Archive for August 29th, 2012

August 29, 2012

Quick Takes – Alabama NMFs, recruited athletes at top colleges, & surplus of college professors

by Grace

—  240 NMFs in the freshman class this fall at the University of Alabama

This report comes from a CollegeConfidential thread that mentions last year’s number was 182 National Merit Finalists.  The bad news is that Alabama recently downsized its NMF scholarship to pay for only one year of housing instead of four as it previously did.  And instead of a laptop, the package now includes an iPad.  It’s still a sweet deal, however.

Related:  University of Alabama scholarships – Roll Tide! (Cost of College)

—  ‘Recruited athletes make up 20 percent of the class’ at most top colleges.

Like other hooked students, recruited athletes get a boost in their chances for admission.

Like it or not, 40 percent of the class at most top colleges are reserved for “hooked” kids — the largest group is generally recruited athletes (up to 20 percent), the rest are legacies, underrepresented minorities, development cases (donors) and V.I.P.’s (famous people’s kids). It’s hard for me to say legacy preferences are not fair because the truth is that the process isn’t fair and legacies take up a relatively minor percentage of the class (typically 10 percent).

Their boost? Generally only two to four times the general admissions odds. To put this in perspective, for a school that has a 15 percent admission rate, legacies might get in at 35 percent, but recruited athletes are more like 80 percent and minorities closer to 90 percent (at least for African-Americans and native Americans).
Athletes Are the Problem (New York Times)

—  The US will no longer need hundreds or thousands of organic chemistry professors.

Writing in the Financial Times, Christopher Caldwell suggests that the online higher education trend may lead to a surplus of some types of college professors.

A great consolidation of personnel must be the result of this technological shift. Once courses are online, best practices will emerge. The US will no longer need hundreds or thousands of organic chemistry professors. Network effects will bring a stampede of students to the courses of the best universities. Students will abandon even excellent professors at excellent universities to learn code-writing the “MIT way” or the “Stanford way”, if they believe that is the idiom their future bosses are most likely to speak in.

In his essay Caldwell also makes the point that one way for online schools to become profitable is a variation on the “bait and switch” tactic.  Many courses are free now, but that will can change at some point.

… It is wiser not to start charging until habits, dependencies and institutional ruts have made online education indispensable.

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