Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education News

College Application Inflation — Marketing Meets Admissions 256

Posted by Soulskill
from the forward-this-application-to-seven-of-your-friends dept.
gollum123 sends this quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education: "The numbers keep rising, the superlatives keep glowing. Each year, selective colleges promote their application totals, along with the virtues of their applicants. For this fall's freshman class, the statistics reached remarkable levels. Stanford received a record 32,022 applications from students it called 'simply amazing,' and accepted 7 percent of them. Brown saw an unprecedented 30,135 applicants, who left the admissions staff 'deeply impressed and at times awed.' Nine percent were admitted. Such announcements tell a story in which colleges get better — and students get more amazing — every year. In reality, the narrative is far more complex, and the implications far less sunny for students as well as colleges caught up in the cruel cycle of selectivity. To some degree, the increases are inevitable: the college-bound population has grown, and so, too, has the number of applications students file, thanks in part to online technology. But wherever it is raining applications, colleges have helped seed the clouds — by recruiting widely and aggressively for ever more applicants. Many colleges have made applying as simple as updating a Facebook page. Some deans and guidance counselors complain that it's too easy. They question the ethics of intense recruitment by colleges that reject the overwhelming majority of applicants. Today's application inflation is a cause and symptom of the uncertainty in admissions."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

College Application Inflation — Marketing Meets Admissions

Comments Filter:
  • by NumberField (670182) * on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:51PM (#34140854)
    College want their admissions process to become a proxy for due diligence in hiring. ("Sally went to XYZ college, so she's more likely to be a valuable employee than Bob who went to a less selective school.") While this makes sense a little bit, it's also scary. For example, does this mean that what kids do in high school will increasingly set their destinies for life? Are XYZ graduates actually better employees, or is it just marketing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Totenglocke (1291680)
      Well, it depends. Some schools ARE better than others. I hardly think you'd consider an engineering degree from MIT equivalent to an engineering degree from UC Berkley - not knocking their program there, just saying that MIT's is better. However, for the majority of colleges, no, it doesn't matter much because few people are going to know EVERY program at EVERY college to judge on how your specific choice of college affected your education.
      • I've always heard that unless you go to one of the top schools in the nation for your degree, it doesn't really matter where you go. So while Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and a handful of others are excellent, there's no point spending the money on a Vanderbilt, USC, or SMU when you can go to a state school or University of Phoenix. I suppose there are regional exceptions (if you plan on staying in North Texas, SMU can be worth the money) or certain professions (USC is a much better choice for budding Speilbergs than just about any other college in the country), but outside of those two specifics it just doesn't matter a whole lot.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by nomadic (141991)
          To a certain extent; I'd extend the top school list down more, though. Like Vanderbilt is first-rate, has a strong alum network and great academic reputation nationwide (no, I didn't go there). USC probably not worth the money, even if you want to be the next Spielberg. SMU is way too expensive unless you're staying in Dallas and need to rely on the alumni network. I would not lump University of Phoenix together with even obscure state schools. I would always take the state school over UoP.
          • by frosty_tsm (933163) on Friday November 05, 2010 @05:19PM (#34141942)

            To a certain extent; I'd extend the top school list down more, though. Like Vanderbilt is first-rate, has a strong alum network and great academic reputation nationwide (no, I didn't go there). USC probably not worth the money, even if you want to be the next Spielberg. SMU is way too expensive unless you're staying in Dallas and need to rely on the alumni network. I would not lump University of Phoenix together with even obscure state schools. I would always take the state school over UoP.

            To add to the parent's point, there are tiers. There is the top tier populated with the Harvards and MITs. There is the second tier populated with good schools (both public and private). Going to one of these will look good on a resume but shouldn't make any recruiter drool. The third tier is populated with the safety schools of students who went to the first and second; you can still get a good education but it's not going to jump out on a resume. Fourth tier would have trade schools like University of Phoenix.

            Disclaimer: I literally put these definitions together on the spot. Feel free to critique them but understand they are underdeveloped definitions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SteveFoerster (136027)

          So while Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and a handful of others are excellent, there's no point spending the money on a Vanderbilt, USC, or SMU when you can go to a state school or University of Phoenix.

          I work in higher ed. I'd advise my own kids that if they don't end up at a really top school that a state school will do just fine. However, I'd certainly avoid them to avoid schools like the University of Phoenix. They're expensive, unremarkable, and poorly regarded.

          • by gander666 (723553) *

            I was going to say the same thing about the University of Phoenix. If I see a resume with that as the vendor of the degree (usually an MBA), it gets round filed immediately.

        • by Rakishi (759894)

          That depends on your specific situation I'd say. Better schools do provide a better education or at least don't assume you're a grade A moron. The professors and administrators also seem to either be better (ie: not a FOB Russian who can't speak English and assumes he's God just like in the good ol' soviet school system) or at least care more.

          Most companies essentially require internships on resumes for technical positions and a good school would likely give you better ones. If you plan to do research inste

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Totenglocke (1291680)

          In general, yes. Some other schools have more pull, especially if you're applying for a job within a few states. For instance, I'm in grad school for Economics and there are several very big multi-national corporations in my home city, and as such due to the research the professors / grad students do for the businesses in the area, you have more pull in getting a job with one of those companies.

          For instance, when I was in high school applying for college and advisor told me that if I was planning on stayi

        • by Surt (22457) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:16PM (#34142542) Homepage Journal

          I think there's maybe an exception for known bottom of the bucket schools too. I mean, University of Phoenix is no 'any real college'.

      • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:51PM (#34141660) Journal

        On the other hand, one could argue that the education you get is largely unrelated to the school you attend. I would instantly pick an A student from UC Berkeley (or even someone from a cow college in flyover country) who was actively involved in outside projects over a C student at MIT who wasn't involved in outside projects. At an undergrad level, you can get the basic skills anywhere, and beyond that basic level, what you get out of your college education is directly proportional to what you put in. In the grand scheme of things, I'm not convinced that there's a dime's worth of difference on the average between a Berkeley grad who puts in the effort and an MIT grad who does the same. Most of what you really will need to know on the job, you'll be picking up in your first few weeks anyway, and (good) employers know this.

        The only real advantage I can see for MIT and other schools that have strong specialization in a particular area over smaller, less specialized schools is that students have more opportunities to work in various areas of specialization that would not be feasible at other schools. This matters if you are hiring somebody in that area of specialization, but only for maybe a few years after graduation. After that, the field has changed too much for what they learned to be relevant anyway. The ability of a graduate to learn is far, far more relevant to that person's success than which specific pieces of information the person has learned upon graduation. Also, a fair amount of what you need to know for a given job is going to be specific to that job anyway, so it is critically important to be able to hit the ground running and learn as you go. That matters much more than what you know going in.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I hardly think you'd consider an engineering degree from MIT equivalent to an engineering degree from UC Berkley - not knocking their program there, just saying that MIT's is better.

        Actually, I would consider an engineering degree from MIT equivalent to an engineering degree from UC "Berkley". Or for that matter, any other engineering school ranked as one of the very best in the U.S. Certainly, MIT may have a stronger brand, and that counts for something. But on what factual basis would you say MIT's program is better than Berkeley's? Or Stanford's, or Cal Tech's, or ...?

        After attending multiple top engineering schools, you realize the curriculum is roughly the same, the quality of

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      Sure, the 'brand name' of a school will have an impact, but so will the student's degree type, their grades and a bunch of other things. Yes, bad high school grades might well translate to a less selective university, which will then knock a few points off against the guy who went to Harvard, but that's not the same as having one's destiny set for life by the age of 18.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      As a student who attends a very selective engineering school, I have long since realized that is the case. While convenient for me, the trend is disturbing from an ethical point of view.
      • by DrLang21 (900992) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:38PM (#34141466)
        Amusingly, I once worked at a company that refused to hire recent graduates from a certain local selective university because they found the graduates to be too egotistical to handle the kind of low profile work that is usually given to new hires with essentially no experience. That is not to say that there were not a lot of very sharp students coming out of that university. They just too often had a superiority complex for a while after they graduated.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Totenglocke (1291680)
          Apparently that ego is a problem for a lot of graduates these days, especially ones with a business degree. I've heard many hiring managers complain that a lot of these kids graduate and expect to be made a mid-to-high level manager right from the start instead of getting an entry position.
        • by sitarlo (792966) on Friday November 05, 2010 @05:44PM (#34142208)
          I interviewed a recent grad from Dartmouth who informed me that he wasn't interested in any projects that were on a schedule or a budget. I told him that he should consider running for public office and he said he was an anarchist and didn't believe in organized government. So I suggested maybe using his own money to finance his own venture and he informed me that he didn't believe in capitalism. I really wanted to hire him simply to see if a few months in the real world would help him understand how life works, but I had other candidates who really wanted to work. I ended up hiring a person who didn't even have her degree yet and she did an excellent job. Colleges don't matter. People matter.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)

      For example, does this mean that what kids do in high school will increasingly set their destinies for life?

      It certainly should. here's no question that most high school kids do not take education as seriously as they should. For many, high school is really just a social gathering.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DrLang21 (900992)
        And that should be considered a serious problem, because even high school students who do take their high school education seriously are adversely affected by how not seriously everyone around them takes it. And that factor is affected generally by how rich and/or white your neighborhood is.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Plombo (1914028)

          And that should be considered a serious problem, because even high school students who do take their high school education seriously are adversely affected by how not seriously everyone around them takes it. And that factor is affected generally by how rich and/or white your neighborhood is.

          In addition to that, high school students who take their education seriously are affected adversely by teachers who don't. There are many high school teachers who have an unjustifiably low opinion of their students. They're convinced that high school students are mindless dummies who are capable of no intelligent activity beyond regurgitating information - and acting on this theory, they eliminate any element of actual teaching/learning from their course material in favor of a "here is information, you mu

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        It certainly should. here's no question that most college kids do not take education as seriously as they should. For many, college is really just a social gathering.

        FTFY.

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:12PM (#34141178)

      That is how it is in law school. A lot of law firms put a lot of weight on GPA and what school one graduated from. A tier 1 college (as per US News and World Report) will get one hired essentially anywhere. If someone came from a lower tier, they would need to have a resume with entries to compensate for not having Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, or UT by their academic section.

      This doesn't say that a lower tier is a bad thing -- there is no such thing as an unemployed attorney unless they get disbarred, but the plum positions starting from graduating are essentially about what tier you came from, all things being equal.

    • by BergZ (1680594)
      Having your destiny set by your high school grades is a marginal improvement on the current system which is:
      Having your destiny set by how much money your parents make.
      • by eln (21727)
        No, the system is still like that. It's all a self-perpetuating cycle.

        How much money your parents make determines, in large part, what high school you go to,
        What high school you go to determines what sorts of opportunities you have readily available, especially regarding college prep.
        The quality of your college prep work in high school determines how likely you are to be accepted at a top tier university.
        The perceived quality of the university you attend determines the job opportunities you will get
        • To be fair, your parents' income is almost certainly proportional to their intelligence. And while there are outliers, and the trait regresses to the mean, your parents' intelligence is a pretty fair predictor of your own.

          That, and it takes a long, long time to climb up out of the bottom of society. Count on at least three dedicated generations to go from the working class to the upper middle class. There is an enormous amount of human capital embodied in upper-middle-class society, and getting yourself
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by TapeCutter (624760) *
            "To be fair, your parents' income is almost certainly proportional to their intelligence."

            Ahhhahahah hohoh hehehe, stop it your killing me.
    • What determines kids' destinies these days is how well they follow orders in high school; that is how high school grades are determined, which is how college admission is determined, which is how jobs are doled out. I know many people like myself: people who ignored their assignments in high school, and studied more interesting material. We all wound up getting poor grades, despite the fact that we were actually studying material that was more advanced than what we were supposed to be studying. The grad
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TapeCutter (624760) *
        "I know many people like myself: people who ignored their assignments in high school, and studied more interesting material. We all wound up getting poor grades, despite the fact that we were actually studying material that was more advanced than what we were supposed to be studying."

        Yeah right, you got poor grades on the test because you were too intelligent to do your homework and too advanced to be bothered learning the basics. Sure lots of people teach themselves but when they do very few of them rea
    • by arivanov (12034)

      Not all schools are created equal. Some are more equal than the others.

      By the way, this is not what I would call selection.

      MGU in my days had between 1% and under 0.1% pass rate. Even the rather 2nd rate by Eastern European standards Sofia State University to which I went had higher selectivity for some majors than the "scary" 5% listed here. IIRC Biotech had a sub-1% pass rate, same for law.

      IMO there is nothing wrong here. That is what scores and exams are for. You perform well you get in a good school. Yo

    • by Surt (22457)

      Actually, doing something really unique in high school and having average grades is a far safer course for getting into a selective school. In the good grades crowd, you're competing with 31,500 of the 32,000. If you've done something unique, you're only competing with the last 500. And the 7K slots are usually allocated 6500 for grades, 500 for unique.

  • by Pojut (1027544)

    They question the ethics of intense recruitment by colleges that reject the overwhelming majority of applicants.

    Come to us, we want you, we need you, we love you! Oh wait...just kidding.

    This reminds me of advertising for pharmaceutical drugs. "THIS WILL HELP YOU!!! TAKE IT NAO!!!" Then who does the patient get pissed at when their doctor tells them that drug won't help due to a specific condition? If my time spent in the industry is any indication, it isn't usually the pharmaceutical company...

  • by OffTheLip (636691) on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:57PM (#34140938)
    As an aging Slashdot'er and parent of two kid$ recently completing the "goat rope" called US college education I concur. The payout vs payoff would not be a consideration in my retirement portfolio but is status quo for our kids. I don't claim to have a solution, I'm glad I'm out of the game.
  • by robot256 (1635039) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:00PM (#34140974)

    Which is why I applied to exactly ONE college, where I knew I would get in wanted to go. Half the people I know apply to Stanford and crap just so their parents can brag about it, and brag even more if they get accepted. They have no intention of actually going there.

    But frankly, the elephant in the room is that the students they DO accept get stuck with loans they can't pay off--proving their education was wildly overpriced. Being from a Big-Name School these days just isn't worth the extra $50,000. It's insane.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I also applied for one school, my home University of Granada, in Spain. But that's just because the admissions system is completely transparent and I knew without room for exceptions: They average your high school GPA with the grade in a common regional exam, and then they rank applicants. Starting with the highest grades, they assign them to different schools and majors within. With my grade, I knew I would enter any major of choice, even if every applicant before me also chose that one school and major.

      So

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by robot256 (1635039)

        If I hadn't gotten in I would have been extremely surprised that a public college would turn down someone with a near-perfect GPA, an entire semester of AP credits (good for college credit), and relevant extracurricular activity. And concluded that I didn't want to go there after all and gone to the community college for year. Sure, it wasn't totally transparent, but it was pretty obvious.

        I know some people don't like stressing about one number, grades, and you can see it to an extreme in Asian countries

        • Okay, now I'm rambling, but that reminded me of a chapter in a book I read about Canada's hockey player recruiting strategy. Basically, everybody has to compete against other kids born in the same year as them, and as early as age 10 the best players of each year get selected for better training camps. The problem is the kids born in January and February are essentially a year older than the kids born in November and December, and the almost-eleven-year-olds beat the crap out of the just-turned-ten-year-olds, and they get selected. So if you're born in the second half of the year, you can't play hockey in Canada.

          That's very interesting, and I bet it could be verifiable by looking at the public profiles of professional hockey players in Canada. Anyone with free time to do this?

    • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:40PM (#34141488)

      Which is why I applied to exactly ONE college, where I knew I would get in wanted to go. Half the people I know apply to Stanford and crap just so their parents can brag about it, and brag even more if they get accepted. They have no intention of actually going there.

      But frankly, the elephant in the room is that the students they DO accept get stuck with loans they can't pay off--proving their education was wildly overpriced. Being from a Big-Name School these days just isn't worth the extra $50,000. It's insane.

      The biggest name schools aren't so expensive. The Ivies, and I assume Stanford, won't leave you with more than ~$20k of debt, and places like Yale and Princeton replaced loans with grants a few years back, leaving you with 0 debt. If you made the mistake of having a college fund, though, the amount they expect you to pay will magically increase by exactly the size of that fund.

    • But frankly, the elephant in the room is that the students they DO accept get stuck with loans they can't pay off--proving their education was wildly overpriced.

      Um, no. It proves they took on more debt than they could handle.
       

      Being from a Big-Name School these days just isn't worth the extra $50,000.

      That's an opinion - not a fact. There is a difference you know.

  • Vocational Schools (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:01PM (#34140992) Homepage Journal
    Maybe high schools should start advertising the merits of vocational and tech schools a little bit more. I remember my high school councilor advocating four year college to a lot of students that, quite frankly, just weren't going to do well in four year college (disinterested in abstract concepts, prefer working on something tangible, rather than developing math problems or theses, far too lazy to put more than an hour-a-day on homework, etc.). We have this obsession in the States with four year degrees, acting like employees without one are incompetent and useless. We have students that don't want to attend college attending college because they are told there's no other way to succeed in the world. And, simultaneously, it seems like fewer and fewer college kids I know are actually prepared for the world that they are put into. Few know how to maintain a car. Most don't understand the first thing about taxes. The concept of fiscal responsibility is lost on many of them. Hell, most kids I know didn't even know how to cook before heading off to college.

    So maybe this increase in college applications is indicative of the trend that, when a society obsesses over a college degree in all walks of life, then that is one thing that most coming-of-age adults value.
    • today's employers don't know how bad costs are for college and some of the big name colleges are more well known for that sports teams then the school part.

      But the tech / Vocational Schools are more to topic for the real world with less filler and more upto date courses but employers don't like then why?.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:06PM (#34141066) Homepage

    The Ivy League is the worst. Getting into MIT is hard, but so is going to MIT. (Despite this, if you get into MIT, you have a 90% chance of graduating.) Getting into the Ivy League schools is hard, but then you can make contacts and coast on academics. George Bush Jr. went to Yale and Harvard, after all.

    (I went to Stanford, in CS, in the 1980s. The education was at best mediocre.)

    • by demonlapin (527802) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:30PM (#34141366) Homepage Journal
      To be fair, this means the Ivies are the best. Despite a staggering price tag, they still appear to be worth it.

      The other side of that coin is that the vast majority of private colleges and out-of-state public colleges are simply not worth full price. There are limited exceptions, but mostly you shouldn't bother unless you can get a scholarship (and if your intellect is formidable enough to exceed the capabilities of your state's flagship university, it's good enough to get you a scholarship at a good one).

      Toward that end, I have one piece of advice for any 9th or 10th graders reading this: practice and study for the PSAT. Your high school may not place much emphasis on it, especially if you live in a rural area; they may not even tell you when it will be offered. MAKE SURE YOU TAKE IT IN 11TH GRADE. A sufficiently high score (and if you're in a low-achieving state, that score won't be all that high) will make you a National Merit Semifinalist, which is enough to get you a full ride at quite a lot of universities and at least half tuition at many others. It will also open up other scholarship opportunities. And apply for every scholarship you hear of; $1000 here and there adds up.
      • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Friday November 05, 2010 @05:26PM (#34142020) Homepage Journal

        Toward that end, I have one piece of advice for any 9th or 10th graders reading this: practice and study for the PSAT. Your high school may not place much emphasis on it, especially if you live in a rural area; they may not even tell you when it will be offered. MAKE SURE YOU TAKE IT IN 11TH GRADE. A sufficiently high score (and if you're in a low-achieving state, that score won't be all that high) will make you a National Merit Semifinalist, which is enough to get you a full ride at quite a lot of universities and at least half tuition at many others. It will also open up other scholarship opportunities. And apply for every scholarship you hear of; $1000 here and there adds up.

        This is a huge piece of great advice for HS students! I took the PSAT my sophomore year of HS and did better than anyone else in my school (juniors included). My adviser told me that, with my score, I could get a full-ride to any school I wanted. When PSAT time rolled around for my junior year I came down with appendicitis and missed the test. Later on, when I started looking for scholarships, I was rejected out of hand for 95% of them because sophomore scores can't net you the National Merit Semifinalist title (only junior scores can). That single stroke of shitty luck cost me a lot of $$$. Take the parent's advice to heart young ones.

    • by cptdondo (59460) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:42PM (#34141520) Journal

      Dude, I went to Princeton. At least in the engineering school, you do not "coast" on academics. It's a 70hr/wk workload. I graduated with honors - with a C+ average.

      You sweat blood to get a BSE degree at Princeton.

      Ditto for pol sci or international studies; the Woodrow Wilson school is incredibly hard.

      Maybe as an art major or something, but the majority of programs is *hard*.

      OK, I can't spead for Harvard or Yale, no doubt they're a cake walk.

      • by Ezubaric (464724)

        I was a preceptor at Princeton in SEAS. While the classes are hard, they come nowhere close to the 5x classes at Caltech (where I did my undergrad). Princeton students like to complain about their workload but still find time to spend 3-4 nights a week getting sloshed on Prospect.

    • The Ivy League is the worst. Getting into MIT is hard, but so is going to MIT. (Despite this, if you get into MIT, you have a 90% chance of graduating.) Getting into the Ivy League schools is hard, but then you can make contacts and coast on academics. George Bush Jr. went to Yale and Harvard, after all.

      (I went to Stanford, in CS, in the 1980s. The education was at best mediocre.)

      That ceased to be true at Yale in 1969, just after W left, when the school began admitting women as undergraduates. Since then, academics of admission and attendance are quite competitive. The idea that you can "make contact and coast" may fly in movies, but not in the current real world.

    • by nwf (25607)

      (I went to Stanford, in CS, in the 1980s. The education was at best mediocre.)

      I did my undergrad at CMU and got a masters at Stanford, both in CS. I felt that CMU had the better program, by far, but I was living close to Stanford after graduation. I didn't think it was mediocre in the mid 90s, but grading was easier. They'd fail you at CMU, but not really at Stanford unless you really tried to fail. But, I do value having gone to two different schools.

      I've interviewed students from many schools, and Berkeley is the only "top tier" school for CS that I just wouldn't hire from.

    • by jandrese (485)
      It's cute that people still think that academics are the primary reason people go to Ivy League schools. Academics won't get you nearly as far as a good network will, and the people with the best networks send their kids to Ivy League schools. If you want to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a Senator, or Ambassador, or a high profile lawyer it's almost impossible to do that without first building (or inheriting) a huge network. To do that, you need to get in the right social circles, and you're no
  • by nomadic (141991)
    More applicants, more money. Higher education is rapidly turning into a scam, anyway, they just want to bleed more application fees out of people.
  • by Saishuuheiki (1657565) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:11PM (#34141166)

    Am I the only one who think it's more likely a reflection of today's bad economy?

    I imagine with how difficult it is to get a job right now, even a student just graduating high school is aware that he'll have a hard time getting a decent job without a college or vocational degree.

    Sure it's easier to apply online...but I don't think it's really harder for someone to send the application by mail, just slower

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:18PM (#34141234)

    Being a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at one of the big name Ivy League schools, I am yet to see all these "amazing" students. Yes, practically every student get the basics (something that doesn't happen at less selective schools), but give them a problem that requires creativity and you'll see that a handful of students in the class are able to solve it. They might work hard and they are motivated, but it's not like every student is terribly smart.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by isaac (2852)

      Being a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at one of the big name Ivy League schools, I am yet to see all these "amazing" students. Yes, practically every student get the basics (something that doesn't happen at less selective schools), but give them a problem that requires creativity and you'll see that a handful of students in the class are able to solve it. They might work hard and they are motivated, but it's not like every student is terribly smart.

      Motivation to work hard is far more valuable to a future e

    • by Rakishi (759894)

      Intelligence and creativity are two somewhat separate things. Especially in mathematics where you either need to have the right gift or learn the tricks of it (likely both I suppose).

      Plus, everything else equal a hard working above-average person will do a lot better in life than a lazy genius.

    • by lakeland (218447)

      Lets look:

      List 1: Get the basics, hard working, motivated
      List 2: Creatively brilliant

      Except in very few cases, I know which I'd rather employ. I think you just demonstrated the value of big name Ivy League schools.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gibbs-Duhem (1058152)

      If you really believe that the people around you are not smart, then I think (as someone who has a PhD from one of the big name Ivy League schools =P) that you have perhaps an inflated opinion of your own skills... a common problem at said schools.

  • by Webz (210489) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:22PM (#34141280)

    Just because all the applications are amazing doesn't mean they have to accept all of them. Maybe they don't have the resources to support that many amazing students. There's no incongruity here.

    • Just because all the applications are amazing doesn't mean they have to accept all of them. Maybe they don't have the resources to support that many amazing students. There's no incongruity here.

      The notable bit is that the colleges are putting out weird press releases stating that the pool has expanded and the applicants were amazing, when the real change that comes along with the pool expanding is the average applicant quality decreasing. However, the larger pool essentially has no effect: the same couple thousands kids will be admitted. The expanded pool, to a large extent, is just expanding the list of rejected students. The biggest change occurred about a decade ago, when widespread online a

  • by Glarimore (1795666) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:29PM (#34141352)
    Colleges get $50 (sometimes $100) from each applicant. That means that if Brown or Stanford increase their applicant pool by 5,000 people in a year, thats an extra quarter million they are making, minimum.

    What's easier than making money from overpriced tuition? Convincing underqualified people to apply, taking their application fee, and instantly throwing out their application in a GPA/SAT filter.
  • I wonder how long this can keep up. In my experience, as soon as you graduate and get your first job, almost every future employment prospect is based on how well you perform in the "real world." Getting that first job is tougher if you are a state school graduate (like me,) but if you majored in something marketable, you do eventually get hired. My first 2 jobs were awful, but I was able to gain enough experience to eventually get the job I have today. No one has ever asked me where I went to school or wha

    • by geekoid (135745)

      If you are going to study in physics, and you can get into a high end score that has a Nobel Laurette, then I would say go to that school and find a way to meet the person. You may not get into the class, but a smart motivated person will find a way.

      The underlying false premise with college is that it guarantees you an immediate job.

  • ...there's maybe a half dozen universities whose name carries "weight". If it's not an Ivy League caliber school (and not even all of them), nobody gives a rat WHAT school you went to. nobody, but NOBODY cares if University "x" has a more exclusive student body than University "y". Mostly they don't care because they don't know...and they don't know because they don't care.

    There are a few exceptions for schools that are particularly well known for a given discipline, but mostly a degree is a degree is
    • by geekoid (135745)

      false.

      I graduate from Harvard business school is going to have a lot more opportunities then someone who got a business degree at the community college.

      The same thing with engineers who go to Carnegie Melon vs a community college.

      If you just want a desk job, then it doesn't matter.

      • false.

        I graduate from Harvard business school is going to have a lot more opportunities then someone who got a business degree at the community college.

        You started by saying "false" and then almost quoted what I DID say. You are aware that Harvard is an "ivy league" school, right?

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:33PM (#34141400)
    Undergrads at prestigious universities are just the suckers that pay for all the R&D the grad students do. Do yourself a favor and research the undergrad programs in your state. There's a good chance you'll find an excellent program at a fraction of the cost. Of course you won't get the brand name recognition.. But you also won't be in debt the rest of your life.
    • by gargeug (1712454) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:40PM (#34141496)
      I absolutely agree with this, for the most part. At the undergrad level, your school name doesn't really matter, but it is everything in grad school, because the big name schools have awesome research programs, great professors, and lots of money. I went to a smaller, no name school for undergrad, but made it a point to go to a big name engineering school for my masters because I knew that the opportunities there are much better, and my experience here so far is proving itself right. The only reason I say for the most part is that some niche research areas exist in weird places.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by elashish14 (1302231)

        What you say is true if you're getting a Master's Degree. If you're getting a PhD (or anything similar), then your advisor is more important. Doesn't matter where the degree comes from, just how good your advisor and research records are. Publications, industry contacts, conference talks are what people look for then.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by casehardened (700814)
      Actually, all the R&D done by grad students is paid for by you. The vast majority of our funding comes from the US Gov (DARPA, NSF, NIH, etc), a bit from private sources (Gates Foundation, etc), and a tiny, tiny amount from internal funding. Funding grants pay our salaries, purchase equipment, pay for lab space, etc. Pretty much the only time a professor will get money directly from the school is when they're starting out, in which case they'll typically get 200k - 1 million to get a lab started. Underg
  • 93% of applicants, should you be expanding?
    Granted, you won't want a percentage of those applicant under any conditions.

    • by blair1q (305137)

      7% of a growing number is a growing number. And when there's another number growing (the number of $$ you can charge per student) then investing in growth is correct business strategy.

      But this has nothing to do with education, so it really shouldn't matter to the student. Just do the math. If you're unaware of your ranking in Harvard's pool, assume it's just a gamble that you'll get in, and spread your other applications around to less-selective schools, including at least one where you are guaranteed to

  • Recommended viewing (Score:3, Informative)

    by blixel (158224) on Friday November 05, 2010 @04:51PM (#34141658)

    "The business of higher education is booming. It's a $400 billion industry fueled by taxpayer money. But what are students getting out of the deal? Critics say a worthless degree and a mountain of debt. Investors insist they're innovators, widening access to education." Watch the video. [pbs.org]

    Has anyone had a chance to read this book? The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History-and How We Can Fight Back

  • Start a new college (Score:3, Interesting)

    by byteherder (722785) on Friday November 05, 2010 @05:12PM (#34141876)
    What has amazed me is that while the population of graduating high school students have grown, the number of admission slots to the elite universities have remained relatively constant. So inevidently the process for getting one of those admission slots has become more selective. What I would like to see is someone create a new university or universities that compete with the Harvards, Princetons, and Yales of the world. Some additional effects would be to bring the cost of college down as there is more competition for students and to employ more PhDs who want to work in academia but are having a hard time finding a job due to the lack of new professorship opening up each year.

    1. Start elitist university..
    2. Recruit lots of applications for students.
    3. Reject 90% of them.
    4. PROFIT.
    .
    // Universities are supposed to be non-profit but I just had to throw in #4
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by blair1q (305137)

      One flaw in your plan:

      All the non-"elitist" universities tried to do exactly that. But the "elitist" universities out-competed them for competent staff and other marketable superiorities.

      You'll be starting out at the bottom of the list. Just rejecting 90% of your applicant's won't help you climb it.

      (And yes, I get the joke, but not everyone else will, because some of them didn't go to good schools...)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214)

      What I would like to see is someone create a new university or universities that compete with the Harvards, Princetons, and Yales of the world.

      That's a task akin to asking your local Little League team take on the (recent World Series winning) San Francisco Giants.

      Seriously, those schools got where they are based on decades/centuries of work. No new school is going to be able to recruit the professors, have the billions to invest in the infrastructure, attract the top tier students...

  • by laing (303349) on Friday November 05, 2010 @05:48PM (#34142248)
    Of those who students who ended up not attending Stanford, how many of them also applied at Brown? Maybe the best students are applying at all of the good schools so they have more choices as to where they end up. If all students applied to approximately 10 schools each, the low admission rates would be correct and expected.
  • A college is a name and a reputation. That's it.

    With that name comes the assumption that they have a rigorous process for hiring a certain quality of educator. That they have a Dean who makes sure the professors he hires tomorrow turn out students that are at least as well educated as the professors that teach there today.

    A college degree is the reputation of that school backing your assertion that you are educated. Again, that's it.

    Things like the number of applicants, the percentage of applications acc

  • why this? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Goldsmith (561202) on Friday November 05, 2010 @06:45PM (#34142804)

    Of all the problems with the University system in the US, why bring this up?

    UCLA gets the most applicants? UCLA is the largest state college in the most populous state in the country. Hardly shocking that it gets a lot of applicants.

    How about we talk about the problems with recruiting kids into dead-end majors, the lack of practical training, the idea that even an exhaustive college education isn't sufficient (post-doc anyone?), the student-as-labor model of research or absurdly high administrator salaries?

It is not every question that deserves an answer. -- Publilius Syrus

Working...