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  #51  
Old 03-14-2019, 06:28 PM
Majestic Lee is offline
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I'm not ok with it if it means someone who is less rich but cleverer doesn't get a place.
  #52  
Old 03-14-2019, 06:37 PM
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Okay, so if there's room for ten more students, and you want to buy a place for Timmy, it seems only fair that you donate enough money for there to now be room for eleven students.
  #53  
Old 03-14-2019, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by peccavi View Post
I wish posters would read (and then think about) Manda Jo's post.

There aren't "slots" that get filled by one student at the cost of another student. There isn't a 1-N ranking of all the applicants with line above which someone gets in and below which they don't. And there shouldn't be.
(Quote edited)

Isn't the current scandal about that, though? These were students getting in on the basis of being good athletes. For that there must be slots that, if taken by these cheats, are not given to other students.
  #54  
Old 03-14-2019, 06:55 PM
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I personally don't care. As long as it requires a lot of money.

If it only takes $5,000 to get into Harvard, then no. But if it is 6 figures minimum, and the money goes to the schools (and not into the pockets of employees of the university) then I'm fine with it.

Education is important, if people want to donate huge sums so their kids get into a good school, fine by me. That means more money for education.
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Last edited by Wesley Clark; 03-14-2019 at 06:56 PM.
  #55  
Old 03-14-2019, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by snowthx View Post
I am sure that is possible and probably happens. But, how would you police that? I would gather schools don't have the time or resources available to determine if a donor kid is getting treated softly, academically.
I can tell you as a professor (retired), if I had received any pressure from the administration or a donor to alter the way I graded, I'd have raise a huge stink. But to be honest, nothing like that ever happened, at least to me, at either University of Chicago or Yale.
  #56  
Old 03-14-2019, 07:37 PM
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I personally don't care. As long as it requires a lot of money.

If it only takes $5,000 to get into Harvard, then no. But if it is 6 figures minimum, and the money goes to the schools (and not into the pockets of employees of the university) then I'm fine with it.

Education is important, if people want to donate huge sums so their kids get into a good school, fine by me. That means more money for education.
I can sort of get behind this point of view. Colleges need money.

But it does have a major problem in that it sends kids to colleges where they are not good enough to get in otherwise, and sometimes the kids don't even know they were bought in, they genuinely think they got there on merit. So they end up college drowning like Olivia Jade, surrounded by smarter people and feeling like total idiots. The average person is not going to react to that by knuckling down and studying more, they're going to hate the clever students for making them feel stupid, and only like them for their usefulness when they're paying them to write their essays. And they'll carry that hatred of intelligence on into their later life where they will have a great deal more influence than the average college grad.
  #57  
Old 03-14-2019, 07:45 PM
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Yes, colleges need money. But very little of their money goes to actually educating students. I've heard that they typically withdraw only two percent of the endowment each year. The rest grows, and most years, they earn well above two percent return on investment. The really rich schools are more like a hedge fund with a side business in running a school.

(And the portion of the endowment that goes to scholarships for current students goes right back to the school. As an undergraduate thirty-something years ago, we were told that something like 25% of the tuition amount went to scholarships, so the whole thing is a way to shift costs from the students whose parents are paying the full tuition to those of us on scholarship. It's a bit like how US hospitals overcharge the insured patients and those paying out-of-pocket to voer the costs of the charity cases.)
  #58  
Old 03-14-2019, 07:58 PM
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Did you just say that? If you see a black person with a diploma from an exclusive school, you "discount them"? And you can tell by looking?

I cannot begin to tell you how ridiculous this is. I cannot begin to tell you how many highly qualified black students I have sent to elite colleges--all of them with test records that put them in the top 1% of students in the country. I can't even.

And, as I just said in great detail, elite colleges take under-qualified rich white kids all the time. Because they went to the right feeder. Because they play water-polo at a very high level. Because their great grandparents went to the school. ALL of those things carry more weight with the admissions committee than race. All of those things are not "visible" when you meet someone. And all together, those ways add up to way more than the 8% or so of slots taken up by African Americans.
I personally don't discount them because I am not involved in any hiring or other situations where a persons college degree would be relevant. However, those who are in those situations can. It is generally easy to tell what someone's race is by looking.

If you mean legacy admissions by underqualified rich white kids, not really. Typically only 10-15% of students are sons or daughters of alumni. A study of 64 colleges found that 48% of legacy students had test scores in the range of the median student accepted at the college, that 34% had better test scores, and only 18% had worse test scores. This means that at the typical college only 3% of the student body is made up of under qualified legacy students. That is not enough to dilute the signal a college degree has.

On the other hand Harvard ran a simulation of admissions without affirmative action and found that admissions of black students fell by 57%. This means that a random white Harvard graduate has 5% chance of being under qualified legacy admission, if all legacy admission are white. While a black Harvard graduate has a 57% chance of being under qualified affirmative action admission.
  #59  
Old 03-14-2019, 08:11 PM
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I posted a whole list. It's not just legacy admits: it's also recruited athletes, kids from elite private schools (which have "arrangements" and various personal connections. That ends up being more than 15%.

Furthermore, even if we stipulate that your numbers are correct, Harvard only accepted about 8% African Americans. If half of them were under-qualified, then there were still as many more more unqualified white legacy kids as unqualified black kids--and we aren't counting the unqualified athletes or development cases.

Though, again, as I always do, I will point out that "unqualified" is highly misleading here. Saying that a kid "wouldn't have been admitted" isn't the same as being "unqualified" and you're blurring that point. Many, many students who get rejected are quite capable of doing the work. That's why they will take athletes with below-average scores and grades: the scores and grades are good enough, and the additional value of helping build the school community through athletics is why they are chosen. In the same way, students who contribute toward diversity--which may be racial but can also be about experiences (grew up in a refugee camp; started a successful company; highly ranked chess player) that are unusual and will add to the experiences of others.

There are students of all races admitted to elite schools with lower scores than those of some students were rejected. That doesn't mean that the others were unqualified.

ETA: I've said my piece on this and I'm not gonna be pulled down this rabbit hole with you. I've seen you do it before and I know your mind can't be changed. i only said the above for the benefit of the lurker.

Last edited by Manda JO; 03-14-2019 at 08:11 PM.
  #60  
Old 03-14-2019, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
If you mean legacy admissions by underqualified rich white kids, not really. Typically only 10-15% of students are sons or daughters of alumni.
Cite?

Here's are some contrary facts. I'm sure you have better facts to back up your assertion.

From the link (of Harvard admissions data which was made available through a civil trial):

"An analysis commissioned by Students For Fair Admissions found legacy applicants were accepted at a rate of nearly 34 percent from 2009 to 2015. According to the report, that's more than five times higher than the rate for non-legacies over the same six-year period: just 5.9 percent."
  #61  
Old 03-14-2019, 09:22 PM
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You ignore the idea of money corrupting everything.
This shouldn't be neglected. Every time you let money buy something that isn't supposed to be bought, but deserved, you solidify the reign of money, undermine the concept of merit, and make people lose trust in society and justice.
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  #62  
Old 03-14-2019, 09:51 PM
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Here's are some contrary facts. I'm sure you have better facts to back up your assertion.
If I read your cite correctly, it says that legacy applicants are accepted at a much higher rate than non-legacy applicants. However, the overall student population is only 14% legacy.

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Today, according to Harvard, legacy students make up around 14 percent of the undergraduate population.
  #63  
Old 03-14-2019, 10:07 PM
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Here's a really informative graph. Ignore the first one--it's an average over 20 years and meaningless. Scroll down to the next one, which gives acceptance rates by race for Harvard by year. 20 years ago, African Americans had a much high acceptance rate--because, frankly, hardly any were applying. But for the last several years, the average white applicant has had a greater chance of being admitted than the average black applicant. I will tell you, that doesn't "feel right" if you are in this business: incredibly talented white kids seem to get rejected at a much higher rate than talented black kids. The reason for this, frankly, is that there's two groups bundled under "white kids"--normal applicants and elites--not just "development" kids, but all the other things I've talked about over and over and over again. They get in at a much higher rate than 8%. These groups push "normal" white kids out of the running because, and I mean this, the elites don't want to go to college with a bunch of boring suburban white kids. They want "exotics"--including underrepresented minorities, but other types of diversity as well. In a very real way, everyone that isn't an elite is there as a prop for the elites to have the experience they want.

So when the suburban white kids don't get in, they blame the black kids (and to some degree the Hispanic kids). That tiny little group over there! They took my slot! But it's entirely wrong-headed. It's the elite group that's both eating up the slots and, frankly, serving as the drivers for what the rest of the class looks like.
  #64  
Old 03-14-2019, 11:03 PM
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Does anyone read the OP?

I am NOT talking about the recent cheating scandal.

I frequently hear people complaining of how awful it is that Mr. Smith gave $20 million dollars to a university, got his name on a building and magically his son gets accepted.
Here’s the thing: Arguably, the only thing that inspired most people to open the thread (perhaps the only reason the topic is even interesting) is because of the scandal being in the news.
  #65  
Old 03-15-2019, 04:41 AM
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Problem is, the legacy kids come from a highly influential, networked background. Their odds of getting into positions of power, sometimes very large amounts of power, is much larger than other graduates. Even graduates of elite universities.

Its not limited to the US. I believe both in the UK and France a disproportionate amount of the governing class comes from a very small number of universities.

If you're going to recruit a large amount of your governing people from a fairly small group, stacking the group with people who shouldn't be trying to work with their brain is probably a bad idea.
  #66  
Old 03-15-2019, 05:47 AM
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Its not limited to the US. I believe both in the UK and France a disproportionate amount of the governing class comes from a very small number of universities.
In the case of France, it's the E.N.A. . But then again, it makes some sense because it's the only school that gives access to most high ranking positions in the civil service (except for people who enter it at a lowest and slowly climb the ladder). It's not an university, either, but rather a two years long education and training program tailored for those future high ranking civil servants. When you join it, you're already technically a civil servant, and are paid, just in training. And admission is solely based on a competitive exam, so there's no suspicion that it's tainted by favors.

Rather, the issue is that mostly all the upper management of the public service is made up of people who attended it, hence have been selected in the same way, with the same expectations, and tend to share the same mindset and views (this specific mindset is already clearly visible before people even join the school, when they're preparing for it). And belong to the same network, of course. On top of it, a large part of *politicians* also come from this school. Three out of four of our last presidents attended it (and the previous ones were too old, it has been created after WW2) and a large part of our prime ministers. So, the upper level of government, both political and administrative, is ran by "Enarques"

There's also the problem that the proportion of people joining the school coming from lower classes is small and in fact becoming smaller and smaller (not true only for this school, it's the case for all highly regarded schools) . And that an abnormally high percentage of them are children of people who attended it themselves (but not because they get some break, simply presumably because they're encouraged to go in this direction, and coached by a parent who knows what is expected and how to best prepare for it). There's no doubt however that everybody gaining admission has a high potential, the entrance exam is really very selective.

Not that in fact it was originally created in good part to guarantee a more diversified social origin for high ranking civil servants, and precisely prevent favoritism and social reproduction, in a meritocratic spirit. It did work at first, but seems to be failing more and more at this goal.

For the record, I attempted (and failed at) this admission exam.
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  #67  
Old 03-15-2019, 08:14 AM
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Cite?

Here's are some contrary facts. I'm sure you have better facts to back up your assertion.

From the link (of Harvard admissions data which was made available through a civil trial):

"An analysis commissioned by Students For Fair Admissions found legacy applicants were accepted at a rate of nearly 34 percent from 2009 to 2015. According to the report, that's more than five times higher than the rate for non-legacies over the same six-year period: just 5.9 percent."
This is a pointless comparison because there is no reason to think that the legacy and non legacy applicant pools are exactly the same. As your cite says the sons and daughters of alumni are more likely to know the process and how to optimize their applications. Someone with knowledge of the situation, Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons said "“If you look at the credentials of Harvard alumni and alumnae sons and daughters, they are better candidates on average,"

However it still does not matter because even under the most extreme assumptions, that all legacies are white and that all legacies are underqualified, we know that they only make up 14% of the student body. If you don't count any hispanic students as white then white students are 43.5% of the student body. The highest possible percentage of underqualified legacy white students is 32%. So even under crazy assumptions the chance of a white harvard graduate being underqualified is less than 1 in 3, while the chance of a black harvard graduate being underqualified is more than 1 in 2.

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  #68  
Old 03-15-2019, 08:46 AM
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Here's a really informative graph. Ignore the first one--it's an average over 20 years and meaningless. Scroll down to the next one, which gives acceptance rates by race for Harvard by year. 20 years ago, African Americans had a much high acceptance rate--because, frankly, hardly any were applying. But for the last several years, the average white applicant has had a greater chance of being admitted than the average black applicant. I will tell you, that doesn't "feel right" if you are in this business: incredibly talented white kids seem to get rejected at a much higher rate than talented black kids. The reason for this, frankly, is that there's two groups bundled under "white kids"--normal applicants and elites--not just "development" kids, but all the other things I've talked about over and over and over again. They get in at a much higher rate than 8%. These groups push "normal" white kids out of the running because, and I mean this, the elites don't want to go to college with a bunch of boring suburban white kids. They want "exotics"--including underrepresented minorities, but other types of diversity as well. In a very real way, everyone that isn't an elite is there as a prop for the elites to have the experience they want.

So when the suburban white kids don't get in, they blame the black kids (and to some degree the Hispanic kids). That tiny little group over there! They took my slot! But it's entirely wrong-headed. It's the elite group that's both eating up the slots and, frankly, serving as the drivers for what the rest of the class looks like.
One thing that drives admission rates is that US News rates colleges by percentage of applicants admitted. The more applications rejected the better the rating. This means colleges try to get as many people as possible to apply as possible so their numbers look good. As your cite says the numbers of black students who apply for Harvard has been skyrocketing recently. Now black students are more likely to apply for Harvard admissions than white students are. Asian students are an amazingly 6 times more likely than white students to apply for Harvard.
  #69  
Old 03-15-2019, 09:31 AM
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I believe "legacy" in all its formats is evil. Conglomerating the wealth and securing it at the top with fewer and fewer having access needs to be ended.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:55 AM
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One of my colleagues spent a post-doc year or two at Harvard teaching math. He was told in no uncertain terms by the dept chair that he was not to give a grade below B+ since, if he did, he would have to write a letter of explanation. This is where this crap leads. And I very much persuaded by the remark above that this just extends the list of things of that money can buy that it is not supposed to be for sale. The bottom line is that a Harvard degree really doesn't mean much any more.
  #71  
Old 03-15-2019, 09:57 AM
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I am truly disgusted by posters here that are okay with bribery, fraud and elitism if afterwards there are some crumbs available to every one else. No wonder there are saps who buy into the trickle-down theory. Being left out in the cold, they love the warmth of urine pouring on their heads.
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  #72  
Old 03-15-2019, 10:08 AM
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One of my colleagues spent a post-doc year or two at Harvard teaching math. He was told in no uncertain terms by the dept chair that he was not to give a grade below B+ since, if he did, he would have to write a letter of explanation.
Grade inflation has been a problem at Harvard for a long time.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:19 AM
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IBut it does have a major problem in that it sends kids to colleges where they are not good enough to get in otherwise, and sometimes the kids don't even know they were bought in, they genuinely think they got there on merit. So they end up college drowning like Olivia Jade, surrounded by smarter people and feeling like total idiots.

I don't think this actually happens. The wealthy don't care about being smart; why should they, really? They know their parents' money will open all the doors they need in life. Studying and showing up to class and knowing enough to ace an exam are what peasants have to do to be impressive. It's actually a sign of nobility when you can flagrantly slack off and not face any repercussions for it.

I think these kids know full well that they aren't as strong academically as their less affluent peers. What they probably didn't know is that this is fraud that could put you in jail. "Everybody (who matters) does it" is probably what they've been thinking, too.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:31 AM
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Frankly, there ought to be a legal ban on legacy or donor status being considered as a factor in admissions.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:36 AM
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Frankly, there ought to be a legal ban on legacy or donor status being considered as a factor in admissions.
Eh, if it's a private university with private funds, they can let in whoever they want, IMO. So long as they don't run afoul of anti-discrimination laws. Maybe the founder/governing body of this school wants to serve students with a broad or varied range of academic ability and doesn't always take all the best students - their choice. Maybe they only want oboe players - okay. Hell, maybe they just want pay-the-fee-and-you-get-in on a first-come, first-serve basis. Whatever. I might not morally agree with all these choices, but they should be legal, IMO.

Last edited by Tzigone; 03-15-2019 at 11:36 AM.
  #76  
Old 03-15-2019, 11:53 AM
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Eh, if it's a private university with private funds, they can let in whoever they want, IMO. So long as they don't run afoul of anti-discrimination laws. Maybe the founder/governing body of this school wants to serve students with a broad or varied range of academic ability and doesn't always take all the best students - their choice. Maybe they only want oboe players - okay. Hell, maybe they just want pay-the-fee-and-you-get-in on a first-come, first-serve basis. Whatever. I might not morally agree with all these choices, but they should be legal, IMO.
Maybe cut off the life-blood of their research: Federal grant funds (USDA, NSF, NIH, etc).
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:56 AM
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Ex-college prof here.

It is not a good thing at all.

And it is part of a very bad slippery slope. It's the elephant's foot in the door.

If the kid isn't good enough to get in, then the chances they will get a degree without "help" are small. So profs get pressured to pass them, and on and on.

You can avoid all such problems by just having standards.

Re: Legacy students. The only time I was pressured was from the Dean of Students who was a friend of the kid's mother. (Both were alumni.) The kid was terrible. Needed to be kicked out. Which was going to happen with their grades. For various bigotry reasons I was the nail that stuck out so I got hit with the hammer. Incredibly long discussions ensued. Facts didn't matter. I was clearly "not coming around to their view". Screw that.

No, you do not want to have of this nonsense started in any way shape or form.
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Old 03-15-2019, 12:01 PM
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Maybe cut off the life-blood of their research: Federal grant funds (USDA, NSF, NIH, etc).
Exactly. In fact, don't want to play by nice/fair rules? Lose public "accreditation".

Private or not - these are centers of education - not country clubs. Standards should matter. Wallet size should not.
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  #79  
Old 03-15-2019, 12:15 PM
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Ex-college prof here.

It is not a good thing at all.

And it is part of a very bad slippery slope. It's the elephant's foot in the door.

If the kid isn't good enough to get in, then the chances they will get a degree without "help" are small. So profs get pressured to pass them, and on and on.

You can avoid all such problems by just having standards.

Re: Legacy students. The only time I was pressured was from the Dean of Students who was a friend of the kid's mother. (Both were alumni.) The kid was terrible. Needed to be kicked out. Which was going to happen with their grades. For various bigotry reasons I was the nail that stuck out so I got hit with the hammer. Incredibly long discussions ensued. Facts didn't matter. I was clearly "not coming around to their view". Screw that.

No, you do not want to have of this nonsense started in any way shape or form.
Serious question: how do you feel about legacy boosts/development boosts for kids who are superqualified? Lots of super qualified kids don't get in just because there isn't space.
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Old 03-15-2019, 02:11 PM
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If I understand your philosophical stance correctly, you are fine with "pay to play" schemes in general. In other words, when the former and now incarcerated governor of Illinois was trying to sell Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder instead of going through a fair selection process, you are fine with that, too. If so, I think you are very misguided.
Interesting point. The difference here, is of course, that that money would be going to individuals, and not to the govt.

It would be an interesting situation if people could actually buy their senate seats. Highest bidder wins, with the funds going to the treasury.

Not sure I would like that govt, but at least it would be funded.

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I am.

You want to fund the $10M Wevets Center for Epistemology Studies, just because you think it's a field of study that needs a center, fine. But if you expect your children get in (and graduate!) only because you gave the school $10M, that's wrong (to me).
If you only gave the school the money with the expectation that your kid get in, then it makes sense for the school to give some favorability to that student in order to attract more similar donations. If donations don't give you an advantage, then donations dry up.
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I think the schools should be upset. Whatever institute for "higher learning" trump went to, it's obviously he didn't learn anything in the curriculum. So if some average Joe applies to my company, and I see he went to the same school, am I wrong in assuming he has the same skill sets as trump? I obviously can't trust his transcripts to be an accurate indication of his learning. Why should I hire him?
Puddlegum kinda had the right idea of it, except that he was looking at "discounting" people based on their skin color, rather than their background.

If you know that someone comes from a wealthy background, just assume that they got in on the merit of their wealth, rather than on their own abilities.

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Cripes on a Cracker! These people are willing to pay a million bucks! Let 'em in the damn classes. Give them a folding chair to carry with them. Hell, just print them up a damn diploma. Give them a degree in Music Appreciation. It's not like they are going on Medical School or anything.
And, what if they want to go to medical school? Will a big enough donation make that happen?

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Originally Posted by Malleus, Incus, Stapes! View Post
Okay, so if there's room for ten more students, and you want to buy a place for Timmy, it seems only fair that you donate enough money for there to now be room for eleven students.
No, you donate enough that there is now room for 20.
  #81  
Old 03-15-2019, 02:43 PM
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I'm ok with it as long as it's explicit. $X will get you in. No tax write-offs. I wouldn't necessarily be against it being classified as some sort of purchased admission. People hiring Harvard grads are generally not hiring them because they went to Harvard- they're hiring them because they got in to Harvard.
  #82  
Old 03-15-2019, 02:51 PM
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...
If you only gave the school the money with the expectation that your kid get in, then it makes sense for the school to give some favorability to that student in order to attract more similar donations. If donations don't give you an advantage, then donations dry up.

...
So then you believe that schools only get donations on a quid pro quo basis. That's sad. Then maybe those donations should never be tax deductible. After all those are businesses, not charities. Non-profit status should never be allowed to be applied to such a university or college.
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  #83  
Old 03-15-2019, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by BwanaBob View Post
So then you believe that schools only get donations on a quid pro quo basis.
Nope.
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That's sad.
Could be.
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Then maybe those donations should never be tax deductible.
Agreed.
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After all those are businesses, not charities. Non-profit status should never be allowed to be applied to such a university or college.
Even if 95%+ of the revenue going in or out is not meant for gaining favoritism in acceptance?
  #84  
Old 03-16-2019, 02:52 AM
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Not ok.

You get into university (and power) because you're from a particular background, not because you're competent. Would you accept it if your brain surgeon got qualified because their daddy was rich and their tutors were discouraged from giving them low marks? If no, why do think having these people in other positions of authority will have a better outcome?
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Old 03-16-2019, 09:59 AM
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I read an interesting article about college budgets last year - but Google isn't turning it up - it was about needs based vs. needs blind admissions. Basically, its a not so secret that Universities without huge endowments (which is almost all of them except Harvard), need some students who pay full price, they need some who will donate (or their parents will donate) because these are the students that keep the university functioning - they provide the extra dollars that maintain buildings, fund visiting professorships - and they help fund the scholarship students.
  #86  
Old 03-16-2019, 10:11 AM
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If 10 families want to donate tons of cash so that their little idiots can get in, I am totally OK with that.

That will be a significant chunk of that universities budget. It makes the university better and cheaper for everyone else. The only thing we have to "suffer" is that 10 idiots got in. I am willing to make that trade.

Is it "fair" that the idiots got in? No, but I am baffled how some people would prefer to hurt a larger group just to make things "fair."
I'm a little baffled by your logic here.

Normal students are not being helped when somebody else pays for their little idiot's admission. It's pretty obvious that the spot that that little idiot fills will not be available for another student. So the little idiots are making it more difficult for other students to get admitted.

And there's the larger picture. The value of the university system to society is that it produces better educated people who will use their knowledge to produce benefits we'll all enjoy. That's how most people benefit from universities even if they never attend one. But the little idiots aren't going to produce the same kind of benefits after their graduation that a genuine student would have produced. You might be able to bribe a medical school to push your kid through the system but he's not going to be a good doctor.

So it's the parents who are doing this who are hurting the larger group. Not the people who are trying to stop it.
  #87  
Old 03-16-2019, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Dangerosa View Post
I read an interesting article about college budgets last year - but Google isn't turning it up - it was about needs based vs. needs blind admissions. Basically, its a not so secret that Universities without huge endowments (which is almost all of them except Harvard), need some students who pay full price, they need some who will donate (or their parents will donate) because these are the students that keep the university functioning - they provide the extra dollars that maintain buildings, fund visiting professorships - and they help fund the scholarship students.
Right. I feel like many people in this thread are skipping the real moral dilemma for a strawman. It's actually not that common for a ragingly unqualified student to get in simply because of their parents' money. I mean, it happens, but there aren't so many of those kids that it has much of an impact.

On the other hand, what happens all the time is that you have a slate of perfectly qualified students. All can do well and will be a credit to the university. Within that pool, the super-rich will do the best: partially because the school will explicitly chose full-pay kids, but also because they are likely to have "hooks" on their resumes not available to other kids: I crew! I went to Phillips Exeter! The dean was my dad's roommate! My mom went here!

So there are tons of cases of what are more qualified kids not getting in because richer kids got priority. But those richer kids aren't unqualified by any means. Just less qualified. It's just a lot more nuanced than drooling-idiot has parents write a check.
  #88  
Old 03-16-2019, 10:58 AM
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Not only do schools need someone willing and able to pay full freight, schools also benefit by having students who aren't that strong academically.

It has been awhile since I was an university instructor, but I cringe at the thought of teaching a classroom full of high school valedictorians who've never made less than an A+ their whole lives. Yeah, I would want to work with smart kids. Who wouldn't? But I would also want to have an opportunity to inspire someone--someone who might be on the aimless, low self-confidence-having side. Someone who might think they aren't "good" at the subject I'm teaching, but who changes their mind by the end of the semester. A student like that isn't the straight-A valedictorian type. They tend to be the student who makes more Cs than As, who doesn't test very well, and who no one has ever seriously called "smart".

I think I'd also like teaching a student who wasn't all that concerned about their career prospects or getting into a professional school. A student like this will never come into your office with angry tears in their eyes, demanding you explain why you subtracted two points from their otherwise perfect paper because they are trying to get into medical school and that will be impossible unless they get their two points back!!! A non-competitive student will accept whatever grade you give them.

Schools have never been a perfect meritocracy, and I don't understand why people believe they should be. The "real world" isn't a meritocracy. Isn't school supposed to prepare students for the real world?
  #89  
Old 03-16-2019, 11:27 AM
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Schools have never been a perfect meritocracy, and I don't understand why people believe they should be. The "real world" isn't a meritocracy. Isn't school supposed to prepare students for the real world?
It's more nuanced than that. For one thing, 10-20% of the students at elite universities come from households that earn over $650k a year. So it's hard to say that policies that encourage admissions of more wealthy kids make the school "like the real world". That's about as far from the "real world" as it gets.

Past that, though, the highly selectives don't just select for type-A grade grubbers. They want kids with experiences to share. The want a certain number to be crazy-smart, but they want others to be entrepreneur-types, social justice types, quiet reflective types, divergent thinkers, etc. They want kids who have had first hand experiences with poverty, with disease, with different cultures and religions. Within that swirl, there will be plenty of kids who will need varying levels of academic support--though no one who really can't do the work. They are pretty good at seeing the difference.

The problem with money-for-admission is that you risk getting kids who contribute none of that. They struggle academically and they don't offer much perspective or energy that isn't being provided already. I mean, how much East Coast Boarding School do you need?

Again, I'm not worried so much about the handful of real corrupt pay for admission cases. I worry a lot more about the cumulative impact of all the benefits that streamline admissions for elites.
  #90  
Old 03-16-2019, 11:38 AM
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On the other hand, what happens all the time is that you have a slate of perfectly qualified students. All can do well and will be a credit to the university. Within that pool, the super-rich will do the best: partially because the school will explicitly chose full-pay kids, but also because they are likely to have "hooks" on their resumes not available to other kids: I crew! I went to Phillips Exeter! The dean was my dad's roommate! My mom went here!
I think people mistakenly equate "credential" with "basic requirement". A high SAT score is a credential. It is an indicator of smartypantsness. But a person doesn't have to be a "smarty pants" to make it through most college programs. Even college programs at elite schools.

The credentials that are used to gate-keep college admissions seem to get loftier with every generation. But I doubt the difficulty of college curricula has increased at the same clip. For one thing, instructors are always going to be folks who were "screened in" using standards of yore, not the standards their students were/are subjected to. If the student who didn't meet the high SAT score credential of their particular school can be characterized as drooling idiots, then so can their professors who didn't attain that score because it wasn't a credential they were held to.

Reminds me of my graduate advisor (a proud Cornell alum), who frequently bragged about how she managed to escape the calculus requirement while she was obtaining her biology degree. She is an intelligent person who made big scientific contributions throughout her life despite her lack of exposure to calculus, and yet I would not put it passed her to judge a student who had not taken calculus as "unqualified" for a graduate program. So I'm wondering how many of us are judging "unqualified" development cases (or students admitted through Affirmative Action, for that matter) against standards we weren't held to ourselves, as well as against standards that aren't even relevant to one's ability to do college coursework.
  #91  
Old 03-16-2019, 11:49 AM
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When speaking of SAT/ACT specifically, I think the issue is that everyone has gotten so much better at taking them. Test prep makes a huge difference, so among elite applicants, the goalposts have shifted.

In my personal experience, relatively weak scores matter a lot more to schools in the second and third tier than in the top. Harvard or Williams or whatever are a lot more likely to take a chance on a kid with a lower score because everyone knows they could have all 1600s if they wanted. In my experience, places like Rice and Notre Dame are more stats-aware.

That said, there is a point where it's clear someone may struggle to do the work. Admissions people put kids in "buckets" based on projected GPA/likelihood of graduating. There is a "very unlikely to graduate" bucket. For a typical selective university, that bucket has a 3-5% acceptance rate. These are kids accepted for "institutional reasons".
  #92  
Old 03-16-2019, 11:52 AM
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It's more nuanced than that. For one thing, 10-20% of the students at elite universities come from households that earn over $650k a year. So it's hard to say that policies that encourage admissions of more wealthy kids make the school "like the real world". That's about as far from the "real world" as it gets.
I wasn't really talking about elite universities. There's nothing "real world" about an elite institution, which is why those places are so elite. I think that kind of goes without saying.

But it seems like many posters in this thread think that all universities/colleges (not just the very elite ones you're talking about) should have merit-based admissions, where only the smartest, most ambitious students should get admitted. People seem to think there could possibly be no benefit to choosing the "less qualified" student if it means the "more qualified" student will be rejected.
  #93  
Old 03-16-2019, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by PookahMacPhellimey View Post
Not ok.

You get into university (and power) because you're from a particular background, not because you're competent. Would you accept it if your brain surgeon got qualified because their daddy was rich and their tutors were discouraged from giving them low marks? If no, why do think having these people in other positions of authority will have a better outcome?
I'd be very concerned if medical schools were used in that way, and if it were shown that there was favoritism to admission to medical school, and especially to graduating from medical school and then getting certified for being wealthy, then that's a bit of a problem, but one that is extremely unlikely to ever develop.

Little Johnny doesn't want to be a brain surgeon, he wants to work for his daddy and take over when daddy retires/dies. If he hangs out and parties with some greek buddies for a few years, and they give him his MBA so that he can be an executive vice president of procuring paper clips for the breakroom, then whatever. The dumber he is, the bigger the library that bears his name.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
I'm a little baffled by your logic here.

Normal students are not being helped when somebody else pays for their little idiot's admission. It's pretty obvious that the spot that that little idiot fills will not be available for another student. So the little idiots are making it more difficult for other students to get admitted.
Normal students do get access to that new library or lab or science hall or the dorm or whatever else it is that they donated. This increases the capacity of the university, and increases the educational experience for all the students.

More students are taught better because you let little Johnny's dad give you a bunch of money to strongly consider enrolling his son.

Most of these admits are actually going to be qualified students, just not the best of the best that the rest of the applicants need to be.
Quote:
And there's the larger picture. The value of the university system to society is that it produces better educated people who will use their knowledge to produce benefits we'll all enjoy. That's how most people benefit from universities even if they never attend one. But the little idiots aren't going to produce the same kind of benefits after their graduation that a genuine student would have produced. You might be able to bribe a medical school to push your kid through the system but he's not going to be a good doctor.
It would be foolish to push them into a field they cannot handle where there actually are real metrics to be obtained, where they would fail. If they are stupid, they wouldn't just not be a good doctor, they would not be certified, and therefore, not be a doctor at all.

The joke is, "What do you call someone who graduated dead last in medical school? Doctor." But that is because the bar is set high enough that the person that graduated dead last in medical school still outperformed 95%+ of the rest of the population.
Quote:
So it's the parents who are doing this who are hurting the larger group. Not the people who are trying to stop it.
If we can figure a way to get the same funding from taxpayers as we get from donations from "development" cases, then we can certainly look into doing that. As is, though, it does seem as though the system does benefit all the students. It's not the best system imaginable, but it may be the best system that is currently practical.

The current scandal, where individuals are pocketting bribe money, not so much. That only enriches some individuals at the cost of qualified students who were passed over.

Last edited by k9bfriender; 03-16-2019 at 12:37 PM.
  #94  
Old 03-16-2019, 12:45 PM
Manda JO is offline
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I wasn't really talking about elite universities. There's nothing "real world" about an elite institution, which is why those places are so elite. I think that kind of goes without saying.

But it seems like many posters in this thread think that all universities/colleges (not just the very elite ones you're talking about) should have merit-based admissions, where only the smartest, most ambitious students should get admitted. People seem to think there could possibly be no benefit to choosing the "less qualified" student if it means the "more qualified" student will be rejected.
I agree with you there, though I prefer to think of it more as "students can have more to offer an academic community than academic excellence or ambition". If a school is selective at all, it's selecting for lots of things and not all students have to check all boxes.
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Old 03-18-2019, 03:15 AM
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I personally don't discount them because I am not involved in any hiring or other situations where a persons college degree would be relevant. However, those who are in those situations can. It is generally easy to tell what someone's race is by looking.
"Generally". Look up Begoña Villacís (she comes up without the fancy squiggles too). And anybody who's discounting someone for being the wrong color is, well, I'd say "both a racist and a moron" but being a racist requires being a moron.
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  #96  
Old 03-18-2019, 05:09 AM
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This shouldn't be neglected. Every time you let money buy something that isn't supposed to be bought, but deserved, you solidify the reign of money, undermine the concept of merit, and make people lose trust in society and justice.

And since wealth is inherited, you also make that reign permanent.
It's glaringly evident if you think it through for just 10 seconds. A university, given a choice between middling student A with a big bag of cash and great student B with empty pockets will most likely pick student A - either for laudable reasons like improving the university itself ever further, or because that way the Dean of Admissions gets himself a fancy-ass new car. Soon enough the only ones getting in at all are student As. So all of the jobs gated behind higher education go to student As, too.

Congratulations, you've just turned into a rigid class/privilege society. May I interest you in some second-hand guillotines to solve this "new" problem ?
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  #97  
Old 03-18-2019, 06:11 AM
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What's the good of money if you can't use it to your advantage? Sure, donate a wing, get your kid in.

Honestly, prestigious schools should just auction off slots and take the money directly. The benefit of admission then goes to whomever values it the most. If that means my daughter has to go to a state school instead of Harvard, then I’m okay with that. UofM isn’t all that bad.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:40 AM
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In the case of France, it's the E.N.A. . But then again, it makes some sense because it's the only school that gives access to most high ranking positions in the civil service (except for people who enter it at a lowest and slowly climb the ladder). It's not an university, either, but rather a two years long education and training program tailored for those future high ranking civil servants. When you join it, you're already technically a civil servant, and are paid, just in training. And admission is solely based on a competitive exam, so there's no suspicion that it's tainted by favors.
Yes, I didn't mean to imply that France and the UK has a problem with students getting in through their parents money. The financing and admissions tend to be very different in Europe.

But the problem with a lot of the governing class coming form a limited number of educational backgrounds is an issue in both nations I think. The US would worsen the problem if that restricted talent pool is diluted with students that should never have made it to university.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:58 AM
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Lets say Mr. Smith loves to think about the Glory Days when he used to get drunk and pass out on the lawn of State U.

Mr. Smith has done VERY well for himself, his son is 16, and he is thinking about making a very large donation to State U. He knows his son is mostly worthless, but he wants him to experience the glory of State U, just like he did so many years ago.

You have a daughter that is 17, she is bright and is going to State U to major in microbiology.

Let's propose two scenarios:

1. State U declines Mr. Smith's donation due to the fact that they would have to accept Smith Jr. The microbiology dept continues to share a bare-bones building with the Math department. You pay $6,000 a semester for your daughter to go there.

2. State U accepts Mr. Smith's donation. This is the extra cash they needed to build a new microbiology building (which bears his name, Smith Hall). They are able to hire better microbiology faculty since the new facility is a draw for next level professors. You only have to pay $5,500 a semester. Your daughter's education definitely took a step up. On the flip side, Smith Jr is accepted to the university despite his lackluster grades and drive. He is majoring in business and is following is his father's collegiate footsteps (mostly drunk). He graduates with a 1.8 GPA and goes on to run his father's business.

Which do you prefer? I prefer #2 for my daughter.
Except your daughter didn't get in because Smith Jr. took her spot.
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  #100  
Old 03-18-2019, 08:52 AM
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Grade inflation has been a problem at Harvard for a long time.
Sure, but that sucks worse in some sense, than mere admissions shenanigans. It's like a double-whammy.

I mean, when you're at a highly regarded school, but not "elite" like Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc... and your school doesn't engage in much grade inflation, you're fighting that much MORE of an uphill battle against the students at the elite schools.

Hiring Manager: "Johnny here went to University of Florida and got a 3.2, but Billy went to Harvard, AND got a 3.9! I think we'll interview Billy and circular file Johnny's resume"

All this despite Johnny actually being the better candidate, but he doesn't have the luxury of having professors not giving less than a B+.
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