look like taking up Harvard professor Lani Guinier’s call to emphasize “democratic merit,” or it might look like dispensing with merit—and its attendant acceptance of deserved inequality—entirely.

Everyone deserves access to education. A fair admissions system would have that as a core premise and reject ostensibly just, “meritocratic” inequalities."
juliepark  christineyano  nadirahfarahfoley  2019  admissions  colleges  universities  meritocracy  lottery  collegeadmissions  highered  highereducation  merit  inequality  academia  academics  education  school  schooling  us  firness  laniguinier  democracy  privilege  jonathanmills  race  racism  michaelyoung 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Malcolm Harris: College Admissions Scandal and Capitalism
"The idea that a high-achieving student is doing $100,000 worth of labor a year won’t be surprising to anyone who knows one. Without huge amounts of time and effort beginning at a young age, it’s incredibly hard to pull together the kind of résumé that’s needed in order to stand out to elite and competitive schools. These teens end up putting in so much labor that they are developing their specialized skills to professional levels before they finish high school. In some ways, the unmediated job market has lower standards than the most exclusive colleges do. The best child musicians and scientists and athletes are working very hard, and what they’re doing has value, too. We know it does, because their efforts are worth counterfeiting.

Student labor has a curious character. It’s unpaid, but the idea is that it will be compensated indirectly later. There are tests that are meant to validate kids along the way, including college admissions and ultimately the job market. A higher grade (in the broader but also in the specific, academic sense) is supposed to lead to a higher wage down the line, something everyone understands implicitly. The value from all that childhood work has to go somewhere; we can think of that place as a sort of internal battery that stores human capital, the skills and abilities that we put to work when we go to work. Counterfeit human capital is what William H. Macy and Mossimo Giannulli were allegedly buying for their kids: the appearance of skills and abilities that didn’t actually exist.

Human capital is an odd commodity because it’s inalienable. You can’t sell your ability to do 100 push-ups or your starting position on the soccer team or your Yale diploma. That means that workers can’t really be said to own their human capital, since it’s not transferable. It’s an abstract substance that can be weighed and compared, but also a relationship between workers and owners — that’s why companies can use it in place of “human resources.” Human capital belongs to workers, but only to be managed and exploited by employers. To monetize their abilities, workers need someone to hire or invest in them. (The number of workers who are able to save up their wages in order to start their own businesses is much smaller than we’re led to believe, and shrinking.) There is no fixed correlation between the accumulation of human capital and pay. You get paid to work, not to be smart.

Because no one is on the hook for compensating any particular young person for their hard work, there’s no reason to set a limit on how much of it they should do. The random distribution of talents and passions and the very predictable distribution of resources have left students with any number of ways to differentiate themselves from each other in the eyes of graders. An arms race arises as students are encouraged to try their hardest, to reach their full potentials, to use every advantage they have. We can see the scale of it in the forged applications: The aforementioned Yale admit claimed to be a nationally ranked soccer player in China, a nation of 1.4 billion people. The admissions committee had no reason not to believe it; I’m sure they see genuine applications like that all the time. There’s always someone who can try a little harder and stay up a bit later or whose parents can pay more. The level of competition gets higher and higher, and theoretically that’s great — as long as everyone eventually finds a job that will repay the investments they’ve made in their own capacities. You can see the problem.

The best thing you can do for your own future employment prospects is to invest in your human capital: learn to code or speak Mandarin or captain your sports team or whatever else the Aspen crowd wants from us this week. Training according to guesses about the notoriously unreliable future demands of rich people is not particularly fun, and it’s obvious why their own kids can’t be bothered. But most of us have to try, and there arises a supply-and-demand problem: If everyone teaches themselves to code and the supply of human capital goes up, it’s suddenly very easy for employers to find coders, and the demand (read: pay) goes down. What’s advantageous for the individual is self-defeating for the class.

The result is workers who have not only taken on an average of tens of thousands of dollars in educational debt, but have also put in what we can now understand as hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars’ worth of unpaid labor. Taking no responsibility for this situation, employers have used the flood of overqualified workers to lower job quality, sometimes so far as to stumble onto the wrong side of America’s meager labor laws. That leaves young people who had planned on higher-quality jobs (as they were told to) underwater on their own human capital. Having invested more in effort and money than their work can command on the market, they’re not in possession of distressed assets; they are the distressed assets. And they’re stuck with themselves.

I can’t speak to why people who will never have to work in their lives care about getting fancy degrees, but I know why everyone else does. As the distance between the rich and the rest increases, the stakes of childhood go up too. Failure at one of the crucial steps (like college admissions) means taking a loss on your investment in yourself, which is extremely depressing. Everyone is compelled to work harder to try to avoid that fate, except the business owners and landlords, who just have to pay higher bribes — which they can afford to do because all those people who are working harder are, in one way or another, working for them. Depending on whether or not you own the means of production, it’s all a virtuous or vicious cycle. For most of us, it’s the latter."
malcolmharris  2019  labor  education  schools  schooling  colleges  universities  admissions  collegeadmissions  children  work  capitalism  exploitation  competition  highereducation  highered  debt  unpaidlabor  humancapital 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Actresses, Business Leaders and Other Wealthy Parents Charged in U.S. College Entry Fraud - The New York Times
[using this bookmark as a placeholder for many links on this topic:

"Varsity Blues and the Destructive Myth of Meritocracy"
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/183433523388/varsity-blues-and-the-destructive-myth-of

"Inside the audacious college scheme to get kids of the rich and famous into elite schools"
https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-college-admission-scheme-varsity-blues-20190312-story.html

"The College Bribery Scam Reveals How Rich People Use 'Charity' to Cheat
Anand Giridharadas explains how alleged payoffs to test takers and athletic coaches are part of a larger ecosystem of elite hypocrisy."
https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/panw7g/the-college-bribery-scam-shows-how-rich-people-felicity-huffman-lori-loughlin-allegedly-use-charity-to-cheat

"All College Admissions Are a Pay-to-Play Scandal"
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/college-admissions-bribery-scandal-felicity-huffman-loughlin-analysis-explained.html

"One of Silicon Valley’s most prominent voices for ethical investing is implicated in a college admissions bribery scandal"
https://www.recode.net/2019/3/12/18262003/bill-mcglashan-college-admissions-scandal-tpg-stanford-usc-yale

"What the role of one Silicon Valley entrepreneur reveals about the college admissions scandal"
https://twitter.com/i/events/1105618857320865792

"The unfortunate reality behind meritocracy"
https://dellsystem.me/posts/fragments-71

"College Admission Scam Involved Photoshopping Rich Kids’ Heads Onto Athletes’ Bodies"
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/college-admissions-scandal-kids-photoshopped-as-athletes.html

"Two CEOs. A wine magnate. A doctor: The Bay Area parents charged in a college bribe scandal"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Two-CEOs-A-wine-magnate-A-doctor-The-Bay-Area-13683029.php

"Why the College-Admissions Scandal Is So Absurd: For the parents charged in a new FBI investigation, crime was a cheaper and simpler way to get their kids into elite schools than the typical advantages wealthy applicants receive."
https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/03/college-admissions-scandal-fbi-targets-wealthy-parents/584695/

"In the college admissions game, even the legal kind, money has always mattered"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/In-the-college-admissions-game-even-the-legal-13683518.php

"Fifty charged in massive college admissions scheme"
https://www.msnbc.com/all-in/watch/fifty-charged-in-massive-college-admissions-scheme-1456907331756

"Bribes to Get Into Yale and Stanford? What Else Is New?: A new college admissions scandal is just the latest proof of a grossly uneven playing field."
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/12/opinion/college-bribery-admissions.html

"Bribery ringleader said he helped 750 families in admissions scheme"
https://www.axios.com/william-singer-college-bribery-fraud-scheme-d769eb2c-dfb2-4ea0-99f3-8135241c5984.html

"College admission scandal grew out of a system that was ripe for corruption"
https://theconversation.com/college-admission-scandal-grew-out-of-a-system-that-was-ripe-for-corruption-113439

"College Admissions Scandal Exposes Moral Rot at the Heart of US Plutocracy"
https://nonprofitquarterly.org/2019/03/13/college-admissions-scandal-exposes-moral-rot-at-the-heart-of-us-plutocracy/



Additional articles and resource predating the scandal, but relevant to the topic.

[syllabus] "Reconsidering Merit(ocracy)In K-12, Higher Education, and Beyond"
https://www.nadirahfarahfoley.com/reconsidering-meritocracy

"guest post: “legacy” admissions vs familial capital and the importance of precision"
https://scatter.wordpress.com/2017/09/02/guest-post-legacy-admissions-vs-familial-capital-and-the-importance-of-precision/

"Against Meritocracy: Culture, power and myths of mobility"
https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781317496045

"The Unfulfillable Promise of Meritocracy: Three Lessons and their Implications for Justice in Education"
https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/6w9rg/

"A Radical Plan to Combat Inequality in College Admissions: It's time universities began to think of themselves as producers of value, not arbiters of merit."
https://psmag.com/education/a-radical-plan-to-combat-inequality-in-college-admissions

"Racial Literacy as a Curricular Requirement: A core curriculum must be institutionalized and mandated for all students, argues Daisy Verduzco Reyes."
https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/03/08/colleges-should-have-required-core-curriculum-racial-literacy-opinion

"'I'm Tired Of Justifying My Admissions Letter To People'"
https://www.wbur.org/edify/2019/02/25/affirmative-action-self-advocacy

"White parents are enabling school segregation — if it doesn't hurt their own kids
This is what happens when anti-racism is no longer a major goal of educational policy."
https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/white-parents-are-enabling-school-segregation-if-it-doesn-t-ncna978446

"White progressive parents and the conundrum of privilege"
https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-hagerman-white-parents-20180930-story.html

"How Elite Schools Stay So White"
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/24/opinion/affirmative-action-new-york-harvard.html ]
colleges  universities  admissions  privilege  wealth  inequality  varsityblues  scandals  legacy  legacyadmissions  race  racism  power  meritocracy  bribery  elitism  siliconvalley  charitableindustrialcomplex  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  anandgiridharadas  margarethagerman  noahberlatsky  nadirahfarahfoley  2019  education  parenting  economics  class  cheating  sats  testing  standardizedtesting  daisyverduzcoreyes  us  competitiveness  worth  value  merit  competition  motivation 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
Want to Learn How the World Sees Your College? Look on YouTube - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"Informal platforms like YouTube or Reddit help students demystify the application and admissions process, said Kevin Martin, a former admissions counselor at the University of Texas at Austin who runs an admissions-consulting business.

Videos uploaded by college students offer an authentic lens into student life and campus culture, which are helpful for high schoolers looking to visualize themselves on a specific campus.

"I'm honestly surprised at the amount of not only students but also parents who would go to YouTube to find information," said Martin, who also runs a YouTube channel titled "UT Admissions Guy." "Students who would often fall through the cracks or don't have access to traditional counseling resources are turning to social media for information."

Keri Nguyen, a Florida high-school senior, even applied to a few colleges she felt were a reach for her academic record because of the YouTube videos she watched."YouTubers, like Rowan Born [from the University of Southern California], made me feel better about the college-application process, because as someone who doesn't have the best test scores or grades compared to some of my peers, I felt very discouraged," Nguyen said."
colleges  universities  trends  admissions  youtube  highered  highereducation  education  srg 
january 2019 by robertogreco
The Acceptance Rate Of Elite US Colleges From 2015 To 2018, Visualized - Digg
"If you have your heart set on getting into an Ivy League school these days, then we have some bad news for you: it's definitely not going to be an easy ride.

As the number of applications for prestigious colleges has risen — thanks in part to the emergence of Common Application, a process that allows students to apply to multiple schools with ease, and the increase of international applicants — acceptance rates for the elite colleges of the US have declined quite sharply in the past few years. In fact, this year, with the exception of Yale, all Ivy League schools produced the lowest acceptance rates in their respective histories.

To get a better idea of how admission rates have declined in the most selective colleges in the US, we can look to this graph made by Hunter Blakewell of Ivy Academic Coach, which charts the changes in acceptance rates of elite colleges from 2015 to 2018. The 43 colleges included in this chart are academic institutions that had an acceptance rate of less than 20% in 2018.

As you can see, there has been a noticeable decrease in acceptance rates among the majority of elite colleges in the US. Some are more minimal decreases. For instance, Stanford, the most selective school in the US, only saw its acceptance rate drop from 5.04% in 2015 to 4.36% this year.

New York University, on the other hand, has had one of the most drastic drops in admission rates. According to Ivy Academic Coach, NYU's admission rate dropped from 32% in 2016 to merely 19% in 2018, an over-40% decrease within the span of two years.

The drop in acceptance rates among the US's elite colleges is a worrying trend. Although there are studies that show attendance at an elite college may bear little relationship with a person's long-term earnings, further research has clarified that going to an Ivy League school matters less when you're a rich, white man — but if you're a woman or a minority, attendance at an elite university still has a palpable effect on your future income."
colleges  universities  admissions  anxiety  selectivity  2018  visualization  srg  edg  highered  highereducation  ivyleague  elitism  education 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Does It Matter Where You Go to College? - The Atlantic
"Research suggests that elite colleges don’t really help rich white guys. But they can have a big effect if you’re not rich, not white, or not a guy."


"These findings send three different messages to three different parties.

First, to high-strung affluent parents, well-compensated counselors, and other members of the elite-admissions industrial complex: Just relax, okay? You are inflicting on American teenagers a ludicrous amount of pointless anxiety. Even if you subscribe to the dubious idea that young people ought to maximize for vocational prestige and income, the research suggests that elite colleges are not critical to achieving those ends. In the aggregate, individual characteristics swamp institutional characteristics. It’s more important to be hardworking and curious than to receive a certain thick envelope.

Second, to academics researching the benefits of college: Keep working. The robust debate over the benefits of attending an elite college lives concentrically within a larger conversation about whether college is worth it in the first place. It’s critical—to not only the country’s economic future, but hundreds of millions of individual Americans’ futures—that we learn more about how and why college matters, so that it can help the right people.

Third, to admissions officers of elite colleges: Do better. America’s most selective colleges can, it seems, change the lives of minorities and low-income students. But they’re still bastions of privilege. They enroll more students from the top 1 percent of the income scale than the entire bottom 60 percent. In this way, elite institutions are like factories of social mobility being used as storage facilities for privilege; they have the potential to use their space to manufacture opportunity at scale, but mostly they clear out real estate for the already rich, who are going to be fine, anyway. In America today, high-income parents are desperate to find the right colleges for their kids. It should be the opposite: The highest-income colleges should be desperate to find the right kids for their seats."
derekthompson  colleges  universities  data  education  highered  highereducation  admissions  addedvalue  anxiety  parenting  competition  inequality  academia 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Educational Tyranny of the Neurotypicals | WIRED
"Ben Draper, who runs the Macomber Center for Self Directed Learning, says that while the center is designed for all types of children, kids whose parents identify them as on the autism spectrum often thrive at the center when they’ve had difficulty in conventional schools. Ben is part of the so-called unschooling movement, which believes that not only should learning be self-directed, in fact we shouldn't even focus on guiding learning. Children will learn in the process of pursuing their passions, the reasoning goes, and so we just need to get out of their way, providing support as needed.

Many, of course, argue that such an approach is much too unstructured and verges on irresponsibility. In retrospect, though, I feel I certainly would have thrived on “unschooling.” In a recent paper, Ben and my colleague Andre Uhl, who first introduced me to unschooling, argue that it not only works for everyone, but that the current educational system, in addition to providing poor learning outcomes, impinges on the rights of children as individuals.

MIT is among a small number of institutions that, in the pre-internet era, provided a place for non-neurotypical types with extraordinary skills to gather and form community and culture. Even MIT, however, is still trying to improve to give these kids the diversity and flexibility they need, especially in our undergraduate program.

I'm not sure how I'd be diagnosed, but I was completely incapable of being traditionally educated. I love to learn, but I go about it almost exclusively through conversations and while working on projects. I somehow kludged together a world view and life with plenty of struggle, but also with many rewards. I recently wrote a PhD dissertation about my theory of the world and how I developed it. Not that anyone should generalize from my experience—one reader of my dissertation said that I’m so unusual, I should be considered a "human sub-species." While I take that as a compliment, I think there are others like me who weren’t as lucky and ended up going through the traditional system and mostly suffering rather than flourishing. In fact, most kids probably aren’t as lucky as me and while some types are more suited for success in the current configuration of society, a huge percentage of kids who fail in the current system have a tremendous amount to contribute that we aren’t tapping into.

In addition to equipping kids for basic literacy and civic engagement, industrial age schools were primarily focused on preparing kids to work in factories or perform repetitive white-collar jobs. It may have made sense to try to convert kids into (smart) robotlike individuals who could solve problems on standardized tests alone with no smartphone or the internet and just a No. 2 pencil. Sifting out non-neurotypical types or trying to remediate them with drugs or institutionalization may have seemed important for our industrial competitiveness. Also, the tools for instruction were also limited by the technology of the times. In a world where real robots are taking over many of those tasks, perhaps we need to embrace neurodiversity and encourage collaborative learning through passion, play, and projects, in other words, to start teaching kids to learn in ways that machines can’t. We can also use modern technology for connected learning that supports diverse interests and abilities and is integrated into our lives and communities of interest.

At the Media Lab, we have a research group called Lifelong Kindergarten, and the head of the group, Mitchel Resnick, recently wrote a book by the same name. The book is about the group’s research on creative learning and the four Ps—Passion, Peers, Projects, and Play. The group believes, as I do, that we learn best when we are pursuing our passion and working with others in a project-based environment with a playful approach. My memory of school was "no cheating,” “do your own work,” "focus on the textbook, not on your hobbies or your projects," and "there’s time to play at recess, be serious and study or you'll be shamed"—exactly the opposite of the four Ps.

Many mental health issues, I believe, are caused by trying to “fix” some type of neurodiversity or by simply being insensitive or inappropriate for the person. Many mental “illnesses” can be “cured” by providing the appropriate interface to learning, living, or interacting for that person focusing on the four Ps. My experience with the educational system, both as its subject and, now, as part of it, is not so unique. I believe, in fact, that at least the one-quarter of people who are diagnosed as somehow non-neurotypical struggle with the structure and the method of modern education. People who are wired differently should be able to think of themselves as the rule, not as an exception."
neurotypicals  neurodiversity  education  schools  schooling  learning  inequality  elitism  meritocracy  power  bias  diversity  autism  psychology  stevesilberman  schooliness  unschooling  deschooling  ronsuskind  mentalhealth  mitchresnick  mit  mitemedialab  medialab  lifelongkindergarten  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  pedagogy  tyranny  2018  economics  labor  bendraper  flexibility  admissions  colleges  universities  joiito 
november 2018 by robertogreco
We can’t educate our kids out of inequality
"Those who tout the advantages of a good education like to conjure an image of some future society full of educated professionals all working stable, fulfilling, and salaried jobs. But even the worst students can look around the world and see through this. They can see the economic instability facing most people, and they know that a good education won’t undo the vagaries of the gig economy, or replace the protections of a union. But, they’re told, if you do well enough in school, then hopefully you won’t have to worry about that stuff.

This false promise was more disheartening that any other realization I had while working with students. Unfair tests, confusing admissions policies, unequal schools — all that is bad but sadly unsurprising, so you can prepare yourself for it. On the other hand, I was not prepared to lie to students about how, if they just figured out trig functions, then everything would be OK.

Education fetishism gives the illusion of fairness to society’s inequalities. Grades and test scores and college rankings mirror the stratification of the economy, and apply a thin veneer of meritocracy to that hierarchy. What students internalize about school is that it is primarily about ranking people. So attempts to improve education are really attempts to make those rankings more accurate, instead of making them less determinative. As long as this is true, then education is not really the solution to society’s problems. Even bold steps to improve schools and bring down college costs will not fix the problem of inequality, since status and sorting are also the results of education in America.

None of this is to say that education is bad or that schools should not be improved for their own sake. Learning things, after all, is fun. Education is great when it’s about teaching people stuff they want to know. But because school has to serve this burden of fixing social problems it is not equipped to fix, it cannot simply teach students interesting things they want to learn. Students should learn trig functions because they are an elegant solution to a complicated problem. They should read Hamlet because it’s a good play. They should learn things because there is value in learning them.

Instead, educators have to rend these subjects apart, breaking them into supposedly marketable skills like “reading comprehension” and “analytical reasoning” so that they can be used to demonstrate a student’s market value and justify patently unjust economic outcomes. As long as this is the case, then not only will inequality fail to get better, but education will continue to get worse. Instead of insisting we can educate ourselves out of the social problems capitalism creates, we should learn something new."



"This false promise was more disheartening that any other realization I had while working with students. Unfair tests, confusing admissions policies, unequal schools — all that is bad but sadly unsurprising, so you can prepare yourself for it. On the other hand, I was not prepared to lie to students about how, if they just figured out trig functions, then everything would be OK.

Education fetishism gives the illusion of fairness to society’s inequalities. Grades and test scores and college rankings mirror the stratification of the economy, and apply a thin veneer of meritocracy to that hierarchy. What students internalize about school is that it is primarily about ranking people. So attempts to improve education are really attempts to make those rankings more accurate, instead of making them less determinative. As long as this is true, then education is not really the solution to society’s problems. Even bold steps to improve schools and bring down college costs will not fix the problem of inequality, since status and sorting are also the results of education in America.

None of this is to say that education is bad or that schools should not be improved for their own sake. Learning things, after all, is fun. Education is great when it’s about teaching people stuff they want to know. But because school has to serve this burden of fixing social problems it is not equipped to fix, it cannot simply teach students interesting things they want to learn. Students should learn trig functions because they are an elegant solution to a complicated problem. They should read Hamlet because it’s a good play. They should learn things because there is value in learning them.

Instead, educators have to rend these subjects apart, breaking them into supposedly marketable skills like “reading comprehension” and “analytical reasoning” so that they can be used to demonstrate a student’s market value and justify patently unjust economic outcomes. As long as this is the case, then not only will inequality fail to get better, but education will continue to get worse. Instead of insisting we can educate ourselves out of the social problems capitalism creates, we should learn something new."
education  inequality  tutoring  schools  2018  hierarchy  economics  admissions  class  meritocracy  sorting  johnschneider  schooling  society  capitalism  gigeconomy  colleges  universities  grades  grading  learning  deschooling  unions  socialsafetynet  testing  bias 
november 2018 by robertogreco
How I Know You Wrote Your Kid’s College Essay - The New York Times
[not quoting the article here, but adding this response from Phoebe Maltz Bovy:
https://twitter.com/tweetertation/status/1049271068064534529

"Where to begin? Maybe where commenters do: why is someone who *edited college admissions essays for pay* lecturing parents on the inauthenticity + unfairness of parents helping kids with theirs?

But also: no “henceforth” (or any other word) isn’t a definitive tell that a 17-year-old got help writing something. But that’s kind of the least of it. The real problem is the admissions essay itself in its current purpose

It’s not a writing sample. It’s not a cover letter. It’s... well, the linked article explains quite well what it is, but unfortunately celebrates it while doing so

"So the good news is: The college essay is the purest part of the application." With purity meaning what, in this context?

Purity as in, *who the applicant truly is as a person*, something colleges go through this whole ritual of pretending 1) that they can figure out via a short (and maybe ghostwritten) essay) and 2) that it's remotely their place ethically to determine

"In fact, a good test of a college essay is: Can the writer convince the reader that she would make a great roommate?" Meaning, "Are you any fun?" Again, the two questions: 1) *can* colleges even assess "fun" from these things, and 2) should as-a-person-ness even enter into this?

What would be the great tragedy if - if the US finds regional-colleges-for-all too bleak or foreign - the assessment really were based on tangibles? (Could be grades, scores, extracurriculars, demographics, could even take into account special circumstances) and not As-A-Person?

Colleges both logistically can't *and shouldn't pretend to* know who applicants are as people, and it's so bonkers that assessment is at all based on how charming (to adults) someone comes across in an essay (that someone else maybe wrote)

The application should be understood by all parties as just that: an application for admission to a school or, if common-app, multiple schools. That's all it is, no more, no less. It's not a Human Worthiness test.

I've written on this before and named the problem as "holistic" assessment. But in a way, that's not even it. Keep "holistic," fine! But be clear that it's holistic assessment *of college applicants* and not *of applicants as human beings*"]

[my addition to that:
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/1051555285020495873

"👏 to this response thread. There is no “purity” in the admissions process, not even in the essays as the oped claims. This “authenticity” business is just the latest gaming of the hyper-corrupted process in the favor of those that have more."]
colleges  universities  admissions  2018  phoebemaltzbovy  parenting  elitism  highered  highereducation  education  collegecounseling  purity  authenticity  inequality 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Admit Everybody | Current Affairs
"There are two conclusions here, one of which I agree with and one of which I find objectionable. The conclusion I agree with is that the SAT may be the “least bad” of three options for competitive admissions, when compared with using grades or Mushy Holistic Factors, and that therefore eliminating the SAT alone won’t in and of itself produce greater equality and could backfire. (I even have a certain soft spot for the SAT because it enabled me, a person who didn’t know any of the weird upper-class “holistic” signals that impress colleges, to go to a good college.) But the conclusion I disagree with is that this somehow makes a “progressive case for the SAT,” or that we should “defend the SAT.” This is the same logic that causes people like Nicholas Kristof to argue that because sweatshops are supposedly better than farm labor, there is a progressive case for sweatshops and we should defend them. This is one of the differences between liberalism and leftism: liberalism argues for the least bad of several bad options, while leftism insists on having a better set of options.

It’s the talk about “powerful ways” to “distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack” that troubles me. My concern is about what happens to the rest of the pack! As my acquaintance Patrick Conner put it, the difference between meritocracy and socialism is “I don’t want everyone to have a fair shot at the 15% of non-shitty lives, I want everyone to have a decent life.” Instead of arguing for the least-unfair version of the brutally competitive war of all-against-all that is the contemporary college admissions system, the progressive case should be that we ought to have an actual fair admissions system.

In other words: just admit everybody. The whole “competitive” nature of undergraduate admissions is absurd to begin with, and the very fact that students are sorted according to “merit” is socially corrosive. Let’s face it: college isn’t like brain surgery or social work. People’s lives aren’t in your hands. Instead of finding the “top ten best people” we should be selecting “anyone who has proved they are capable of doing the expected work.” Competitive admissions are as irrational as grading curves. With a grading curve, only X percent of the class will get As on their papers, even if every single person in the class wrote an excellent paper, which forces you to start making silly and arbitrary distinctions in a contrived effort to pit the students against each other. The better way to grade is by developing a standard independently and giving students a qualification if they meet the standard. Here’s the admissions parallel: everyone who shows themselves capable of doing the work required of a Harvard undergrad is marked “qualified” for Harvard and allowed to apply. There are a limited number of places, of course, but those places will be filled by selecting a random group of students from among all of those marked “qualified.” You might still get a very low percentage of applicants admitted because space is limited, but it won’t be because those applicants have been deemed worthier, it will be because the lottery happened to favor them.

My vision of universities is as a place where anybody can come and learn, so long as they can do the work. Now, you could argue that at elite schools, the work is so hard that only a few people would be qualified to do it. That’s false, though. I have been a TF at Harvard, so I am acquainted with the level of rigor in the undergraduate curriculum, and it’s obvious that vastly more students than the 4.8% they actually admit are capable of passing the courses. In fact, possibly the majority of the applicants could do fine. We know that college admissions are a crapshoot. But let’s just make them an actual crapshoot, so that nobody would be deluded into thinking that merit was involved, beyond the merit of basic literacy and numeracy.

We might have a different system at the graduate level, where higher levels of specialized skill are required. But I think the same principle should be followed: set a clear standard for the minimum a student needs to be able to do. Make that standard public, so that everybody knows that if they can do X they will have the same shot at being admitted to a program as anybody else. Then choose at random from among those who have met the basic standard.

Alright, so you can probably come up with half a dozen criticisms of this system, the way you can criticize the idea of a randomly-selected congress or a jury trial. Colleges will raise the “basic standard” to unrealistic levels and thus recreate a highly-competitive admissions system, and Harvard will start pretending that you need to be able to do calculus in order to muddle your way to a Bachelor of Arts there. (You don’t.) As long as you still have underlying social and economic inequalities, you can’t actually have an equal system, because everything will reflect those inequalities until we get rid of them. Rich parents will always find ways to make sure their children get more than other children. This is part of Freddie’s point, and he is right: instead of fixing the admissions system you have to fix the economic system, because you can’t isolate the one from the other. It’s an important point, but it doesn’t amount to a defense of the “meritocracy” illusion or the concept of “distinguishing from the rest of the pack.” And the left’s education experts should be devising practical alternatives to meritocracy rather than slightly-less-awful versions of it.

We should always be clear on what the goal is: a world in which we don’t all have to fight each other all the time, where we can work together in solidarity rather than having to wage war against our friends for the privilege of having a good job. There is no reason why everyone shouldn’t have equal access to the highest-quality education, and in a properly organized society it would be perfectly simple to provide it. We don’t need “best” and “worst” universities, ranked from top to bottom, we just need “universities,” places where people go to explore human knowledge and acquire the skills that enable them to do things that need doing. Progressive education means an end to the illusion of meritocratic competition, an end to the SAT, and the realization of a vision of equal education for all."
sat  standardizedtesting  testing  nathanrobinson  2018  freddiedeboer  bias  elitism  inequality  meritocracy  liberalism  leftism  progressive  patrickconner  socialism  competition  selectivity  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  admissions  education  ranking  society  merit  fairness  egalitarianism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Competition Is Ruining Childhood. The Kids Should Fight Back. - The New York Times
"Like the crack of a starting pistol, November begins the official college application season. But for students, this race started long ago.

Many of today’s kids have lived their entire lives, from sunup until midnight, in a fierce tournament with their peers. (I was one of them. A decade after graduation, I still can’t think of a period when I’ve worked harder than in high school.) From kindergarten to 12th grade, schools brag about how “competitive” they are. That means it’s not enough for students to do their best. Whether in the classroom, on the athletic field or at home on the computer, they must always be better. Youth has become a debilitating endurance test.

The thing is, we don’t even really know what we are racing for, much less how to tone down the competition. And most people don’t seem to be benefiting from this frantic contest, either as students or as adult workers. Americans are improving themselves, but the rewards keep flowing uphill to the 1 percent.

Everyone tells students that the harder they work to develop their job skills — their “human capital” — the better off they will be. It’s not true. In fact, the result is the opposite: more and better educated workers, earning less.

An analysis in September of Census Bureau data by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank, found that between 2000 and 2016 — years when many millennials first entered the job market — there was “little to no gain” in median annual earnings. This isn’t some limited fallout from the 2008 financial crisis; it’s a different type of phenomenon and part of a longer trend of wage stagnation that reaches back to the 1970s.

Educational achievement, on the other hand, follows a different trend. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over the same period (2000 to 2016), the percentage of young people with a high school diploma or its equivalent passed 90 percent for the first time. In the same period, the portion of graduates seeking and obtaining both two- and four-year degrees increased consistently, and the percentage of people ages 25 to 29 with postgraduate degrees jumped to 9 percent from 5.

And this cohort of young Americans hasn’t only put in the classroom work — to say nothing of extracurricular activities and internships. This cohort of young Americans has also taken on incomprehensible amounts of debt in order to do it.

Despite what we’ve heard, money isn’t a reward America hands out for hard work. Not only is more education not leading to higher wages, there isn’t even a positive correlation between the two. If anything, the flood of human capital puts employers in a position to offer workers a shrinking slice of the pie and get more in return. Kids are getting conned. I got conned, too.

If enough students manage to master cutting-edge job skills, it will be great for the “economy,” but as workers they will find themselves rewarded with lower wages. The dynamic may seem counterintuitive but not totally unexpected. In the ’70s, the economist Gary Becker theorized that employers would shift the costs of developing human capital onto workers, from paid on-the-job training to unpaid schooling. He figured that, though they need skilled labor, corporations would be disinclined to pay for training since other companies could then lure away “their” human capital.

As training left the factory and the office for the classroom, it also meant that work could be shifted to children, who are mostly not eligible for wage labor but can, it turns out, do a whole lot of school. If firms want workers who can speak Mandarin or code Python, why should they pay trainees to learn when they can scare kids into training themselves? Within this system, all an individual kid can do is try to put a sufficient number of their peers between themselves and poverty.

There are some winners, but the real champions are the corporate owners: They get their pick from all the qualified applicants, and the oversupply of human capital keeps labor costs down. Competition between workers means lower wages for them and higher profits for their bosses: The more teenagers who learn to code, the cheaper one is.

The struggle for success has heavy financial and psychological costs for the participants. Constant competition has affected how young Americans see themselves in relation to the world. That’s why the United States has measured huge increases in youth anxiety and depression, as well as a sharp decline in social trust. If kids are told to find comfort in the idea that they are sacrificing their mental health now for security in adulthood, they are being tricked once more.

At the end of their journey into adulthood they aren’t reimbursed for their efforts. And in this winner-take-all economy, most of them just lose. They can’t increase the size of Harvard’s freshman class just by working harder; all they can do is drive one another to anxiety, depression, paranoia and exhaustion. That, and save money for their future bosses.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The kids don’t have to keep getting conned.

This system may work for a small number of bosses and shareholders, but it’s not in the interest of education in a broad, exploratory sense — and it’s clearly not in the interests of young people themselves. But even though older adults are ostensibly worried about the kids, policymakers will never scale back academic competition, and most educators and parents are understandably loath to tell children, “Don’t work so hard.”

If change is going to come, it should come from students, in the classroom.

As individuals, students have no choice but to compete. But together, there’s no telling what kind of power they could exercise. They face an age-old collective action problem, but they are smart. Schools can’t run without students, and the economy can’t run without schools; their work matters, and they can withdraw it.

Unions aren’t just good for wage workers. Students can use collective bargaining, too. The idea of organizing student labor when even auto factory workers are having trouble holding onto their unions may sound outlandish, but young people have been at the forefront of conflicts over police brutality, immigrant rights and sexual violence. In terms of politics, they are as tightly clustered as just about any demographic in America. They are an important social force in this country, one we need right now.

It’s in students’ shared interest to seek later start times for the school day to combat the epidemic of insufficient sleep among high schoolers. It’s in their shared interest to improve their mental health by reducing competition. They could start by demanding an end to class rank or a cap on the number of Advanced Placement courses each student can take per year. It’s in their shared interest to make life easier and lower the stakes of childhood in general. Only young people, united, can improve their working conditions and end the academic arms race."
mlcolmharris  2017  children  competition  schools  schooling  homework  education  unions  organization  childhood  admissions  humancapital  achievement  economics  garybecker  sfsh  work  labor  wagelabor  corporatism  depression  paranoia  exhaustion  exploration  violence  us  policy  capitalism 
november 2017 by robertogreco
[Readings] | The Working Classroom, by Malcolm Harris | Harper's Magazine
"The main thing is that twenty-first-century American kids are required to work more than their predecessors. This generation is raised on problem-solving to the exclusion of play. Authorities from the Brookings Institution to Time magazine have called for an end to summer vacation and the imposition of year-round compulsory schooling. But the possible downsides of this trade-off are almost never discussed.

Parents, teachers, policymakers, and employers are all so worried that children won’t “meet the demands of a changing world” that they don’t bother asking what kids are expected to do to meet those demands, and what problems they’re being equipped to solve. The anxious frenzy that surrounds the future has come to function as an excuse for the choices adults make for kids."



"This sort of intensive training isn’t just for the children of intellectuals; the theory behind the rhetoric advocating universal college attendance is that any and all kids should aspire to this level of work. College admissions have become the focus not only of secondary schooling but of contemporary American childhood writ large. The sad truth, however, is that college admissions are designed to funnel young adults onto different tracks, not to validate hard work. A jump in the number of Harvard-caliber students doesn’t have a corresponding effect on the size of the school’s freshman class. Instead, it allows the university to become even more selective and to raise prices, to stock up on geniuses and rich kids. This is the central problem with an education system designed to create the most human capital possible: an increase in ability within a competitive system doesn’t advantage all individuals.

In a world where every choice is an investment, growing up becomes a complex exercise in risk management. The more capital new employees already have when they enter the labor market, the less risky it is for their employers. Over time, firms have an incentive, as the economist Gary Becker put it, to “shift training costs to trainees.” If an employer pays to train workers, what’s to stop another company from luring them away once they’re skilled? The second firm could offer a signing bonus that costs less than the training and still benefit. Paying to train a worker is risky, and risk costs money. As American capitalism advanced, the training burden fell to the state, and then to families and kids themselves.

Childhood risk is less and less about death, illness, or grievous bodily harm and more and more about future prospects. But if it is every parent’s task to raise at least one successful American by America’s own standards, then the system is rigged so that most of them will fail. The ranks of the American elite are not infinitely expandable; in fact, they’re shrinking. Given that reality, parents are told that their children’s choices, actions, and accomplishments have lasting consequences. The Harley Avenue letter is merely one of the more dramatic examples of this fearmongering. With parental love as a guide, risk management has become risk elimination.

By looking at children as investments, it’s possible to see where the product of children’s labor is stored: in their human capital. It’s a kid’s job to stay eligible for the labor market (and not in jail, insane, or dead). Any work beyond that adds to their résumé. If more human capital automatically led to a higher standard of living, this model could be the foundation for an American meritocracy. But millennials’ extra work hasn’t earned them the promised higher standard of living. By every metric, this generation is the most educated in American history, yet its members are worse off economically than their parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. Every authority from moms to presidents told millennials to accumulate as much human capital as they could; they did, but the market hasn’t held up its end of the bargain. What gives?

As it turns out, just because you can produce an unprecedented amount of value doesn’t necessarily mean you can feed yourself under twenty-first-century American capitalism. Kids spend their childhoods investing the only thing they have: their effort, their attention, their days and nights, their labor time. (And, sometimes, a large chunk of whatever money their parents may have.) If the purpose of all this labor, all the lost play, all the hours doing unpleasant tasks, isn’t to ensure a good life for the kids doing the work, if it isn’t in the “interests of all children,” then what is it for?

When you ask most adults what any kid in particular should do with the next part of her life, the advice will generally include pursuing higher education. As the only sanctioned path, college admissions becomes a well-structured, high-stakes simulation of a worker’s entry into the labor market. Applicants inventory their achievements, being careful not to underestimate them, and present them in the most attractive package possible.

Then, using the data carefully and anxiously prepared by millions of kids about the human capital they’ve accumulated over the previous eighteen years, higher education institutions make decisions: collectively evaluating, accepting, and cutting hopeful children in tranches like collateralized debt obligations that are then sorted among the institutions according to their own rankings (for which they compete aggressively, of course). It is not the first time children are weighed, but it is the most comprehensive and often the most directly consequential. College admissions offices are rating agencies. Once the kid-bond is rated, it has four or so years until it’s expected to produce a return."
malcolmharris  education  colleges  universities  admissions  2017  children  childhood  meritocracy  capitalism  neoliberalism  economics  labor  work  competition  inequality  highered  highereducation  sfsh  homework  purpose  training  unschooling  deschooling  risk  value  fear  fearmongering  parenting  riskmanagement 
october 2017 by robertogreco
How U.S. News college rankings promote economic inequality on campus
"Once ladders of social mobility, universities increasingly reinforce existing wealth, fueling a backlash that helped elect Donald Trump."



"America’s universities are getting two report cards this year. The first, from the Equality of Opportunity Project, brought the shocking revelation that many top universities, including Princeton and Yale, admit more students from the top 1 percent of earners than the bottom 60 percent combined. The second, from U.S. News and World Report, is due on Tuesday — with Princeton and Yale among the contenders for the top spot in the annual rankings.

The two are related: A POLITICO review shows that the criteria used in the U.S. News rankings — a measure so closely followed in the academic world that some colleges have built them into strategic plans — create incentives for schools to favor wealthier students over less wealthy applicants.

Those criteria often serve as unofficial guidelines for some colleges’ admission decisions and financial priorities, with a deeply ingrained assumption that the more a school spends — and the more elite its student body — the higher it climbs in the rankings. And that reinforces what many see as a dire situation in American higher education.

“We are creating a permanent underclass in America based on education — something we’ve never had before,” said Brit Kirwan, former chancellor of the University of Maryland system.

For instance, Southern Methodist University in Dallas conducted a billion-dollar fundraising drive devoted to many of the areas ranked by U.S. News, including spending more on faculty and recruiting students with higher SAT scores — and jumped in the rankings. Meanwhile, Georgia State University, which has become a national model for graduating more low- and moderate-income students, dropped 30 spots.

Among the factors in the U.S. News formula are:

—Students’ performance on standardized admissions tests, which correlate strongly with family income, more than high school grades, which have less of a correlation.

— Having a lower acceptance rate, which many colleges have sought to achieve by leaning more on early decision admissions; this hurts lower-income students who apply to more schools in order to compare financial aid packages.

— Performing well on surveys of high school guidance counselors from highly ranked high schools, while many high schools in less affluent areas have few or no counselors.

— Alumni giving, which creates incentives to appease alumni by accepting their kids.

Meanwhile, there is no measurement for the economic diversity of the student body, despite political pressure dating back to the Obama administration and a 2016 election that revealed rampant frustration over economic inequality. There is, however, growing evidence that elite universities have reinforced that inequality.

Recent studies have produced the most powerful statistical evidence in decades that higher education — once considered the ladder of economic mobility — is a prime source of rewarding established wealth. One report by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation found that kids from the top quartile of income earners account for 72 percent of students at the nation’s most competitive schools, while those from the bottom quartile are just 3 percent. Fewer than 10 percent of those in the lowest quartile of income ever get a bachelor’s degree, research has shown.

The lack of economic diversity extends far beyond the Ivy League, and now includes scores of private and public universities, according to the Equality of Opportunity Project, which used tax data to study campus economic trends from 2000 to 2011, the most recent years available. For instance, the University of Michigan enrolls just 16 percent of its student body from the bottom 60 percent of earners. Nearly 10 percent of its students are from the top 1 percent."



"Alexander noted that a key to success in the rankings is paying higher faculty salaries and spending more per student overall, which drives up tuition in an era when sticker price has kept many low-income students from even applying to college.

Much of the score “is about spending the most amount of money on the fewest amount of students — and generally, students you already know are going to succeed,” Alexander said. “We’re spending more money on students who need it the least — and U.S. News gives you high marks for that. I call it ‘the greatest inefficiency ranking in America.’”

Carol Christ, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley — perennially near the top of the rankings — said the extent to which U.S. News motivates schools to pick wealthier students is “mind-boggling.”

“At a time when we should all be concerned about the financial efficiency of higher education, U.S. News rankings certainly don’t reward for that,” Christ said. “It’s so troubling to me.”

Kirwan cast the problem in simpler terms, saying that U.S. News creates the false impression that schools with the wealthiest students are, based on their criteria, the best.

“If some foreign power wanted to diminish higher education in America, they would have created the U.S. News and World Report rankings,” he said. “You need both more college graduates in the economy and you need many more low-income students getting the benefit of higher education — and U.S. News and World Report has metrics that work directly in opposition to accomplishing those two things that our nation so badly needs.”

An elitist equation

Higher education in America is a fiercely competitive enterprise. It’s a market-based system in which status is largely based on perception — a university’s prestige has an inordinate effect on who applies and how easily students are able to get jobs with lucrative employers. And the mark of prestige, in recent decades, has been a ratings system begun by the nation’s third-largest news magazine.

Mitchell Stevens, a Stanford University sociologist who has studied college admission practices, said the U.S. News rankings have evolved into nothing less than “the machinery that organizes and governs this competition.”

“They’re kind of a peculiar form of governance,” he said. “They’re not states, they’re not official regulators, they don’t have the backing of a government agency. But they effectively serve as the governance of higher education in this country because schools essentially use them to make sense of who they are relative to each other. And families use them basically as a guide to the higher education marketplace.”"
highered  highereducation  2017  usn&r  rankings  us  economics  inequality  elitism  colleges  universities  politics  donaldtrump  class  workingclass  benjaminwermund  testing  sat  act  admissions  grades  grading  socialmobility 
september 2017 by robertogreco
The Policies of White Resentment - The New York Times
"White resentment put Donald Trump in the White House. And there is every indication that it will keep him there, especially as he continues to transform that seething, irrational fear about an increasingly diverse America into policies that feed his supporters’ worst racial anxieties.

If there is one consistent thread through Mr. Trump’s political career, it is his overt connection to white resentment and white nationalism. Mr. Trump’s fixation on Barack Obama’s birth certificate gave him the white nationalist street cred that no other Republican candidate could match, and that credibility has sustained him in office — no amount of scandal or evidence of incompetence will undermine his followers’ belief that he, and he alone, could Make America White Again.

The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage — that calculated mechanism of executive orders, laws and agency directives that undermines and punishes minority achievement and aspiration. No wonder that, even while his White House sinks deeper into chaos, scandal and legislative mismanagement, Mr. Trump’s approval rating among whites (and only whites) has remained unnaturally high. Washington may obsess over Obamacare repeal, Russian sanctions and the debt ceiling, but Mr. Trump’s base sees something different — and, to them, inspiring.

Like on Christmas morning, every day brings his supporters presents: travel bans against Muslims, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Hispanic communities and brutal, family-gutting deportations, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, an Election Integrity Commission stacked with notorious vote suppressors, announcements of a ban on transgender personnel in the military, approval of police brutality against “thugs,” a denial of citizenship to immigrants who serve in the armed forces and a renewed war on drugs that, if it is anything like the last one, will single out African-Americans and Latinos although they are not the primary drug users in this country. Last week, Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions put the latest package under the tree: a staffing call for a case on reverse discrimination in college admissions, likely the first step in a federal assault on affirmative action and a determination to hunt for colleges and universities that discriminate against white applicants.

That so many of these policies are based on perception and lies rather than reality is nothing new. White resentment has long thrived on the fantasy of being under siege and having to fight back, as the mass lynchings and destruction of thriving, politically active black communities in Colfax, La. (1873), Wilmington, N.C. (1898), Ocoee, Fla. (1920), and Tulsa, Okla. (1921), attest. White resentment needs the boogeyman of job-taking, maiden-ravaging, tax-evading, criminally inclined others to justify the policies that thwart the upward mobility and success of people of color.

The last half-century hasn’t changed that. The war on drugs, for example, branded African-Americans and Latinos as felons, which stripped them of voting rights and access to housing and education just when the civil rights movement had pushed open the doors to those opportunities in the United States.

Similarly, the intensified war on immigrants comes, not coincidentally, at the moment when Latinos have gained visible political power, asserted their place in American society and achieved greater access to schools and colleges. The ICE raids have terrorized these communities, led to attendance drop-offs in schools and silenced many from even seeking their legal rights when abused.

The so-called Election Integrity Commission falls in the same category. It is a direct response to the election of Mr. Obama as president. Despite the howls from Mr. Trump and the Republicans, there was no widespread voter fraud then or now. Instead, what happened was that millions of new voters, overwhelmingly African-American, Hispanic and Asian, cast the ballots that put a black man in the White House. The punishment for participating in democracy has been a rash of voter ID laws, the purging of names from the voter rolls, redrawn district boundaries and closed and moved polling places.

Affirmative action is no different. It, too, requires a narrative of white legitimate grievance, a sense of being wronged by the presence of blacks, Latinos and Asians in positions that had once been whites only. Lawsuit after lawsuit, most recently Abigail Fisher’s suit against the University of Texas, feed the myth of unqualified minorities taking a valuable resource — a college education — away from deserving whites.

In order to make that plausible, Ms. Fisher and her lawyers had to ignore the large number of whites who were admitted to the university with scores lower than hers. And they had to ignore the sizable number of blacks and Latinos who were denied admission although their SAT scores and grade point averages were higher than hers. They also had to ignore Texas’ unsavory racial history and its impact. The Brown decision came down in 1954, yet the Dallas public school system remained under a federal desegregation order from 1971 to 2003.

The university was slow to end its whites-only admissions policy, and its practice of automatically admitting the top 10 percent of each Texas public high school’s graduating class has actually led to an overrepresentation of whites. Meanwhile, African-Americans represent only 4 percent of the University of Texas student body, despite making up about 14 percent of the state’s graduating high school students.

Although you will never hear this from Mr. Sessions, men are the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action in college admissions: Their combination of test scores, grades and achievements is simply no match for that of women, whose academic profiles are much stronger. Yet to provide some semblance of gender balance on campuses, admissions directors have to dig down deep into the applicant pool to cobble together enough males to form an incoming class.

Part of what has been essential in this narrative of affirmative action as theft of white resources — my college acceptance, my job — is the notion of “merit,” where whites have it but others don’t. When California banned affirmative action in college admissions and relied solely on standardized test scores and grades as the definition of “qualified,” black and Latino enrollments plummeted. Whites, however, were not the beneficiaries of this “merit-based” system. Instead, Asian enrollments soared and with that came white resentment at both “the hordes of Asians” at places like the University of California, Los Angeles, and an admissions process that stressed grades over other criteria.

That white resentment simply found a new target for its ire is no coincidence; white identity is often defined by its sense of being ever under attack, with the system stacked against it. That’s why Mr. Trump’s policies are not aimed at ameliorating white resentment, but deepening it. His agenda is not, fundamentally, about creating jobs or protecting programs that benefit everyone, including whites; it’s about creating purported enemies and then attacking them.

In the end, white resentment is so myopic and selfish that it cannot see that when the larger nation is thriving, whites are, too. Instead, it favors policies and politicians that may make America white again, but also hobbled and weakened, a nation that has squandered its greatest assets — its people and its democracy."
carolanderson  2017  race  racism  donaldtrump  affirmativeaction  colleges  universities  gender  resentment  us  politics  policy  california  universityofcalifornia  universityoftexas  statistics  data  admissions  jeffsessions  immigration  democracy  education  highered  highereducation  nationalism  disenfranchisement  uc 
august 2017 by robertogreco
How Rutgers University-Newark's Approach to Admissions Helps Black Students Graduate - The Atlantic
"With the national college-graduation rate for black students half that of whites, this school is changing the rules of the game—and beating the odds."



"Protests focused on entrenched racism rocked campuses around the country this year. Many top colleges enroll small numbers of black students, and the four-year college graduation rate for black students is half that of whites.

In response, many admissions officers have been scouring the country—and the globe—to attract “qualified” black and brown students, striving to meet diversity targets while avoiding students they consider “at risk” of dropping out.

But a growing group of colleges and universities think that the calculation for who is “at risk” is fundamentally wrong. They not only accept students often turned away by other four-year universities, but also aggressively recruit them, believing that their academic potential has been vastly underrated.

Rutgers University-Newark in New Jersey has a graduation rate for black students that is far above the national average. But instead of offering out-sized athletic scholarships or perks to potential out-of-state students, the university is doubling down on a bid for students who are often ignored—low-income, urban, public high-school graduates with mediocre test scores.

Rutgers offers free tuition for low- and moderate-income Newark residents and local transfer students, regardless of their GPAs and test scores. Its newly minted honors program doesn’t consider SAT scores for admissions. It has put emotional and financial supports in place. Course offerings have been enhanced.

And administrators don’t see their efforts as charity.

“We’re a land grant public institution with a commitment to our state and our city, and that’s the talent we should be cultivating,” said Nancy Cantor, who has been chancellor at Rutgers-Newark for two years. “There’s phenomenal knowledge and talent out there, and that contributes so much to the institution. We don’t have the traditional view that we’re somehow ‘letting these kids in’ to be influenced by us.”

In 2015, Rutgers-Newark’s six-year graduation rate was 64 percent for black students and 63 percent for white students, according to administrators, compared with 40 percent and 61 percent respectively at public institutions nationally.

Among public universities whose student populations are at least 5 percent black and one-quarter low-income, Rutgers-Newark had the second-highest black male graduation rate in the nation in 2013 and the fifth-highest black graduation rate overall. It also had a much higher percentage of low-income students and African American students than the four universities above it.

“These are very talented students who, for a variety of reasons, rarely having to do with their own issues, are going to get bypassed if we don’t draw them into the education system,” Cantor said."
highered  highereducation  rutgers  2017  admissions  colleges  universities  diversity  inclusivity  grades  grading  standardizedtesting  standardization  race  racism  education  testscores 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Check This Box if You’re a Good Person - The New York Times
"HANOVER, N.H. — When I give college information sessions at high schools, I’m used to being swarmed by students. Usually, as soon as my lecture ends, they run up to hand me their résumés, fighting for my attention so that they can tell me about their internships or summer science programs.

But last spring, after I spoke at a New Jersey public school, I ran into an entirely different kind of student.

When the bell rang, I stuffed my leftover pamphlets into a bag and began to navigate the human tsunami that is a high school hallway at lunchtime.

Just before I reached the parking lot, someone tapped me on the shoulder.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” a student said, smiling through a set of braces. “You dropped a granola bar on the floor in the cafeteria. I chased you down since I thought you’d want your snack.” Before I could even thank him, he handed me the bar and dissolved into the sea of teenagers.

Working in undergraduate admissions at Dartmouth College has introduced me to many talented young people. I used to be the director of international admissions and am now working part time after having a baby. Every year I’d read over 2,000 college applications from students all over the world. The applicants are always intellectually curious and talented. They climb mountains, head extracurricular clubs and develop new technologies. They’re the next generation’s leaders. Their accomplishments stack up quickly.

The problem is that in a deluge of promising candidates, many remarkable students become indistinguishable from one another, at least on paper. It is incredibly difficult to choose whom to admit. Yet in the chaos of SAT scores, extracurriculars and recommendations, one quality is always irresistible in a candidate: kindness. It’s a trait that would be hard to pinpoint on applications even if colleges asked the right questions. Every so often, though, it can’t help shining through.

The most surprising indication of kindness I’ve ever come across in my admissions career came from a student who went to a large public school in New England. He was clearly bright, as evidenced by his class rank and teachers’ praise. He had a supportive recommendation from his college counselor and an impressive list of extracurriculars. Even with these qualifications, he might not have stood out. But one letter of recommendation caught my eye. It was from a school custodian.

Letters of recommendation are typically superfluous, written by people who the applicant thinks will impress a school. We regularly receive letters from former presidents, celebrities, trustee relatives and Olympic athletes. But they generally fail to provide us with another angle on who the student is, or could be as a member of our community.

This letter was different.

The custodian wrote that he was compelled to support this student’s candidacy because of his thoughtfulness. This young man was the only person in the school who knew the names of every member of the janitorial staff. He turned off lights in empty rooms, consistently thanked the hallway monitor each morning and tidied up after his peers even if nobody was watching. This student, the custodian wrote, had a refreshing respect for every person at the school, regardless of position, popularity or clout.

Over 15 years and 30,000 applications in my admissions career, I had never seen a recommendation from a school custodian. It gave us a window onto a student’s life in the moments when nothing “counted.” That student was admitted by unanimous vote of the admissions committee.

There are so many talented applicants and precious few spots. We know how painful this must be for students. As someone who was rejected by the school where I ended up as a director of admissions, I know firsthand how devastating the words “we regret to inform you” can be.

Until admissions committees figure out a way to effectively recognize the genuine but intangible personal qualities of applicants, we must rely on little things to make the difference. Sometimes an inappropriate email address is more telling than a personal essay. The way a student acts toward his parents on a campus tour can mean as much as a standardized test score. And, as I learned from that custodian, a sincere character evaluation from someone unexpected will mean more to us than any boilerplate recommendation from a former president or famous golfer.

Next year there might be a flood of custodian recommendations thanks to this essay. But if it means students will start paying as much attention to the people who clean their classrooms as they do to their principals and teachers, I’m happy to help start that trend.

Colleges should foster the growth of individuals who show promise not just in leadership and academics, but also in generosity of spirit. Since becoming a mom, I’ve also been looking at applications differently. I can’t help anticipating my son’s own dive into the college admissions frenzy 17 years from now.

Whether or not he even decides to go to college when the time is right, I want him to resemble a person thoughtful enough to return a granola bar, and gracious enough to respect every person in his community."
colleges  universities  admissions  kindness  sfsh  small  slow  2017  rebeccasabky  recommendations  edg  srg 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Not Leadership Material? Good. The World Needs Followers. - The New York Times
"The glorification of leadership skills, especially in college admissions, has emptied leadership of its meaning."



"In 1934, a young woman named Sara Pollard applied to Vassar College. In those days, parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire, and Sara’s father described her, truthfully, as “more a follower type than a leader.”

The school accepted Sara, explaining that it had enough leaders.

It’s hard to imagine this happening today. No father in his right mind (if the admissions office happened to ask him!) would admit that his child was a natural follower; few colleges would welcome one with open arms. Today we prize leadership skills above all, and nowhere more than in college admissions. As Penny Bach Evins, the head of St. Paul’s School for Girls, an independent school in Maryland, told me, “It seems as if higher ed is looking for alphas, but the doers and thinkers in our schools are not always in front leading.”

Harvard’s application informs students that its mission is “to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society.” Yale’s website advises applicants that it seeks “the leaders of their generation”; on Princeton’s site, “leadership activities” are first among equals on a list of characteristics for would-be students to showcase. Even Wesleyan, known for its artistic culture, was found by one study to evaluate applicants based on leadership potential.

If college admissions offices show us whom and what we value, then we seem to think that the ideal society is composed of Type A’s. This is perhaps unsurprising, even if these examples come from highly competitive institutions. It’s part of the American DNA to celebrate those who rise above the crowd. And in recent decades, the meteoric path to leadership of youthful garage- and dorm-dwellers, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, has made king of the hill status seem possible for every 19-year-old. So now we have high school students vying to be president of as many clubs as they can. It’s no longer enough to be a member of the student council; now you have to run the school.

Yet a well-functioning student body — not to mention polity — also needs followers. It needs team players. And it needs those who go their own way.

It needs leaders who are called to service rather than to status.

Admissions officers will tell you that their quest for tomorrow’s leaders is based on a desire for positive impact, to make the world a better place. I think they mean what they say.

But many students I’ve spoken with read “leadership skills” as a code for authority and dominance and define leaders as those who “can order other people around.” And according to one prominent Ivy League professor, those students aren’t wrong; leadership, as defined by the admissions process, too often “seems to be restricted to political or business power.” She says admissions officers fail to define leadership as “making advances in solving mathematical problems” or “being the best poet of the century.”

Whatever the colleges’ intentions, the pressure to lead now defines and constricts our children’s adolescence. One young woman told me about her childhood as a happy and enthusiastic reader, student and cellist — until freshman year of high school, when “college applications loomed on the horizon, and suddenly, my every activity was held up against the holy grail of ‘leadership,’ ” she recalled. “And everyone knew,” she added, “that it was not the smart people, not the creative people, not the thoughtful people or decent human beings that scored the application letters and the scholarships, but the leaders. It seemed no activity or accomplishment meant squat unless it was somehow connected to leadership.”

This young woman tried to overhaul her personality so she would be selected for a prestigious leadership role as a “freshman mentor.” She made the cut, but was later kicked out of the program because she wasn’t outgoing enough. At the time, she was devastated. But it turned out that she’d been set free to discover her true calling, science. She started working after school with her genetics teacher, another behind-the-scenes soul. She published her first scientific paper when she was 18, and won the highest scholarship her university has to offer, majoring in biomedical engineering and cello.

Our elite schools overemphasize leadership partly because they’re preparing students for the corporate world, and they assume that this is what businesses need. But a discipline in organizational psychology, called “followership,” is gaining in popularity. Robert Kelley, a professor of management and organizational behavior, defined the term in a 1988 Harvard Business Review article, in which he listed the qualities of a good follower, including being committed to “a purpose, principle or person outside themselves” and being “courageous, honest and credible.” It’s an idea that the military has long taught.

Recently, other business thinkers have taken up this mantle. Some focus on the “romance of leadership” theory, which causes us to inaccurately attribute all of an organization’s success and failure to its leader, ignoring its legions of followers. Adam Grant, who has written several books on what drives people to succeed, says that the most frequent question he gets from readers is how to contribute when they’re not in charge but have a suggestion and want to be heard. “These are not questions asked by leaders,” he told me. “They’re fundamental questions of followership.”

Team players are also crucial. My sons are avid soccer players, so I spend a lot of time watching the “beautiful game.” The thing that makes it beautiful is not leadership, though an excellent coach is essential. Nor is it the swoosh of the ball in the goal, though winning is noisily celebrated. It is instead the intricate ballet of patterns and passes, of each player anticipating the other’s strengths and needs, each shining for the brief instant that he has the ball before passing it to a teammate or losing it to an opponent.

We also rely as a society, much more deeply than we realize, on the soloists who forge their own paths. We see those figures in all kinds of pursuits: in the sciences; in sports like tennis, track and figure skating; and in the arts. Art and science are about many things that make life worth living, but they are not, at their core, about leadership. Helen Vendler, a professor of English at Harvard, published an essay in which she encouraged the university to attract more artists and not expect them “to become leaders.” Some of those students will become leaders in the arts, she wrote — conducting an orchestra, working to reinstate the arts in schools — “but one can’t quite picture Baudelaire pursuing public service.”

Perhaps the biggest disservice done by the outsize glorification of “leadership skills” is to the practice of leadership itself — it hollows it out, it empties it of meaning. It attracts those who are motivated by the spotlight rather than by the ideas and people they serve. It teaches students to be a leader for the sake of being in charge, rather than in the name of a cause or idea they care about deeply. The difference between the two states of mind is profound. The latter belongs to transformative leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi; the former to — well, we’ve all seen examples of this kind of leadership lately.

If this seems idealistic, consider the status quo: students jockeying for leadership positions as résumé padders. “They all want to be president of 50 clubs,” a faculty adviser at a New Jersey school told me. “They don’t even know what they’re running for.”

It doesn’t have to be this way.

What if we said to college applicants that the qualities we’re looking for are not leadership skills, but excellence, passion and a desire to contribute beyond the self? This framework would encompass exceptional team captains and class presidents. But it wouldn’t make leadership the be-all and end-all.

What if we said to our would-be leaders, “Take this role only if you care desperately about the issue at hand”?

And what if we were honest with ourselves about what we value? If we’re looking for the students and citizens most likely to attain wealth and power, let’s admit it. Then we can have a frank debate about whether that is a good idea.

But if instead we seek a society of caring, creative and committed people, and leaders who feel called to service rather than to stature, then we need to do a better job of making that clear."
susancain  leadership  leaders  sfsh  followers  community  courage  honesty  purpose  2017  colleges  universities  admissions  canon  small  slow  helenvendler  arts  art  artists  followership  soccer  football  us  values  credibility  military  authority  power  dominance  ivyleague  admission  capitalism  politics  elitism  adamgrant  introverts  extroverts  allsorts  attention  edg  srg  care  caring  maintenance  futbol  sports 
april 2017 by robertogreco
The dark side of Silicon Valley, according to a teen who grew up there - Business Insider
"Home of the brightest engineers, the coolest new technology, and the highest salaries in the world, Silicon Valley is also home of the most cutthroat competitive high schools.

Let's take a look at the schools with the highest SAT scores in the nation. Unsurprisingly, 6 of the top 20 are located in Silicon Valley: Monta Vista (#15), Mission San Jose (#18), Lynbrook (#7), Gunn (#12), Leland (#20), and Harker (#2).

In many of these schools, getting a 3.5 GPA could put you in the bottom half of the class (especially at academic powerhouses Gunn, Monta Vista, and Harker).

In other schools, athletics play a bigger role in the culture, but success is still expected nonetheless (Bellarmine, Los Gatos, Mitty). Also, it's a given that the student body is not only talented, but also well accomplished in many different areas.

It's unbelievable when you see the sheer numbers these schools put out. Harker has had 173 people admitted to Berkeley in the past 3 years. In just 2015, Harker had a 43% acceptance rate to Berkeley (69 admitted out of 162 who applied).

For the No. 1 public university in the world, those are some crazy numbers. Not to be out-matched, Mission San Jose High boasted a 29% acceptance rate to Berkeley in 2015, with 93 admitted. I understand admission to Berkeley isn't the best metric to judge competitiveness/success, but it shows a small part of the bigger picture.

Evergreen Valley, my home school, is considered one of the middle-tier competitive schools, but it's slowly becoming a microcosm of the Palo Alto/Cupertino areas. It's reflected in our college admissions.

This year alone, we have 32 students going to Berkeley and 4 going to Stanford. Now, it's great and all that we're succeeding in the college admissions game, but at what cost?

The bottom line is that behind these stellar numbers and phenomenal extracurricular activities lies a culture of overwork and incessant competition. There no longer exists a free summer for high school kids.

Everyone is competing — who can get the best internship? Who can pack their schedule the most? Who can get admitted to the best, most prestigious summer programs? Even in school, everyone is competing — who can work the hardest? Who can sleep the least and still get straight A's? Who can do it all? Who can be a part of the most clubs?

Going through it, it always seemed like a giant race to nowhere. There are a few features that distinguish Silicon Valley high schools:

1. Fear of failure

This sounds counterintuitive. I mean, we live in the freaking Silicon Valley, right? Home of entrepreneurship, risks, and solving the world's problems, right?

No, not really — high school isn't like that. We stick to what we know best. You play the piano really well? Keep doing that. You dance well? Stick to it.

Don't try other things — didn't you know you have to commit to an activity in order to put it on your college app? Why try new things and fail when you can stick to what you've been doing, work hard, and accomplish great things? Because, after all, isn't the point of life to get into college?

2. Stifling competition

We're ambitious and we're talented and we're hardworking — no doubt about it. We start companies and publish books and become nationally ranked in every extracurricular activity possible while juggling a 4.0 GPA. But with all of it comes a price.

By most of society here, you are judged by your numbers. I've lost track of the number of times I've heard parents ask about my SAT score and where I'm going to college, and then change their perception of me because of it. I want to tell them that these superficial things don't define me — that I'm more than these arbitrary numbers and test scores.

3. Ridiculous over-scheduling

You'll see kids with schedules more packed than an exec in the corporate world. After school, go to sports practice for 2-3 hours. After sports practice, practice your instrument for 1-2 hours. Now, it's time for dinner.

Eat for an hour, do homework for an hour, and then sleep at 9 p.m.? Not really. Not when you have five AP courses that each assign Herculean loads of homework. Not when you're managing several clubs and organizations. Not when you're also involved in student government.

Where's the time to relax? Where's the time to enjoy? We're bogged down in this mindset that happiness is to be postponed.

It's this mentality that says "I'll work hard now, so that I can enjoy my life later. It's OK if I don't enjoy now because it'll get better." But when does it end? Caught in this vicious cycle, it's hard to see what makes life worth it.

The only thing I want to say to the Silicon Valley teens out there is to enjoy your time. Be ambitious, be hardworking, be everything you've wanted to be and more — but don't forget to stop and smell the flowers. After all, what's life without enjoyment?"
siliconvalley  schools  competition  education  harker  children  parenting  kalvinlam  overscheduling  failure  colleges  universities  admissions  via:jolinaclément  sanjose  losgatos  paloalto 
august 2016 by robertogreco
All the Greedy Young Abigail Fishers and Me 
"Years ago, I helped Abigail Fishers get into college in Texas. That was my job: I “tutored” entitled teenagers through the application process. Specifically, and ominously for my later life, I taught them to write a convincing personal essay—a task that generally requires identifying some insight, usually gained over some period of growth. And growth often depends on hardship, a thing that none of these 18-year-olds had experienced in a structural sense over the course of their white young lives. Because of the significant disconnect involved in this premise, I always ended up rewriting their essays in the end.

My students were white, and without exception. Their parents were paying me $450 per session, and this was Houston; of course they were white. The means were the essays, and the end was the assurance that the benefits of whiteness would continue to vest themselves even as Texas demographics and UT admissions practices began to put their lovely families in a bind.

Texas parents—as ability permits, and like parents throughout the country—pay good money to live in good school zones. These schools are “good” in a double and mutually reinforcing sense: they are academically vibrant, supportive, and competitive; they also draw from a wealthy population, which means most of the students are white. As Abigail Fisher’s case, a.k.a. Becky With the Bad Grades v. UT Austin, reminded us: the top 7 percent (formerly 10 percent) at all Texas high schools get admitted to UT’s flagship campus automatically. This means that a second-rate student at a first-rate school, a.k.a. an Abigail Fisher, does not automatically get in. This means that a portion of white kids don’t get the educational success those property taxes were supposed to pay for. The 10 percent policy is implicit discrimination against “good schools,” the party line goes.

Most of the UT student body gets in through the Top 10 rule. The rest—approximately 8 percent, the year Fisher applied—are admitted through a holistic evaluation process, which takes into account things like extracurriculars, leadership, personal essays (thus the $450), and race. This is the part of UT admissions policy that Fisher’s case was challenging. Note that it was easier for her (or the anti-affirmative-action zealot who bankrolled her) to take a margin of UT admissions to the Supreme Court than to envision a version of justice in which she had, along with 92 percent of admitted students, straight-up earned her way in.

Because UT Austin is a terrific place—the rare kind of school that radiates both capaciousness and prestige—it is the top choice for many Texas high school students, and its unique admissions policy carries a lot of weight. It is discussed ad nauseam during application season; however, the reasoning behind this policy—behind the 10 percent rule, behind affirmative action—is not. I figured that part out only after I left the state and saw how much about my previous surroundings had been determined by the fact that rich white people can still game the system simply by living—that they are still reaping the benefits of centuries of preferential access to everything that sets a person up for success.

Today, certain measures have been enacted to level the playing field. But, as the Abigails among us can’t seem to admit, the mere existence of these measures does not mean that the need for them has expired. White people remain uniquely able, in a monetary sense, to game the system. For a summer, at $150 an hour, I was paid to help.

And I did. The kids were sweet, and I knew how to elicit and identify whatever topic would make their voice speed up when they talked about it. We wrote about canoes capsizing at summer camp, about football injuries, about girlfriends freezing us out at youth group. For the most part, they got in where they wanted, and I worked a leisurely three hours a day, helping them cheat.

I’ve had a lot of relatively demeaning jobs in my life. I never thought I deserved better than any of them—first because I didn’t, and second, because a sense of entitlement means nothing without capital to back it up. I’ve waitressed in short shorts and cowboy boots. I’ve street-canvassed for recycling. When I was 16, I was paid minimum wage to participate in a reality TV show in Puerto Rico that included challenges like eating mayonnaise on camera with my hands tied behind my back.

This job—writing college essays for Abigail Fishers—was the only job I have ever been truly ashamed of, and I am so ashamed of it now that it hurts. I did it, too, for a particularly embarrassing reason: because it paid so well that I could keep my earning hours to a minimum, and for four months spend most of my time writing fiction so I could get into an MFA program. Once I did get in, my boyfriend started looking at me reproachfully when he came home from work and saw me sending invoices. “Stop doing this,” he said flatly, in the late afternoon one day."



"It took me until some time later to realize what is so obvious to me now, why my boyfriend hated my job so much, which was that I was the one letting the Abigails get away with everything. That I was feeding and affirming and making possible the entitlement of mediocre white high schoolers, many of whom believed themselves to be facing structural discrimination, and needed to hire a ghostwriter to stay on top. Luckily, they could afford to. Luckily, I liked them when they weren’t talking about affirmative action. Luckily, we all made out just fine in the end.

We were all lucky, weren’t we? In 2005, I applied to college—not in the Philippines or Canada, where my parents had gone, but in America. I was salutatorian at my high school; I had perfect SATs. I was a cheerleader, the editor of our yearbook, cast in every musical, an officer in every club. And still, when I got into colleges, I felt lucky. I never felt like I’d simply gotten what I deserved.

In fact I still don’t know what it would be like to feel automatically deserving of something, to have enough of a claim on advantage to give a fuck about giving it up. I have never had a case for any sort of admission, not even when I was a selfish high schooler, not even when it came to the 10 percent rule, because even when I opened my Texas acceptance letter I knew some Abigail Fisher would think that if anyone was coasting on race here, it was me. How the legacy of inequity took hold of me internally even as I clawed through it with a sunny disposition was not obvious to me then, or in college, or after I graduated, on a hot summer where I needed money and I couldn’t ask my parents and I felt lucky—lucky—to be helping Abigail Fishers cheat."
texas  colleges  universities  admissions  gamingthesystem  privilege  jiatolentino  univeristyoftexas  ut  abigailfisher  utaustin  prestige  inequality  affirmativeaction  race  2016  highered  highereducation 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Don't Send Your Kids to College. At Least Not Yet. - The New York Times
"In the past few weeks, anxious high school seniors across the country have received admissions decisions from colleges. Some might feel like they’ve won the lottery; others have dashed hopes and diminished confidence. Few in either category realize how little these outcomes matter in the long run; that, as Frank Bruni puts it, “where you go is not who you’ll be.”

Regardless of where the cards fall, a growing number of educational experts and thought leaders have some counterintuitive advice: don’t send your kids to college . . . at least not yet.

Our conveyor belt to college has striking costs. Nationally, one-third of college freshmen don’t return for a second year. Kids take about six years to complete a degree, and only 9 percent of students from low-income backgrounds will have a degree by the time they turn 24. Beyond this, stress among college students is alarmingly high and rising each year with the majority of students feeling consistently anxious, overwhelmed or hopeless. These concerning trends are playing out from community college to the Ivy League.

The outlook for those who graduate is not what it once was: students are saddled by unprecedented levels of debt and few leave campus with the skills employers value most. One recent study showed that while 96 percent of college administrators think their graduates are ready for the work force, just 11 percent of employers agree.

The current system is failing our kids, country and economy. How will we fix it? We need to get back to basics and ask: “What do today’s kids most need to learn, and how do we re-design the system around that?”

A growing number of colleges have begun to embrace a novel solution: change the outcomes of college by changing the inputs. What if college freshmen arrived on campus not burnt out from having been “excellent sheep” in high school, but instead refreshed, focused and prepared to take full advantage of the rich resources and opportunities colleges have to offer?

The “gap year,” a common practice across Europe and Australia, has yet to take root in the United States. A primary barrier is the stigma we associate with the term – it conveys privilege and frivolity and is often viewed either as a luxury for a select few, or remediation for kids who didn’t get into the college of their choice.

And yet, the research shows undeniable, positive impacts in terms of increased maturity, confidence and achievement. A recent Middlebury study showed that students who take a year off before arriving outperform their peers in their academic and extracurricular engagement on campus. And the American Gap Association reports that students who take a year before college are 75 percent more likely to be “happy” or “extremely satisfied” with their careers post-college.

Given its known benefits, it’s time to rebrand the “gap year” as anything but a “gap.” When used intentionally, the year before college can be a bridge, a launch pad and a new rite of passage. It’s the students who find the courage to step off the treadmill – replacing textbooks with experience and achievement with exploration – who are best prepared for life after high school. And a growing number of colleges are taking notice.

Bill Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s undergraduate admissions dean, wrote a manifesto about the need for students to take time off before college. Rick Shaw, Stanford’s undergraduate admissions dean, now speaks about the value of non-linear paths and the learning and growth that come from risk taking and failure, as opposed to perfect records. Princeton, Tufts and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have recently developed “bridge year” programs that encourage – and pay for – students to spend a year immersed in the world before arriving on campus.

Growing evidence also shows that a structured “bridge year” can be a game-changer for low-income students by helping them develop the growth mindset and grit associated with college persistence and completion. Reflecting this, scholarships for students who have historically not had these opportunities are growing as well. For example, at Global Citizen Year, the organization I founded and lead, our goal is to find the highest potential students we can, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. Since 2010 we have disbursed over $6 million in financial aid with 80 percent of each year’s class receiving need-based financial aid.

Admissions criteria are changing to give preference to students with real world experience. In January, Harvard and more than 80 other colleges released Turning the Tide, a blueprint for de-escalating the admissions arms race by focusing less on personal achievement and more on values, integrity and commitment to others. One proposed pathway is to give an admissions boost to students who take a service year before arrival.

As it becomes increasingly evident that our educational system is failing so many, it’s time to demand a stronger foundation for kids from all backgrounds.

Whether celebration or disappointment characterize admissions season for your family, one thing is clear: regardless of which school your child chooses, you would be wise not to send your kid to college . . . at least not yet."
gapyears  education  highered  highereducation  2016  abigailfalk  globalcitizenyear  us  colleges  universities  srg  edg  bridgeyears  experience  admissions  stress 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Standards, Grades And Tests Are Wildly Outdated, Argues 'End Of Average' : NPR Ed : NPR
"Todd Rose dropped out of high school with D- grades. At 21, he was trying to support a wife and two sons on welfare and minimum wage jobs.

Today he teaches educational neuroscience at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He's also the co-founder of The Center for Individual Opportunity, a new organization devoted to "the science of the individual and its implications for education, the workforce, and society."

In other words, Todd Rose is not your average guy. But neither are you.

In fact, he argues, absolutely no one is precisely average. And that's a big problem, he tells NPR Ed: "We've come to embrace a way of thinking about ourselves as people that was intentionally designed to ignore all individuality and force everything in reference to an average person."

Admissions offices, HR departments, banks and doctors make life-changing decisions based on averages. Rose says that "works really well to understand the system or the group, but it fails miserably when you need to understand the individual, which is what we need to do."

Rose talked with us about his new book: The End Of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness.

Q: The opening example you use in the book is that in the 1940s, when the Air Force designed cockpits based on the average measurements of the pilots, there were an unacceptable number of crashes. But when they went back and measured thousands of pilots, across 10 body dimensions, they found that zero of them even came close to the "average" on all 10. So they concluded that they had to redesign the seats and so forth to be adjustable to each person.

A: Body size is a very concrete example of what I call jaggedness. There is no average pilot. No medium-sized people. When you think of someone's size you think of large, medium, small. Our mass-produced approach to clothing reinforces that. But if that were true you wouldn't need dressing rooms.

Q: So dimensions like height and weight and arm length and waist circumference ...

A: Yes, they're not nearly as correlated as you would think. Height is one-dimensional, but size isn't. People are jagged in size, in intelligence, everything we measure shows the same thing.

Q: I'm going to quote a line from the book, said to psychologist Paul Molenaar, who is arguing for a greater focus on individual difference: "What you are proposing is anarchy!" How do you make decisions about people if you can't use statistics and cutoff scores and compare them to averages?

A: People feel like if you focus on individuality, everyone's a snowflake, and you can't build a science on snowflakes. But the opposite has been true.

It's not that you can't use statistics, it's just that you don't use group statistics. If I want to know something about my daily spending habits, one straightforward way would be to collect records of what I spend every day. To take an average for myself would be perfectly fine.

Q: So you can generalize across time, but not across people?

A: We've got to let go of putting a group into a study and taking an average and thinking that's going to be close enough to universal insight.

Now we have something better. We have a natural science of individuality that gives us a surer foundation. We've gotten breakthrough insights in a whole range of research, from cancer to child development.

Q: How does what you term "Averagerianism" impact our school system both historically and today?

A: It's so ubiquitous that it's hard to see.

We design textbooks to be age-appropriate, but that means, what does the average kid of this age know and can do? Textbooks that are designed for the average will be a pretty bad fit for most kids.

Then you think of things like the lockstep, grade-based organization of kids, and you end up sitting in a class for a fixed amount of time and get a one-dimensional rating in the form of a grade, and a one-dimensional standardized assessment. It's everything about the way we test and move kids forward.

Q: With standardized tests, I often hear teachers talking about students being two months behind or ahead, as if there's a very fixed timeline for progress that all human beings should fit.

A: It feels comforting. But if you take the basic idea of jaggedness, if all kids are multidimensional in their talent, their aptitude, you can't reduce them to a single score. It gives us a false sense of precision and gives up on pretending to know anything about these kids.

Q: So alongside jaggedness, two other principles of individual variation you look at are "context-dependence" and "pathways." Talk about those.

A: It's meaningless to talk about behavior and performance without context. Let's take assessment. Carnegie Mellon [University] had this work showing that changing the way a question is asked can fundamentally alter how a kid performs. So if the [math] problem is about football players instead of ballerinas, you can't standardize on the item. That systematically affects the kids' ability to demonstrate what they know.

But at a macro level, I think [context] introduces an attention to things like the impact of stress and trauma.

Q: And what about pathways? This sounds a lot like the talk around personalizing learning using technology and allowing each student to learn at his or her own pace.

A: I think people who care about personalized learning talk about it as: If we just collect more data, we're going to have this personalization. And that's not clear to me at all.

I think when you look at the idea of pace, we are so convinced that slow means dumb and fast means smart. We feel justified in pegging the time to how fast the average person takes to finish.

But this is where, with a better understanding of this and realizing, "Oh, pace really has nothing to do with ability, people are fast at some things and slow with others," you would build a very different system than the one we have.

Q: Do you think the school system acknowledges the need to treat students as individuals?

A: Two years ago I would have said no. But my colleague Paul Reville, who used to be secretary of education in Massachusetts, he's rethinking the architecture of school systems. In most states, people have put on the books goals about meeting every kid where they're at. Even the "Every Student Succeeds" [ESSA, the new federal law] approach is based on the assumption that we're meeting each kid where they're at, to give them what they need to be successful.

But we haven't thought through the system design that needs to be in place to do that.

We're trying to have a system to do what it was never designed to do.

Q: What about in higher education?

A: In higher ed we have a brutally standardized system. It doesn't matter what your interests are, what job you want, everyone takes the same courses in roughly the same time and at the end of the course you get ranked.

This is personal for me. I have two kids in college. The idea that someone is going to click a stopwatch, compare you to other kids in your class, and the kids with the best grades can get the best jobs, that's not a good deal. I want my two boys to figure out what they love and what they're good at and be exposed to things and be able to turn that into a job.

Q: You talk about innovations that are starting to catch on, like competency-based education and credentialing — basically, accommodating different pathways and different balances of strengths and weakness.

A: There's plenty of ways we're making smaller units of learning to combine in ways that are useful to you. To me, competency based education is nonnegotiable. I don't think you can have fixed-time, grade-based learning anymore. I don't see how you justify diplomas.

It doesn't mean students can take forever, but allowing some flexibility in pace and only caring whether they master the material or not is a sound foundation for a higher ed system.

There are so many examples of a lot of really interesting universities trying these things.

Q: Yes, reading this book it struck me that in some quarters, it seems like we've already moved forward to a focus on individuality, innovation, creativity. You talk about how companies like Google are finding that GPA or school prestige or even ranking employees against each other is not useful, and instead they need to create, essentially, performance-based assessments for doing tasks in context.

A: There are bright spots where you can see the principles of individuality at work.

So for me it comes back to, well, wait a minute. So why is that not the mainstream?

What I think my contribution is, is to say: Our institutions are based on assumptions about human beings. Our education system is based on a 19th century idea of an average person and using 20th century statistics.

As long as people think you can understand people based on averages, or how they deviate from averages, it seems reasonable. It looks like accountability and fairness rather than absurdity.

Q: And you're trying to show that there's an alternative?

A: If we don't get rid of this way of thinking about ourselves and the people around us, it's hard to get the public demand to create sustainable change. That's the role that I and my organization want to play. We're making a really big bet."
anyakamenetz  toddrose  standards  grades  grading  averages  education  howweteach  schools  admissions  tests  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  sameness  paulmolenaar  textbooks  behavior  performance  individuality 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Students and the Pressure to Perform — To the Point — KCRW
"Silicon Valley's Palo Alto school district is in crisis. The suicide rate for teenagers there is four to five times the national average. This tragic statistic has made the city a symbol of the pressure kids live under in affluent communities to get into elite colleges, to excel at everything, to succeed at all costs. This week, as high school seniors and their families gather around computers racing to finish their college applications, we ask whether the obsession with getting into the best colleges is hurting kids more than helping them, and what schools, parents and students can do lessen the stress."
education  stress  class  barbarabogarev  suniyaluthar  julielythcott-haims  gwyethsmighjr  carolynwalworth  paloalto  siliconvalley  colleges  universities  admissions  homework  schools  parenting  anxiety  success  suicide 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Why Affluent Parents Put So Much Pressure on Their Kids - The Atlantic
"With financial success ought to come some measure of relief—a chance to take in a deep breath, exhale, and survey the world from the top.

But, as Hanna Rosin’s recent Atlantic cover story on the high rate of suicide among high-school students in Palo Alto, California, captures, that’s not how things work. To the contrary, kids living in one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country are stressed and miserable. As Rosin writes:
On the surface, the rich kids seem to be thriving. They have cars, nice clothes, good grades, easy access to health care, and, on paper, excellent prospects. But many of them are not navigating adolescence successfully.

The rich middle- and high-school kids [Arizona State professor Suniya] Luthar and her collaborators have studied show higher rates of alcohol and drug abuse on average than poor kids, and much higher rates than the national norm.* They report clinically significant depression or anxiety or delinquent behaviors at a rate two to three times the national average. Starting in seventh grade, the rich cohort includes just as many kids who display troubling levels of delinquency as the poor cohort, although the rule-breaking takes different forms. The poor kids, for example, fight and carry weapons more frequently, which Luthar explains as possibly self-protective. The rich kids, meanwhile, report higher levels of lying, cheating, and theft.

Why is this? As Rosin reports, a major factor is “pressure”—from parents, teachers, themselves, whoever—to excel not just in school but in a host of other activities as well. All of that pressure and the resulting hyper-activity seem to leave kids feeling very tired, very inadequate, and very alone. No wonder they are miserable.

But that does little to answer the question of why there is so much pressure in the first place. It turns out that there is a pretty straightforward—and ultimately very troubling—answer: It’s because the competition for a place among the country’s well-off is so vicious. To secure one of those spots, kids must gain admission to a relatively small number of elite colleges and universities, which “essentially did not grow but rather became increasingly selective” since the 1970s. (By contrast, in Canada, where higher education “lacks a steep prestige hierarchy,” the admissions competition is less dire.)

In part, this is because of what sort of people make up America's elite today: not the owners of family businesses but professionals with impressive educations. Family businesses are heritable; education, by contrast, is not. No matter how successful parents are, their kids have to earn their own way in (albeit, of course, with the incredible advantages that come from having highly educated, well-off parents). As sociologist Hilary Levey Friedman put it in an interview with Jessica Grose at Slate, “If you’re a doctor, lawyer, or MBA—you can’t pass those on to your kids.”

All of this results in what the economists Garey and Valerie Ramey of the University of California, San Diego, brilliantly termed “the rug rat race.” As they wrote in a 2010 paper, “The increased scarcity of college slots appears to have heightened rivalry among parents, which takes the form of more hours spent on college preparatory activities.” In their findings, the rug rat race takes place primarily among the most educated parents, because there simply aren’t enough spots at elite schools for less-educated parents to even really have a shot, especially as the competition accelerates. It’s for this reason that the most educated parents spend the most hours parenting, even though they are giving up the most in wages by doing so.

This intense competition does more than serve as a giant sieve for college admissions; it is also a intensive training process for the actual skills that it takes to succeed at the upper echelons of the American economy. As one soccer parent told Friedman during her research on parenting in such a competitive culture, “I think it’s important for [my son] to understand that [being competitive] is not going to just apply here, it’s going to apply for the rest of his life. It’s going to apply when he keeps growing up and he’s playing sports, when he’s competing for school admissions, for a job, for the next whatever.” Friedman concludes, “Such an attitude prepares children for winner-take-all settings like the school system and lucrative labor markets.”

This leaves affluent parents with little choice. Even for those who fear the consequences of the pressure on their kids, they may figure it’s worth getting through a few tough years for a lifetime of economic security. One thing that bolsters this rationale: the steep dropoff in incomes and wealth from the very, very rich to America’s struggling middle class. There is a lot to be gained by being among the very elite. If that's something you have a reasonable shot at, there’s a good argument for taking it.

The conversation about the intense pressure on kids is normally focused on parenting culture, on what parents are doing wrong. But this all needs to be considered in the broader context of the American economy. The pressure on kids may come from parents, but it’s the result of systemic forces so much bigger and so much more powerful than anything any household has control over.

In a sense, what wealthy parents are doing is working. There is very little social mobility in America, up or down, and most of those born into the richest and best-educated households will someday run their own high-earning, highly educated households.

Then again, it’s not working at all. There is very little social mobility in America, up or down, and most of those born into the poorest and least-educated households will someday run their own low-earning, poorly educated households. How is it that a country so prosperous shines its munificence on so few? And, for those who do find success, why does getting there leave them feeling so hopeless?"
education  affluence  precarity  economics  inequality  society  socialmobility  us  incomeinequality  fear  parenting  schools  learning  competition  fragility  hannahrosin  pressure  anxiety  stress  selectivity  colleges  universities  rebeccarosen  gareyramey  valerieramey  admissions  scarcity  jessicagross  suniyaluthar  paloalto  siliconvalley 
november 2015 by robertogreco
What one college discovered when it stopped accepting SAT/ACT scores - The Washington Post
"Hampshire College is a liberal arts school in Massachusetts that has decided not to accept SAT/ACT scores from applicants. That’s right — the college won’t accept them, a step beyond the hundreds of “test-optional” schools that leave it up to the applicant to decide whether to include them in their applications. So what has happened as a result of the decision?

For one thing, U.S. News & World report has refused to include Hampshire in its annual rankings. For another, Hampshire officials say, this year’s freshman class, the first chosen under the new rules, is more qualified by other measures than earlier classes.

Hampshire College was founded in 1970 as an alternative private liberal arts college that experiments with curriculum and relies on portfolios of work and narrative evaluations rather than distribution requirements and grades. It is one of the top colleges in the nation in terms of the proportion of its graduates who go on to graduate school.

Here’s an explanation of what the college did regarding SAT/ACT scores and why, from President Jonathan Lash, who is also a director of the World Resources Institute, a D.C.-based environmental think tank, where he previously served as president. He chaired former President Bill Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development and was Vermont’s environmental secretary and commissioner. He holds a law degree and master’s degree in education from Catholic University of America and a bachelor’s from Harvard College.

By Jonathan Lash:

You won’t find our college in the U.S. News & Word Report “Best Colleges” rankings released this month. Last year Hampshire College decided not to accept SAT/ACT test scores from high school applicants seeking admission. That got us kicked off the rankings, disqualified us, per U.S. News rankings criteria. That’s OK with us.

We completely dropped standardized tests from our application as part of our new mission-driven admissions strategy, distinct from the “test-optional” policy that hundreds of colleges now follow. If we reduce education to the outcomes of a test, the only incentive for schools and students to innovate is in the form of improving test-taking and scores. Teaching to a test becomes stifling for teachers and students, far from the inspiring, adaptive education which most benefits students. Our greatly accelerating world needs graduates who are trained to address tough situations with innovation, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and a capacity for mobilizing collaboration and cooperation.

We weighed other factors in our decision:

• Standardized test scores do not predict a student’s success at our college.

• SATs/ACTs are strongly biased against low-income students and students of color, at a time when diversity is critical to our mission.

• We surveyed our students and learned not one of them had considered rankings when choosing to apply to colleges; instead they most cared about a college’s mission.

• Some good students are bad test takers, particularly under stress, such as when a test may grant or deny college entry. Multiple-choice tests don’t reveal much about a student.

• We’ve developed much better, fairer ways to assess students who will thrive at our college.

In our admissions, we review an applicant’s whole academic and lived experience. We consider an applicant’s ability to present themselves in essays and interviews, review their recommendations from mentors, and assess factors such as their community engagement and entrepreneurism. And yes, we look closely at high school academic records, though in an unconventional manner. We look for an overarching narrative that shows motivation, discipline, and the capacity for self-reflection. We look at grade point average (GPA) as a measure of performance over a range of courses and time, distinct from a one-test-on-one-day SAT/ACT score. A student’s consistent “A” grades may be coupled with evidence of curiosity and learning across disciplines, as well as leadership in civic or social causes. Another student may have overcome obstacles through determination, demonstrating promise of success in a demanding program. Strong high school graduates demonstrate purpose, a passion for authenticity, and commitment to positive change.

We’re seeing remarkable admissions results since disregarding standardized test scores:

• Our yield, the percentage of students who accepted our invitation to enroll, rose in a single year from 18% to 26%, an amazing turnaround.

• The quantity of applications went down, but the quality went up, likely because we made it harder to apply, asking for more essays. Our applicants collectively were more motivated, mature, disciplined and consistent in their high school years than past applicants.

• Class diversity increased to 31% students of color, the most diverse in our history, up from 21% two years ago.

• The percentage of students who are the first-generation from their family to attend college rose from 10% to 18% in this year’s class.

Our “No SAT/ACT policy” has also changed us in ways deeper than data and demographics: Not once did we sit in an Admissions committee meeting and “wish we had a test score.” Without the scores, every other detail of the student’s application became more vivid. Their academic record over four years, letters of recommendation, essays, in-person interviews, and the optional creative supplements gave us a more complete portrait than we had seen before. Applicants gave more attention to their applications, including the optional components, putting us in a much better position to predict their likelihood of success here.

This move away from test scores and disqualification from the U.S. News rankings has allowed us to innovate in ways we could not before. In other words, we are free to innovate rather than compromise our mission to satisfy rankings criteria:

• We no longer chase volumes of applications to superficially inflate our “selectivity” and game the U.S. News rankings. We no longer have to worry that any applicant will “lower our average SAT/ACT scores” and thus lower our U.S. News ranking. Instead we choose quality over quantity and focus attention and resources on each applicant and their full portfolio.

• At college fairs and information sessions, we don’t spend time answering high school families’ questions about our ranking and test score “cut-offs.” Instead we have conversations about the things that matter: What does our unique academic program look like, and what qualities does a student need to be successful at it?

• An unexpected benefit: This shift has saved us significant time and operational expense. Having a smaller but more targeted, engaged, passionate, and robust applicant pool, we are able to streamline our resources.

How can U.S. News rankings reliably measure college quality when their data-points focus primarily on the high school performance of the incoming class in such terms as GPA, SAT/ACT, class rank, and selectivity? These measures have nothing to do with the college’s results, except perhaps in the college’s aptitude for marketing and recruiting. Tests and rankings incentivize schools to conform to test performance and rankings criteria, at the expense of mission and innovation.

Our shift to a mission-driven approach to admissions is right for Hampshire College and the right thing to do. We fail students if we reduce them to a standardized test number tied more to their financial status than achievement. We fail students by perpetuating the myth that high standardized test scores signal “better” students. We are in the top one percent of colleges nationwide in the percentage of our undergraduate alumni who go on to earn advanced degrees – this on the strength of an education where we assess their capabilities narratively, and where we never, not once, subject them to a numerical or letter grade on a test or course.

At Hampshire College, we face the same financial challenges as many colleges. But these challenges provide an opportunity to think about who we are and what matters to us. We can not lose sight of our mission while seeking revenues or chasing rankings. We are committed to remaining disqualified from the U.S. News rankings. We’re done with standardized testing, the SAT, and ACT."
hampshirecollege  colleges  universities  admissions  sat  act  education  grading  teaching  rankings  diversity  jonathanlash  standardizedtesting  tests  class  race  selectivity  fit  srg  edg 
october 2015 by robertogreco
What the Privileged Poor Can Teach Us - The New York Times
"While elite colleges have taken strides in financially supporting students previously left outside their gates, they have thought less about what that inclusion means for academic life, or how colleges themselves might need to change to help the least advantaged continue on their road to success.

Colleges lag in readying themselves for increasingly diverse student bodies, in part because they habitually get their new diversity from old sources. My research shows that, on average, half of the lower-income black undergraduates at elite colleges today come from private high schools like Andover and Dalton. As early as middle school (and sometimes sooner), students participate in programs like Prep for Prep and A Better Chance. These programs remove lower-income students from typically distressed public schools and place them in predominantly white, resource-rich, affluent private schools. Elite colleges effectively hedge their bets: They recruit those already familiar with the social and cultural norms that pervade their own campuses.

As a sociologist, I study this new diversity at elite colleges. I call lower-income undergraduates who graduated from private high schools the privileged poor. Although they receive excellent educations, my research shows that their ability to navigate the informal social rules that govern elite college life is what really gives them advantages relative to their lower-income peers who did not attend elite high schools, those whom I call the doubly disadvantaged. Although also academically gifted and driven, they enter college with less exposure to the unsaid expectations of elite academic settings. They adjust, but acclimating to the social side of academic life takes time, potentially limiting their access to institutional resources and social networks. Naturally, this framework does not encompass every student, but it does help to explain why students from similarly disadvantaged backgrounds navigate the same college so differently."



"Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is expected. It is rewarded. In a commencement address earlier this year, Michelle Obama told the graduating seniors of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School in Chicago pretty much the same thing. As she got to know her classmates at Princeton, she said, she “realized that they were all struggling with something, but instead of hiding their struggles and trying to deal with them all alone, they reached out.”

The differences I observe in my research highlight how unequal opportunities constrain disadvantaged groups before and during college. To close this gap, we must address the entrenched structural inequalities that plague America’s forgotten neighborhoods and neglected public schools. These changes are what Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at N.Y.U., calls “durable urban policies.” They will go a long way to help counter these systemic problems.

But these changes will take time, if they happen at all. In the interim, as colleges continue to diversify, they must investigate the practices they take for granted. One thing that works is voluntary preorientation programs that help students acclimate to college. You’re not going to teach students all the tricks of the trade that one picks up at Andover, but these programs do provide localized knowledge of the college and opportunities for breaking down social barriers between college officials and students through sustained contact.

Schools as different as Williams College and the University of North Carolina have smart programs that work to help freshmen adjust to college but also to integrate them into advising communities throughout their undergraduate years. I elected to do one at Amherst. Not only did the summer science program give me several lifelong friends who supported me when my family didn’t quite understand what I was going through, but it also gave me early access to a host of mentors whom I still call on today.

Professors, deans and support centers should find new ways to actively engage students, rather than reacting when students are already at their most distressed. If not, elite colleges will continue to privilege the privileged while neglecting those not fortunate enough to gain exposure to the advantages that money — whether it’s your own or your sponsor’s — can buy."
admissions  education  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  diversity  2015  privilege  anthonyabrahamjack  inequality  race 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Six Horrible ‘Innovations’ of Charter Schools | GFBrandenburg's Blog
"1. Carefully screen your incoming students…

2. (For most of them – there are a few exceptions) Use really heavy-handed education methods that do not allow room for any creativity or choice on the part of the students …

3. Really high suspension (in-school, out-of-school) and expulsion rates and heavy recommendations to parents to transfer their children out …

4. Not accept any students at all after September …

5. Hire young kids as teachers right out of college with no work or real-world or education experience at all …

6. Have a really, really long school day and school week."
education  via:taryn  schools  admissions  teaching  labor  2015  charterschools 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Come On Sister by Kevin Nguyen
"The comic might not have been a hit, but we would at least have a good time at the concert. We were seated in the front row of the mezzanine, looking out over the audience and the dozens of cell phones and digital cameras that were recording the show. I made a comment about how dumb it was that everyone was filming the show on their crappy phones. What do people even do with that footage anyway?

Then I turned and saw that Olivia was recording with her camera. She texted and took photos throughout the entire show. She seemed bored, but I figured that’s just how kids were these days. Always texting.

I tried to keep her attention throughout the show by saying really interesting things like “This is the third track on Tigermilk,” and “There aren’t usually drums on ‘Piazza New York Catcher.’”

I asked Olivia which songs she wanted to hear in particular. She named a few, but was really hoping to hear “If You Find Yourself Caught in Love.” I thought it would be unlikely, since it appears toward the tail end of Dear Catastrophe Waitress. I was surprised and grateful when the band played the first few piano notes of the song. Unfortunately, for the first minute, frontman Stuart Murdoch sang into a dead mic, unaware that the audience couldn’t hear him. I kept thinking, Don’t ruin my sister’s favorite song, but Olivia didn’t look the least bit disappointed. Even though we couldn’t hear Murdoch, she sang along anyway.

Belle and Sebastian closed the concert with “Sleep the Clock Around.”

“This is the second track off The Boy with the Arab Strap,” I said.

Olivia nodded.

“This is probably my favorite song,” I added. “This song is really good. I’m glad they’re playing it.”

She started filming again.

After the concert, I asked Olivia if the show was better than the Fray concert she’d been to a few months before.

“Well, you can’t really compare them,” she said.

A week later, Olivia posted a thirty-second video of “Sleep the Clock Around” to Facebook. One of her friends left a comment asking how the show was. She replied, hahahaha the whole crowd were 20 to 30 year olds. the only person who knew [the band] was my AP world history teacher hahaha.

None of my sister’s friends knew who Belle and Sebastian were. And it became apparent that Olivia didn’t actually like Belle and Sebastian that much—but she knew I did. Among all those things my sister was better at than I was: being a thoughtful, unselfish sibling. In truth, I hadn’t taken her to the concert so much as she had taken me."



"I kept telling Olivia that everything would work out, that, in hindsight, she’d see that not getting into her first-choice school wasn’t the end of the world. The last thing a teenager wants, though, is for her distress to be treated with condescension. I could tell her everything would be okay, I could mansplain the college process, I could tell her to stop whining, but none of these things would be very helpful. I realized that I was a woefully inept older brother.

A few years ago, I saw John Green, an author of young-adult fiction, give a talk. He made an offhand comment about how teenagers were selfish, then backed up on the point. He explained that what he meant to say was that teenagers were rightfully selfish. In high school, it’s so overwhelming and difficult to figure out one’s identity and sense of place that teenagers have to be selfish. I think this is the smartest summation I’ve come across about adolescence. A teenager’s pain is unique and singular, and yet it must be understood by everyone around her."
2015  kevinnguyen  via:lukeneff  adolescence  culture  youth  selfishness  identity  teens  tumblr  collegeadmissions  admissions  siblings 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Robert Reich - I know a high school senior who can’t sleep...
"I know a high school senior who can’t sleep because she’s so worried about whether she’ll be accepted at the college of her choice. This is nuts. It’s also absurd that a four-year college education should be the only gateway into the American middle class. Not everyone is suited to college, nor does everyone need it. We desperately need a world-class system of vocational-technical education. Many of tomorrow’s good jobs will go to technicians who install, service, repair, and upgrade high-tech machinery. Even today, it’s hard to find skilled plumbers and electricians.

Yet we cling to a cultural conceit that four years of college is necessary for everyone, and look down on those who don’t have a college degree. Germany – whose median wage (after taxes and transfers) is higher than ours – trains many of its young people to be world-class technicians. Why can’t we?"

[via: https://www.facebook.com/thepathlesstakenblog/posts/880439552014830

"I'm not anti-college. College is the right path for certain individuals and for certain specific career choices, yes. But.... college is not the be-all, end-all; and college is not the path for everyone; and a college degree should not be a status symbol. It's a tool (an expensive tool), and the decision to go shouldn't be taken lightly. The antiquated notion that *everyone* should aspire to go to college baffles me. There are many many different paths one can take to a happy, healthy, and productive life, and many of them do not involve college at all."]
robertreich  colleges  universities  admissions  economics  education  highered  highereducation  vocational  culture  society  us  middleclass 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Great Escape: How to tunnel your way out of HS and into college | : the readiness is all
"High school can be a prison-of-war like experience for many.You’re stuck in it for a specific time, you don’t get to choose your prison camp leaders (teachers), you don’t get to choose your fellow prison campers etc…

but what can make high school the most prison-like, is this constant push for college readiness. When you make school about what you need to get ready for you do the following:

• You make kids feel that nothing special or important happens until AFTER they graduate.
• You make teachers feel that the purpose of their classroom is to get students ready for something special that happens later.
• You show kids that the end is more important than the means- Immanuel Kant and others are disappointed in this idea."



"How about making school less like practice for something amazing coming up later and more like a performance, a production, or a game? Kids would go crazy if they practiced for four years on the football field in the hopes of making a college team without ever getting to play in a game. Let’s make school fun and meaningful NOW rather than just an endless series of preparation: preparing for tests, college and careers."



"Every year I spend time at back-to-school and in class talking to parents and students about how to make the most of their high school experience in preparation for what comes next. I’m writing this blog post as a permanent resource for both parents and students to make sure they won’t miss a thing. I will update this blog post as needed to include the information that you need to maximize the pursuit of your goal.

IMPORTANT FACT: “Approximately 58 percent of first-time, full-time students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2004 completed a bachelor’s degree at that institution within 6 years.” (From The National Center for Educational Statistics)

Some universities have even LOWER graduation rates and obviously some school have higher graduation rates. The trick isn’t to get INTO a college, it’s to ultimately graduate from a college. People drop out of college for many reasons

• Money
• A lack of academic endurance (either on specific tasks, or just getting through four+ years of a task without their parents bugging them every night… PS dear helicopter parents you aren’t teaching your son/daughter this crucial skill by hand-holding your child through high school- I too struggle with letting my son fail and succeed on his own- let’s all work on that together.)
• Picking the wrong college"

PICKING THE RIGHT COLLEGE:

First of all know this- whichever college you choose, even if it’s not your first or second choice will end up making you happy. Don’t believe me? Just watch this TED talk on the surprising happiness of not getting your number one choice fulfilled."

[Dan Gilbert: “The Surprising Science of Happiness”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q1dgn_C0AU ]



"I think many parents pick colleges based on either what schools they went to, what schools they are familiar with, or what schools they hear about. Kids pick their colleges for many reasons, but the number one reason is this: they want a school that is good enough that their parents will let them leave home. Very few of my students want to go to local college and live at home unless money is a MAJOR issue."



"JUNIOR OR TWO YEAR COLLEGE ADVICE:

There is nothing wrong with going to a Junior College before transferring to a four-year school. I did it and it saved me a ton of money and gave me the time and flexibility to find my passion. There are some pros and cons to the experience- I’ll start with the negative first.

CONS:

• If you pick a JC near your home and show up on the first day surrounded by your former HS classmates you will feel like you never left HS. Depending on who you are this can be disappointed at the least.
• JCs do not have the resources that a four-year university has. They don’t have the same libraries, facilities, access to internships, notable researchers etc…
• When you do go to transfer it will take you at least a quarter to get used to your new school. Everyone else in your upper-division classes will know the ins and outs of the school.
• You won’t have as many friends and won’t have the same connection with your classmates who have been there all four years.
• About four weeks into class half of the students will have dropped the class. Student motivation can be low at a JC and that low motivation can be contagious, trust me I know.

PROS:

• Professors who like to TEACH often find a home at a JC- there is no pressure to do research or constantly publish so they can just teach. That is not to say that there are not published teachers at a JC. My photo teacher Professor John Upton at OCC wrote the photography book that every university used in Photo 101 and Professor Dennis Kelley is pretty famous in his own right, heck I took two classes with the amazing Arthur Taussig and spend a summer with him in the photo developing lab hallways watching Akira Kurosawa films on a TV and VCR that he would wheel in on a cart- that was an awesome summer.
• It’s cheaper so there is less pressure when you make a mistake and need to drop a class or change a major.
• You won’t get stuck with a TA/Grad student teaching your class or running the discussion.
• Most JCs have a community college honors program. With just a 3.1 (your mileage may vary depending on the college) High School GPA and a letter of recommendation you can join their honors program. Many honors programs have a pathway to get you right into a competitive four-year university. Take advantage of this.
• How about getting the experience of living away from home WITHOUT the cost of a four-year. I’ve had friends, family, and students move away from home and attend a JC in the city of their future four-year university. What a great experience without the burden of a $10,000+ tuition charge."
2013  davidtheriault  colleges  universities  admissions  highschool  juniorcolleges  communitycolleges  choice  fulfillment  regret  dangilbert  happiness  education  highered  highereducation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
What We Can Learn from Homeschooling - Hybrid Pedagogy
"I explain all of this not to suggest that homeschooling creates prodigies. It doesn’t, although some homeschoolers are advanced students. My daughter is a regular, bright kid who is flourishing because she has had the opportunity to follow a personal educational path with guidance and participation from the adults in her life. She has had the opportunity to work several grades ahead in her areas of strength and take her time with math, ultimately winding up ahead there, too. In addition, she has far more options for elective study. When I was in high school, I had to choose between orchestra and chorus. There wasn’t time for both. Using free or low-cost resources, my daughter has been able to pursue subjects that are important to her: art, music, computer programming, creating videos, writing novels, and reading — lots and lots of reading. She earns PE credit by taking karate classes, where she is always working towards the next goal of a tournament or belt test. Offering a selection of electives that aren’t necessarily offered by the school, and allowing students to choose several of them would either be impossible in or highly disruptive to the current system. Most kids in traditional school are riding atop an educational super tanker, huge, powerful, and slow to stop or change course, but because we can work outside that system, we’ve been able to speed around on a jet ski.

Let me clarify that I am not using personal learning to mean “personalized learning,” the theory advocating adaptive learning as a panacea for the efficiency problems seen in educating children. Education is a messy process. Like human history itself, it’s not linear but iterative, and we need to pay attention to where each child is on that somewhat unpredictable journey. I am an educational technology advocate who would agree that adaptive learning software is good (even fun) for learning certain things, and technology, used thoughtfully, is a tremendous tool in the hands of practiced educators. However, I would also assert that personal learning ultimately prioritizes human relationships, both faculty/student and students/peers. As in the case of my daughter’s math class, using telecommuting technologies may simply allow us to extend our network of faculty and peers beyond geographical constraints.

If we build this kind of flexibility with accountability into the curriculum, will teaching look different? Yes, and in many ways it will be more difficult. It will require working one on one with students in a very intense way. The hours may be longer, the scheduling different, and more will be expected in terms of collaboration, preparation, and continuing professional development. Finally, because such highly qualified professionals will require more compensation, they may be working with larger class sizes. That’s not ideal, just realistic. I suggest, though, that being an educator in this sort of environment will also be infinitely more rewarding. When educators become facilitators or even, as Chris Friend and Sean Michael Morris argue, “lab managers,” the student truly moves to the center of his or her own learning. If we prepare them, over time, to take control of that learning, then even when some require additional help, students are more likely to thrive."



"The University of Pennsylvania admissions page welcomes homeschooled applicants as “academically talented and often courageous pioneers who chart non-conventional academic paths.” The University of Arizona has a dedicated recruiter for homeschooled students, just as they do for each county in the state. MIT claims that they have long accepted homeschooled students, who become “successful and vibrant members of our community.” If the point of an education is to foster the kind of “intellectual vitality” noted by Reider in his search for Stanford University applicants, why wouldn’t we take what we’ve learned from homeschooling successes and apply it to the education of all our students? Forget iPads. Students need what homeschooling offers: autonomy, versatility, and freedom — in other words, jet skis."
melanieborrego  education  srg  edg  glvo  unschooling  deschooling  learning  colleges  universities  admissions  2015  chrisfriend  seanmichaelmorris  autonomy  homeschool  versitality  freedom  howwelearn  howweteach  messiness  relationships  personalization  personalizedlearning  personallearning  flexibility  johnholt  stanford  ucriverside  mit  penn  leifnelson  finland 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Museum admission should be free: The state of art in 2014 - LA Times
"Recently I visited six prominent art museums in two states (Texas and Ohio) and saw a wide variety of rewarding special exhibitions and exceptional permanent collections. Aside from individual works of art, which included some of the most important paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, illustrated books and decorative objects made in the entire history of world civilization, I was struck by something else: Admission to five of the six art museums was free.

That is as it should be.

Yes, every art museum needs multiple sources of revenue. It does cost money to run the place.

However, because they are tax exempt, art museums already count the public as a major, indirect source of revenue. Required admission fees add a second hit — a kind of "double jeopardy" — and it is one that falls harder on those who can least afford it.

The simple fact that I was struck by not having to pay for the privilege of entering tax-exempt, not-for-profit art institutions on my recent journeys suggests how unusual the experience is. That's because most of my museum time is spent in Los Angeles. Until this year, only one of the city's six most important art museums hasn't had a tariff for the public to see its art — even though the public at least nominally supports or owns it.

In February L.A. got its second free museum. UCLA's Hammer Museum joined the J. Paul Getty Museum (and the Getty Villa) in having no entry cost. The Hammer raised funds to bridge the immediate funding gap, and it has been working toward expanding memberships for added revenue. But here's the true measure of success: In the 10 months since dropping admission fees, the museum reports a hefty attendance jump of 25%.

Museums like to say that they are eager to engage new audiences, and no doubt they are. Growing attendance by a quarter without tinkering with the program is a pretty good working definition of new audience engagement.

Admission policies often have an unacknowledged influence on museum programs too, and it isn't always healthy. Admission fees turn visitors into customers, and relying on customers turns an educational enterprise — which is what a museum is — into a public entertainment. Quantity of response trumps quality of response, and in the short run the surest way to juice quantity is to popularize the program.

For example: It probably isn't an accident that each of the last three directors at the Museum of Contemporary Art (general admission $12) has chosen to host an exhibition revolving around Andy Warhol. Contemporary art is not popular with the public, but Warhol is a household name — a celebrity. What Monet or Picasso is for Modern art, Warhol is to contemporary art.

The most famous artist of the last half-century is presumably a popular draw. Here's the catch: None of MOCA's three Warhol shows added much of any significance to our already established understanding of a major artist's work. And each exhibition was less interesting than the one before it. The slide was palpable.

Museums might say they're interested in engaging new audiences, but sometimes it seems they're actually eager to engage more paying customers. The Indianapolis Museum of Art, mostly free since 1941, just announced it would zoom from zero to $18 a head.

Ironically, when it comes to admissions we're not even talking about a huge revenue generator. Nationally, the portion of an art museum's annual operating budget that is covered by visitors pushing cash across the counter at the admissions desk hovers in the vicinity of 5%. That's beyond modest, relatively speaking.

Free admission is already the norm at several smaller, more specialized institutions around the city, including the California African American Museum, the Annenberg Space for Photography, the UCLA Fowler Museum and the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Save for the Getty, however, the most imposing art museums in town swing far in the other direction.

In addition to MOCA, there's the Huntington (general admission $20 to $23), Los Angeles County Museum of Art ($15 to $25) and Norton Simon Museum ($12). You could certainly get free entry at any of them if you were a member, but I doubt many people sign up at all four: Together, the lowest individual rate for that would be $340.

One comparative test of the admission practice will come next fall, when the Broad Collection opens downtown on Grand Avenue. Happily, the Broad administration announced this year that, like the Getty and the Hammer, its collection of blue-chip contemporary art will be open free to the public.

It has been hoped that the splashy new attraction will also benefit MOCA, the Broad's edgier neighbor across the street. Interest in one might generate interest in the other. Soon we'll know whether MOCA's admission fee is a barrier — and if so, how much."
museums  2014  admissions  funding  cost  money  revenue  nonprofits  free  getty  hammermuseum  moca  ucla  christopherknight  art  losangeles  accessibility  access  nonprofit 
january 2015 by robertogreco
For Accomplished Students, Reaching a Good College Isn’t as Hard as It Seems - NYTimes.com
"And the real odds of success were even higher than 51 percent. The top students in the Parchment database applied to 2.6 elite colleges, on average. Flip a coin twice and, according to probability theory, you’ll get heads at least once 75 percent of the time. Sure enough, 80 percent of top students were accepted to at least one elite school.

Since there has never been a time when 100 percent of well-qualified students were successful in the college admissions market, the truism that elite colleges are far more difficult to crack than in years gone by can’t be correct: 80 percent is too close, mathematically, to nearly everyone."
colleges  universities  admissions  2014  kevincarey  highered  highereducation 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Rox and Roll: Parents: let Harvard go
"I want to tell every parent reading this post that you need to assume, right now, that your child is not getting into Harvard no matter what he or she does. (And no, he's not getting into Stanford either, or Yale, or Dartmouth, or MIT. Probably not UC Berkeley either. No, I'm not kidding.) Your kid isn't getting into the college you think he is.

What? So-and-so's child is at Princeton right now? and got what on his SATs? and did those activities? Hmmm. Interesting. Sure, you can prove me wrong with some examples. And I can prove myself right with a hundred more. Stanford's rate of admission was below 5% last year. Do the math.

In the spirit of "I want to do something," I offer below some Q & A that I hope y'all read and take to heart. These are real questions asked by real parents of real kids I know within the past year. I didn't answer these questions at the time exactly like I did below, but I answer them here and now based on a combination of my expertise in admissions (noting that nothing I say here should be construed as official advice or information given on behalf of any school) as well as my experience as a community leader and parent.

And be forewarned: I'm going to be a bit of a wise-ass, 'cause we all need to calm down like Martha says, which also means "lighten up" in my book.

But also, I promise a reward at the end: questions that I wish people would ask me instead. And I think -- I hope -- it's some valuable stuff."



"Post-publication note: This posts seems to have reached a lot of people who have a lot of strong reactions to it. I think the comment that reached me most on another person's Facebook page is one from a parent who thinks I am encouraging mediocrity. The snarky part of me wants to tell the dude he's right, that I tell my kids "aim low." But the truth is, this post is far from encouraging mediocrity or "settling" for anything less than a child can feel good about achieving. As a Palo Alto parent, I am tired of our culture of 'achievement' as defined by grades, scores, college admissions, and the like. And I am unapologetic about that. I have worked with our community's teens as a coach, as a youth minister, as a mentor, and as a parent, and I encourage every kid to be their best self. That means being proud of their work, whether in the classroom, on the playing field, and/or in the world. Do I think they need to engage in competition for one of those 15 slots at Stanford (there is no fixed number, and I wouldn't know it if there were) by trying to outwit, outplay, and outlast (to borrow "Survivor" lingo)? Nope. And beyond that, there are going to be times when our kids just don't want to work hard because they're kids and continue to push boundaries. They're going to blow off studying for a test. They're going to fail something. Good. That's right -- I said good. Their mistakes teach them that actions have consequences and that their effort ties to their outcomes. We can't give them that with carrots or with sticks. They'll figure it out. They want to do well -- as they define it. (They know what's up with college admissions without us even getting involved, parents.) And the more they figure out for themselves, with no message from us other than "we take you as you are and want you to be healthy and fulfilled," the healthier our kids are going to be. I want nothing but the best for our village's kids -- for any kids-- and I stuck my neck out there with the post because I refuse to define the "best" as it has been anymore. The best for our kids is no more of them self-harming in any way, and I feel like we can alleviate some of that by changing our tone."
colleges  universityis  admissions  parenting  2014  via:willrichardson  stress  pressure  anxiety  aps  ivyleague  motivation  harvard  collegeadmissions  testing  standardizedtesting  success  achievement  mediocrity  grades  grading  standards  sleep  teens  adolescence  highschool  schools  education  competition  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  apclasses 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Bennington introduces new option for applicants @insidehighered
"Bennington College on Wednesday announced a new option for undergraduate applicants in which they themselves determine entirely what to send or not send for consideration.

The college was already test-optional and a member of the Common Application, and will continue to accept applications that way. But a new "dimensional admissions" option will let students create their entire application portfolio (including transcripts from high school only if they wish).

There will be no suggested format except for this broad prompt: “We invite you to share with us a collection of your work that speaks to these capacities and creates a portrait of what you bring to the Bennington community. We invite you to be deeply thoughtful. We invite you to be bold. We invite you to bring your own dimension to the college application.”

Bennington officials said that in the same way that the college encourages students to be creative and to think for themselves, the college now wants to see how applicants demonstrate those qualities.

A panel of faculty members and Bennington alumni will review the applications that are submitted this way. Their charge will be to evaluate applicants based on how their submission -- in whatever form -- shows "the ability to create and revise work, dexterity with words and numbers, inventiveness, intrinsic motivation, and the capacity to apply ... understanding to new situations," as well as on other qualities.

A spokeswoman from Bennington said that a high school transcript (which would be part of a review under the Common Application) could be submitted by an applicant using the dimensional approach, but that this was not required.

Bennington's announcement comes the same month that Goucher College announced that it was creating a new admissions option. At Goucher, applicants may submit a two-minute video and two pieces of work done in high school instead of everything else, including the high school transcript. While some experts praised the idea as innovative (and it attracted considerable attention), others said that a high school transcript is in fact necessary to effectively evaluate applicants.

In 2013, Bard College introduced an option for applicants to apply using only essays -- four 2,500-word research papers -- and the college has been pleased with the results.

Hung Bui, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at Bennington, said via email that he expected most applicants to continue to use the Common Application and to submit transcripts.

On the issue admitting students without high school transcripts, Bui said that "whatever application students are using, the Common App or the dimensional application, we require that they demonstrate a record of academic achievement to be admitted to Bennington." He added that "transcripts are one way to communicate a student's capacity to work hard and consistently. We are open to reviewing other materials, in addition or in place of a transcript, that demonstrate those same qualities.""

[More on the Goucher College announcement: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/28/education/college-admissions-goucher-video.html ]
colleges  universities  2014  admissions  transcripts  unschooling  deschooling  assessment  portfolios  hungbui  bardcollege  srg  edg  benningtoncollege  gouchercollege 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The New Face of College | American RadioWorks |
"Just 20 percent of college-goers fit the stereotype of being young, single, full-time students who finish a degree in four years. College students today are more likely to be older, part-time, working, and low-income than they were three decades ago. Many are the first in their families to go to college.

This American RadioWorks documentary shows how universities are adapting to serve these new students. It explains changing demographics, and explores what colleges must do to remain engines of social mobility."
2014  colleges  universities  us  diversity  money  finance  highered  highereducation  admissions  socialmobility  amherst  elpas  utep  heritageuniversity  demographics 
september 2014 by robertogreco
At the elite colleges - dim white kids - The Boston Globe
"AUTUMN AND a new academic year are upon us, which means that selective colleges are engaged in the annual ritual of singing the praises of their new freshman classes.

Surf the websites of such institutions and you will find press releases boasting that they have increased their black and Hispanic enrollments, admitted bumper crops of National Merit scholars or became the destination of choice for hordes of high school valedictorians. Many are bragging about the large share of applicants they rejected, as a way of conveying to the world just how popular and selective they are.

What they almost never say is that many of the applicants who were rejected were far more qualified than those accepted. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, it was not the black and Hispanic beneficiaries of affirmative action, but the rich white kids with cash and connections who elbowed most of the worthier applicants aside.

Researchers with access to closely guarded college admissions data have found that, on the whole, about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America's highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their institutions' minimum admissions standards.

Five years ago, two researchers working for the Educational Testing Service, Anthony Carnevale and Stephen Rose, took the academic profiles of students admitted into 146 colleges in the top two tiers of Barron's college guide and matched them up against the institutions' advertised requirements in terms of high school grade point average, SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, and records of involvement in extracurricular activities. White students who failed to make the grade on all counts were nearly twice as prevalent on such campuses as black and Hispanic students who received an admissions break based on their ethnicity or race.

Who are these mediocre white students getting into institutions such as Harvard, Wellesley, Notre Dame, Duke, and the University of Virginia? A sizable number are recruited athletes who, research has shown, will perform worse on average than other students with similar academic profiles, mainly as a result of the demands their coaches will place on them.

A larger share, however, are students who gained admission through their ties to people the institution wanted to keep happy, with alumni, donors, faculty members, administrators, and politicians topping the list.

Applicants who stood no chance of gaining admission without connections are only the most blatant beneficiaries of such admissions preferences. Except perhaps at the very summit of the applicant pile - that lofty place occupied by young people too brilliant for anyone in their right mind to turn down - colleges routinely favor those who have connections over those who don't. While some applicants gain admission by legitimately beating out their peers, many others get into exclusive colleges the same way people get into trendy night clubs, by knowing the management or flashing cash at the person manning the velvet rope.

Leaders at many selective colleges say they have no choice but to instruct their admissions offices to reward those who financially support their institutions, because keeping donors happy is the only way they can keep the place afloat. They also say that the money they take in through such admissions preferences helps them provide financial aid to students in need.

But many of the colleges granting such preferences are already well-financed, with huge endowments. And, in many cases, little of the money they take in goes toward serving the less-advantaged."
class  culture  education  race  money  admissions  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere. | New Republic
"Experience itself has been reduced to instrumental function, via the college essay. From learning to commodify your experiences for the application, the next step has been to seek out experiences in order to have them to commodify. The New York Times reports that there is now a thriving sector devoted to producing essay-ready summers, but what strikes one is the superficiality of the activities involved: a month traveling around Italy studying the Renaissance, “a whole day” with a band of renegade artists. A whole day!

I’ve noticed something similar when it comes to service. Why is it that people feel the need to go to places like Guatemala to do their projects of rescue or documentation, instead of Milwaukee or Arkansas? When students do stay in the States, why is it that so many head for New Orleans? Perhaps it’s no surprise, when kids are trained to think of service as something they are ultimately doing for themselves—that is, for their résumés. “Do well by doing good,” goes the slogan. How about just doing good?

If there is one idea, above all, through which the concept of social responsibility is communicated at the most prestigious schools, it is “leadership.” “Harvard is for leaders,” goes the Cambridge cliché. To be a high-achieving student is to constantly be urged to think of yourself as a future leader of society. But what these institutions mean by leadership is nothing more than getting to the top. Making partner at a major law firm or becoming a chief executive, climbing the greasy pole of whatever hierarchy you decide to attach yourself to. I don’t think it occurs to the people in charge of elite colleges that the concept of leadership ought to have a higher meaning, or, really, any meaning.

The irony is that elite students are told that they can be whatever they want, but most of them end up choosing to be one of a few very similar things. As of 2010, about a third of graduates went into financing or consulting at a number of top schools, including Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell. Whole fields have disappeared from view: the clergy, the military, electoral politics, even academia itself, for the most part, including basic science. It’s considered glamorous to drop out of a selective college if you want to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but ludicrous to stay in to become a social worker. “What Wall Street figured out,” as Ezra Klein has put it, “is that colleges are producing a large number of very smart, completely confused graduates. Kids who have ample mental horsepower, an incredible work ethic and no idea what to do next.”

For the most selective colleges, this system is working very well indeed. Application numbers continue to swell, endowments are robust, tuition hikes bring ritual complaints but no decline in business. Whether it is working for anyone else is a different question."



"Is there anything that I can do, a lot of young people have written to ask me, to avoid becoming an out-of-touch, entitled little shit? I don’t have a satisfying answer, short of telling them to transfer to a public university. You cannot cogitate your way to sympathy with people of different backgrounds, still less to knowledge of them. You need to interact with them directly, and it has to be on an equal footing: not in the context of “service,” and not in the spirit of “making an effort,” either—swooping down on a member of the college support staff and offering to “buy them a coffee,” as a former Yalie once suggested, in order to “ask them about themselves.”

Instead of service, how about service work? That’ll really give you insight into other people. How about waiting tables so that you can see how hard it is, physically and mentally? You really aren’t as smart as everyone has been telling you; you’re only smarter in a certain way. There are smart people who do not go to a prestigious college, or to any college—often precisely for reasons of class. There are smart people who are not “smart.”"



"More broadly, they need to rethink their conception of merit. If schools are going to train a better class of leaders than the ones we have today, they’re going to have to ask themselves what kinds of qualities they need to promote. Selecting students by GPA or the number of extracurriculars more often benefits the faithful drudge than the original mind.

The changes must go deeper, though, than reforming the admissions process. That might address the problem of mediocrity, but it won’t address the greater one of inequality. The problem is the Ivy League itself. We have contracted the training of our leadership class to a set of private institutions. However much they claim to act for the common good, they will always place their interests first. The arrangement is great for the schools, but is Harvard’s desire for alumni donations a sufficient reason to perpetuate the class system?

I used to think that we needed to create a world where every child had an equal chance to get to the Ivy League. I’ve come to see that what we really need is to create one where you don’t have to go to the Ivy League, or any private college, to get a first-rate education.

High-quality public education, financed with public money, for the benefit of all: the exact commitment that drove the growth of public higher education in the postwar years. Everybody gets an equal chance to go as far as their hard work and talent will take them—you know, the American dream. Everyone who wants it gets to have the kind of mind-expanding, soul-enriching experience that a liberal arts education provides. We recognize that free, quality K–12 education is a right of citizenship. We also need to recognize—as we once did and as many countries still do—that the same is true of higher education. We have tried aristocracy. We have tried meritocracy. Now it’s time to try democracy."
williamderesiewicz  education  class  academia  experience  society  us  socialwork  admissions  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  clergy  lifeofthemind  ivyleague  2014  leadership  servicelearning  glamor  ineqaulity  incomeinequality 
july 2014 by robertogreco
What’s Really Wrong with Advanced Placement Courses and College Board? | the becoming radical
"While not unique to the program, A.P. ultimately fails the broader promise of universal public education in the following ways:

• The A.P. program is grounded in gatekeeping (historically hard gatekeeping metrics as well as lingering soft gatekeeping dynamics) and tracking [2], both of which are counter to goals of equity in public schooling. As a result, A.P. scores share with SAT (and ACT) scores the power to perpetuate privilege and establish inequitable schools-within-schools.

• The A.P. program is one example of the popular and political fetish for “top students”—a fabricated crisis that speaks to and perpetuates privilege [3].

• A.P. tests further reinforce the reduction of learning and merit to single test scores generated from one testing session. As well, the importance of the A.P. score as a potential ticket to earning college credit (and the claim that this process can save students and their parents money) can and often reduces A.P. courses to teaching-to-the-tests.

• Through the aura of being an “elite” program and by their selective nature, A.P. courses erode efforts to create educational settings that are equitable for all students. [The A.P. program was built on the allure of being elite, and regardless of the College Board's claims for seeking equity and diversity, the A.P. program benefits from elitism and selectivity.]

• The concept of “earning college credit while in high school” distorts and marginalizes the value of both student intellectual development and instructional time spent in courses. While I disagree in some respects with Tierney’s claim that A.P. course are rarely comparable to college-level courses (some A.P. Literature and A.P. Language courses are far more demanding than freshman composition courses), I would pose that it is essentially impossible to capture a college experience in a high school classroom—and there is no reason to seek that goal as well.

• Thus, A.P. courses draw too much focus on attaining certain content and away form valuing the entire learning experience that is greater than content acquisition.

• A.P. courses and programs are a secondary and additional financial drain on families (often indirectly) and public funding, yet another source of expenses (time and funding) for materials, tests, and training that would be better spent elsewhere.

• Another part of the allure of the A.P. program is similar to the promise embedded in the Common Core—establishing a standard curriculum across the U.S. However, if the A.P. program shows us anything, it is that the goal of standardization is both misguided and impossible to attain. In this respect, the A.P. program may not be quite a scam, but it is a mirage.

• And as Schneider emphasizes, A.P. courses suggest that all we need to do it get what is taught, how it is taught, and how it is tested right and then all will be well. Among almost all the current calls for in-school-only education reform, A.P. courses are distractions from needed social reform and in-school reform seeking equity."
ap  apclasses  apcourses  2014  plthomas  johntierney  collegeboard  sat  gatekeeping  tracking  privilege  selectivity  highschool  teaching  learning  education  admissions  colleges  universities  jackschneider  aps  paulthomas 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Reasons for Hope While Applying to College - NYTimes.com
"“In the old days, kids would think, ‘What is the right school for me?'” said John Katzman, who founded the Princeton Review, “and then work hard to be the kids that school wanted.”

Today, he said, students should worry less about shaping themselves to fit a specific college (or pretending to, in their application). They should instead pursue their own interests and look for a group of colleges that might be a good fit, without falling in love with a single one.

“You can’t try to be perfect for all of them,” said Mr. Katzman, who now runs Noodle, a company that provides advice on education decisions. “You have to think of this as a probability cloud and handle it in a statistically rigorous way.”

There is one more reason to remain upbeat about an application process that can often feel stressful and difficult: When it’s all over, you get to go to college."
2014  colleges  universities  admissions  davidleonhardt 
may 2014 by robertogreco
The immorality of college admissions - Opinion - Al Jazeera English
""We admit students without any regard for financial need - a policy we call 'need-blind admission'," Harvard's website proudly proclaims. Harvard charges $54,496 per year for tuition, room and board, but waives the fees for families making less than $60,000 per year.

This would be a laudable policy were Harvard admitting low-income students in any significant numbers, but they are not. Instead, they fill their ranks with the children of the elite portrayed in Miller's article - elites who drop hundreds of thousands of dollars on private schools, exorbitant "enrichment" activities, and personal tutors that almost no Americans can afford.

Harvard's admission is "need-blind" only in that it turns a blind eye to actual need. Like many universities, it increases its number of aid recipients by inflating its price tag. With tuition higher than the median US household income, students from families making $200,000 are now deemed poor enough to qualify for financial aid.

"You can afford Harvard," the admissions site boasts, noting that 70 percent of students receive assistance. They neglect to mention that this 70 percent represents some of the wealthiest people in the country.

This is not to say that a family making $100,000 or even $200,000 does not merit financial aid to attend Harvard. They do, but only because Harvard charges obscenely high tuition, despite having an endowment of over $30 billion. Their price tag functions as a social signifier and a "go away" sign, a sticker designed to shock - and deter.

Harvard is but one of many US universities whose admissions policies ensure that the entering class is comprised of the ruling class. Studies by the New America Foundation note that most merit aid goes to wealthy families, and that "merit aid policy is associated with a decrease in the percentage of low-income and black students, particularly at the more selective institutions."

While universities like Harvard keep out the poor by redefining wealth as poverty, others practice more blatant discrimination. At George Washington University, students who cannot pay full tuition are put on a waitlist while wealthier students are let in. In 2012, less than 1 percent of waitlisted students were admitted.

Like Harvard, George Washington had advertised itself as "need-blind" until revelations of its admissions process came to light. It now defines itself as "need-aware" - a phrase which implies they are aware of need, but seemingly unconcerned with fulfilling it."



"Students whose parents pay tens of thousands for SAT tutors to help their child take the test over and over compete against students who struggle to pay the fee to take the test once. Students who spend afternoons on "enrichment" activities compete against students working service jobs to pay bills - jobs which don't "count" in the admissions process. Students who shell out for exotic volunteer trips abroad compete with students of what C Z Nnaemeka termed "the un-exotic underclass" - the poor who have "the misfortune of being insufficiently interesting", the poor who make up most of the US today.

For upper class parents, the college admissions process has become a test of loyalty: What will you spend, what values will you compromise, for your child to be accepted? For lower class parents, admissions is a test failed at birth: An absence of wealth guised as a deficiency of merit. In the middle are the students, stranded players in a rigged game."



"A higher education system that once promoted social mobility now serves to solidify class barriers. Desperate parents compromise their principles in order to spare their children rejection. But it is the system itself that must be rejected. True merit cannot be bought - and admission should not be either."
class  colleges  universities  2013  sarahkendzior  harvard  collegeadmissions  inequality  admissions  economics  meritocracy  testprep 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Education in the Age of Globalization » Blog Archive » China Enters “Testing-free” Zone: The New Ten Commandments of Education Reform
"No standardized tests, no written homework, no tracking. These are some of the new actions China is taking to lessen student academic burden. The Chinese Ministry of Education released Ten Regulations to Lessen Academic Burden for Primary School Students this week for public commentary. The Ten Regulations are introduced as one more significant measure to reform China’s education, in addition to further reduction of academic content, lowering the academic rigor of textbooks, expanding criteria for education quality, and improving teacher capacity.

The regulations included in the published draft are:

1. Transparent admissions. Admission to a school cannot take into account any achievement certificates or examination results. Schools must admit all students based on their residency without considering any other factors.

2. Balanced Grouping. Schools must place students into classes and assign teachers randomly. Schools are strictly forbidden to use any excuse to establish “fast-track” and “slow-track” classes.

3. “Zero-starting point” Teaching. All teaching should assume all first graders students begin at zero proficiency. Schools should not artificially impose higher academic expectations and expedite the pace of teaching.

4. No Homework. No written homework is allowed in primary schools. Schools can however assign appropriate experiential homework by working with parents and community resources to arrange field trips, library visits, and craft activities.

5. Reducing Testing. No standardized testing is allowed for grades 1 through 3; For 4th grade and up, standardized testing is only allowed once per semester for Chinese language, math, and foreign language. Other types of tests cannot be given more than twice per semester.

6. Categorical Evaluation. Schools can only assess students using the categories of “Exceptional, Excellent, Adequate, and Inadequate,” replacing the traditional 100-point system.

7. Minimizing Supplemental Materials. Schools can use at most one type of materials to supplement the textbook, with parental consent. Schools and teachers are forbidden to recommend, suggest, or promote any supplemental materials to students.

8. Strictly Forbidding Extra Class. Schools and teachers cannot organize or offer extra instruction after regular schools hours, during winter and summer breaks and other holidays. Public schools and their teachers cannot organize or participate in extra instructional activities.

9. Minimum of One Hour of Physical Exercise. Schools are to guarantee the offering of physical education classes in accordance with the national curriculum, physical activities and eye exercise during recess.

10. Strengthening Enforcement. Education authorities at all levels of government shall conduct regular inspection and monitoring of actions to lessen student academic burden and publish findings. Individuals responsible for academic burden reduction are held accountable by the government."
yongzhao  2013  china  policy  education  edreform  admissions  tracking  evaluations  assessment  standards  standardizedtexting  homework  testing  teaching  learning  schools  schooling 
august 2013 by robertogreco
White definitions of merit and admissions change when they think about Asian Americans, study finds | Inside Higher Ed
"But what if they think they favor meritocracy but at some level actually have a flexible definition, depending on which groups would be helped by certain policies? Frank L. Samson, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Miami, thinks his new research findings suggest that the definition of meritocracy used by white people is far more fluid than many would admit, and that this fluidity results in white people favoring certain policies (and groups) over others.

Specifically, he found, in a survey of white California adults, they generally favor admissions policies that place a high priority on high school grade-point averages and standardized test scores. But when these white people are focused on the success of Asian-American students, their views change."
race  us  policy  meritocracy  bias  testing  asian-americans  franksamson  access  sociology  admissions  highered  highereducation  via:javierarbona 
august 2013 by robertogreco
How to Choose a College - NYTimes.com
"I use the word “claim” deliberately and urge skepticism with rankings."

"SO dig as deeply as you can into what the statistics that colleges showcase do and don’t assure. And treat your undergraduate education as a rare license, before you’re confined by the burdens of full-fledged adulthood and before the costs of experimentation rise, to be tugged outside your comfort zone. To be yanked, preferably."

" The world is in constant flux, life is a sequence of surprises, and I can think of no better talents to pick up in college than fearlessness, nimbleness and the ability to roll with change, adapt to newness and improvise."
2013  education  frankbruni  learning  comfortzone  challenge  diversity  colleges  universities  admissions  advice  rankings  undergraduate  from delicious
january 2013 by robertogreco
The Corporatization of Higher Education | Dissent Magazine
"If corporatization meant only that colleges & universities were finding ways to be less wasteful, it would be a welcome turn of events. But an altogether different process is going on, one that has saddled us with a higher-education model that is both expensive to run & difficult to reform as a result of its focus on status, its view of students as customers, & its growing reliance on top-down administration."

"At elite schools, 74 percent of the student body come from the top quarter of the socioeconomic scale, while just 3 percent come from the bottom quarter."

"The professor who takes time out from teaching & research to devote him- or herself to administration for a few years increasingly is an anachronism. A new, permanent administrative class now dominates higher education."

"In the last forty years…[faculty grew by] 50 percent…number of administrators has risen by 85 percent and the number of staffers required to help the administrators has jumped by a whopping 240 percent."
administrativebloat  administration  bloat  middlemanagement  tuition  admissions  top-down  hierarchy  corporatization  competition  2012  nicolausmills  usnewsandworldreport  us  priorities  rankings  wealth  finance  money  highereducation  highered  education  via:sebastienmarion  corporatism  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Bassett Blog, 2011/09: Insights from the College Front [Bassett gets it right, but seems to take credit for ideas that predate him & are contrary to some of what he pushed during his first many years at NAIS.]
"The university leaders also confirmed…that 30–40% of the undergrads on anti-depressants, and 10% of girls suffered from eating disorders. While the university leaders were quick to point out that their universities were mirroring national data, it is particularly interesting to me that the students at these colleges had already “won the lottery” by matriculating at places that were nearly impossible to get into for mere mortals, and yet so many were still stressed beyond belief and needing medication (prescribed or, probably in much larger numbers, self-medicating — see the next bullet point).

Footnote to “success-driven parents and college counselors”: beware what you wish for: What we actually do well is place students in the “best match” college, where they will be successful and can pursue interests that will keep them engaged and balanced."

[Also covered: alcohol abuse, demonstrations of learning / digital portfolios, foreign language requirements…]
patbassett  2011  criticalthinking  creativity  communication  admissions  highereducation  highered  collegeadmissions  technology  collaboration  character  antidepressants  students  parenting  education  stress  schools  learning  policy  balance  society  competition  digitalportfolios  nais  alcohol  demonstrationsoflearning  resilience  risktaking  foreignlanguage  languages  fluency  testing  standardizedtesting  self-medication  eatingdisorders  socialnorming  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
YouTube - TEDxEastsidePrep - Shawn Cornally - The Future of Education Without Coercion
[These are killing learning in schools]

No product = Failure [Product is emphasized over process]

What if they don't do anything? [Worry that they won't learn anything if given control of their learning]

3.9 ≠ 4.0 [Loss of motivation, feeling beyond recovery, no meaning]
education  learning  schools  tcsnmy  success  failure  science  teaching  process  productoverprocess  processoverproduct  time  scheduling  schedules  classschedules  2011  shawncornally  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  questioning  student-led  student-initiated  openstudio  unschooling  coercion  deschooling  motivation  intrinsicmotivation  extrinsicmotivation  overjustification  schooliness  schooling  creativity  absurdity  wonder  colleges  universities  admissions  gameofschool  playingschool  alfiekohn 
june 2011 by robertogreco
YouTube - College Conspiracy
"College education is the largest scam in U.S. history! http://inflation.us"<br />
<br />
[via: https://twitter.com/qui_oui/status/74803663612293120 who says: "Depressingly accurate libertarian documentary about the U.S. #HigherEd "bubble" & economics"]
highereducation  highered  higheredbubble  economics  unschooling  deschooling  corporatism  2011  money  education  learning  k12  elementary  brainwashing  criticalthinking  admissions  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Scott E. Page - In Professor's Model, Diversity Equals Productivity - New York Times
"[organizations made up of different types of people are more productive than homogenous ones] Because diverse groups of people bring to organizations more & different ways of seeing a problem &, thus, faster/better ways of solving it.

People from different backgrounds have varying ways of looking at problems, what I call “tools.” The sum of these tools is far more powerful in organizations w/ diversity than in ones where everyone has gone to the same schools, been trained in the same mold & thinks in almost identical ways.

The problems we face in the world are very complicated. Any one of us can get stuck. If we’re in an organization where everyone thinks in the same way, everyone will get stuck in the same place.

But if we have people with diverse tools, they’ll get stuck in different places… There’s a lot of empirical data to show that diverse cities are more productive, diverse boards of directors make better decisions, the most innovative companies are diverse."
diversity  michigan  economics  collaboration  management  admissions  tcsnmy  affirmitiveaction  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  research  scottpage  2008  learning  problemsolving  schools  teams  organizations  lcproject  standardizedtesting  testing  deschooling  unschooling  from delicious
april 2011 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses
"Whatever the reason for gender imbalance, college administrators across country have been going to great lengths to lasso boys—adding sports programs, building bigger gyms, expanding departments in engineering, math, & hard sciences, which are historically attractive to men. & presidents make sure their admissions directors are doing their best to ‘rectify’ the problem of gender imbalance by lowering the academic threshold for the (mostly white) boys who apply. Anyone who doubts the futility of human progress should ponder this. After several generations of vicious racism, followed by protest marches, civil rights lawsuits, accusations of bigotry, appeals to color-blindness, feminism, & eloquent invocations of the meritocratic ideal, the latest admissions trend in American higher education is affirmative action for white men. Just like the old days." —One more irresistible quote from Crazy U. As Mr. Burns says in The Simpsons Movie, “For once, the rich white man is in control.”
boys  admissions  crazyu  highereducation  highered  affirmitiveaction  whites  wasp  us  discrimination  meritocracy  gender  bigotry  history  racism  civilrights  2011  alanjacobs  from delicious
march 2011 by robertogreco
Why American Mothers are Superior
"Lots of middle managers like people to do exactly what told…

Schools really like people to do what they're told, & unis just love grad students who pay high out-of-state tuition, teach for low wages, or work in lab for free. Hey, don’t blame us if 30% of students we admit are from other countries, they did best on tests & had 4.0…

Someone ought to ask WHY we measure what we measure…tests we give & other admissions criteria were not handed down by God…

I doubt many unis would admit student like me today…I did have an intense desire to learn about world…my undergrad ed gave me gift of profs willing to respond to my interests, enough time not to interfere w/ my relationship w/ library, & classmates I argued w/ for pure intellectual exercise…

Dr. Chua is raising children to fit Ivy League…I’m raising…to be themselves…Her definition of success is to have…prodigies. Mine…who learn, live & love well. She’s a success by her standards as I am by mine."
parenting  education  culture  tcsnmy  freedom  interests  interestdriven  duty  cv  teaching  schools  schooling  schooliness  identity  prodigies  admissions  gpa  testing  standardizedtesting  passion  learning  well-being  china  society  success  meaning  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  amychua  from delicious
january 2011 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses – Alan Jacobs on parenting
“How do you help your children balance when the whole education system is pushing, pushing, pushing, and you want your kids to be successful?”

—Parents Embrace ‘Race to Nowhere,’ on Pressures of School - NYTimes [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/09/education/09nowhere.html?pagewanted=all ]

Answer [Alan Jacobs]: You don’t accept a rigid, simplistic, social-climbing model of what counts as “success.”
education  children  success  parenting  competition  tcsnmy  social-climbing  racetonowhere  2010  schools  schooling  schooliness  colleges  universities  admissions  alanjacobs  unschooling  deschooling  lcproject  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
Macleans.ca » Blog Archive ‘Too Asian’? «
"Catherine Costigan, a psychology assistant prof at the University of Victoria, says it’s unsurprising that Asian students are segregated from “mainstream” campus life. She cites studies that show Chinese youth are bullied more than their non-Asian peers. As a so-called “model minority,” they are more frequently targeted because of being “too smart” and “teachers’ pets.” To counter peer ostracism and resentment, Costigan says Chinese students reaffirm their ethnicity.

The value of education has been drilled into Asian students by their parents, likely for cultural and socio-economic reasons. “It’s often described that Asians are the new Jews,” says Jon Reider, director of college counselling at San Francisco University High School and a former Stanford University admissions officer. “That in the face of discrimination, what you do is you study. And there’s a long tradition in Chinese culture, for example, going back to Confucius, of social mobility based on merit.”"
canada  race  education  universities  colleges  socialmobility  academics  meritocracy  admissions  studentlife  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
College Applications Continue to Increase. When Is Enough Enough? - NYTimes.com
[Lots here, but I'm particularly interested in UChicago's *old* approach.] "For years, Chicago’s admissions office emphasized the university’s distinctiveness: one offbeat mailing was a postcard ringed with a coffee stain. Its application has long included imaginative essay prompts, like “If you could balance on a tightrope, over what landscape would you walk? (No net).” This became known as the “Uncommon Application,” in contrast to the Common Application, the standardized form that allows students to apply to any of hundreds of participating colleges.

That some students wouldn’t like Chicago’s quirky questions was the point. “If understood properly, no given college will appeal to everyone — that wouldn’t be possible,” says Theodore A. O’Neill, the university’s dean of college admissions from 1989 to 2009. “It’s important to signal something true and meaningful about yourself. The more signals, the more honest you’re being, and doing that does limit the applications.”"
universityofchicago  admissions  essays  applications  insanity  highereducation  highered  parenting  schools  colleges  universities  education  tcsnmy  identity  distinctiveness  standingout  standingapart  standardization  blandness  trends  competition  ivyleague  harvard  princeton  ucla  lcproject  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
T H E   B R O O K L Y N   F R E E   S C H O O L  -  F A Q
"How does the school ensure students learn the "basics?"

What is meant by "basics?" This question in & of itself represents core principle of BFS. A certain segment of society has sought, & succeeded, in imposing view of what is important for all students in US, & indeed in much of world, to learn in school. We don't presume to know what is best for each individual student to learn now &…in next 5-10 years…

Does the school do any student evaluations?

Yes. We do not use report cards, grades, rankings, or any comparative or competitive evaluations, nor value-based evals. We utilize Prospect Descriptive Processes, method using purely descriptive, non-judgmental observations of all aspects of student's life & work…combined into descriptive review of child wherein we seek to more fully understand & get to know [them] & discuss ways to foster their growth & development…

What about my child's past school history?

We do not take into account any of a child's past ed experience…"

[photos of the Brooklyn Free School: http://www.flickr.com/photos/loika/sets/72157624827835711/ ]
education  schools  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  brooklynfreeschool  us  nyc  brooklyn  learning  evaluation  assessment  admissions  schooling  schooliness  teaching  democratic  alternative  freeschools  sudburyschools  sumerhill  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Education Week: All of My Favorite Students Cheat
"One recurrent theme in these students’ comments is a sense that the deck is stacked against them. They see a prestigious college as the only gateway to a good life, and they believe they need stellar transcripts and mile-long lists of extracurricular activities to get accepted. Students taking three to six advanced-placement classes, playing sports, competing on robotics teams and at music recitals, and signing up for SAT-prep classes almost always turn to cheating as a survival tactic."

"The kids themselves, however, are showing a way out. It seems significant that they want to talk about cheating with adults like me, a teacher and authority figure. And even the most strident defenders of the status quo among them admit what they are doing is bad. They would not do it, they say, “if the school worked better.”"

What we adults need to come to terms with, I think, is our own insecurity…"
cheating  teaching  dishonesty  schools  tcsnmy  competitiveness  competition  admissions  colleges  universities  assessment  learning  motivation  insecurity  parenting  toshare  topost  honesty  trust  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
Challenging Traditional Premedical Requirements as Predictor... : Academic Medicine [via: http://twitter.com/alfiekohn/status/20145165478]
"Despite general agreement that many premed requirements are of limited educational value for the practicing physician or active scientist and that a broad liberal arts education provides direct benefits to practitioners and their patients, little progress has been made toward a fundamental reappraisal. In 2009, over 80% of matriculating applicants entered medical school with majors other than the humanities or social sciences.11 The belief that the premed science background (including one year each of organic chemistry, physics, and calculus) is the best form of student preparation for medical school persists, and admissions committees' reliance on exceptional MCAT scores prevails."
unschooling  deschooling  curriculum  curriculumisdead  interdisciplinary  humanities  science  learning  medicine  medicalschool  tradition  admissions  mcat  calculus  chemistry  organicchemistry  physics  ama  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
The 4 S's of Adolescent Success
“In order to survive & thrive in college, students must have a stake in their own education & know how to walk toward problems. This requires an ability & willingness to approach faculty, navigate bureaucracy, tap into resources, & ask for help. In other words, it requires maturity. If students don’t possess sufficient self-discipline, resilience, impulse-control, & a keen desire to learn, the college experience can have expensive & devastating long-term consequences."

[via: http://stevemiranda.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/the-answer-lies-in-recognizing-that-the-real-goal-of-childhood-is-maturity/ ]
nais  tcsnmy  schools  schooloness  stress  psychology  maturity  edication  unschooling  deschooling  impulse-control  self-discipline  resilience  learning  2008  toshare  topost  integrity  honor  character  responsibility  self-confidence  admissions  collegeadmissions  colleges  universities  readiness  ivyleague  caroldweck  margaretmead  stressmanagement  michellegall  williamstixrud  success  relationships  self-knowledge  sat  well-being  parenting  happiness 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Only for MY Kid
"upper-class, high-achieving parents who feel education is competitive, that there shouldn't be anyone else in same class as my child & we shouldn't spend whole lot of time w/ have-nots."

[Explains a lot of push-back progressive schools get from parents who tend to share political views. Read the whole thing. Via Gary Stager comment at: http://weblogg-ed.com/2010/a-summer-rant-whats-up-with-parents/ ]
toshare  tracking  education  tcsnmy  topost  unexpectedobstacles  alfiekohn  democracy  diversity  economics  parenting  privilege  schoolreform  schools  parents  parentdemands  gifted  policy  social  racism  classism  highered  k-12  teens  reform  elitism  ranking  grading  grades  admissions  collegeadmissions  statusquo  protectingthestatusquo  unschooling  deschooling  competitiveness  competition  giftedprograms  selfishness 
july 2010 by robertogreco
College Admissions and the Essential School | Coalition of Essential Schools
"When schools change curriculum and assessment practices, everyone worries that students will suffer in the college selection process. But most selective colleges say they're used to unusual transcripts, and big universities are looking for new ways to work with schools in change."
education  change  reform  admissions  colleges  universities  highschool  tcsnmy  transcipts  grades  grading  evaluation  assessment  science  physics  biology  chemistry  sequence  committeeoften  curriculum  habitsofmind  kathleencushman  1994  tedsizer  coalitionofessentialschools  competency 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Test-Optional Surge Continues | FairTest
"As the higher education application cycle begins for the high school class of 2011, more and more colleges and universities are announcing test-optional policies. Already this spring four selective institutions have dropped their ACT/SAT admissions test requirements for all or many applicants. That brings the total to 843, nearly 40% of all accredited, bachelor-degree granting schools in the country. The list (http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional) includes 43 of the nation’s “Best Liberal Arts Colleges,” according to U.S. News & World Report."
tcsnmy  testing  standardizedtesting  education  sat  colleges  universities  admissions  fairtest 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Private School Screening Test Loses Some Clout - NYTimes.com
"At least two schools in Manhattan have dropped the exam as a requirement for admission starting this fall, bucking a trend of more widespread use of such tests. More broadly, a powerful coalition of New York schools is contending that pretest preparation, which many believe skews the results, has become so widespread as to cast doubt on the value of the test."
admissions  kindergarten  psychology  testing  standardizedtesting  intelligence  privateschools  erb  tcsnmy 
may 2010 by robertogreco
A Fairy Tale? « Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
"reformers convinced best unis to waive admission requirements & accept grads from high schools that designed new programs...Dozens of schools joined experiment. Teachers, admins, parents & students created new courses & ways of teaching teens to become active members of community & still attend college. For 8 years, schools educated students & unis admitted grads...then war came & experiment ended...years passed, few could recall what these schools & colleges did...fairy tale? Nope. Btwn 1933-41, 30 HS...& 300+ colleges joined experiment sponsored by Progressive Ed Assoc...Evaluators found grads...earned slightly higher GPA & more academic honors...were more precise in thinking, displayed more ingenuity in meeting new situations, & demonstrated active interest in ntional & world issues...70 years ago...there was no one single best way of schooling teenagers...fears parents & taxpayers had about experimenting with HS courses, organization, & teaching proved hollow"
education  reform  larrycuban  progressive  tcsnmy  1930s  1940s  experiments  admissions  colleges  universities  research  localcontrol  learning  forgottenlessons  criticalthinking  evidence  unschooling  deschooling 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Classroom Reinvented - The Garfield Messenger
"Though the absence of letter grades & report cards is attractive to some, PSCS isn’t for everyone. According PSCS teacher Scobie Putchtler, the school aims to be thought of not as a last resort, but as a forefront educational institution."
pscs  pugetsoundcommunityschool  progressive  tcsnmy  grades  grading  admissions  colleges  universities  deschooling  unschooling  schools  education  learning 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Noticed - College Applicants Hide Behind Facebook Aliases - NYTimes.com
"For high school students concerned with college acceptance, Facebook presents a challenge. It encourages making public every thought and every photo, an opportunity for posturing and bravado nearly irresistible to teenagers. But this impulse for display clashes with the need to appear circumspect and presentable to college admissions agents, who some high school guidance counselors have warned are likely vetting applicants by trolling the Web...

Occasionally, he said, clients report that in their encounters with college admissions agents, “things are known about them that could only be found on their Facebook page.”

Charlotte Kaye, who went to the Brearley School in Manhattan, did not take any chances. To avoid detection, Ms. Kaye, now a freshman at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, said she and others began changing their names on Facebook beginning in their junior year of high school."
facebook  identity  admissions  socialnetworking  names  online  privacy  education  internet  socialsoftware  colleges  universities  naming 
april 2010 by robertogreco
College and the Reputation-based Economy - GOOD Education - GOOD
"A young person without much money or connections can build whuffie by trading what they do have: time and energy. These days, you can contact just about anybody you admire or whose work you are interested in through the Internet and ask them if you can help them in any way, ask them to be your mentor, or just simply ask them a question.
deschooling  unschooling  education  colleges  universities  schools  diy  socialnetworking  meritocracy  cv  glvo  change  lcproject  tcsnmy  accreditation  credentials  connections  money  whuffie  admissions  highereducation 
april 2010 by robertogreco
College Applications: Why Many Students Should Pass on Ivy League Schools | Edutopia
"In fact, because all accredited colleges and universities nationwide have similar programs, students who do well in a small, lesser-known school have a better chance of getting into graduate programs than those who get mediocre grades in a well-known, highly competitive school. Grade point average is grade point average, no matter what the college, according to my husband, a Stanford University professor of physics and former head of graduate admissions in physics.
colleges  universities  ivyleague  admissions  value  education 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Study Hacks » Blog Archive » Want to Get into Harvard? Spend More Time Staring at the Clouds: Rethinking the Role of Extracurricular Activities in College Admissions
"In other words, to become more interesting…1. Do fewer structured activities. 2. Spend more time exploring, thinking, and exposing yourself to potentially interesting things. 3. If something catches your attention, use the abundant free time generated by rule 1 to quickly follow up. ... *High school students place too much emphasis on the qualities demonstrated by their activities. In a quest to demonstrate as many good qualities as possible, they end up stressing themselves with unwieldy lists of time-consuming commitments. * Students like Olivia highlight a different approach. They show that that being interesting can go farther than being widely accomplished. With this in mind, they use activities to build their interestingness – not their credentials – and therefore enjoy happier lives. *The research of Linda Caldwell supports a powerful corollary: any student can become more interesting – it’s not an innate trait possessed only by a lucky few."
admissions  education  extracurricular  happiness  interestingness  colleges  universities  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling  schools  schooling  learning  passion  structure  activities  harvard 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Applicants to Tufts University Turn to YouTube - NYTimes.com
"It is reading season at the Tufts University admissions office, time to plow through thousands of essays and transcripts and recommendations — and this year, for the first time, short YouTube videos that students could post to supplement their application.
colleges  universities  admissions  youtube  video  tufts 
february 2010 by robertogreco
New Plan Will Let High Schoolers Graduate Early - NYTimes.com
"Dozens of public high schools in eight states will introduce a program next year allowing 10th graders who pass a battery of tests to get a diploma two years early and immediately enroll in community college. Students who pass but aspire to attend a selective college may continue with college preparatory courses in their junior and senior years, organizers of the new effort said. Students who fail the 10th-grade tests, known as board exams, can try again at the end of their 11th and 12th grades. The tests would cover not only English and math but also subjects like science and history. The new system of high school coursework with the accompanying board examinations is modeled largely on systems in high-performing nations including Denmark, England, Finland, France and Singapore."
highschool  education  us  policy  communitycolleges  admissions  schools  learning  assessment  reform  exams  denmark  english  finland  france  singapore 
february 2010 by robertogreco
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