Archive for November, 2011

November 30, 2011

Questbridge College Match – highly competitive but big payoff

by Grace


The QuestBridge National College Match helps outstanding low-income high school seniors gain admission and full four-year scholarships to some of the nation’s most selective colleges.

It is a highly competitive process that last year matched 310 students to top-ranked colleges such as Princeton, MIT and Wellesley.  Selection criteria include:

    • Academic achievements
    • Financial need
    • Additional criteria, such as parent’s level of education and extracurricular activities

The College Match application process is time-consuming and the odds of winning are less than 5%, but the payoff can be big.  Here is a profile of the 2010 award recipients.

Of the 310 National College Match award recipients:

• 77% were among the first generation in their family to attend college.
• 22% were 1st in their class.
• 80% were in the top 5% of their class.

SAT Score (CR + M)
• 9% scored above 1500.
• 29% scored above 1400.
• 61% scored above 1300.
• 89% scored above 1200.

• 33% had family income less than $20,000.
• 79% had family income less than $40,000.
• 97% had family income less than $60,000.

• 32% Black/African American
• 32% Latino
• 17% Asian
• 16% White
• 3% Native American/Alaskan Native

Educators are encouraged to refer qualifying students to Questbridge.

Successful QuestBridge applicants are academically high-achieving students who have experienced challenges due to economic circumstances.

November 29, 2011

Tough college professor fired because ‘students wanted high school’

by Grace

Do student evaluations carry too much weight and are they contributing to a dumbing down of college standards?

Business scholar Steven Maranville left a tenured appointment with the University of Houston to teach at Utah Valley University two years ago, but officials fired him after a one-year probationary period when they concluded his teaching did not suit their students.

According to a lawsuit filed Oct. 14 in U.S. District Court, Maranville’s lawyers allege UVU administrators justified the dismissal based on student complaints that his “capstone” course in business strategies was too rigorous and his Socratic style intimidated them.

“A number of students liked him a lot and said so. The brass came in and liked what he was doing. [Maranville] wanted students to get together in small groups and chew over the topics they were studying,” said his attorney, Robert Sykes. “They get him up here and toss him under the bus because some of the students wanted high school.”

The lawsuit, which alleges breach of contract and fair dealing and state constitutional violations, touches on an issue that is raising concern in faculty groups nationally. Some believe universities’ use of student opinion in promotion decisions is eroding professors’ influence and creating incentives to make courses easy, lest they risk a torrent of negative evaluations. On the other hand, teaching-oriented universities like UVU aspire to be responsive to student needs and view them almost as customers.

Student ratings of instruction shouldn’t be the only measure, but they do provide insight into professors’ effectiveness, said Liz Hitch, Utah’s associate commissioner of higher education for academic affairs.

“Students are in the class every day. They know what‘s going on and know whether they are learning,” said Hitch, a former UVU provost whose dissertation examined student ratings. “If they consistently have poor evaluations, that generally is a problem.”

I view myself as a customer of my son’s college, but I am not interested in buying another high school experience for him.

Did Utah Valley University fire business prof for being too tough? – The Salt Lake Tribune, 10/23/11

HT Instapundit

November 28, 2011

Khan Academy classroom pilot declared a ‘success’ based on no data

by Grace

A frothy piece in the Utopianist* declares that a Khan Academy pilot to teach math to 5th and 7th grade students in the Los Altos School District of California is a “colossal success”.

Their test run has so far yielded nothing short of colossal success, with both students and teachers alike more engaged and fulfilled.

The problem is that the article presents nothing beyond abstract anecdotes of exaltation.  It’s fine that students are engaged and fulfilled, but are they learning?  Where’s the evidence?  Where’s the data showing improved achievement levels?  Instead, the basis for declaring success is stuff like this.

  • It’s meaningful Khan hopes to “humanize” education by providing students and teachers with the opportunity to spend some meaningful time together
  • Kids teach each other, replacing expert teachers – students better at one subject can tutor their peers who are struggling with the same concept
  • Remember, it’s meaningful… meaningful classroom time will do more … than the ritual of silent students …
  • Fun tools with cool names the Academy has recently introduced badges … The badges have cool names like Sun and Black Hole.
  • Students love it Students are raving about the Khan Academy’s videos
  • A famous billionaire approves Bill Gates makes an appearance … applauding Khan’s program …
  • As long as it’s fun …  will allow classrooms the time to finally spend on those fun educational projects … 
  • Teachers approve because kids have fun Teachers also talk about how they love the program because their kids are having fun 

The clincher is that they label daydreaming as a learning style, especially laughable given that the very concept of “learning styles” is a myth.

Students also love that the program supports individual learning styles – like daydreamers.

I am a big fan of Khan Academy, but give me data before you jump to hasty conclusions  and promote the use of yet another unproven educational experiment on our public school children.

* In fitting with this article, utopia is defined as  an imaginary and indefinitely remote place.

November 25, 2011

Colleges that saddle graduates with the most debt (and those that don’t)

by Grace

From U.S. News & World Report, based on 2010 graduates

Colleges With the Most Student Debt

10. Fordham University – 64% of students graduate with debt averaging $38,151
..9. Stevens Institute of Technology – 70% of students graduate with debt averaging $38,554
..8. Case Western Reserve University – 60% of students graduate with debt averaging $39,236
..7. Widener University – 85% of students graduate with debt averaging $40,386
..6. New York University – 55% of students graduate with debt averaging $41,375
..5. Florida Institute of Technology – 65% of students graduate with debt averaging $41,565
..4. Barry University – 64% of students graduate with debt averaging $42,798
..3. Nova Southeastern University – 76% of students graduate with debt averaging $43,206
..2. Clark Atlanta University – 93% of students graduate with debt averaging $45,227
..1. University of North Dakota – 83% of students graduate with debt averaging $45,369

Fordham offers relatively generous merit aid, but it seems the combination of a high COA (approx. $59,000) and loan-heavy financial aid helps put it on this list.  Barry University is a HBCU.

Colleges With the Least Student Debt

10. Louisiana Tech University – 49% of students graduate with debt averaging $14,039
..9..Rice University – 36% of students graduate with debt averaging $13,944
..8. Brigham Young University – 31% of students graduate with debt averaging $13,354
..7. Texas Tech University – 40% of students graduate with debt averaging $11,502
..6. Lamar University – 63% of students graduate with debt averaging $12,110
..5. California Institute of Technology – 43% of students graduate with debt averaging $10,760
..4. Harvard University – 34% of students graduate with debt averaging $10,102
..3. Yale University – 28% of students graduate with debt averaging $9,254
..2. Sam Houston State University -46% of students graduate with debt averaging $7,602
..1. Princeton University – 24% of students graduate with debt averaging $4,385

With their generous financial aid policies that include middle- to high-income families, it’s not surprising to see the Ivy Leagues well-represented on this list.  Rice combines  relatively low tuition and favorable need/merit aid.

November 24, 2011

Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’ – being CONCRETE

by Grace

I have completed the Being CONCRETE section in Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of Writing to the Point.  This is part of my project to study and learn the entire Six-Step method.  For a recap, here are Steps 1 through 4.

STEP 1. Write a short, simple declarative sentence that makes one statement. (Chapter 1, page 6)

STEP 2. Write three sentences about the sentence in Step 1—clearly and directly about the whole of that sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 2, page 18.)

STEP 3. Write four or five sentences about each of the three sentences in Step 2—clearly and directly about the whole of the Step 2 sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 3, page 31.)

STEP 4. Make the material in the four or five sentences of Step 3 as specific and concrete as possible. Go into detail. Use examples. Don’t ask, “What will I say next?” Instead, say some more about what you have just said. Your goal is to say a lot about a little, not a little about a lot.

The second part in Step 4 focuses on being “CONCRETE”

Use words that are not abstract; that can be seen, touched, smelled, tasted, felt, weighed, measured, lifted, dropped, moved, etc.

Examples:  child, chair, pencil are concrete; freedom, justice, bravery are not

Given an abstract word, write the name of a concrete person or thing you can associate with it.  Here are a few examples, with the abstract word highlighted.

    • compassion / Mother Teresa
    • democracy / voting machine
    • peace / sleeping baby

Next, given a concrete thing, write an abstract word you can associate with it.  Here are a few examples, with the concrete word highlighted.

    • a whip / pain
    • schoolbooks / learning
    • vitamin capsules / health (or hypochondria!)

Using concrete terms helps to make writing more clear and more interesting.  Think of a politician who uses abstract terms such as, “We’ll direct all our considerable resources to satisfying the needs of our constituents” instead of, “I’ll spend $10 million of your taxes on a new highway that will help my biggest campaign contributor.”  The latter, using concrete words, is definitely clearer, adding transparency and more “interest” to the message.  Don’t you wish more politicians used the Kerrigan method?

Previous posts in this series:
The Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’
Step 3 of the Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’
Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’ – being SPECIFIC

November 24, 2011

It’s good to give thanks

by Grace

Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.

John Tierney offers some advice on how to become a more grateful person.

Thank you for reading Cost of College!

November 24, 2011

‘Homeschooled N.J. Students Can Now Play Public High School Sports’

by Grace

Homeschooled student-athletes in New Jersey can now participate in public high school sports, under rule changes approved Wednesday by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Any homeschooled students interested in playing public school sports will need to prove to their local board of education that they meet the same eligibility standards as a typical public school student-athlete—age, residency, and academics.

“These ground-breaking polices related to home schooling and school choice will help ensure that there’s no uncertainty about what is and isn’t permissible,” said Steve Timko, executive director of the NJSIAA, in a statement. “The fact that there had previously existed a kind of ‘gray’ area on both of these subjects led to quite a bit of uncertainty and confusion. Now, we’ve remedied that situation.”

New Jersey isn’t the first state to allow homeschooled students access to public school sports. More than 20 other states have laws governing what public school activities homeschooled students have access to, according to a brief from the Home School Legal Defense Association.

New York does not allow homeschooled students to participate in interscholastic sports.

November 23, 2011

Wall Street jobs are being cut and ‘aren’t coming back’

by Grace

Wall Street job prospects are dim for college graduates

Much of the burden of Wall Street’s latest retrenchment has fallen on young financiers. The number of investment bank and brokerage firm employees between the ages 20 and 34 fell by 25 percent from the third quarter of 2008 to the same period of 2011, a loss of 110,000 jobs from layoffs, attrition and voluntary departures.

Young financiers have experienced setbacks in the past. Bankers and traders who rushed wide-eyed to Wall Street in the halcyon days of the 1980s were waylaid by the stock market crash of Oct. 19, 1987, known as Black Monday. Then they got pummeled in 2000 by the dot-com collapse and the recession that followed.

But experts say that today’s doldrums, unlike previous downturns, are here to stay.

“A lot of the positions that are being cut right now aren’t coming back,” said Leslie K. Hild, a vice president with the recruiting firm Right Management. “It’s an emotional roller coaster for almost everyone.”

At Harvard Business School, where a relatively high 39 percent of this year’s graduates went into finance, compared to 34 percent last year, there has been a “heck of a lot more anxiety” about next year’s hiring season, according to William A. Sahlman, a professor of business administration….

“People used to think of some of these organizations, like a Morgan Stanley  or a Goldman Sachs, as safe career bets,” Professor Sahlman said. “Those firms are not going away, but they’re going to hire half the people they hired before.”

Several large firms are not recruiting new entry-level analysts for their investment banking divisions this fall, having filled their entire incoming class with last summer’s interns. At the University of Pennsylvania, whose Wharton School is the closest thing that exists to a Wall Street farm team, Goldman Sachs canceled its informational session.

November 23, 2011

Higher education bubble infographic

by Grace

From The Best Colleges

November 22, 2011

More SAT cheating arrests – ‘This stuff has been going on for a very long time’

by Grace

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – At least 13 students are expected to face authorities this morning in connection with Nassau County’s expanding SAT scandal.

Some could be charged with felonies for impersonating test takers and accepting huge sums of money in exchange.

It all comes two months after police arrested Sam Eshaghoff and several students from at Great Neck North High School in September.

The students expected to turn themselves in today come from Great Neck South, Great Neck North, Rosyln High School, the North Shore Hebrew Academy and St. Mary’s High School Manhasset.

There is concern that this type of cheating is widespread.

Lavalle says every district attorney in the state ought to follow the lead in Nassau and investigate their own high schools.

It makes me wonder if it is significantly affecting the SAT score percentiles, especially on the upper end.

Some students are not entirely surprised by today’s pending arrests.

“This stuff has been going on for a very long time,” said one student. “Everybody wants to succeed and go to the best college.”…

Law enforcement negotiated Tuesday’s surrender date with the lawyers for the students, keeping it close to their Thanksgiving breaks from colleges.

It’s doubtful these students will be enjoying their Thanksgiving breaks very much.  I’m thankful these cheaters have been caught.

Related:  New York SAT cheating scandal is expected to lead to more arrests

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