Archive for the ‘Education’ Category.
A key reason why a preponderance of the population is fascinated with the student loan market is that as USA Today reported in a landmark piece last year, it is now bigger than ever the credit card market. And as the monthly consumer debt update from the Fed reminds us, the primary source of funding is none other than the US government. To many, this market has become the biggest credit bubble in America. Why do we make a big deal out of this? Because as Bloomberg reported last night, we now have prima facie evidence that the student loan market is not only an epic bubble, but it is also the next subprime! To wit: "Vince Sampson, president, Education Finance Council, said during a panel at the IMN ABS East Conference in Miami Monday that lenders are no longer pushing loans to people who can’t afford them." Re-read the last sentence as many times as necessary for it to sink in. Yes: just like before lenders were "pushing loans to people who can't afford them" which became the reason for the subprime bubble which has since spread to prime, but was missing the actual confirmation from authorities of just this action, this time around we have actual confirmation that student loans are being actually peddled to people who can not afford them. And with the government a primary source of lending, we will be lucky if tears is all this ends in.
When you mess with pricing signals and resource allocation, you get bubbles. And one could easily argue that OWS is as much about the student loan bubble bursting as about Wall Street.
I must say that I never had a ton of sympathy for home buyers who were supposedly "lured" into taking on loans they could not afford. The ultimate cost for most of them was the loss of a home that, if the credit had not been extended, they would never have had anyway. US law protects our other assets from home purchase failures, and while we have to sit in the credit penalty box for a while after mortgage default or bankruptcy, most people are able to recover in a few years.
Student loans are entirely different. In large part because the government is the largest lender via Sallie Mae, student loans cannot be discharged via bankruptcy. You can be 80 years old and still have your social security checks garnished to pay back your student loans. You can more easily discharge credit card debt run up buying lap dances in topless bars than you can student loans. There is absolutely no way to escape a mistake, which is all the more draconian given that most folks who are borrowing are in their early twenties or even their teens.
I can see it now, the pious folks in power trying to foist this bubble off on some nameless loan originators. Well, this is a problem we all caused. The government, as a long-standing policy, has pushed college and student lending. Private lenders have marketed these loans aggressively. Colleges have jacked costs up into the stratosphere, in large part because student loans disconnected consumers from the immediate true costs. And nearly everyone in any leadership position have pushed kids to go to college, irregardless of whether their course of study made even a lick of sense vis a vis their ability to earn back the costs later in the job market.
Public service note: Their are, to my knowledge, five colleges that will provide up to 100% financial aid in the form of grants, such that a student can graduate debt free: Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Amherst. These are obviously really hard schools to get into. I don't think a single one has a double digit percentage admissions rate. But these are the top schools that hopefully establish trends.
I am thrilled my alma mater is on the list. For years I have argued that they were approach severe diminishing returns from spending tens of millions of dollars to improve educational quality another 0.25%. If an institution is really going to live by the liberal arts college philosophy -- that a liberal arts education makes one a better human being irregardless of whether the course of study is easily monetized after graduation -- then it better have a way for students who want to join the Peace Corp or run for the state legislature to graduate without a debt load than only a Wall Street job can pay off.
By the way, my other proposal for Princeton has been this: rather than increasing the educational quality 1% more to the existing students, why not bring Ivy League education to 3x as many students. I have always wondered why a school like Princeton doesn't buy a bunch of cheap land in Arizona and build a western campus for another 10,000 kids.
My son and I spent the last year touring colleges. One common denominator of all the good and great private colleges: they are all over 100 years old. Rice was probably the newest, when a rich guy toured the great colleges of the world and thought he could do as well, and started Rice (Stanford is older but has a sort of similar origin story). Where are the new schools? The number of kids with the qualifications and desire to go to a top private college have skyrocketed, and tuition have risen far more than inflation, but there is no new supply coming on the market. Why is that?
I have pimped the Teaching Company (now called the Great Courses) for years on this blog. I have done over 20 courses, and am nearly addicted to their offerings. Nothing bums we out more than to read their catalog and find nothing new I want, except when that happens I order something random I don't think I want and usually love it. I listen to music a lot less than I used to because I often have a Great Course on my mp3 player instead.
Via Econlog comes a great article about the Great Courses, and make me feel a bit better that I am not alone in my obsession. Its one of those really interesting stories about an entrepreneur who sticks with his vision, right down to his last dollar.
But it is also a depressing read for someone who may soon be sending his kid to a small liberal arts college. Some excerpts related to current college education:
the company offers a treasure trove of traditional academic content that undergraduates paying $50,000 a year may find nowhere on their Club Med–like campuses. This past academic year, for example, a Bowdoin College student interested in American history courses could have taken “Black Women in Atlantic New Orleans,” “Women in American History, 1600–1900,” or “Lawn Boy Meets Valley Girl: Gender and the Suburbs,” but if he wanted a course in American political history, the colonial and revolutionary periods, or the Civil War, he would have been out of luck. A Great Courses customer, by contrast, can choose from a cornucopia of American history not yet divvied up into the fiefdoms of race, gender, and sexual orientation, with multiple offerings in the American Revolution, the constitutional period, the Civil War, the Bill of Rights, and the intellectual influences on the country’s founding. There are lessons here for the academy, if it will only pay them heed....
The Great Courses’ uninhibited enthusiasm is so alien to contemporary academic discourse that several professors who have recorded for the firm became defensive when I asked them about their course descriptions, emphatically denying any part in writing the copy—as if celebrating beauty were something to be ashamed of....
So totalitarian is the contemporary university that professors have written to Rollins complaining that his courses are too canonical in content and do not include enough of the requisite “silenced” voices. It is not enough, apparently, that identity politics dominate college humanities departments; they must also rule outside the academy. Of course, outside the academy, theory encounters a little something called the marketplace, where it turns out that courses like “Queering the Alamo,” say, can’t compete with “Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition.”...
In its emphasis on teaching, the company differs radically from the academic world, where “teaching is routinely stigmatized as a lower-order pursuit, and the ‘real’ academic work is research,” notes Allen Guelzo, an American history professor at Gettysburg College. Though colleges ritually berate themselves for not putting a high enough premium on teaching, they inevitably ignore that skill in awarding tenure or extra pay. As for reaching an audience beyond the hallowed walls of academe, perhaps a regular NPR gig would gain notice in the faculty lounge, but not a Great Courses series. Jeremy McInerney, a University of Pennsylvania history professor, told The Chronicle of Higher Education in 1998 that he wouldn’t have taped “Ancient Greek Civilization” for the company if his tenure vote had been in doubt: “This doesn’t win you any further respect. If anything, there’s a danger of people looking down on it, since many people are suspicious of anything that reeks of popularism.” So much for the academy’s supposed stance against elitism....
Further, it isn’t clear that the Great Courses professors teach the same way back on their home campuses. A professor who teaches the Civil War as the “greatest slave uprising in history” to his undergraduates because that is what is expected of him, says University of Pennsylvania history professor Alan Kors, will know perfectly well how to teach a more intellectually honest course for paying adults.
While I took a fair number of liberal arts courses, being an engineer really sheltered me from this kind of BS. But my kids interests run more towards liberal arts, and while I am working to enforce the double major approach (you can take whatever major interests you as long as you double it with economics or something useful), I still despair that they really are going to get what they think they will get at college.
My son is being recruited, at a minimum, at Bowdoin, Vassar, Wesleyan, Haverford, Kenyon and possibly Amherst and Pomona to play baseball. We have a pretty good handle on all these schools except Wesleyan in Connecticut, which we have visited but we are having a hard time getting a read on.
In the 2011 Insider's Guide to the Colleges, Wesleyan is described as an extreme example of a college dedicated to politically correct intolerance. The book says that the classes tend to be mainly focused on teaching kids to be radical activists rather than any traditional subject matter. Social life is portrayed as revolving around marijuana and hallucinogens. It is by far the most negative review we have read (well, I suppose this would not be negative to some).
We are trying to get a read on the accuracy of this. Any of you know this school or attend it? Is there truth to this, or does the writer have an ax to grind? He is not naive to what he will find politically at New England liberal arts colleges. The question is not whether there is a lot of leftish political correctness - that is a baseline in all such schools. The question is whether this school is unusually extreme. The book makes it sound like it is Kos Kidz Academy. Comment or send me an email.
Update: Hmm, based on the comments, I explained myself poorly. Nic will likely never play pro ball. If that were his goal, we would definitely be looking to ASU or Texas. He has decided he wants to go to a small liberal arts college. Baseball has two synergies - one, he would like to play in college. Two, being recruited for sports helps in the admissions process at selective schools.
There is money set aside to pay for college, from a source such that it needs to be used for college, so arguments about price-value issues with college are not immediately relevant.
Obama's Department of Education has been issuing a series of new rules to colleges that accept government funds (ie pretty much all of them) that going forward, they will be required to
- Expand the definition of sexual harassment, forcing it to include even Constitutionally-protected speech. Sexual harassment will essentially be redefined as "somehow offending a female."
- Eliminate traditional protections for those accused of sexual harassment under these new definitions. The presumption of innocence, beyond a reasonable doubt guilt standards, the ability to face and cross-examine one's accuser, and the right of appeal are among centuries old common law traditions that the DOE is seeking to eliminate in colleges.
Unfortunately, this is a really hard threat to tackle. Most of those concerned with civil rights protections outside our small libertarian community are on the left, and these same people are often fully vested in the modern feminist belief that all men are rapists. It also puts libertarians in the position of defending crude and boorish speech, or at least defending the right to that speech.
But at the end of the day, the DOE needs to be forced to explain why drunk and stupid frat boys chanting crude slogans outside the women's center on campus should have fewer rights as accused than does a serial murder.
But more often they involve alleged offenses defined in vague terms and depending often on subjective factors. Lukianoff notes that campus definitions of sexual harassment include "humor and jokes about sex in general that make someone feel uncomfortable" (University of California at Berkeley), "unwelcome sexual flirtations and inappropriate put-downs of individual persons or classes of people" (Iowa State University) or "elevator eyes" (Murray State University in Kentucky).
All of which means that just about any student can be hauled before a disciplinary committee. Jokes about sex will almost always make someone uncomfortable, after all, and usually you can't be sure if flirting will be welcome except after the fact. And how do you define "elevator eyes"?
Given the prevailing attitudes among faculty and university administrators, it's not hard to guess who will be the target of most such proceedings. You only have to remember how rapidly and readily top administrators and dozens of faculty members were ready to castigate as guilty of rape the Duke lacrosse players who, as North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper concluded, were absolutely innocent.
What the seemingly misnamed Office of Civil Rights is doing here is demanding the setting up of kangaroo courts and the dispensing of what I would call marsupial justice against students who are disfavored by campus denizens because of their gender or race or political attitude. "Alice in Wonderland's" Red Queen would approve.
As Lukianoff points out, OCR had other options. The Supreme Court in a 1999 case defined sexual harassment as conduct "so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and that so undermines and detracts from the victims' educational experience, that the victim-students are effectively denied equal access to an institution's resources and opportunities." In other words, more than a couple of tasteless jokes or a moment of elevator eyes.
Women'g groups all the time say things like "all men are rapists." That's pretty hostile and degrading to men. My guess is that somehow this kind of gender-hostile speech will not be what gets investigated by these kangaroo courts.
A while back I wrote this as part of a response saying that the only way to get into a top consultancy was to got to Harvard, Yale, Princeton or Stanford. Having joined a top consulting firm from Princeton and Harvard, I thought some of their observations to be BS, but there is a certain core of truth. As I wrote then:
There is some rationality in this approach – it is not all mindless snobbism. Take Princeton. It screens something like 25,000 already exceptional applicants down to just 1500, and then further carefully monitors their performance through intensive contact over a four year period. This is WAY more work and resources than a private firm could ever apply to the hiring process. In effect, by limiting their hiring to just a few top schools, they are outsourcing a lot of their performance evaluation work to those schools.
Matthew Shaffer, via Glen Reynolds, write something similar about all college degrees:
Those of us who question the price and value of higher education don’t disagree that people with B.A.s do much better in life, especially in employment. We disagree about the source of that advantage: The B.A. may mostlycorrelate with and signal for, rather than impart important qualities. (Really we all agree it’s some mix of the three factors — our differences are of emphasis.)...
We skeptics think this: Since employers can no longer measure job applicants’ IQs nor put them through long apprenticeships, graduating college is the way job-searchers signal an intelligence and diligence that college itself may have contributed little toward. Employers are (to use a little economic jargon) partially outsourcing their employee search to colleges. This is a good deal for employers, because college costs them nothing, and the social pressure to get a BA means they won’t miss too many good prospective recruits by limiting their search to college grads.
I think this has a lot of truth to it, but it can't entirely be true -- if it were, your degree would not matter but we know engineering and economics majors get hired more than poetry majors. Though one could still stick with the strong skeptical position by arguing that degree choice is again merely a signal as to interests and outlook and a potentially even a proxy for other characteristics (to the latter point, what is your mental picture of an engineering major? a women's studies major? a politics major? an econ major?)
Living in Phoenix I know a number of people who work for Apollo (University of Phoenix). They have obviously been appalled by the Obama war on for-profit colleges and the egregiously-flawed report that came out last year. Several have told me they have complained for a while that certain hedge funds were pushing this initiative in order to make money off of short positions on their stock. I thought this was a bit paranoid, but now the accusation is coming from third parties, even those on the Left:
A proposed regulation from the Education Department threatens to devastate for-profit career or trade schools, but one thing is even more controversial than the regulation -- how it was crafted.
Education Department officials were encouraged and advised about the content of the regulation by a man who stood to make millions if it were issued.
"Wall Street investors were manipulating the regulatory process and Department of Education officials were letting them," charged Melanie Sloan of a liberal-leaning ethics watchdog called Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington....
Among others, Sloan is referring to Steven Eisman, a hedge fund manager and a figure in the book "The Big Short," who testified in the Senate against for-profit career or trade schools, attacking them as "fundamentally unsound."
At the same time, he was betting that the stocks of those companies would fall, a practice known as short selling. "Making sure that they were going to be defamed and that their value was going to be depressed," said Harry Alford, head of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, who worries about the schools because they serve many minority students.
Simultaneously, through emails and conference calls, Eisman was advising Education Department officials -- and one White House adviser -- in detail on how best to write the new regulation, which he estimated would reduce the schools' earnings by as much as 75 percent.
The proposed regulation from the administration is aimed at what are known as career or vocational schools. The rule would cut federal aid to programs where student debt levels are deemed to be too high and where students are struggling to repay their loans.
In other news, everyone seems A-OK with kids in not-for-profit universities running up $200,000 debts to get such lucrative, workplace-ready degrees as women's studies, comp. lit. and poetry.
Scene 1, History AP: My son asked me how WWII ended the Depression. I said that the draft soaked up a lot of excess workers, which reduced unemployment, and British buying for the war helped our economy but that the war generally destroyed rather than created wealth. He said, "Dad, you can't tell it to me that way. The guy grading the AP is going to be a Keynesian." So we talked multipliers and aggregate demand.
Scene 2, Spanish AP: My son hands me a list of Spanish words he is trying to learn. They are the Spanish words for things like "social justice," "poverty", "exploitation", etc. I told him it was an odd selection of words. He said that nearly every Spanish essay in every Spanish textbook he had ever had were about revolution and stopping the rich from exploiting the poor and fighting global warming. So he wanted to be prepared for a similar topic on the AP. After the test, I remembered this conversation and asked him what the essay was. He said the topic was "show why the government of poor countries should give free bicycles to the poor to fight global warming."
From yesterday's Census report on educational attainment, the chart above shows the college degree gap in favor of women for all levels of higher education for age group between 25-29. More than 60% of advanced degrees are now held by women for that age group, up by more than three percentage points from the 58.2% reported by Census for 2009. For African-Americans ages 25-29, there are 239 women holding advanced degrees for every 100 men with graduate degrees (70.5% female vs. 29.5% male).
See his original for a good chart.
By the way, the answer to the question in the title is probably "no." Advocacy groups never go away -- they just seek new problems. Too much money to be gained in achieving victim status.
One of the things I struggle with in arguing for ending the government schools monopoly is a lack of imagination. In most people's lifetimes, there has never been a robust network of private school options to fit all needs and budgets, so folks assume that that such choices can't exist -- that there is some structural failure of capitalism that would prevent these choices from existing rather than structural government factors that have prevented them from existing.
Don Boudreaux has a nice analogy that helps make the logic of school choice clearer.
As much as I enjoy seeing Yale circling the drain of self-destruction, I am simply flabbergasted by the most recent discrimination suit it faces from a group of current and former female students.
The Yale group's confidential Title IX complaint to the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reportedly includes testimony about sexual assaults, but the hostile-environment charge against the university rests as well on a litany of complaints about offensive exercises of First Amendment freedoms. A December 2010 draft complaint letter, obtained by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), focuses on these "incidents": In 2006, a group of frat boys chant "No means yes, yes means anal" outside the Yale Women's Center. In 2010, a group of fraternity pledges repeat this obnoxious chant outside a first-year women's dorm. In 2008, pledges surround the Women's Center holding signs saying, "We love Yale sluts." In 2009, Yale students publish a report listing the names and addresses of first-year women and estimating the number of beers "it would take to have sex with them."
There are few adults who would not recognize these incidents as stupid, boorish frat-boy behavior not to be emulated. But taking Yale to court, in effect seeking to force the University to punish such speech, takes the current college trend of protection the right not to be offended to absurd extremes.
Consider for a moment that there are radical women's organizations on most college campuses that take it as an article of faith that all men are rapists and all men are complicit in violence against women. How is this speech any less aggressive, though it is treated with complete respect by universities. In fact, many integrate this point of view into required Freshman sensitivity training. Women on compuses routinely engage in speech saying that every man is a guilty felon complicit in awful crimes, and I don't see any men whining and running to Uncle Sugar to protect their delicate ears from offense. At least the frat boys were probably drunk and joking -- the women are sober and dead serious.
Don't not be mistaken -- this is not about rights or freedom, but about a bid for totalitarian control of campuses by a niche group. From Wendy Kaminer
Sad to say, but feminism helped lead the assault on civil liberty and now seems practically subsumed by it. Decades ago, when Catherine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, and their followers began equating pornography with rape (literally) and calling it a civil-rights violation, groups of free-speech feminists fought back, in print, at conferences, and in state legislatures, with some success. We won some battles (and free speech advocates in general can take solace in the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the right to engage in offensive speech on public property and public affairs). But all things considered (notably the generations of students unlearning liberty) we seem to be losing the war, especially among progressives.
This is not simply a loss for liberty on campus and the right to indulge in what's condemned as verbal harassment or bullying, broadly defined. It's a loss of political freedom: the theories of censoring offensive or hurtful speech that are used to prosecute alleged student harassers are used to foment opposition to the right to burn a flag or a copy of the Quran or build a Muslim community center near Ground Zero. The disregard for liberty that the Obama administration displays in its approach to sexual harassment and bullying is consistent with its disregard for liberty, and the presumption of innocence, in the Bush/Obama war on terror. Of course, the restriction of puerile, sexist speech on campus is an inconvenience compared to the indefinite detention or show trials of people suspected of terrorism, sometimes on the basis of un-reviewed or un-reviewable evidence. But underlying trivial and tragic deprivations of liberty, the authoritarian impulse is the same.
PS- The last part in the first quote about rating women as related to sex is ironic, as, if memory serves, Yale was the location around 1980 when a group of female students created a guide rating male students on their sexual talents. When women do it, it is a brave act of liberation. When men do it, it is sexual harassment.
PPS- My son is going through the college admissions process. All these schools stress how much they are looking for future leaders. How can Yale be so selective that it has an admissions rate around 7% of applicants but still end up with so many people who cannot function in the world as an adult? The women are begging to have a daddy to protect them and the men seem to need a daddy to kick their ass until they act like adults.
I was struck by this article about a kid who was bullied for years finally fighting back against his tormentors, and being suspended for his efforts. I was physically bullied for years in elementary school and it was not until middle school I woke up one day and realized I was now a lot bigger than the perpetrators and I beat the sh*t out of one of them in a library study room. Problem over.
I am probably the most passive, least violent person in the libertarian blogosphere (half the sites I really like sound like Burt Reynolds in Deliverance). For God sakes, I am a libertarian that does not even own a freaking gun. But at some point there are people who only understand violence. I figure five years of failed attempted dialog on my part constituted sufficient due diligence before I activated the ground troups. Afterwards, I was absolutely embarrassed that that the problem turned out so easy to end.
PS- This is NOT a plea for some stupid government anti-bullying program. It sucks to be bullied, but it would suck worse to have the government try to aggressively administer justice among 13 year olds.
Glen Reynolds has a great observation on government social engineering. I hadn't thought about it this way before, but in many ways government drives for things like home ownership are like a cargo cult
The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them
I generally hesitate to publish links to such stories without having heard the other side or seen any objective reporting, but none-the-less, if true, this is a pretty amazing story. In it, Oregon State University is being accused of seeking retribution against a Republican Congressional candidate by harassing and expelling his kids. (via Green Hell Blog)
You often hear people say that one of the main reasons for health care inflation is the cost of all the new technology. But can you name any other industries that compete in free markets where technology introductions have caused inflation rates to run at double the general rate of inflation? In fact, don't we generally associate the introduction of technology with reduced costs and increased productivity?
Compare a McDonald's kitchen today with one thirty years ago -- there is a ton of technology in there. Does anyone think that given the price-sensitive markets McDonald's competes in, this technology was introduced to increase prices?
Or look at medical fields like cosmetic surgery or laser eye surgery. Both these fields have seen substantial introductions of new technology, but have seen inflation rates not only below the general health care inflation rate but below the CPI, meaning they have seen declining real prices for decades.
The difference is not technology, but the pricing and incentive system. Cosmetic surgery and laser eye surgery are exceptions in the health care field -- they are generally paid out of pocket rather than by third parties (Overall, third party payers pay about 88% of all health care bills in the US).
The problem with health care is not technology -- the problem is that people don't shop for care with their own money.
Postscript: Thinking some more after I wrote this, I can think of one other industry where introduction of technology has coincided with price inflation well above the CPI -- education. It is interesting, but not surprising to me, that this is the other industry, along with health care, most dominated by third party payer systems and public subsidies of consumers.
Quick bleg here -- if you have any contacts with organizations of homeschoolers in AZ, could you drop me an email? Our small high school is, due to some random factors, short of baseball players. We have a well-coached program on a nice field and play in the Arizona (AIA) 2A league against public and private schools. Homeschoolers are eligible to play for us and we would love to find some dedicated players looking for this kind of experience. Many of our kids make the starting lineup as Freshmen, so there is a lot better chance of getting good playing time here vs. other larger high school programs. All positions are welcome but from a personal standpoint, since my son is first in the rotation, we could really use some pitchers so he doesn't need Tommy John surgery by the end of the year ;=)
If you want to get a job at the very best law firm, investment bank, or consultancy, here’s what you do:
1. Go to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or (maybe) Stanford. If you’re a business student, attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania will work, too, but don’t show up with a diploma from Dartmouth or MIT. No one cares about those places. ... That’s the upshot of an enlightening/depressing study about the ridiculously narrow-minded people who make hiring decisions at the aforementioned elite companies. ... These firms pour resources into recruiting students from “target schools” (i.e., Harvard, Yale, Princeton) and then more or less ignore everybody else. Here’s a manager from a top investment bank describing what happens to the resume of someone who went to, say, Rutgers: “I’m just being really honest, it pretty much goes into a black hole.”
Being, I suppose, an insider to this process (Princeton - Harvard Business School - McKinsey & Company) I'd like to make a few comments
- First and foremost, this problem cuts both ways. I can imagine outsiders are frustrated with the lack of access. But as an insider I can tell you (cue Admiral Akbar) It's a Trap! You go to Princeton, think, wow, I did well at Princeton, it would be a waste not to do something with that. You are a competitive sole, so getting into a top grad school is an honor to be pursued just like good grades. So you go to Harvard Business School (it could have been Harvard Law) and do well. And what is the mark of achievement there? -- getting a job at a top consultancy or top investment bank. So you take the McKinsey job, have your first kid, and what do you find out? Wow, I hate this job! In fact, the only thing I would have hated more is if I had taken that Wall Street job. Eventually you find happiness running your own company, only to discover your Ivy League degrees are a liability since they intimidate your employees from sharing their ideas and most of the other guys you know successfully running businesses went to Kansas State or Rutgers.
- My only data point inside this hiring process is from McKinsey about 15-20 years ago, so it may be out of date. But at that time, the above statement would be BS. Certainly hiring was heavily tilted to the top Ivies and a few top business schools. But we had people with undergrad degrees from all over - in fact most of our office in Texas had undergrad degrees from the Texas state schools (at lot from BYU too -- McKinsey loved the Mormons). At the time, McKinsey was hiring hundreds of people out of business school around the world each year. No way this could have come from only a few schools.
- My hypothesis is that this may be more a regional than an industry bias, limited to Boston/New York/East Coast. Since many top law firms and consultancies and investment banks are in NYC, they reflect this local bias. But I would bet these same firms and industries hire differently outside of the East Coast.
- There is some rationality in this approach - it is not all mindless snobbism. Take Princeton. It screens something like 25,000 already exceptional applicants down to just 1500, and then further carefully monitors their performance through intensive contact over a four year period. This is WAY more work and resources than a private firm could ever apply to the hiring process. In effect, by limiting their hiring to just a few top schools, they are outsourcing a lot of their performance evaluation work to those schools.
Two great takes on the Amy Chua article on the superiority of Chinese moms. I will begin by saying that I went to an Ivy League school and would love to see my kids go there as well. But the be-all end-all drive to get into such a school, combined with 6% admissions rates, seems to be a recipe for a lot of unhappiness. Especially since the vast, vast (did I say vast?) majority of the most successful people I have met in my life went to non-name-branded schools.
The first take is from the Last Psychiatrist:
I'll explain what's wrong with her thinking by asking you one simple question, and when I ask it you will know the answer immediately. Then, if you are a parent, in the very next instant your mind will rebel against this answer, it will defend itself against it-- "well, no, it's not so simple--" but I want to you to ignore this counterattack and focus on how readily, reflexively, instinctively you knew the answer to my question. Are you ready to test your soul? Here's the question: what is the point of all this? Making the kids play violin, of being an A student, all the discipline, all of this? Why is she working her kids so hard? You know the answer: college.
She is raising future college students.
Oh, I know that these things will make them better people in the long run, but silently agree that her singular purpose is to get the kids into college. Afterwards she'll want other things for them, sure, but for 18 years she has exactly one goal for them: early decision.
Professor Amy Chua is part of two broken credentialist mindsets: the Chinese Confucian admissions-to-the-imperial bureacracy memset, and the American academic admissions-to-the-Ivy-League memeset. (But perhaps I repeat myself).
Heck, she’s risen to a top spot in the American conformist system – she’s a PhD and a professor at a top university. Of course she buys into the implied social hierarchy.
I climbed much of the way up that particular hierarchy, and then decided towards the end of the process to bag on a PhD. Why? Because I looked around and realized that PhDs, even professors at Ivy League schools, weren’t really accomplishing much, and weren’t really happy.
I do interviews for Princeton as part of the admissions process. I am not sure that the admissions office would agree with my approach, but I spend time in the interviews trying to figure out if a high achieving student has succeeded by grimly jumping through hoops under his or her parents' lash, or if they have real passion and interest in the things they do. I tend not to be impressed by the former.
Seriously, are we really celebrating the creation of a whole generation of our brightest kids who get all their motivation externally? What happens when the motivation prosthetic they have been using goes away?
Postscript: From the first article
That's why it's in the WSJ. The Journal has no place for, "How a Fender Strat Changed My Life." It wants piano and violin, it wants Chua's college-resume worldview.
Oh how I wish my parents had forced me to play electric guitar rather than piano.
Its hard to believe these kids at top schools can be so credulous, except that I attended an Ivy League school and saw many such dopes in action. But even given that preparation, I still can't get over the feeling that this is some kind of elaborate performance art rather than an real effort. If it's real, it does reinforce all my stereotypes about Brown, however.
University of Arizona President Robert Shelton absolutely berates the state legislature as a bunch of Neanderthals for slashing his budget:
During this period, we have seen our state appropriation cut by nearly one-quarter, going from approximately $440 million to $340 million. The impact of these cuts has been amplified because they have come at a time when we have been asked to grow our enrollment substantially, and indeed we have done just that, setting records for enrollment in each of the past four years.
So the sound bite for this year is that we are being asked by the state to do much, much more, while being given much, much less....
The sad thing, though, with some of these legislators is that they have no idea how much they risk our state's future (and the quality of life for people who live here) when they try to lay waste to the single greatest engine of economic mobility that has ever been created. Because that's what public higher education in this country is.
Here he gets over the top -- look at the words he uses for the state legislature
When malevolent people talk about wanting to dismantle and destroy great universities, all they achieve is dire consequences for the human condition.
I am sure for the children shows up in there somewhere. But is he right. Well, technically, the legislature did cut his general fund appropriation. But then they gave it back to him, and more, in different budget categories. As it turns out, Shelton is being unbelievably disingenuous about this, and only the fact that most of his students went to public high schools and therefore can't do math lets him get away with such an address. Greg Patterson tracks down the facts:
I contacted the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and asked for UA's total funding.Here's the response:
UA's originally enacted FY 2008 General Fund appropriation was $362.4 million, and their current year (FY 2011) General Fund appropriation is $271.3 million, which is a decrease of $(91.1) million.
UA was appropriated $117.7 million in Other Appropriated Funds in FY 2008 and $219.3 million in the current year, which is an increase of $101.6 million.
UA's Non-Appropriated and Federal Funds budget was $786.7 million in FY 2008 and $911.3 million in FY 2011, which is an increase of $124.6 million.
In total, UA's FY 2008 budget was $1,266.8 million and their FY 2011 budget was $1,401.9 million, which is a total increase of $135.1 million.
So the University of Arizona's total budget has increased by $135.1 million--over 10%--during the period in which the "malevolent" state leaders have been "slashing" the funding.
Unbelievable. I am so sick of statists crying budget cut when in fact their budgets are increasing. Mr. Shelton goes on for thousands of words of drivel about the poor state of public discourse in Arizona while simultaneously dropping this turd in the punch bowl. How is public discourse supposed to improve when the president of one of our two state universities is spewing out what he must know are outright fabrications and misrepresentations. Pathetic.
Onion News Network: Are Standardized Tests Biased Against Kids Who Don't Give a Shit? Via Carpe Diem. The Onion is brilliant because in some ways, this is absurd and some ways it cuts way too close to reality.
Congress is cracking down on for-profit universities that market relatively fast degrees (< 2 years) in certain vocational programs like auto mechanics. Apparently, Congress is concerned about "vocational programs in which a large share of students don't earn enough to pay back their loans."
So Congress is worried about students paying several thousand dollars and investing 18 months of their lives for a degree that may not repay their student debts. No word yet on whether they are looking into students who spend four years and $160,000 for Ivy League gender studies degrees, which we all know have simply enormous income-generation potential.
The president went to Harvard, and barely defeated a primary opponent who went to Yale. His predecessor went to Yale and Harvard, and defeated opponents who went to Yale and Harvard, and Harvard, respectively. The previous two presidents also went to Yale, with Bush I defeating another Harvard grad for the presidency. And once Elena Kagan gets confirmed, every Supreme Court Justice will have attended Harvard or Yale law schools.
I know that Harvard and Yale attract a disproportionate percentage of America's talented youth, but still, isn't this a bit much? Are there no similarly talented individuals who attended other Ivy League schools, other private universities or (gasp!) even state law schools?
For what its worth, I have a Princeton undergrad degree and an MBA from Harvard and the number of Harvard-Yale-Princeton employees working for me in our 420-employee firm is ... zero.
Time to short those shares of the Teaching Company. Yale is offering free videos of many of its introductory courses. HT: Carpe Diem
Chicago Breaking News reported late last night that former Chicago schools chief and current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan manipulated a system to favor powerful political allies by placing their children in the schools of their choice. The discovery of a list, the existence of which had been long denied by the city, and its composition of mainly high-powered political figures calls into question the appeals system used to reconsider applications that had been denied by the top Chicago-area schools:
This is going to be even more fun when this game is applied to jumping the hospital waiting list.