Posts tagged ‘college’

What College Grads Must Know

I think the solution is to work in the other direction. Instead of working back from a goal, work forward from promising situations. This is what most successful people actually do anyway.

In the graduation-speech approach, you decide where you want to be in twenty years, and then ask: what should I do now to get there? I propose instead that you don’t commit to anything in the future, but just look at the options available now, and choose those that will give you the most promising range of options afterward.

It’s not so important what you work on, so long as you’re not wasting your time. Work on things that interest you and increase your options, and worry later about which you’ll take.

What You’ll Wish You’d Known,” by Paul Graham

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College Admissions Bullshit

The secret of getting into the “best” colleges? Have rich, celebrity, or very well connected parents (being a federal official controlling education funds doesn’t hurt, either).

The Ivy League’s embrace of the sons of Bill Frist and Al Gore underscores a reality elite universities pretend doesn’t exist–that money and connections are increasingly tainting college admissions, undermining both its credibility and value to American democracy.
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Imagine if the New York Philharmonic adopted the same selection criteria as Harvard, Yale, or Stanford. It would turn down a top violinist with a sublime sound in favor of a second-rate one with a screeching bow because his father had played in the orchestra himself, had endowed a rehearsal space (or was expected to do so once his son was chosen), was a famous actor, or controlled federal appropriations for the arts.

“The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges — and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates,” by Daniel Golden

Mr Golden shows that elite universities do everything in their power to admit the children of privilege. If they cannot get them in through the front door by relaxing their standards, then they smuggle them in through the back. No less than 60% of the places in elite universities are given to candidates who have some sort of extra “hook”, from rich or alumni parents to “sporting prowess”. The number of whites who benefit from this affirmative action is far greater than the number of blacks.

The American establishment is extraordinarily good at getting its children into the best colleges. In the last presidential election both candidates—George Bush and John Kerry—were “C” students who would have had little chance of getting into Yale if they had not come from Yale families. Al Gore and Bill Frist both got their sons into their alma maters (Harvard and Princeton respectively), despite their average academic performances. Universities bend over backwards to admit “legacies” (ie, the children of alumni). Harvard admits 40% of legacy applicants compared with 11% of applicants overall. Amherst admits 50%. An average of 21-24% of students in each year at Notre Dame are the offspring of alumni. When it comes to the children of particularly rich donors, the bending-over-backwards reaches astonishing levels. Harvard even has something called a “Z” list—a list of applicants who are given a place after a year’s deferment to catch up—that is dominated by the children of rich alumni.

University behaviour is at its worst when it comes to grovelling to celebrities. Duke University’s admissions director visited Steven Spielberg’s house to interview his stepdaughter. Princeton found a place for Lauren Bush—the president’s niece and a top fashion model—despite the fact that she missed the application deadline by a month. Brown University was so keen to admit Michael Ovitz’s son that it gave him a place as a “special student”. (He dropped out after a year.)

Poison Ivy: Not so much palaces of learning as bastions of privilege and hypocrisy

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education – FIRE

A number of factors have helped to fuel the soaring cost of public colleges. Administrative costs have soared nationwide, and many administrators have secured big pay increases—including some at CU, in 2011. Teaching loads have declined for tenured faculty at many schools, adding to costs. Between 2001 and 2011, the Department of Education says, the number of managers at U.S. colleges and universities grew 50% faster than the number of instructors. What’s more, schools have spent liberally on fancier dorms, dining halls and gyms to compete for students.

Who Can Still Afford State U?

“Everyone wants to think of education as an equalizer — the place where upward mobility gets started,” said Greg J. Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine. “But on virtually every measure we have, the gaps between high- and low-income kids are widening. It’s very disheartening.”

The growing role of class in academic success has taken experts by surprise since it follows decades of equal opportunity efforts and counters racial trends, where differences have narrowed. It adds to fears over recent evidence suggesting that low-income Americans have lower chances of upward mobility than counterparts in Canada and Western Europe.

Thirty years ago, there was a 31 percentage point difference between the share of prosperous and poor Americans who earned bachelor’s degrees, according to Martha J. Bailey and Susan M. Dynarski of the University of Michigan. Now the gap is 45 points.

While both groups improved their odds of finishing college, the affluent improved much more, widening their sizable lead.

Likely reasons include soaring incomes at the top and changes in family structure, which have left fewer low-income students with the support of two-parent homes. Neighborhoods have grown more segregated by class, leaving lower-income students increasingly concentrated in lower-quality schools. And even after accounting for financial aid, the costs of attending a public university have risen 60 percent in the past two decades. Many low-income students, feeling the need to help out at home, are deterred by the thought of years of lost wages and piles of debt.

For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall

Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT) and to prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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“8 College Degrees with the Worst Return on Investment”

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Learn to say “No” and learn to make choices

Every time you say “YES” to something you don’t want to do, this will happen: you will resent people, you will do a bad job, you will have less energy for the things you were doing a good job on, you will make less money, and yet another small percentage of your life will be used up, burned up, a smoke signal to the future saying, “I did it again.”

The only real fire to cultivate is the fire inside of you. Nothing external will cultivate it. The greater your internal fire is, the more people will want it. They will smoke every drug lit by your fire. They will try to ignite their own fires. They will try to light up their own dark caves. The universe will bend to you.

How to Avoid Burnout,” by James Altucher

Not long ago, the psychologists Timothy Judge and Charlice Hurst conducted a fascinating study (5-page PDF). Partnering with the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth they examined the progress of more than 12,000 people for more than two decades. They were interested in all sorts of advantages and disadvantages that might impact whether a person winds up digging ditches or founding the next Apple Computer. Judge and Hurst looked at things like the occupation of the teenagers’ parents. Did they grow up in a blue collar home or a white collar home? Were the teens’ parents doctors and lawyers, or dropouts and n’er-do-wells? The researchers were also interested in finding out what kind of grades the teens earned in high school, and what kind of scores they received on their SATs.

Then Judge and Hurst compared all of these things to the annual income the teenagers were earning by their late thirties and early forties. In general, the results turned out how you might expect. The kids with the wealthy, well-educated parents who graduated near the top of their high school class tended to make more money as adults than the blue collar kids who figured out early on that formal school wasn’t really their bag.

But Judge and Hurst also looked at something else. This is where things get interesting. A unique subset of people in the study did not follow this pattern. By the time they reached their middle years, some sons and daughters of roofers and plumbers whose grades (ahem) made the top half of the class possible, still ended up making 30-60 percent more money each year than many of their more privileged peers. What this select breed of underdogs had in common was nothing but a unique set of personal beliefs (stemming from emotional stability, internal locus of control, self-efficacy, and self-esteem) about their ability to shape the future. Those beliefs translate into the ability to choose one course of action (entrepreneurship, less prestigious career path, etc.) while quitting others.

Why Quitters Win,” by Nick Tasler

Chris talked to lots of people about this, but the clincher for him was the advice he got from Ron Morris. Ron is a highly successful serial entrepreneur whose latest venture is an entrepreneurial talk radio network. Having sold his business for a tidy pile of cash, Ron was constantly receiving pitches from entrepreneurs looking for start-up investments. Many of those came from kids who had just graduated from prestigious universities. He told Chris that if he had a choice between betting on a 23-year old who had just graduated from a top school, or betting on a 23-year old who had worked for a small business, all other things being equal, he would choose the latter. Better still if the 23-year old had founded a small business—even if the business failed.

How The Bowyer Family Played The College Tuition Bubble,” by Jerry Bowyer

Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT) and to prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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Higher Ed Bubble (cont’d)

The sticker price at Princeton or Stanford, including room and board, is upward of fifty thousand dollars a year. Public colleges are much less expensive–the average tuition is $7,605–and there are also many less selective private colleges where you can get a good education, and a lot more faculty face time, without having to spend every minute of high school sucking up to your teachers and reformatting your résumé.

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Higher education is widely regarded as the route to a better life. It is sometimes pointed out that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were college dropouts. It is unnecessary to point out that most of us are not Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

It’s possible, though, that the higher education system only looks as if it’s working. The process may be sorting, students may be getting access, and employers may be rewarding, but are people actually learning anything? Two recent books suggest that they are not. They suggest it pretty emphatically.
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[Richard Arum (N.Y.U.) and Josipa Roksa (University of Virginia) in “Academically Adrift“] argue that many students today perceive college as fundamentally a social experience. Students spend less time studying than they used to, for example. In 1961, students reported studying for an average of twenty-five hours a week; the average is now twelve to thirteen hours. More than a third of the students in Arum and Roksa’s study reported that they spent less than five hours a week studying. In a University of California survey, students reported spending thirteen hours a week on schoolwork and forty-three hours socializing and pursuing various forms of entertainment.
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Sixty per cent of American college students are not liberal-arts majors, though. The No. 1 major in America is, in fact, business. Twenty-two per cent of bachelor’s degrees are awarded in that field. Ten per cent are awarded in education, seven per cent in the health professions. More than twice as many degrees are given out every year in parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies as in philosophy and religion. Since 1970, the more higher education has expanded, the more the liberal-arts sector has shrunk in proportion to the whole.

Neither Theory 1 nor Theory 2 really explains how the educational system works for these non-liberal-arts students. For them, college is basically a supplier of vocational preparation and a credentialling service. The theory that fits their situation—Theory 3—is that advanced economies demand specialized knowledge and skills, and, since high school is aimed at the general learner, college is where people can be taught what they need in order to enter a vocation. A college degree in a non-liberal field signifies competence in a specific line of work.

Theory 3 explains the growth of the non-liberal education sector. As work becomes more high-tech, employers demand more people with specialized training. It also explains the explosion in professional master’s programs. There are now well over a hundred master’s degrees available, in fields from Avian Medicine to Web Design and Homeland Security. Close to fourteen times as many master’s degrees are given out every year as doctorates.

Why we have college,” by Louis Menand, The New Yorker, June 6, 2011

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Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT) and to prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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Higher Ed: Religion, Luxury Good, or Investment?

“Let’s take a step back,” [James] Altucher says. “What’s the other American religion? Owning a home.” For years, the government encouraged home ownership for all citizens. “So we got more and more loans that were considered subprime, and look what that did. The idea, the religion of home ownership for all, turned into a national nightmare, a national apocalypse instead of a religion. The same thing’s going to happen here.”

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Over the past quarter-century, the total cost of higher education has grown by 440 percent. “Like many situations too good to be true,” Louis Lataif, the dean emeritus of Boston University’s School of Management, wrote in February for Forbes, “like the dot-com boom, the Enron bubble, the housing boom or the health-care-cost explosion–the ever-­increasing cost of university education is not sustainable.”

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But if college is neither a luxury good nor an investment, what is it? For [Peter] Thiel, the commodity college most closely resembles is the humble insurance policy. Americans have become terrified, he says, of what will happen to their children if they don’t send them to college. The recession, widening income inequality, growing job insecurity, the uncertain future of the welfare state, the increasing costs of health care–all have deepened the anxieties that made college such an attractive option for a rising middle class in the first place. “I think that’s the way probably a lot of parents think about it. It’s a way for their kids to be safe, to be protected from the chaos. You’re paying for college because it’s an insurance policy against falling out of the middle class.” The larger question this raises, he says, is, “Why are we spending ten times as much for insurance as we were 30 years ago? And does that tell us something has gone really badly wrong with our country?”

The University Has No Clothes,” by Daniel B. Smith, New York Magazine, May 1, 2011

Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT) and to prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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Higher Ed Bubble (cont’d)

Bubble
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Since 1978, the price of tuition at US colleges has increased over 900 percent, 650 points above inflation. To put that number in perspective, housing prices, the bubble that nearly burst the US economy, then the global one, increased only fifty points above the Consumer Price Index during those years. But while college applicants’ faith in the value of higher education has only increased, employers’ has declined. According to Richard Rothstein at The Economic Policy Institute, wages for college-educated workers outside of the inflated finance industry have stagnated or diminished. Unemployment has hit recent graduates especially hard, nearly doubling in the post-2007 recession. The result is that the most indebted generation in history is without the dependable jobs it needs to escape debt.

What kind of incentives motivate lenders to continue awarding six-figure sums to teenagers facing both the worst youth unemployment rate in decades and an increasingly competitive global workforce?

Bad Education,” by Malcolm Harris, n+1, April 25, 2011

More

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Education Bubble?

In a nutshell, blue collar workers are subsidizing the college education of future higher income workers.
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It has been found at many institutions all across the country that colleges have used government dollars not to increase options and improve facilities, but to increase headcount among staff. All of this extra overhead adds to the fixed cost of college. The cost is not just in salary, but guaranteed pension benefits that accrue to the staff members no matter what.
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There are two ways out of the problem, and we ought to do both.

First, build more colleges. This increases the supply and tempers demand, dropping prices. At the same time, remove the stigma of going to a community college. Going to a two year school will also relieve demand pressure on four year colleges, allowing prices to stagnate.

The second solution sounds cold hearted. But in order to make college more affordable for everyone, government ought to get out of the higher education subsidy business altogether. Blue collar workers will thank them for removing this hidden tax burden. Colleges will run leaner, and the federal budget deficit will drop.

Is There An Education Bubble?” by Jeff Carter, Points and Figures, January 15, 2011

HT, Instapundit

New Business School
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We find that there is indeed a building bubble in US higher education, which we see is clearly represented by three separate periods in which the growth of tuition decoupled from the growth of US median income.

These periods of tuition inflation largely coincide with periods of recession or slow job growth in the United States, from 1990 to 1993, 2000 to 2004 and from 2007 to the present. That these distinct phases of tuition inflation have occurred during recessionary periods, while tuition costs have steadily paced household income in healthier economic conditions, suggests that US higher learning institutions have been the beneficiaries of a remarkable amount of insulation from economic circumstances during these periods.

Visualizing the U.S. Higher Education Bubble,” by Ironman, Seeking Alpha, September 8, 2010

Regardless of the root cause, the cost increases are not sustainable. Students and parents can make other choices, such as attending a two-year college, attending a trade school, purchasing a business franchise, investing in a new business, or (in my opinion the worst option) not going to college at all. As many recent graduates have found out, a college education does not guarantee a job.

The College Education Bubble,” by Investor Junkie, March 30, 2010

Random but important points: 1. Getting a college edjumication does not (NOT) raise your lifetime earnings by $1 million. When you control for inflation, opportunity costs of going to school, advanced degrees, and the kitchen sink, you’re looking at about $280,000 more over a lifetime. 2. Where you go to college is far less important to future earnings than that you go to college. According to Princeton economist Alan Krueger, the returns to attending an elite university (defined as one that will put you in the poor house) are far from clear. In fact, where you apply to college is a better indicator of future earnings than where you actually go….

Is The Education Bubble About to Burst?” by Nick Gillespie, Hit and Run, June 8, 2010

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