Posts tagged ‘Chronicle of Higher Education’

September 20, 2013

A quick way to find if a college has many out-of-state students

by Grace

A handy tool from the Chronicle of Higher Education allows you to access out-of-state (OOS) freshman student data for nearly 1,600 universities and colleges.  It offers a quick way to compare several schools at once, as well as to see data compiled for entire states.


Some ways you can use this information:

  • You can quickly compare the percentage of OOS students for schools in which you are interested.  You can also check the states these students come from.
  • You can see trends.  The information goes back to 1994, so you can see how a school’s OOS population has changed over time.
  • You can get a sense how attractive you might be to a school.  A school with a low OOS percentage may be seeking to increase geographic diversity by reaching out to students outside their state.

Some quick observations about OOS freshman at selected locations:

  • Binghamton University’s OOS students have increased from 6% to 15% over ten years.
  • Colleges in the states with the least amounts of OOS students, including Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, and Wyoming, may be particularly interested in applications from OOS students.
  • Rice Universtiy is more geographically diverse than many people might expect, with 52% of its students coming from other states.
  • UNC Chapel Hill has consistently maintained its OOS student population at close to 18%, the upper limit as mandated by state regulation.  Florida and New York lead the way in being the source of their OOS students.
  • University of Alabama has bumped its percentage of OOS students from 24% to 43% over ten years, no doubt at least partly due to their generous merit scholarship programs that catch the attention of high-achieving students across the country.

The latest year available is 2010, so the most recent trends are not captured.  International students are not included, skewing the profiles of some schools more than others.


March 4, 2013

Sequester will cut thousands of college work study jobs

by Grace

Pell Grants won’t be affected, but other types of federal student aid and research funding will be cut as the result of the sequestration that took effect on March 1.

The impending federal budget cuts known as the sequester, which will go into effect on Friday without action by Congress, are poised to have a significantly negative effect on both public and private universities nationwide. Some forms of federal student aid and funding for a variety of research programs are likely to find themselves on the chopping block, according to the White House and university administrators.

Several critical revenue streams for universities are at risk: The National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the National Endowment for the Humanities are all subject to cuts that fall within both the 7.6 percent cut to mandatory spending and the 8.2 percent cut to discretionary spending.

Students’ tuition rates won’t go up, and Pell Grants are protected; but the federal work-study program and other scholarship sources, like the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, would be subject to the 8.2 percent cut.

Some examples of how that breaks down, according to the White House: 4,720 low-income students in Texas would lose federal financial aid; an estimated 2,370 college students in Iowa will lose federal college aid; 4,520 low-income college students in New York would lose money; 6,250 Florida low-income students and 9,600 in California would get hit.

On campuses, uncertainty reigns.

The ambiguity of how the sequester will affect student aid, jobs, and research is adding to a gloomy atmosphere for colleges and universities.  Estimates on the dollar amounts and number of students affected differ significantly depending on the source.

Some estimated numbers

It’s hard to pin down accurate numbers.

Arne Duncan:

“That ($86 million cut) would mean for the fall as many as 70,000 students would lose access to grants and to work-study opportunities,” Duncan said during the briefing….

Chronicle of Higher Education:

… programs like the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and Federal Work-Study would be cut by millions of dollars, eliminating more than 100,000 students from participation.

Meanwhile, here in New York we learned how the cuts will affect K-12 education.

The School Boards Association has detailed district-by-district predictions of how the $102 million in federal cuts would be spread out.

Federal grants make up roughly 8 percent of statewide education expenditures. Most school money comes from the state budget and local revenues, including property taxes.

My local school district is slated to lose $50,141 in federal aid.

January 14, 2013

If you want a job at an elite firm . . .

by Grace

Last year the Chronicle of Higher Education gave us the lowdown on the specific circumstances where it can be extremely important to attend a particular name brand elite college.

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.

2. Don’t work your rear off for a 4.0. Better to graduate with 3.7 and a bunch of really awesome extracurriculars. And by “really awesome” I mean literally climbing Everest or winning an Olympic medal. Playing intramurals doesn’t cut it.

This comes from a study where Lauren Rivera of Northwestern University interviewed insiders at these elite firms.

Keep in mind this study focused on very specific career paths.  If a student is truly interested in a high-powered investment banking career or something similar, then paying for that gold-plated college degree might be worth it.  But how many 18-year-olds really know they want the lifestyle entailed in working for a white-shoe firm?  For those who are committed to this particular plan, Bryan Caplan offered a summary of the winnowing process that is conducted in the human resources offices of these employers.

1. Most applications practically go straight in the trash…

2. Evaluators have a lot of slack…

3. Super-elite credentials matter much more than your academic record…

4. Super-elite schools matter because they’re strong signals, not because they’re better at building human capital…

5. At least in this elite sample, I’m totally wrong to think that extracurriculars don’t matter. … But they have to be the right kind of extracurriculars.  You have to signal that you’re not signaling!…

6. Grades do matter somewhat, but mostly as a cut-off.  They’re a signal of work ethic more than IQ…

The credentialing game starts young.

Robert Teitelman pointed out that the process ensures these top firms will be staffed only with individuals who had the good fortune to be able to play the credentialing game that begins at a relatively young age, and essentially culminates at age 18 in the college admissions process.

On the face of it, there’s a quality to Rivera’s conclusions that seems pretty obvious. Anyone who’s been around Wall Street and consulting — or anyone with a teenager suffering through college admissions — knows the pressure that exists to get students into “elite” schools, however defined, in order to slot them onto a transmission belt to high-paying jobs, mostly at what Rivera calls the elite professional-services firms. This is the core of the myth that drives so much of upper-middle-class child rearing: the necessity of getting the tyro into Harvard or other elite universities, not for any educational attainments (so impractical), but for the effect it supposedly has on future prospects. Rivera is essentially putting flesh on those ghostly bones; she’s arguing that decisions made in college admissions — good, bad or indifferent — play a determinative role in where you go to work and how much money you make. She is not only offering empirical backing to the mania for, say, elite kindergartens and endless tutors, but she’s significantly raising the stakes: only the “top” matters. This is remarkable if only for the fact that college admissions, for all its importance, is about as scientific as necromancy.

The system is “terrible for organizations”.

It’s a bit frightening to realize that employment among these firms essentially relies on the signaling granted by admissions to these elite schools.  As Megan McCardle explained, this system is ‘a convenient shorthand for a group of people who are really busy” and is “terrible for organizations”.

The Ivy League is full of smart, interesting people.  But it is not full of all of the smart, interesting people in the country, or even a majority of them.  And given the resumes required to get there, it produces a group of people who are narrow in certain predictable ways….

This requirement to get the “right” degree from the “right” college to enable you to get the “right” job also exists in other fields.  Here’s an example from the world of music.

In my subfield of music, we have a version of the above phenomenon which determines who gets jobs. There is a short list of maybe half a dozen cronies who basically run the profession, and if you manage to get into their grad programs, you will get whatever top jobs are out there in a given hiring season. Jobs are filled with a phone call.

As someone else mentioned, the current market conditions don’t help things. If a committee has to weed people out of a stack of 200 applications, the pedigree is a quick (and dirty) method of winnowing the list without bothering to look at other aspects of the applications.

Choose your graduate program carefully and with full knowledge that you will be sealing your own fate before you even hit the campus.

A broader lesson for those in the college search and selection process:  Consider how important the particular school and/or department is in the trajectory of your desired career.  In some cases it might be a determining factor, but in most cases it is not so consequential.

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