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robertogreco : collegeadmissions   15

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 
17 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
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
Most Likely to Succeed | American RadioWorks |
"In most modern work places employees are expected to be self-directed and also work collaboratively. But do conventional public schools do enough to encourage creative and critical thinking?

We’ll hear from Ted Dintersmith, executive producer of “Most Likely to Succeed,” a film that takes a look at how traditional high schools need to change in order to prepare students for the innovations of tomorrow. Dintersmith wasn’t always a film producer. For 25 years he was a successful venture capitalist. He says he noticed that many of the people he hired looked really good on paper – they’d done well in large, structured corporate environments. But they didn’t seem to thrive in smaller, more innovative environments. At home, Dintersmith also noticed that his children’s homework assignments focused on getting students ready for standardized tests, rather than getting them to think creatively. Ted Dintersmith recently spoke to American RadioWorks associate producer Suzanne Pekow."
mostlikeltosucceed  hightechhigh  teddintersmith  2015  sandiego  education  learning  schools  kipp  colleges  universities  collegeadmissions  standardizedtesting  standardization  problemsolving  meaning  purpose  lcproject  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  edg 
december 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
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
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
I’d Suck at Being a Teen Today — The Good Men Project
"My son checks online about a college out east he’s curious about. He picks up a few facts and data. And suddenly he’s panicking about his class schedule. We see natural disasters occur – many times live on our televisions or computers – and we become overcome with a desire to help. Again, some of these things are extraordinarily good. But they illustrate the demands placed on our shoulders by having easy access to information.

Technology makes it nearly impossible for many kids to get a break. When I was a 16-year-old who had a bad day, I’d go home, put some headphones on and listen to my favorite album until my dad called me down for dinner. Today, that same 16-year-old might toss on headphones and listen to music on their iPhone. But they also are checking Facebook and texting at the same time. They still are getting sucked into the drama of their life and their friends."
anxiety  stress  collegeadmissions  search  informationaccess  childhood  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  solitude  quiet  highschool  jimhigley  adolescence  connectivity  teens  2012 
february 2012 by robertogreco
The high school transcript is the most nefarious force in education that no one is talking about « Re-educate Seattle
"High school is a game that’s played by a certain set of rules. Those who are good at understanding and following the rules are rewarded with A’s. The problem is that, often, these rules have nothing to do with a student’s command of academic content.

So all the complexity of Jane, Andrew, and Zelia are reduced to this:

Jane – A
Andrew – B
Zelia – F

As their classroom teacher, I can tell you with certainty: these letters, they do not mean what you think they mean."
stevemiranda  collegeadmissions  highschool  grades  grading  assessment  learning  education  pscs  pugetsoundcommunityschool  2011  transcripts  schooliness  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  lcproject  standardization  thegameofschool  theprincessbride 
september 2011 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 
september 2011 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

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