Posts Tagged ‘College Admissions’

The passing scene: Links & comments 6/30/14

June 30, 2014

What If Banks, Not Abortion Clinics, Needed Buffer Zones? by Barbara O’Brien for Open Salon.

What if people doing business with the “too big to fail” banks had to run a gantlet of yelling protestors just to enter the bank.  Suppose the banks were vandalized, and their employees subject to harassing and threatening telephone calls.  Suppose bankers had actually been murdered.  Is there any doubt that the bank protestors would be classified as terrorists?  Yet all these things have happened with abortion clinics, and it is accepted as normal.

The Unkindest Cut by Elias Vlanton for The Washington Monthly.

Joshua Steckel, a high school guidance counselor, worked hard with students from poor families to convince them it was both possible and worthwhile to qualify for college by studying hard.   But at the end of the road, his students found that college was unaffordable.   Financial aid packages only covered part of the cost of college, and what was left was more than poor families can pay.

Antibiotic scientist must push discovery to market by Kelly Crowe for CBC News.

The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a big threat to public health.  Yet few if any drug companies are interested in developing new antibiotics.  Profits on new antibiotics are small and risky because developing new antibiotics is difficult and expensive, regulatory approvals take time and money and antibiotics soon become obsolete as bacteria develop new resistance.

Peru now has a ‘license to kill’ environmental protestors by David Hill for The Guardian.

Under a new law, Peruvian police can escape criminal responsibility for killing civilians while on duty without having to show they are acting according to police regulations.

Big business loves desperate, overqualified, underpaid workers by David Atkins for The Washington Monthly.

Today’s South is boldly moving backwards by labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein for Reuters.

Historically Southern business leaders have sought to compete with the North by means of cheap labor.  This is still true.

Obama Admin’s TPP Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks by Lee Fang for Republic Report.

 

When higher education becomes a racket

July 19, 2013

The following is from the Albany Times-Union.

The State University of New York at Cobleskill is a dropout factory that lures sub-par students to help it meet the bottom line.

At least that’s how it was portrayed in a federal courtroom this week.

newcoby_logoAs recently as 2007, 70 percent of the school’s entering freshmen never made it to their sophomore year, according to recent testimony in a federal whistle-blower trial. That means of roughly 1,200 freshmen, 840 dropped out.

The revelations came in the middle of the two-week trial in which former arts and sciences dean Thomas Hickey accuses the school of actively recruiting and stringing along students it knew would fail or had no hope of completing degrees in order to get their tuition dollars. Hickey said that included many black students; he also claims he was stripped of his dean position after he raised a red flag.

He called retaining failing students, many with mounting loan debt, to fund school operations a massive “fraud,” and his lawyer, Phil Steck, said it is “low-level corruption.”

[snip]

Evidence shows that Anne Myers, former vice president for academic affairs, wrote a number of emails in which she said she would lower academic standards to keep students enrolled because the school had bills to pay.

In one email about sub-par students, she said: “We are admitting them to make budget.”

There’s nothing wrong with giving young people a second chance at education if they failed to get a good education in high school.   The problem is that:

  • A college degree is seen as a requirement for getting a decent job, so colleges are filled with students who need the credential of a college degree, but aren’t necessarily interested in getting a college education.
  • College tuition is so high that most young people have no choice but to go deeply into debt to pay college tuition.  Enrolling in college becomes a high-stakes gamble on whether your improved career prospects offset your debt burden, and, inevitably, some people lose.
  • Unethical college administrators admit students that they know aren’t capable of doing college work in order to collect their tuition.  When the mission of the college is to maximize revenue, education suffers.

I think American state governments should create a system of community college and state universities that would provide free or affordable college education to anyone who is capable of doing college work.  This is not a utopian dream.  It was reality when I went to college in the 1950s.  Students who need remedial education should be able to get it in community colleges, and they should bed able to get it without mortgaging their futures.

Click on One and done at Cobleskill to read the full Times-Union article.   Hat tip to Rochester Business Journal for the link.

Click on Bad Education for a broader picture of exploitative higher education in n + 1 magazine.

How elitism masquerades as meritocracy

June 22, 2012

Christopher Hayes, author of Twilight of the Elites (which I haven’t read),  wrote an article in The Nation about how systems supposedly based on merit are subverted to benefit the privileged.

Chris Hayes

Hayes was a student at the elite Hunter College High School in New York City, where admission is based on scores on a three-hour test.  In the 1990s, when Hayes attended, admission really was based on merit.  The student body was 12 percent black, 6 percent Hispanic and a large percentage the children of immigrants.

But with the rise of the test preparation industry, Manhattan’s elite sent their children cram schools charging thousands of dollars to teach how to game entrance exams.  Some consultants charged up to $90 an hour for one-on-one instruction on test-taking.  As a result of the ability of wealthy parents to game the system, Hunter High’s student body now is only 3 percent black and 1 percent Hispanic.  What happened with Hunter High is not unique, or even usual.  It is a typical example of how the privileged game the system.

Test preparation schools are contrary to the whole purpose of education.  They teach students how to pass tests without having learned anything.  They get the credential, but not necessarily the knowledge that the credential supposedly represents.

Yet I imagine the students who pass the tests through these methods think they have succeeded solely through their own individual effort and brilliance.   And because they think that, they think they have no obligation to anyone else.

Click on Why Elites Fail to read the whole article.

Click on The Age of Illusion to read an interview with Chris Hayes in Jacobin magazine.

Click on An Elite Like Any Other? Meritocracy in America for a review of Chris Hayes’ Twilight of the Elites by Mike Konczal in Dissent magazine [added 6/24/12]

Who gets preference on college admissions?

June 20, 2012

Daniel Golden wrote in his 2006 book, The Price of Admission, that at least a third of the students at elite American universities got special treatment in the admissions process, and the figure was at least half at liberal arts colleges.

A typical student body, according to Golden, is:

  • 10 to 25 percent children of alumni (“legacies”)
  • 10 to 15 percent minorities
  • 10 to 15 percent athletes
  • 2 to 5 percent children of potential large donors (“development cases”)
  • 1 to 3 percent children of faculty members
  • 1 to 2 percent children of politicians and celebrities.

Preferences for minorities seem to generate a lot of outrage, other preferences not so much.  Why do you think this is?

Click on Poison Ivy for a review of Golden’s book in The Economist.

Click on The Best Education Money Can Buy for a review in the Washington Post

Click on Daniel Golden’s “The Price of Admission” for a review in the University of North Carolina’s Carolina Review.

Click on A Response to Daniel Golden for a lame attempt at rebuttal in the Brown University Spectator.

I don’t think anything has changed since Golden wrote his book (which I haven’t read).  The moral I draw from these figures is that graduating from an elite university is not a guarantee of superior intellect.

I don’t favor the government interfering with admissions policies at private universities, except to forbid them to exclude people on the basis of race, religion or national origin.  I do favor restoring the state university systems so they once again can provide a good and affordable college education to anyone capable of doing college work, while rejecting the myth that you need a college education in order to be qualified for a decent job.

Hat tip to Christopher Hayes in his article Why Elites Fail.

Edited for clarity 7/9/12.