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  1. #1

    Default College admissions process is changing?

    Not sure if you all saw this opinion piece in the NYTimes yesterday or not:

    Rethinking College Admissions

    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 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?
    Last edited by fastweedpuller; 01-20-2016 at 12:12 PM. Reason: clarity
    Eclectically homeschooling 8th grade dd, who likes science as much as art...

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  3. #2

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    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.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  4. #3

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    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.
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  5. #4

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    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.
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    Senior Member Arrived skrink's Avatar
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    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 - mama to my 14 yo wild woman

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    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.
    Skrink - mama to my 14 yo wild woman

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by skrink View Post
    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....
    Last edited by inmom; 01-20-2016 at 05:30 PM.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

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    You're making my argument tor me, Carol.
    Skrink - mama to my 14 yo wild woman

  10. #9

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    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

  11. #10

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    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.
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College admissions process is changing?