Higher Education - How can we make it suck a little less?

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  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Class Traitor Smoke-filled roomRegistered User regular
    We really can't speak in generalities about degree plans. There's just too much variance. I imagine a physical education major has an incredibly simple course load for at least the first two years of their undergrad, while a Biochem major likely does not sleep for two years.

    But almost every major has courses they call "Weed-out" classes. It probably isn't intentionally done, but if you think about it it makes sense. Get a lot of the rote memorization and nasty classes done early, because it would suck to have all your seniors dropping out or switching majors a year before graduation. For Music Comp., that was Theory for me, which was given the very first semester. I've been making music (and by making I mean writing, not just playing in the high school band) for the last 16 years or so, and a lot of what was seriously taught and you were expected to know front and back in Music Theory I have never used one time, or if I have, I simply open up my theory book and use it as a reference. It's the same with a lot of other classes. I understand the need for people to know what the shit they're talking about when they open their mouths in a professional field without necessarily needing to look it up on the Internet, but so much of what is taught is stuff that would take 3 seconds at most to find, and comes with experience in a field regardless. Things like Arrhenius' Equation or Darcy's Law are convenient to have stuck in your brain until the end of time, but I mean, I work for a man who has two PhDs (Geophysics and Philosophy), he's almost 70 years old and he still goes to Wikipedia sometimes to reference things for research.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is those classes exist; the ones where you want to stab yourself in the neck repeatedly with your pencil and shoot staples into your face. I think that if we are going to keep them around, we need to do a better job of identifying which kids are showing an interest in entering a major (or majors) rife with those classes so that we can at least show them what it is going to be like.

    That way, when they get to school, they'll either change their mind ahead of time (instead of 5 or 6 times before they are sophomores) or know what they're getting themselves into, instead of receiving a battering ram up the butt.

    When I was 17-18 I was a fucking idiot, but I thought I was hot shit prior to getting into college, even though I'd heard all the joking about how college is tougher. You know what would have been better than jokes? Getting an example exam of what it was going to be like.

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Fine, then, make those kids take an extra year of remediation. Those that are prepared can graduate in four, the rest can take five. Why waste the smart kids' time?

    And how does one determine who is who?

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Not everybody does AP. And maybe I'd like to take intro courses in college, I'd just like them to be actual college level courses. Have resedial courses available Encourage those that need them to take them. But don't turn them into the norm.

  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    Eh, I never though the 'weed out' courses were bad. Except for the Math major one, which was essentially, so you've finished multivariable calc? Cool. Go prove the underlying theorems of calculus one by one. I went to office hours, and my professor literally said "Teach? I'm not going to teach you -if you can't figure it out on your own, switch majors!". So I did.

    Only class I ever dropped for non-hardship reasons. There were a dozen people in the class; a third of them were taking their second crack at passing it. Ugh.

  • Marty81Marty81 Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Fine, then, make those kids take an extra year of remediation. Those that are prepared can graduate in four, the rest can take five. Why waste the smart kids' time?

    Partly $. If some colleges start telling many of their students they're going to take 5 years to graduate because they didn't work hard enough in high school or go to a good enough high school, those students are going to say "fuck that" and go to colleges that will graduate them in 4.

    But partly, to some extent those options already exist. Remedial classes exist (but people who need remediation can often still graduate in 4 years, depending on their major). CLEP tests exist. AP classes exist. Calculus, physics, etc. are still considered introductory college-level courses. That's why they're considered AP when you take them in high school. Many high schools don't even offer them. If someone takes those classes in high school and they don't want to take them again in college, their college probably offers options for them to place out of them.

  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote:
    Fine, then, make those kids take an extra year of remediation. Those that are prepared can graduate in four, the rest can take five. Why waste the smart kids' time?

    Uh, you know there are tests one can take in high school to prove you know what is in the courses and will count for credits in many colleges for most 1st year courses?

    AP tests aren't taken that seriously many places and IB tests aren't offered that many places. At my school AP tests only counted as credits towards the class that non-majors take in most subjects (ie bio majors start with 201, AP Bio gets you credit for 101). Math was the exception, but I had to talk to the chair of the mathematics department personally to get credit for calc 1 and calc 2.

    Animal Crossing: City Folk Lissa in Filmore 3179-9580-0076
  • KistraKistra Registered User regular
    Marty81 wrote:
    mcdermott wrote:
    Fine, then, make those kids take an extra year of remediation. Those that are prepared can graduate in four, the rest can take five. Why waste the smart kids' time?

    Partly $. If some colleges start telling many of their students they're going to take 5 years to graduate because they didn't work hard enough in high school or go to a good enough high school, those students are going to say "fuck that" and go to colleges that will graduate them in 4.

    But partly, to some extent those options already exist. Remedial classes exist (but people who need remediation can often still graduate in 4 years, depending on their major). CLEP tests exist. AP classes exist. Calculus, physics, etc. are still considered introductory college-level courses. That's why they're considered AP when you take them in high school. Many high schools don't even offer them. If someone takes those classes in high school and they don't want to take them again in college, their college probably offers options for them to place out of them.

    You have quite a lot of faith in colleges. My experience was that I couldn't get out of any classes beyond what my AP credits did automatically. I got laughed at when I tried to place out of classes other than Bio 101 and told that I couldn't possibly have taken the classes and have the knowledge that I had. I had a scholarship so I didn't care too much, I just signed up for those classes and took the tests without going to lecture and took class loads that would have been ridiculous if I had actually had to study for all those classes.

    Animal Crossing: City Folk Lissa in Filmore 3179-9580-0076
  • AtomikaAtomika Gay Mergirl Registered User regular
    I had a scholarship for my undergrad that I lost, and I'm still kinda bitter about it.

    I lost the scholarship for making a "C" in a class, bringing my GPA under 3.6. But get this:
    - The class was a weekly 3-hour lecture on classical Greek philosophy
    - The class was an "elective requirement," meaning that it couldn't count towards anyone's major, but had to be taken due to the provisions of that particular scholarship
    - The professor of the class was the steward of that scholarship
    - The only people in the class were scholarship awardees
    - The reason I made a C was because I had a conflict of interest that caused me to miss a test. The awards presentation for conference honors, a school-sponsored event which I was part of, took place the same night as his lecture. The professor refused to reschedule the test.

  • ronzoronzo Registered User regular
    At my university, when a school event excuses you from a class, the professor has to allow you to make up test/quiz and hand in assignments at some other time. Not doing so means you go to the chair/dean and the professor gets reprimanded for being an asshole.

  • lonelyahavalonelyahava Call me Ahava Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    my High school AP english (which was only offered in 11th grade while I was in school) was so much crazy harder than English 101 and 102 in Uni. So much crazy harder. It was actually so disappointing my freshman year, i was hoping to be challenged when i got to Uni, like I was told that I would be, and I wasn't. So I failed the course because I just gave up caring about it. Also because it was 8am and that was just plain stupid.

    My 10th grade World History prof did more to prep me for how to study than I ever would have gotten.

    But, I thought that I would try and get some math out of the way. So the summer before being a freshman i went to one of the Universities near my house (an actual Uni, not a Community College) and took a College Algebra class. I got a B. I studied my ass off and struggled, but I got a B. I failed my entrance exam at Uni, so go put to pass/fail math class, and then took College Algebra again.

    everything I learned at the first Uni was in the first like three weeks at my real Uni.

    So, there's levels of difference for universities. Definitely. I went to a State college that thought they were an Ivy, but I went to a commuter campus. My campus was small, my classes were small, my department was really small. But everything was held to a higher standard.

    I dunno, I guess I just got lucky with timing and missing GWB's education reforms.

  • hippofanthippofant ティンク Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    shryke wrote:
    Yeah, my experience was that 1st year University was mostly a retread of Grade 12/OAC in an attempt to get everyone on the same page. Some people's schools were shit. My school was really good so it was all "review".

    Although it depended on the high school teacher really. I had math teachers who taught us, basically, 1st year university. And some other teachers, in Physics I remember, who obviously had no idea what they were doing and didn't cover anything of what we were really supposed to.

    But that goes back to my earlier point of so many people going to college without taking preparatory classes in high school. Why go?

    And to the colleges, why pander to those underperforming students?

    Zuh wuh? They're taking the same courses. Just some high schools dumb it down, to keep their own performance metrics up. When a government focuses on graduation rate, schools have two ways to meet those raised expectations: work harder, better, smarter on the same amount of resources... or make it easier to graduate.

    Then from the university's point of view... you took grade 12 calculus, he took grade 12 calculus. He doesn't know how to integrate anything, mind you, but the university can't tell that from your transcripts.


    In CS anyways, all the real weed-out classes are in third year. A lot of people drop out during first and second year due to disinterest, but third year's when the hammer comes down with Algorithms and Operating Systems, and suddenly you find yourself working your ass off every night. I find it's almost never in first year though in any program - intro classes are just too fucking huge to be anything but MC tests and a light workload, because it's too hard to get anything more marked and returned in time.

    hippofant on
  • AtomikaAtomika Gay Mergirl Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    Then from the university's point of view... you took grade 12 calculus, he took grade 12 calculus. He doesn't know how to integrate anything, mind you, but the university can't tell that from your transcripts.

    I would argue that the bar for admission needs to be higher throughout all of US colleges who require SAT/ACT scores, regardless of plan. Like, there needs to be a federally mandated minimum score for math, verbal, and composition. Then, each specific department can add MORE restrictions, but never fewer.

    Right now, outside of the NCAA requirements for minimum scores (which are fairly appalling enough as it is and has basically ruined any integrity the collegiate athletics institution might have ever had), there are no real universally-recognized standards for admission. There are many private colleges, especially small religious schools, that allow for some insane leniency on admissions (given the applicant comes from a rich legacy family and/or has a good 40-yd time). Some don't even have formal standards. I have a friend from high school that failed to meet NCAA minimum for the SAT/ACT on five different occasions, and then proceded to go to private school on a god-damned scholarship.

  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    And the only way to get that standard is standardized testing, which leads to "teaching to the test' and all the other bullshit that can come with that.

    Basically, no matter what you set, people will game the system and thus the University can never be sure of the quality of it's applicants, even if it tries it's best to make them good enough.

  • AtomikaAtomika Gay Mergirl Registered User regular
    shryke wrote:
    And the only way to get that standard is standardized testing, which leads to "teaching to the test' and all the other bullshit that can come with that.

    Basically, no matter what you set, people will game the system and thus the University can never be sure of the quality of it's applicants, even if it tries it's best to make them good enough.

    We already require the standardized tests in this case, though. All I'm proposing is setting a "passing" score.

    Because, really, what the fuck is the point of the test?

  • hippofanthippofant ティンク Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    shryke wrote:
    And the only way to get that standard is standardized testing, which leads to "teaching to the test' and all the other bullshit that can come with that.

    Basically, no matter what you set, people will game the system and thus the University can never be sure of the quality of it's applicants, even if it tries it's best to make them good enough.

    We already require the standardized tests in this case, though. All I'm proposing is setting a "passing" score.

    Because, really, what the fuck is the point of the test?

    Don't American colleges have minimum SAT scores for admission? They have minimum GRE scores.... Or are they just ineffectively low? Or are they just for the SAT I, which isn't really a good evaluator of whether you know enough to be in university so much as that you know how to function as an educated adult?

    (BTW, 1570/1600 on the SAT Is, 2400/2400 on the SAT IIs (Chem, Math 2, Writing) bitches!)

    hippofant on
  • SageinaRageSageinaRage Registered User regular
    College was way, way harder than high school for me, but I also went to a super-shitty 'we spent money on a band building while our classes are in trailers' public school, and Georgia 'fuck grade inflation' Tech. It was kind of a huge gap.

  • DerrickDerrick Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    shryke wrote:
    And the only way to get that standard is standardized testing, which leads to "teaching to the test' and all the other bullshit that can come with that.

    Basically, no matter what you set, people will game the system and thus the University can never be sure of the quality of it's applicants, even if it tries it's best to make them good enough.

    We already require the standardized tests in this case, though. All I'm proposing is setting a "passing" score.

    Because, really, what the fuck is the point of the test?

    Don't American colleges have minimum SAT scores for admission? They have minimum GRE scores.... Or are they just ineffectively low? Or are they just for the SAT I, which isn't really a good evaluator of whether you know enough to be in university so much as that you know how to function as an educated adult?

    (BTW, 1570/1600 on the SAT Is, 2400/2400 on the SAT IIs (Chem, Math 2, Writing) bitches!)

    Many colleges do have minimum ACT/SAT requirements, but it isn't national and they aren't really hard rules. You can appeal to admissions to make a special case, etc. My university uses a 20 ACT as a cut off for full enrollment, or a 2.5 high school GPA. Considering it's either/or, that's not really tough hurdle.



    Steam and CFN: Enexemander
  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    College was way, way harder than high school for me, but I also went to a super-shitty 'we spent money on a band building while our classes are in trailers' public school, and Georgia 'fuck grade inflation' Tech. It was kind of a huge gap.
    Its always fun to go from classes where they offer to grade on an actual curve (ie: half of you will get not more than a c) and classes where they curve by added 4-12 correct questions to each score on each exam (out of 50). It was a bit of culture shock every day, never did get used to it.

    edit: by which I mean to say, the unsubtle gaps in grading differences aren't just between high school and college.

    Syrdon on
  • AtomikaAtomika Gay Mergirl Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    Don't American colleges have minimum SAT scores for admission? They have minimum GRE scores.... Or are they just ineffectively low? Or are they just for the SAT I, which isn't really a good evaluator of whether you know enough to be in university so much as that you know how to function as an educated adult?

    (BTW, 1570/1600 on the SAT Is, 2400/2400 on the SAT IIs (Chem, Math 2, Writing) bitches!)

    The system is kind of screwy.

    Colleges are allowed to set their own ACT/SAT admission requirements, but it's completely fluid from college to college. The only standard I know of is the minimum requirement for athletic scholarship was SAT I score of 820, which is a grade so low it's unfathomable that people don't achieve it, but I know several that haven't.

    Past that, there's no standard for admission, and many community colleges and small private colleges waive those entrance exams entirely, especially in the cases where the student has something "special" to offer the school (like lots of family endowments, or a basketball championship).


    This is something I think needs addressing. Universities need to be a place of higher learning, not a random collection of institutions where with the right amount of money you can buy your admission into somewhere.

  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    At my college, 'retention' is now part of the performance evaluation (only 10% though). Meaning the more students don't make it (drop out or fail) from day one, the worse your evaluation. You can imagine the sort of incentive that creates with respect to the quality of your course.

    And we're not alone in this. Our state is currently working on making retention one of the criteria for college funding.

    enc0re on
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular

    This is something I think needs addressing. Universities need to be a place of higher learning, not a random collection of institutions where with the right amount of money you can buy your admission into somewhere.

    This is essentially what universities have always been, though. Places where the truly brilliant congregate, and are supported by the super wealthy who want to have their children hanging out with the smart folks in the hopes it'll rub off.

    What is this I don't even.
  • sanstodosanstodo Registered User regular
    Darkewolfe wrote:

    This is something I think needs addressing. Universities need to be a place of higher learning, not a random collection of institutions where with the right amount of money you can buy your admission into somewhere.

    This is essentially what universities have always been, though. Places where the truly brilliant congregate, and are supported by the super wealthy who want to have their children hanging out with the smart folks in the hopes it'll rub off.

    Wow, that is not true at all. Did you....like....go to college?

  • HamurabiHamurabi AmsterdamRegistered User regular
    sanstodo wrote:
    Darkewolfe wrote:

    This is something I think needs addressing. Universities need to be a place of higher learning, not a random collection of institutions where with the right amount of money you can buy your admission into somewhere.

    This is essentially what universities have always been, though. Places where the truly brilliant congregate, and are supported by the super wealthy who want to have their children hanging out with the smart folks in the hopes it'll rub off.

    Wow, that is not true at all. Did you....like....go to college?

    Top universities these days are almost a rubber-stamp for access to the elite upper class.

    What I'm more concerned about than the sociological role of the modern university, though, is how fucking expensive undergrad / graduate level education is becoming. It's on a trend line on a par with healthcare costs, iirc, and doesn't show any signs of curving downward anytime soon.

  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    enc0re wrote:
    At my college, 'retention' is now part of the performance evaluation (only 10% though). Meaning the more students don't make it (drop out or fail) from day one, the worse your evaluation. You can imagine the sort of incentive that creates with respect to the quality of your course.

    And we're not alone in this. Our state is currently working on making retention one of the criteria for college funding.
    ... I'm going to assume you're kidding. Because the alternative is distinctly unpleasant. I can see arguments for retention being a good thing in intro courses, but I suspect that most people will get to it by just giving everyone at least a B and not by teaching well. I can't imagine what that will do to courses that really are hard.

  • SpacklerSpackler Registered User
    sanstodo wrote:
    Darkewolfe wrote:

    This is something I think needs addressing. Universities need to be a place of higher learning, not a random collection of institutions where with the right amount of money you can buy your admission into somewhere.

    This is essentially what universities have always been, though. Places where the truly brilliant congregate, and are supported by the super wealthy who want to have their children hanging out with the smart folks in the hopes it'll rub off.

    Wow, that is not true at all. Did you....like....go to college?

    To some extent, that is a purpose of the elite universities - the building of social capital. It can be a huge advantage to a smart person to go to school and build relationships with rich people. Similarly going to school with a whole bunch of smart kids can be a big advantage for a rich kid. Some schools are worse (or more direct) about it than others.

    I'm not saying it's the best thing in the world, but schools do operate this way to some extent.

  • sanstodosanstodo Registered User regular
    Spackler wrote:
    sanstodo wrote:
    Darkewolfe wrote:

    This is something I think needs addressing. Universities need to be a place of higher learning, not a random collection of institutions where with the right amount of money you can buy your admission into somewhere.

    This is essentially what universities have always been, though. Places where the truly brilliant congregate, and are supported by the super wealthy who want to have their children hanging out with the smart folks in the hopes it'll rub off.

    Wow, that is not true at all. Did you....like....go to college?

    To some extent, that is a purpose of the elite universities - the building of social capital. It can be a huge advantage to a smart person to go to school and build relationships with rich people. Similarly going to school with a whole bunch of smart kids can be a big advantage for a rich kid. Some schools are worse (or more direct) about it than others.

    I'm not saying it's the best thing in the world, but schools do operate this way to some extent.

    Elite universities /= universities. I disagree that universities in general are places for the truly brilliant and/or super rich. In fact, having gone to an Ivy, many of the students there are not brilliant at all. Smart, sure. Driven, definitely. But brilliant? Some, but certainly not the majority.

    Plus, most top schools are need blind. There will always be some rich kids (there are rich kids at every school, since some are dumb, lazy, etc.), but, for example, over 50% of my class were financial aid students.

    I agree with your point about the building of social capital. But Darkewolfe's characterization of universities is way off.

  • hippofanthippofant ティンク Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    sanstodo wrote:
    In fact, having gone to an Ivy ...

    ... There will always be some rich kids (there are rich kids at every school, since some are dumb, lazy, etc.), but, for example, over 50% of my class were financial aid students

    Tuition, plus room and board for the Ivy league schools racks up at $32K+ (Okay, MIT's $31.9K.) That 50% of your class needed financial aid does not indicate that there will be "some" rich kids; it indicates that up to 50% of your school was rich kids, given that the US median HOUSEHOLD income in 2003 was $44K (and is likely lower now).


    Of course, I'm not American, so my definition of rich does not require you make a minimum of $200K+.

    hippofant on
  • enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    Syrdon wrote:
    enc0re wrote:
    At my college, 'retention' is now part of the performance evaluation (only 10% though). Meaning the more students don't make it (drop out or fail) from day one, the worse your evaluation. You can imagine the sort of incentive that creates with respect to the quality of your course.

    And we're not alone in this. Our state is currently working on making retention one of the criteria for college funding.
    ... I'm going to assume you're kidding. Because the alternative is distinctly unpleasant. I can see arguments for retention being a good thing in intro courses, but I suspect that most people will get to it by just giving everyone at least a B and not by teaching well. I can't imagine what that will do to courses that really are hard.

    I'm not. This is quite real. And Michigan is not the only state doing so. 'Retention' as a metric is sweeping the nation.

  • sanstodosanstodo Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    sanstodo wrote:
    In fact, having gone to an Ivy ...

    ... There will always be some rich kids (there are rich kids at every school, since some are dumb, lazy, etc.), but, for example, over 50% of my class were financial aid students

    Tuition, plus room and board for the Ivy league schools racks up at $32K+ (Okay, MIT's $31.9K.) That 50% of your class needed financial aid does not indicate that there will be "some" rich kids; it indicates that up to 50% of your school was rich kids, given that the US median HOUSEHOLD income in 2003 was $44K (and is likely lower now).


    Of course, I'm not American, so my definition of rich does not require you make a minimum of $200K+.

    Wow, people keep missing the point. The original post said that universities (not just Ivies) were for the super rich and truly brilliant. I was criticizing that point, since it is factually inaccurate. The rest was to demonstrate that even Ivies have people who are neither rich nor brilliant, just hard-working and intelligent.

  • hippofanthippofant ティンク Registered User regular
    sanstodo wrote:
    hippofant wrote:
    sanstodo wrote:
    In fact, having gone to an Ivy ...

    ... There will always be some rich kids (there are rich kids at every school, since some are dumb, lazy, etc.), but, for example, over 50% of my class were financial aid students

    Tuition, plus room and board for the Ivy league schools racks up at $32K+ (Okay, MIT's $31.9K.) That 50% of your class needed financial aid does not indicate that there will be "some" rich kids; it indicates that up to 50% of your school was rich kids, given that the US median HOUSEHOLD income in 2003 was $44K (and is likely lower now).


    Of course, I'm not American, so my definition of rich does not require you make a minimum of $200K+.

    Wow, people keep missing the point. The original post said that universities (not just Ivies) were for the super rich and truly brilliant. I was criticizing that point, since it is factually inaccurate. The rest was to demonstrate that even Ivies have people who are neither rich nor brilliant, just hard-working and intelligent.

    That I disagree with what you said does not mean that I agree with what he said. Furthermore, that you disagree with what he said doesn't really mean that you can say whatever you want, even if it's wrong, so long as it's less wrong than what he said.

    Furthermore, Spackler said "to some extent", conditioning his statement. And Darkewolfe said, "This is essentially what universities have always been", which is true. Universities were originally much more exclusive institutions, and that core model of their functioning has remained to this day, though it has been swept upwards into the graduate school level as the undergraduate level has become much more democratized.

  • sanstodosanstodo Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    sanstodo wrote:
    hippofant wrote:
    sanstodo wrote:
    In fact, having gone to an Ivy ...

    ... There will always be some rich kids (there are rich kids at every school, since some are dumb, lazy, etc.), but, for example, over 50% of my class were financial aid students

    Tuition, plus room and board for the Ivy league schools racks up at $32K+ (Okay, MIT's $31.9K.) That 50% of your class needed financial aid does not indicate that there will be "some" rich kids; it indicates that up to 50% of your school was rich kids, given that the US median HOUSEHOLD income in 2003 was $44K (and is likely lower now).


    Of course, I'm not American, so my definition of rich does not require you make a minimum of $200K+.

    Wow, people keep missing the point. The original post said that universities (not just Ivies) were for the super rich and truly brilliant. I was criticizing that point, since it is factually inaccurate. The rest was to demonstrate that even Ivies have people who are neither rich nor brilliant, just hard-working and intelligent.

    That I disagree with what you said does not mean that I agree with what he said. Furthermore, that you disagree with what he said doesn't really mean that you can say whatever you want, even if it's wrong, so long as it's less wrong than what he said.

    Furthermore, Spackler said "to some extent", conditioning his statement. And Darkewolfe said, "This is essentially what universities have always been", which is true. Universities were originally much more exclusive institutions, and that core model of their functioning has remained to this day, though it has been swept upwards into the graduate school level as the undergraduate level has become much more democratized.

    Ah, ok. I see where you're coming from. It's irrelevant to contemporary higher education, though, that, say, Dartmouth was originally founded to educate Native Americans, or that most universities "essentially" existed to educate only men (considering that there are currently more women than men getting post-secondary degrees). Right now, universities not bastions solely for the super rich and truly brilliant. They are, as you said, far more democratized particularly at the undergraduate level.

    It is important to note that the 50%+ on financial aid at my alma mater does not include the students who took out mostly loans. At my alma mater, over 80% of aid consisted of grants and scholarships. Many other students, who were not deemed to have financial need, still took out loans to cover expenses. The percentage of "rich" kids, meaning those who could afford the school without loans, grants, or scholarships, was significantly under 50%.

    Also, I generally agree with Spackler.

  • hippofanthippofant ティンク Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    sanstodo wrote:
    It's irrelevant to contemporary higher education, though, that, say, Dartmouth was originally founded to educate Native Americans, or that most universities "essentially" existed to educate only men (considering that there are currently more women than men getting post-secondary degrees).

    I know not much about Dartmouth, but I found this passage from the Wikipedia article interesting:
    That charter created a college "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others." The reference to educating Native American youth was included to connect Dartmouth to the Charity School and enable use of the Charity School's unspent trust funds. Named for William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth — an important supporter of Eleazar Wheelock's earlier efforts but who, in fact, opposed creation of the College and never donated to it — Dartmouth is the nation's ninth oldest college and the last institution of higher learning established under Colonial rule. The College granted its first degrees in 1771.

    Given the limited success of the Charity School, however, Wheelock intended his new College as one primarily for whites.

    Also, despite the number of undergraduates at a university, I believe a university can still be "essentially" places for elites. My university has ~34 000 undergraduates, but I would still consider it primarily an institution for academic and societal elites. Very few of its undergraduate programs are of particular note, other than perhaps some of our Engineering programs; its main claims to fame are the law school, medical school, incredibly deep and talented pool of (famous) research faculty, and its strong industry/corporate ties. Those are simply the areas in which this university focuses, the core areas of their business model. The 34 000 undergraduates are almost, institutionally, an afterthought... or a pool from which to draw extremely talented future researchers.

    I do note that many smaller and/or newer universities are much more education-focused and less bastions of the elite. But to say that Hahvahd isn't a school for the elite, because they deign to let poor people in, is like saying that women have achieved equality with men, now that they can vote. I assure you, Hahvahd still spends plenty of time and money and effort making sure they recruit big name researchers and faculty, spending tens of millions of dollars to lure them. That's always been one of the core roles universities have played in our society, the gathering and funding of academic elites, and it is likely to always be the case, as similar private endeavours have typically cratered, like Xerox's PARC, which is admittedly still around but nothing like what it used to be in its heydey.

    hippofant on
  • sanstodosanstodo Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    hippofant wrote:
    sanstodo wrote:
    It's irrelevant to contemporary higher education, though, that, say, Dartmouth was originally founded to educate Native Americans, or that most universities "essentially" existed to educate only men (considering that there are currently more women than men getting post-secondary degrees).

    I know not much about Dartmouth, but I found this passage from the Wikipedia article interesting:
    That charter created a college "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others." The reference to educating Native American youth was included to connect Dartmouth to the Charity School and enable use of the Charity School's unspent trust funds. Named for William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth — an important supporter of Eleazar Wheelock's earlier efforts but who, in fact, opposed creation of the College and never donated to it — Dartmouth is the nation's ninth oldest college and the last institution of higher learning established under Colonial rule. The College granted its first degrees in 1771.

    Given the limited success of the Charity School, however, Wheelock intended his new College as one primarily for whites.

    Also, despite the number of undergraduates at a university, I believe a university can still be "essentially" places for elites. My university has ~34 000 undergraduates, but I would still consider it primarily an institution for academic and societal elites. Very few of its undergraduate programs are of particular note, other than perhaps some of our Engineering programs; its main claims to fame are the law school, medical school, incredibly deep and talented pool of (famous) research faculty, and its strong industry/corporate ties. Those are simply the areas in which this university focuses, the core areas of their business model. The 34 000 undergraduates are almost, institutionally, an afterthought... or a pool from which to draw extremely talented future researchers.

    I do note that many smaller and/or newer universities are much more education-focused and less bastions of the elite. But to say that Hahvahd isn't a school for the elite, because they deign to let poor people in, is like saying that women have achieved equality with men, now that they can vote. I assure you, Hahvahd still spends plenty of time and money and effort making sure they recruit big name researchers and faculty, spending tens of millions of dollars to lure them. That's always been one of the core roles universities have played in our society, the gathering and funding of academic elites, and it is likely to always be the case, as similar private endeavours have typically cratered, like Xerox's PARC, which is admittedly still around but nothing like what it used to be in its heydey.

    There is an undercurrent of resentment toward certain educational institutions that some posters here, you included, that I find strange. Harvard is certainly a bastion of the intellectual elite but is also one of the most generous universities in existence.

    Over 60% of Harvard's undergraduates are on financial aid; students whose parents make less than $60,000 USD a year pay NOTHING. Families with incomes between $60,000 and $180,000 USD a year pay about 10% of their yearly income. Hell, there are even some families with incomes exceeding $200,000 USD yearly who receive financial aid due to circumstances.

    Harvard does not "deign" to let in the poor; it hugely supports them. Like most of the Ivies, Harvard is completely need blind.

    Harvard definitely spends a lot of money on recruiting top faculty, but to ignore the money they spend on supporting a diverse student body is goosery at its finest.

    Edit: I also wonder.......why shouldn't Harvard and other top schools be geared toward the intellectual elite? If they didn't cater to the best students, they wouldn't remain at the top for long. Students at my alma mater were expected to push themselves every day. Most of my friends are doing incredible things; sure, the contacts helped but they put in far more work than their peers at lesser schools.

    I am baffled by the posters who say that college was easier than high school. There was absolutely no comparison in my experience. High school was a cakewalk (and I won a few national awards then). College demanded far more from me just to get by, and my full attention if I wanted to achieve anything meaningful.

    sanstodo on
  • AtomikaAtomika Gay Mergirl Registered User regular
    enc0re wrote:
    At my college, 'retention' is now part of the performance evaluation (only 10% though). Meaning the more students don't make it (drop out or fail) from day one, the worse your evaluation. You can imagine the sort of incentive that creates with respect to the quality of your course.

    And we're not alone in this. Our state is currently working on making retention one of the criteria for college funding.

    Yeah, a University my mom worked at got nailed by the State a few years back for having a first semester-to-second semester attrition rate of 40%, and having an intake-to-graduation rate of less than 10%. The university's defense was, "Hey, a high failure rate means we just have the highest standards. It's proof of how good we are."

    The State said, "Uh, no. Your job is teaching, not weeding out everyone except those you didn't need to teach in the first place."

  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    sanstodo wrote:
    hippofant wrote:
    sanstodo wrote:
    It's irrelevant to contemporary higher education, though, that, say, Dartmouth was originally founded to educate Native Americans, or that most universities "essentially" existed to educate only men (considering that there are currently more women than men getting post-secondary degrees).

    I know not much about Dartmouth, but I found this passage from the Wikipedia article interesting:
    That charter created a college "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others." The reference to educating Native American youth was included to connect Dartmouth to the Charity School and enable use of the Charity School's unspent trust funds. Named for William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth — an important supporter of Eleazar Wheelock's earlier efforts but who, in fact, opposed creation of the College and never donated to it — Dartmouth is the nation's ninth oldest college and the last institution of higher learning established under Colonial rule. The College granted its first degrees in 1771.

    Given the limited success of the Charity School, however, Wheelock intended his new College as one primarily for whites.

    Also, despite the number of undergraduates at a university, I believe a university can still be "essentially" places for elites. My university has ~34 000 undergraduates, but I would still consider it primarily an institution for academic and societal elites. Very few of its undergraduate programs are of particular note, other than perhaps some of our Engineering programs; its main claims to fame are the law school, medical school, incredibly deep and talented pool of (famous) research faculty, and its strong industry/corporate ties. Those are simply the areas in which this university focuses, the core areas of their business model. The 34 000 undergraduates are almost, institutionally, an afterthought... or a pool from which to draw extremely talented future researchers.

    I do note that many smaller and/or newer universities are much more education-focused and less bastions of the elite. But to say that Hahvahd isn't a school for the elite, because they deign to let poor people in, is like saying that women have achieved equality with men, now that they can vote. I assure you, Hahvahd still spends plenty of time and money and effort making sure they recruit big name researchers and faculty, spending tens of millions of dollars to lure them. That's always been one of the core roles universities have played in our society, the gathering and funding of academic elites, and it is likely to always be the case, as similar private endeavours have typically cratered, like Xerox's PARC, which is admittedly still around but nothing like what it used to be in its heydey.

    There is an undercurrent of resentment toward certain educational institutions that some posters here, you included, that I find strange. Harvard is certainly a bastion of the intellectual elite but is also one of the most generous universities in existence.

    Over 60% of Harvard's undergraduates are on financial aid; students whose parents make less than $60,000 USD a year pay NOTHING. Families with incomes between $60,000 and $180,000 USD a year pay about 10% of their yearly income. Hell, there are even some families with incomes exceeding $200,000 USD yearly who receive financial aid due to circumstances.

    Harvard does not "deign" to let in the poor; it hugely supports them. Like most of the Ivies, Harvard is completely need blind.

    Harvard definitely spends a lot of money on recruiting top faculty, but to ignore the money they spend on supporting a diverse student body is goosery at its finest.

    Edit: I also wonder.......why shouldn't Harvard and other top schools be geared toward the intellectual elite? If they didn't cater to the best students, they wouldn't remain at the top for long. Students at my alma mater were expected to push themselves every day. Most of my friends are doing incredible things; sure, the contacts helped but they put in far more work than their peers at lesser schools.

    I am baffled by the posters who say that college was easier than high school. There was absolutely no comparison in my experience. High school was a cakewalk (and I won a few national awards then). College demanded far more from me just to get by, and my full attention if I wanted to achieve anything meaningful.

    Honestly, you're the one who has no idea what universities in the U.S. are really for. The top ones especially are just networking hubs. Yes, you get an education. Yes, you might have higher caliber professors and fellow students, or a more rigorous curriculum. The reason that the top schools are the top schools, though... is that they're the top schools. They're concentrations of the affluent, the already successful, and the people who are going to be successful. Some of them will be successful because of the contacts and capital they already have. Others are brilliant. Either way, the top universities that are worth the big dollars aren't worth more because they provide a better education, they're restrictive because they put together the people who are going to be successful in some way or another. They provide a self-fulfilling prophecy of success.

    What is this I don't even.
  • hippofanthippofant ティンク Registered User regular
    edited July 2011
    sanstodo wrote:
    There is an undercurrent of resentment toward certain educational institutions that some posters here, you included, that I find strange. Harvard is certainly a bastion of the intellectual elite but is also one of the most generous universities in existence.

    You're reading resentment here where there is none. I don't resent them at all. It's simply their model of existence. I don't resent my university for neglecting its undergraduates... I'm taking advantage of it, if anything.

    I feel that, overall, there is something of an imbalance, a fixation on "excellence" that I suspect undermines the creation and development of the very same "excellence". I mean, with 34 000 undergraduates, I think we have a substantial pool of resources and talent which we could do a better job of cultivating. (Suggestions that our department turn graduate recruiting efforts to the undergraduates in our very same department are often met with open snickering.)

    I would suggest to you that your reflexive response that any mention of "elite" is more indicative of your character than it is of ours or at least mine.

    Also, you continually confound intellectual elite with financial elite, such that the two are one and the same at times, yet separate ideas at others. The fact that Harvard's undergraduate admissions policy is need-blind and offers financial support to any incoming student doesn't make it a non-elitist policy... it's just an academically elitist policy. The truth of the matter, though, is that it's not even that elitist a policy - many top American universities officially, or unofficially, restrict foreign admissions to 10% of their overall admissions, which means that they'll often admit less academically qualified Americans instead of more academically qualified foreigners. I believe this has something to do with the way federal funding works? I dunno.

    But again, what an institution does in one area doesn't wipe out what it does in another. Harvard is an elite institution. Among the reasons to go to Harvard are to interact with others of the academic elite, to have the elite institutional name on your resume, to attend seminars and workshops run by the academic elites of the world, to mingle with the business and political elite. (Commensurate with this is also not having stupid people in your class, asking stupid questions and wasting your time.) It's not a bad thing, but let's not deny that it's a core part of what Harvard is, regardless of how much money they give away. These are also the reasons to attend undergraduate studies (in most of the programs) at my university... not the teaching or academic experience, I assure you.

    hippofant on
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    enc0re wrote:
    At my college, 'retention' is now part of the performance evaluation (only 10% though). Meaning the more students don't make it (drop out or fail) from day one, the worse your evaluation. You can imagine the sort of incentive that creates with respect to the quality of your course.

    And we're not alone in this. Our state is currently working on making retention one of the criteria for college funding.

    Yeah, a University my mom worked at got nailed by the State a few years back for having a first semester-to-second semester attrition rate of 40%, and having an intake-to-graduation rate of less than 10%. The university's defense was, "Hey, a high failure rate means we just have the highest standards. It's proof of how good we are."

    The State said, "Uh, no. Your job is teaching, not weeding out everyone except those you didn't need to teach in the first place."

    Which isn't a bad argument by the State.

    A high rate of attrition doesn't necessarily mean you have high standards. It may just mean you fucking suck at teaching.

  • SpacklerSpackler Registered User
    shryke wrote:
    enc0re wrote:
    At my college, 'retention' is now part of the performance evaluation (only 10% though). Meaning the more students don't make it (drop out or fail) from day one, the worse your evaluation. You can imagine the sort of incentive that creates with respect to the quality of your course.

    And we're not alone in this. Our state is currently working on making retention one of the criteria for college funding.

    Yeah, a University my mom worked at got nailed by the State a few years back for having a first semester-to-second semester attrition rate of 40%, and having an intake-to-graduation rate of less than 10%. The university's defense was, "Hey, a high failure rate means we just have the highest standards. It's proof of how good we are."

    The State said, "Uh, no. Your job is teaching, not weeding out everyone except those you didn't need to teach in the first place."

    Which isn't a bad argument by the State.

    A high rate of attrition doesn't necessarily mean you have high standards. It may just mean you fucking suck at teaching.

    40% first to second semester attrition rate isn't that worrisome if you're talking about a fairly open admissions policy, but 90% over four years? That's pretty stunning.



  • sanstodosanstodo Registered User regular
    hippofant wrote:
    sanstodo wrote:
    There is an undercurrent of resentment toward certain educational institutions that some posters here, you included, that I find strange. Harvard is certainly a bastion of the intellectual elite but is also one of the most generous universities in existence.

    You're reading resentment here where there is none. I don't resent them at all. It's simply their model of existence. I don't resent my university for neglecting its undergraduates... I'm taking advantage of it, if anything.

    I feel that, overall, there is something of an imbalance, a fixation on "excellence" that I suspect undermines the creation and development of the very same "excellence". I mean, with 34 000 undergraduates, I think we have a substantial pool of resources and talent which we could do a better job of cultivating. (Suggestions that our department turn graduate recruiting efforts to the undergraduates in our very same department are often met with open snickering.)

    I would suggest to you that your reflexive response that any mention of "elite" is more indicative of your character than it is of ours or at least mine.

    Also, you continually confound intellectual elite with financial elite, such that the two are one and the same at times, yet separate ideas at others. The fact that Harvard's undergraduate admissions policy is need-blind and offers financial support to any incoming student doesn't make it a non-elitist policy... it's just an academically elitist policy. The truth of the matter, though, is that it's not even that elitist a policy - many top American universities officially, or unofficially, restrict foreign admissions to 10% of their overall admissions, which means that they'll often admit less academically qualified Americans instead of more academically qualified foreigners. I believe this has something to do with the way federal funding works? I dunno.

    But again, what an institution does in one area doesn't wipe out what it does in another. Harvard is an elite institution. Among the reasons to go to Harvard are to interact with others of the academic elite, to have the elite institutional name on your resume, to attend seminars and workshops run by the academic elites of the world, to mingle with the business and political elite. (Commensurate with this is also not having stupid people in your class, asking stupid questions and wasting your time.) It's not a bad thing, but let's not deny that it's a core part of what Harvard is, regardless of how much money they give away. These are also the reasons to attend undergraduate studies (in most of the programs) at my university... not the teaching or academic experience, I assure you.

    Lol, ok. Repetitiously writing "Hahvahd" doesn't carry any overtones of resentment and/or mocking at all[/sarcasm]. I have my problems with Harvard but the cheap jokes are exactly that.

    I agree that larger universities sometimes neglect their undergraduates, which is why I went to a smaller school with an undergraduate focus.

    Btw, within your post about my conflation of intellectual elitism and financial elitism, you failed to mention the following:
    sanstodo wrote:
    Harvard is certainly a bastion of the intellectual elite.

    My problem is with the posters who, as Darkewolfe just wrote, believe that "...the top universities that are worth the big dollars aren't worth more because they provide a better education..." along with "Some of them will be successful because of the contacts and capital they already have. Others are brilliant."

    And I completely disagree. Darkewolfe implies that these are the only kinds of students who go to top schools, and that is untrue. I have many college friends from humble origins who are not brilliant but work insanely hard to achieve great things. There is considerable resentment in his and other posts that you must surely see.

    Top schools do provide a better education to a broad base of students, not merely the affluent and brilliant. Perhaps it is difficult to understand if you haven't experienced both (and teaching students from a state school truly made me understand the gulf).

    I'm not saying that you can't get a fantastic education at a lower-ranked school. Plenty of people do. But the overall level of instruction, resources, etc. is generally superior at higher-ranked schools, regardless of Darkewolfe's beliefs.

  • SyrdonSyrdon Registered User regular
    Spackler wrote:
    shryke wrote:
    enc0re wrote:
    At my college, 'retention' is now part of the performance evaluation (only 10% though). Meaning the more students don't make it (drop out or fail) from day one, the worse your evaluation. You can imagine the sort of incentive that creates with respect to the quality of your course.

    And we're not alone in this. Our state is currently working on making retention one of the criteria for college funding.

    Yeah, a University my mom worked at got nailed by the State a few years back for having a first semester-to-second semester attrition rate of 40%, and having an intake-to-graduation rate of less than 10%. The university's defense was, "Hey, a high failure rate means we just have the highest standards. It's proof of how good we are."

    The State said, "Uh, no. Your job is teaching, not weeding out everyone except those you didn't need to teach in the first place."

    Which isn't a bad argument by the State.

    A high rate of attrition doesn't necessarily mean you have high standards. It may just mean you fucking suck at teaching.

    40% first to second semester attrition rate isn't that worrisome if you're talking about a fairly open admissions policy, but 90% over four years? That's pretty stunning.
    I think it may depend on the exact details. For example, a bunch of institutions operate colleges of engineering and colleges of other stuff and you see the engineering group has a really low retention rate in the first two years but the school overall is about what you would expect. People may be going into a program expecting one thing and discovering its another, and then switching out to another major that, on paper, is at a different institution without actually leaving the school. Or they might actually have a 90% dropout rate, which just seems really abnormal.

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