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fastweedpuller
01-20-2016, 11:11 AM
Not sure if you all saw this opinion piece in the NYTimes yesterday or not:

Rethinking College Admissions (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/20/opinion/rethinking-college-admissions.html?ref=opinion)

Frank Bruni has long banged the gong of what's wrong with our elite colleges and the sysiphean task it is to get in to them. I recommend, with reservations, his Where You Go is Not Who You'll Be (http://www.amazon.com/Where-You-Not-Who-Youll/dp/1455532703/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453306057&sr=8-1&keywords=where+you+go+is+not+who+you%27ll+be) about this very disconnect of the striving for the Ivies and the settling for the state/lower tier schools.

(Considering it's years off for us, either the striving or the settling, I do wonder why I must pick at this subject, like some kind of scab. I can only think it's that "well when *I* was your age" bull that was actually true: I did get in to one of those vaunted colleges, and the process was not nearly so arduous.)

Anyway, wondering what you think: do you feel like something is changing in the process, or is this all a bunch of wishful thinking?

inmom
01-20-2016, 11:56 AM
I guess I'm not in the mood to speculate what it will be like in the near future, as my youngest is done with the application process and is just waiting for responses. I DO believe that the process is more arduous, even for the state schools, than it used to be. My son applied to Purdue's school of science (which is where I got my Bachelors), and it seemed more demanding than when I applied sooooo long ago. (He was accepted!!) His other chosen schools are four of the "vaunted" ones; he's been waitlisted by 2 and not heard from 2.

He thinks he'd be settling if he went to Purdue, but they have a very good computer science program, with tons of internships and a 99% job placement rate. And it would be less than HALF the tuition of the other schools since we're in-state. I think there's something to be said for graduating with little or no debt. I am a firm believer of "Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be." I'd like to think he'd thrive anywhere, as long as HE makes the effort.

farrarwilliams
01-20-2016, 02:46 PM
Meh. I feel like I read something like this every few years. But does anything change the "tide" as he says? Nope. It keeps on moving toward a narrow set of metrics.

LKnomad
01-20-2016, 03:14 PM
I think that this is all well intentioned but I have doubts that it can be implemented. We are in the thick of it right now as I have a high school senior in public school applying to top tier institutions, so I see first hand what is happening. I have my second child going through the process in 4 years but he won't be aiming for the same school level, at least from what I can tell at this point.

The problem is, that for the tippy top schools, there are simply more qualified students than spaces. So how does admissions distinguish between these students. How do you choose 2000 students for Harvard and Stanford from an applicant pile of 40,000 without some ruthlessness? They only have 1600 beds!

I understand that some of these changes are to allow students who do not have the financial means to even up the playing field, to give more weight to paid work, family obligations, and true community services and not just small 2 week projects, but I have read that the top schools are already supposed to be doing just that! There will be no way to prevent the AP rat race in the public school system and standardized testing is often used to verify that a student's GPA is not inflated.

There is a movement for test free admission and for those schools who have implemented it, they have found that it works. Grad rates are equivalent for those who used tests and those who did not when applying. The number of students with learning disabilities who attend college and do well, has been documented. But I cannot see a place like Harvard, or any other top 20 or 30 schools being able to omit or reduce stressful requirements because there are just to many students to differentiate.

skrink
01-20-2016, 03:22 PM
I'm still trying to figure out the true value, outside of bragging rights, of an "elite" education. I guess some of it depends on career goals and establishing yourself well within the network that will get you interviews. But is an Ivy worth the price, both in terms of $ and of the anguish of qualifying? When you look at the odds of admission, you have to think the reject pile contains hundreds or thousands of near identical models of the folks who made it through the gate. Are they then relegated to the scrap pile? Is the quality of education REALLY that significantly better?

skrink
01-20-2016, 03:28 PM
Btw, I didn't attend an Ivy, but a top tier private school. A large state university was within spitting distance and we were constantly being told how much better of an education we were getting, that an A there was like a B or C at our school. Maybe... I had some top notch professors, and a few lousy ones, but most were middle of the road. True everywhere, I'm sure. I suspect much of the rah rah rah was propaganda to support significantly higher tuition.

inmom
01-20-2016, 03:44 PM
When you look at the odds of admission, you have to think the reject pile contains hundreds or thousands of near identical models of the folks who made it through the gate. Are they then relegated to the scrap pile? Is the quality of education REALLY that significantly better?

I've read that the elites can fill the freshman classes several times over with equally capable students--someone has to be in the reject pile.

For ds, Stanford's appeal was it's geographic proximity to Silicon Valley, while U of Washington's (Seattle) was proximity to the Microsoft hub. However, I've looked at the "corporate partners" who recruit heavily at our state school's CS program, and guess what?? It's the same companies!!

I think in the end he'll be at Purdue. I think he wanted to see how he'd stack up against others, which I can understand. I just wish he wouldn't take it so personally. We've tried to discuss with him what a "crap shoot" applying to the upper tier schools can be. (I also feel that some part of his hesitation is that both dh and I went to Purdue.)

I can't speculate as to the quality of education at elite schools. However, I think it strongly depends on the student. One student can be attending a Yale or Harvard or Stanford but be a lump, do the classroom minimum, and never take advantage of what campus offers. Another student can attend a good state school, excel in class, join interesting clubs, and make all kinds of connections if effort is exerted.

This second type of student describes my daughter. She's at a university that has close to an 80% acceptance rate. But she searches out classes with small student-teacher ratios, stays after class or goes to office hours to speak with professors, and is involved in at least 3 campus groups. She's interviewed an author for one class who has now offered help and assistance with dd's writing. She's been able to network just fine....

skrink
01-20-2016, 04:23 PM
You're making my argument tor me, Carol. :)

ebh87
01-20-2016, 06:03 PM
My three sons all attend(ed) our state's highest rated state university (my oldest graduated). My husband and I have not been all that impressed with the education they've received and certainly not the service they've been given (worst advising ever). My friend's son graduated from Harvard and she is shocked at some of the stories I tell her. Her son did not experience any of the negative things my sons have at the state university. So, I don't know if there is a difference in the quality of education/service you receive at a more elite school or not. Very different majors as well - my sons are all in engineering, her son was in some type of business.

However, my oldest son had multiple job offers well before he graduated, one of my sons currently in school was just hired for a fabulous summer internship, and they are all very happy with the school so I don't think it has hurt them one bit to attend the state university over a more elite school.

Erica

farrarwilliams
01-20-2016, 07:41 PM
I think the elite school thing really only matters in a very narrow number of fields - law, business, academia - and even in those, it's hardly the catapult to success that they try to make it out to be. And even in those fields, your grad school matters dramatically more than your undergrad.

I did an expensive liberal arts college, a top tier sort. It was okay, I guess. I have super mixed feelings about my time there.

ebh87
01-20-2016, 09:12 PM
I started at an expensive, well-respected private school. It wasn't a good fit for me socially and I ended up transferring to a noncompetitive state school. I felt that, for my major, the state school gave me just as good of an education - maybe even better - than the private school I first attended.

Erica

Mariam
01-20-2016, 10:39 PM
I am completely biased.

I am a product of a state-school education for all of my degrees and I teach at a state school. All by choice. I made the most of my education, was able to network extensively in different fields. I completed internships and such. I felt that I received a fabulous education, better than some other schools. The support from non-academic staff was frequently ok to horrible.

I know people who went to expensive schools and they were not impressed or talk more about their football team then their education. They did fine. But when it comes down to it, unless you want to be the president, a supreme court justice or want to work with nobel-prize winning physicist, it doesn't really matter where you go to college if they can do what you want to accomplish.

inmom
01-21-2016, 06:48 AM
.But when it comes down to it, unless you want ...... to work with nobel-prize winning physicist, it doesn't really matter where you go to college if they can do what you want to accomplish.

And at many state schools you can do that too!

Starkspack
01-21-2016, 07:16 AM
Like FWP, I'm many years off before this is an issue for DD, but this subject fascinates me. I'm really liking the trends I'm seeing in higher education. Like others have mentioned, I went to a top-tier state school. While my major classes were good, most of my general education classes were pretty mediocre. When i wanted to go to grad school for my MBA, I chose another state school, but a smaller one with a "lesser" reputation, to be sure. I had to take 8 undergrad classes as prerequisites, since I had been a music major and was now moving into business. Most of those classes were quite excellent. There were definitely a high percentage of "unmotivated," shall we say, students in the class, but as a motivated student, I found the professors wonderful, approachable, and very helpful. While in undergrad, I took two summer courses (gen ed) at community colleges and thought they were wonderful, too.

All this is to say that I think that for the motivated student, it doesn't matter much where you go. (Except I agree with Farrar's point that some fields require the "name school" to get where you want to go.) Motivated students will stand out, they will get the attention they need, the networking they need, and the education they need. I'm just excited that this concept is becoming more mainstream, because I think it is criminal that so many of our students these days (and of course parents) go so deeply into debt to get that high-reputation education, and that turns out to be not-so-wonderful - no well-paying job on graduation and a mountain of debt. No way to start your adult life, and not a great way to leave your parents as they are preparing for retirement.

skrink
01-21-2016, 10:38 AM
[QUOTE=Starkspack;206209...I think it is criminal that so many of our students these days (and of course parents) go so deeply into debt to get that high-reputation education, and that turns out to be not-so-wonderful - no well-paying job on graduation and a mountain of debt.[/QUOTE]

I'm watching this play out with my 30 yo nephew. His parents pushed him to get the right degree at the right school. He floundered for a while, took time off, and then floundered the rest of his way through. He delayed graduation until the last possible moment and has yet to find work in his chosen field because he won't accept anything less than "the best" - high name recognition companies and an enviable starting title/salary. As a consequence, he's working a retail job he HATES just to pay his rent and student loans, and has been for years now. He is very unhappy and it's awful to watch. He of course has superstar younger sibs, one of whom did everything beautifully and as expected, and is now an MD (the holy grail to my bro and sil). I don't know what will happen with him.

I work hard to instill a "bloom where you're planted" mindset in dd, and to model that myself. I'm also trying to remember that general feeling as we start talking about college. I want to help stack the deck in her favor as much as possible but also drive home the fact that ultimately she's going to get the experience she makes herself, no matter where she goes.

Norm Deplume
01-21-2016, 01:28 PM
Btw, I didn't attend an Ivy, but a top tier private school.

I too went to a top tier private school, but only after starting in a community college for the first two years (I had a full tuition scholarship to the juco, and that's tough to beat). I am with you on struggling to see the benefits of these highly-selective, high-cost universities for most students in most fields.

I got lucky with the fancy college, that they gave us enough grants that the cost out-of-pocket was similar to what it would have been to go to the state school in the same city. But that sort of generosity is harder and harder to come by-- fewer students + higher costs + lower federal/state aid = a difficult time getting enough $ for these places without mega loans.

Norm Deplume
01-21-2016, 01:31 PM
However, I think it strongly depends on the student. One student can be attending a Yale or Harvard or Stanford but be a lump, do the classroom minimum, and never take advantage of what campus offers. Another student can attend a good state school, excel in class, join interesting clubs, and make all kinds of connections if effort is exerted.

This second type of student describes my daughter. She's at a university that has close to an 80% acceptance rate. But she searches out classes with small student-teacher ratios, stays after class or goes to office hours to speak with professors, and is involved in at least 3 campus groups. She's interviewed an author for one class who has now offered help and assistance with dd's writing. She's been able to network just fine....

My husband is an admissions counselor at a small, private school, with a high acceptance rate. He often talks to his potential students about the importance of students taking advantage of everything that their school has to offer. Just like in the rest of life, you reap what you sow.

fastweedpuller
01-21-2016, 01:34 PM
I agree completely that one's college experience is generally how much you put into it = how much you'll get out of it. If you're 19 and a go-getter you *will* source out those interesting seminars and those cooler professors, but sometimes that is hard to do if you're in a big university. Personally at 17 I was not a go-getter...and I had a hard time asking for help! But yes the one thing my "good school" did/does right is it tries reallllly hard to keep the students they do select. Look at those freshmen retention rates, look at them jointly with the matriculation rates in 4 years...if those numbers are above 95/90% respectively the school is doing something right.

But yeah I doubt I will be encouraging my kid to go to my alma mater, which is something like $65k/yr. I probably wouldn't have gotten an art degree from there if the tuition had been near that (comparatively speaking); I would have been a miserable, I dunno, finance major. Totally mixed feelings about it, like Farrar. But I do not doubt that I got a good education...I got a great one. And it did open lots of doors both in grad school shopping and down the road in life. But, yeah. I graduated almost 30 yrs ago so it's not anywhere near the same world.

Carol, Purdue is an awesome school as you well know, and if he's taking classes at PNC then dang he'll be nearly a junior...! But I hear you: or rather I hear him, wanting/wishing for something closer to the "action" of those computer hubs.

LKNomad, ugh good luck. You sound at least like you've got a handle on the why's. Yeah that list of test-free schools keeps growing. I kind of hope homeschooling would naturally bring our kids certain out-of-the-box advantages in terms of what a college might want...maybe that's wishful thinking on my part though?

Skrink, your school: smaller class sizes? I think that's frankly the key to a lot of this "what makes an education great" puzzle. Seminars and not lecture hall cattle calls! Study groups. Strongly identifying with fellow majors. Healthy competition within your field. Profs who have national renown yet still have office hours and engage with their undergrads. I think the elite schools foster this just as much as other schools...but nobody goes to Stanford to party, maybe that's the biggest difference, the kids are motivated to work. But yeah I think with a lot of the competitive-admission schools it is just that: the ordeal is as much of a carrot as anything among a certain type of family. And it really depends on your major if it's really worth it, like Erica said.

Mariam, YAY! It sounds like you've always been resourceful (considering you're like our go-to librarian/researcher here at SHS), and therefore kids like you can make their education work for them, as it should. And it sounds like that's exactly what Starkspack did with her education.

SP: Do you think you came to it knowing you needed to be motivated/engaged? Or is it just you? This is a Whole Nother Discussion that I do not see happening enough...thinking of Skrink's nephew's debt as an example. How To Be a Self-Starter if You're 18 and All Your Friends Want to Party and Tease You for Studying. How To Be a Model Student if Your Helicopter Parents Keep Calling Your Professors. Ugh.

inmom
01-21-2016, 02:16 PM
How To Be a Model Student if Your Helicopter Parents Keep Calling Your Professors. Ugh.

According to dd, you'd be surprised how many of these parents are out there!! Geez, they're adults, PEOPLE!!

skrink
01-21-2016, 04:31 PM
I cannot fathom the parents calling professors thing. I would have been mortified if my parents had attempted to intervene, ever. They were barely aware of the classes I was taking, and that's the way I liked it - it was MY deal. What happens when these snowflakes enter the workforce? Is mom following them there, too? How appalling. :( I'm going to guess that since undergraduate degrees are becoming so common, and so expensive, parents feel more personally invested and determined to make sure jr has that piece of paper in hand, no matter what.

fastweedpuller
01-21-2016, 04:40 PM
I cannot fathom the parents calling professors thing. I would have been mortified if my parents had attempted to intervene, ever. They were barely aware of the classes I was taking, and that's the way I liked it - it was MY deal. What happens when these snowflakes enter the workforce? Is mom following them there, too? How appalling. :( I'm going to guess that since undergraduate degrees are becoming so common, and so expensive, parents feel more personally invested and determined to make sure jr has that piece of paper in hand, no matter what.

One better: my friends run a tiny husband/wife architecture firm in town and she told me about the not one but two recent grads who came into the interviews this last spring...with their parents! (In fairness it was not both parents for both interviewees, but one parent actually did quiz them about compensation and overtime. OMFSM)

skrink
01-21-2016, 04:49 PM
One better: my friends run a tiny husband/wife architecture firm in town and she told me about the not one but two recent grads who came into the interviews this last spring...with their parents! (In fairness it was not both parents for both interviewees, but one parent actually did quiz them about compensation and overtime. OMFSM)

Holy crap!! How to ace yourself out of a job offer - bring your flipping parents along! Either mom/dad are hella controlling, or kiddo was born with an overinflated sense of entitlement and no backbone. I would bet these are the kind of people who would sue if their kid didn't get an offer. *shiver*

LKnomad
01-21-2016, 04:50 PM
According to dd, you'd be surprised how many of these parents are out there!! Geez, they're adults, PEOPLE!!

Actually all it takes is a bit of reading on the Chronicle of Higher Education - In the Classroom - message boards to realize how many are out there. That is the board where the professors vent. Some of the stories are really funny.

fastweedpuller
01-21-2016, 04:57 PM
Holy crap!! How to ace yourself out of a job offer - bring your flipping parents along! Either mom/dad are hella controlling, or kiddo was born with an overinflated sense of entitlement and no backbone. I would bet these are the kind of people who would sue if their kid didn't get an offer. *shiver*

Yeah like I said it was quite a headscratcher for my friend. She doesn't have kids and is all like "kids these days but WTF Parents?" and yeah crayzay. Another anecdote: a poster on this very website would often talk about correcting her daughter's papers...college papers... But I am with you, my mom wouldn't even pick me up from college when school was finished for the semester (Find a ride yourself, you're resourceful) so there would be no way I coulda/woulda ever asked her for help.

Avalon
01-21-2016, 05:36 PM
All this talk about "top tier" universities makes me feel like I'm on a foreign planet. I was the first person in my family to attend university at all. None of my grandparents, parents, or siblings attended. I did have a couple of older cousins who went, but I didn't know them. I was the first person for whom it was even possible. Simply graduating from university was "top tier" in my family. No one ever talked about which schools were "better." I wasn't really aware such a thing existed.

25 years later, I hope my kids realize that I expect them to get a degree, but I'm really not fussy about what degree or from where. A heck of a lot of people don't actually work in the area they studied in. I see a degree as what a high school diploma used to be - it's just your basic education, to get you started somewhere. Lifelong learning, re-training, and graduate degrees seem to be the way the world works now, so don't blow all your resources on what amounts to a "starter" degree.

inmom
01-21-2016, 05:51 PM
Avalon, same was true for me and my siblings. We were the first generation to go to college. I think what some of our own kids may feel is a societal pressure (from news, social media, peers) to try for the "top tier" schools. It wasn't a problem for my daughter, but for some reason my son feels that pressure. I'm trying to talk him down, really I am!! ;)

Mariam
01-21-2016, 06:44 PM
Oh, the helicopter parents in college. It is aways nice to get a phone call from parents to challenge my assessment that their child plagiarized or to ask about their grades. Fortunately there are laws in place, FERPA, which forbids me from discussing work with anyone else. If I wanted to deal with parents I would have taught high school.

Students can sign a wavier. For example college athletes on scholarship sign a wavier that I can talk to anyone at the college about their grades. (I don't like that either, especially when I know the coach is reviewing everything I say and do. )

I had one parent who apparently had their kid sign the waver (not an athlete) and I told her I didn't have the paper on my desk and as a result I couldn't going to talk with her.