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Old 03-17-2019, 05:29 PM
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A question about how college works


I didn't go myself, so I'm unclear on the finer points---

At first I didn't understand why the parents of these affluent mediocre students were so desperate to get their kids admitted to topflight universities; where surely the curricula were punishingly tough. After all, if the kid can't pass the SATs or whatever, how the hell do they expect them to ever be able to handle the actual schoolwork?

But then when I heard that Trumpf's college grades were sealed, it occurred to me that all you have to do is sail by with a C- average, and you still get a shingle! Your grades are sealed, and no one will ever know whether you learned anything, retained it at all, whether you passed with flying colors or were just some knucklehead who barely scraped by. It's the same degree. I mean, you could graduate summa cum laude or what have you. But basically, a degree is no indication at all that you are more than minimally competent, and your grades are sealed so no one will ever know.

Is that really how it works?
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Old 03-17-2019, 05:40 PM
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Grades can be known if the student gives them to whomever. For example, you need transcripts in order to go to a different university or to grad school. A lot of American colleges have some sort of honor rolls and those are public, so even without knowing the actual grades we can know whether someone made the Dean's List or graduated Summa Cum Laude.

But yeah, there is a lot of flexibility on what one can "get away with". A friend of mine got his first after-college job at a company which designed game consoles: his employment conditions included 2 hours of math tutoring every day, as he'd managed to finagle an Electronic Engineering degree without a single credit beyond Algebra 101; another one was having problems as a Junior deciding whether she wanted to declare (that is, make her major) Psychology or Computer Science, because she had about as many credits for each of them but not enough total credits for a double major... Some American universities offer a Bachelor's in General Studies, which fulfills the requirements for any of the multitude of jobs which require "a Bachelor's degree".
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Old 03-17-2019, 05:46 PM
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They would normally study a non serious degree like woman's studies or arts etc. The reason they want to go to that college is all about getting a stamp on their forehead that they belong.
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Old 03-17-2019, 05:49 PM
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This reminds me of a joke:

"What do you call the person who finished last in med school?"
"Doctor."
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Old 03-17-2019, 06:09 PM
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This reminds me of a joke:

"What do you call the person who finished last in med school?"
"Doctor."
Oh, god ... that's exactly what I'm saying! Wow, perfect.
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Old 03-17-2019, 06:17 PM
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They would normally study a non serious degree like woman's studies or arts etc. The reason they want to go to that college is all about getting a stamp on their forehead that they belong.
Oh...I think I get it. Because you will rub elbows with All The Best People and acquire useful contacts for later life.

But what does that say about the actual quality of the education? I always thought it was part and parcel of going to one of these Ivy League colleges that a graduate could at least be relied upon to have a superior, cutting-edge, exemplary education.

I guess that's simply not necessarily true. Perhaps people are actually getting better educations at the less glamorous institutions. Where prestige is simply not a polluting factor. After all, amazingly enough, many employers like to see actual skills.
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Old 03-17-2019, 06:22 PM
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When I applied for my first job after college, several hundred years ago, employers would always require a college transcript as part of the application process. The way transcripts work is you, the graduate, requests a transcript from your college, and the college then sends the transcript directly to the employer (or sometimes they send it to you in a sealed envelope which you give to the employer). The transcript is a record of all the courses you took and what your grades were. So the employer can tell whether you were a superstar or just barely squeaked by.
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Old 03-17-2019, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by brujaja
But then when I heard that Trumpf's college grades were sealed, it occurred to me that all you have to do is sail by with a C- average, and you still get a shingle! Your grades are sealed, and no one will ever know whether you learned anything, retained it at all, whether you passed with flying colors or were just some knucklehead who barely scraped by. It's the same degree. I mean, you could graduate summa cum laude or what have you. But basically, a degree is no indication at all that you are more than minimally competent, and your grades are sealed so no one will ever know.
No. All "sealed records" (mandated by FERPA in the US) means is that a school cannot provide information on students to third parties unless authorized by the student, as it should be. Nothing stops employers or anyone else from asking the student to furnish records. Capable students applying for their first jobs will also distinguish themselves by taking internships, performing undergraduate research, or any number of other extracurricular opportunities to build their skills. Employers look for all of these in their applicants. If a job merely requires the applicant to have a college degree in any field, then it is likely management is looking for someone at least minimally capable of handling a structured environment and are not interested in specific technical skills.

Last edited by Cleophus; 03-17-2019 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 03-17-2019, 06:24 PM
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Whose to say they don't pay peeps to write their papers and take their tests. Those gigantic universities no one will know the difference.
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Old 03-17-2019, 06:25 PM
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The Ivy league attracts top students out of high school so you would expect a lot of very well educated people to graduate from them. It's hard to say if they provide a better education or just have more of the better students. But what you mention is true, you do get connections with influential people and you have an edge in the competition for jobs because of the image.

I worked for a company where the owner was an MIT grad and loved hiring other MIT grads. But it hasn't turned out quite the way he thought, the VP I worked for was proud to say he had fired more MIT grads than anyone else. Our best people came from both the top schools and other pretty good schools. And occasionally some of them came from less prestigious backgrounds, including one weird guy who wasn't even a college grad.
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Old 03-17-2019, 06:26 PM
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I've never had a job where anyone asked for a college transcript. Hell, they don't even bother to check out if you actually got a degree; they take your word for it (don't try this, though: if they find out, you're fired).

There are plenty of courses in even the tough schools that can be passed if you work at it. Once you get the degree, that stamps your a legitimate. So all someone has to do is muddle through and get the credits you need. You do make contacts and sometimes the school does matter when hiring decisions are made.
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Old 03-17-2019, 06:36 PM
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Whose to say they don't pay peeps to write their papers and take their tests. Those gigantic universities no one will know the difference.
Universities are well aware of this and people do get caught. Anti-cheating policies range from requiring students to show their photo ID prior to turning in a test (to prevent paid substitutes) to requiring papers to be processed through a comparison service (like TurnItIn) to detect plagiarism. Student evaluation, in general, is done department-by-department, and faculty are generally aware of who is enrolled in their classes and their overall performance.

The idea of someone paying a substitute student to stand in for their entire college career is basically movie fiction.
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Old 03-17-2019, 06:54 PM
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My understanding is that nobody flunks out of an Ivy League school. Once you're in, they get you through. And a lot of the advantages of those schools is not the degree per se but the contacts you make to join the "old boy" network. So the grades aren't that important, unless you interview for your first job with an employer that hasn't already been asked by Daddy to a favor and hire you.
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Old 03-17-2019, 07:28 PM
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Old 03-17-2019, 07:36 PM
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Apparently it's rare, but people do flunk out of Ivy League schools. Perhaps 2% of them do. Perhaps about 10% who enter don't graduate. Incidentally, talking as if Ivy League schools are the only very selective American universities is deceptive. Ivy League is not a term for all very selective colleges. It's a name for a group (which now means just an athletic conference) of eight old, very selective colleges. There are quite a few American colleges besides those eight which are also very selective:

https://talk.collegeconfidential.com...ue-school.html

https://www.therichest.com/lifestyle...ow-to-survive/

https://www.reddit.com/r/TrueAskRedd...e_what_caused/
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Old 03-17-2019, 08:12 PM
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Oh...I think I get it. Because you will rub elbows with All The Best People and acquire useful contacts for later life.

But what does that say about the actual quality of the education? I always thought it was part and parcel of going to one of these Ivy League colleges that a graduate could at least be relied upon to have a superior, cutting-edge, exemplary education.

I guess that's simply not necessarily true. Perhaps people are actually getting better educations at the less glamorous institutions. Where prestige is simply not a polluting factor. After all, amazingly enough, many employers like to see actual skills.
There are some minor (but reasonable) misconceptions here that I might be able to clear up:

- The Ivy League, while immensely prestigious, is not the be-all, end-all of American higher education. Motivated students get a much better education at non-flagship state schools than slackers do at Harvard. When it comes to education (like so much else) you get out of it what you put into it. An Ivy League education can be excellent, but so can a basic state school education.

- The social/class benefits of attending an Ivy League school are substantial, but the American aspirational upper middle classbasically, people like those caught in this cheating scandaloverestimates those benefits (IMHO). Its not that the people you rub elbows with are The Best People...its that youll know people who end up being powerful later in life. Also, context matters. Being among high achievers raises the bar, so someone who would slack anywhere will slack a little less at an Ivy League school (maybe). But the point is not so much that you learn which fork to use at a fancy restaurantits that youre comfortable with fancy circumstances. This is valuable but its also not an indication of personal goodness or achievement.

- You can totally flunk out of an Ivy League school. Cookingwithgas, Im not sure where you got that idea, but its mostly not true. I say mostly because there are cases (and there will continue to be cases) where people were not flunked out even though they should have been because they have influential parents. But the average student will totally flunk out if they dont go to class and dont take exams.

- It seems to me that lots of people think one of two things about the Ivy League: some people imagine that Harvard is the intellectual equivalent of the Navy SEAL selection process, while others think its basically a spa. Its neither. A handful of students at Harvard slack off and fail. More students slack off and pass with Cs. Most students do fine but dont set the world on fire. And, yeah, some students distinguish themselves. Ivy League schools arent country clubs, but theyre also not ruthlessly screening for only the very best at every waking moment.

- If you go to grad school, your undergrad institution doesnt matter much. Whats more, the people who decide who gets into grad school dont have the same ideas about the Ivies that your typical helicopter parent does. My ex runs one of the best social-sciences programs in the country...shes a first-generation college student, and she cares a lot more about an applicants fire in the belly than she does about the name of their undergrad institution.

- Cheating is generally not tolerated for three reasons: 1) its cheating. Duh. 2) Cheating harms the brand. 3) Most of the professors and graduate teaching assistants (TAs) didnt cheat when they were undergrads, and they have very little tolerance for people who try to bend the rules this way. When I was a TA in grad school (at a flagship land-grant university) I caught a set of five plagiarists the old-fashioned way: as I read the second paper in the group, it occurred to me that I had read it before. Plus, as others have mentioned, TurnItIn.com and other services are actually making it harder to cheat that it was, say, 30 years ago.

Yeah, an Ivy League education is great for networking. IMHO, lots of upper-middle-class white people conflate networking with quality education or success. But its not like a first-class lounge at an airport where, once youre in, life is all peaches and cream. Its often hard, and yes, you can fail. In some ways, struggling students really do have a little more of a safety net than other schools.

But its not a panacea. Plenty of screw-ups flunked out of Ivy League schools or graduated and proceeded to do nothing remotely interesting. My ex, as Ive said, was the first in her family to go to college, attending a good small liberal arts school. Now shes a fancy full professor running the top program in the country (in her field). Attending an Ivy League school doesnt hurt, but its not a golden ticket either.

And I dont fault anyone who thinks it might be a golden ticket...its certainly sold that waymaybe not by the schools themselves, but definitely by the test-prep and resume-polishing industries.
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Old 03-17-2019, 08:25 PM
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Incidentally, talking as if Ivy League schools are the only very selective American universities is deceptive. Ivy League is not a term for all very selective colleges. It's a name for a group (which now means just an athletic conference) of eight old, very selective colleges. There are quite a few American colleges besides those eight which are also very selective:
<snip>
This is a great point (among other great points in that post). Here are a few schools that are highly selective and roughly as prestigious (to those in the know) as Ivy League schools:

- Pomona
- Haverford
- Smith (and all of the Seven Sisters)
- Deep Springs
- Macalester
- William and Mary (actually a state school)
- Oberlin
- The Colorado College
- The New School
- Sarah Lawrence
- Berkeley

While plenty of hiring managers who graduated from state schools might not know enough about Sarah Lawrence to be impressed, many hiring managers who attended Columbia would understand a Sarah Lawrence graduate to be very well educated. It’s all about connections, but there’s more than one way to make them.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 03-19-2019 at 01:53 AM. Reason: fixed quote tags
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Old 03-17-2019, 08:32 PM
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This reminds me of a joke:

"What do you call the person who finished last in med school?"
"Doctor."

Oh, god ... that's exactly what I'm saying! Wow, perfect.
Well...not really. I mean, I can't speak for the medical profession, but just because you graduate with a degree in law, engineering or accounting doesn't mean you'll get hired by a law, engineering or accounting firm.


The way college "works" is that there are various colleges that are widely regarded with various levels of prestige and selectiveness. i.e. Harvard, Princeton and Yale typically regarded as the top 3, schools like Boston College, NYU, Cornell recognized as "really good schools", state schools like Rutgers and UConn considered "solid educations" and so on.

While attending school, you pick a major that may or may not have anything to do with what sort of career you pursue after graduation.

Unlike applying to college which is largely guided by standardized scores like the SAT and your high school grades, landing a job after graduation (or at least the job you want), is more ambiguous and largely dependent on several factors:
-The prestige of the school, which often drives the companies and industries that hire there.
-Academics - grades, deans list, honor societies
-Your major and whether it is relevant or required for the position
-Extra-curriculars. Particularly ones showing leadership
-Any summer internships you held
-Geography
-Network connections
-Your interviewing skills / ability to connect with the interviewer


I suspect the finance program at Harvard isn't really much different from that of Boston College. But the students at Harvard are largely assumed to be of higher caliber because the school is more selective.
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Old 03-17-2019, 08:46 PM
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[QUOTE=EdelweissPirate;21542949]
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Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
Incidentally, talking as if Ivy League schools are the only very selective American universities is deceptive. Ivy League is not a term for all very selective colleges. It's a name for a group (which now means just an athletic conference) of eight old, very selective colleges. There are quite a few American colleges besides those eight which are also very selective:
<snip>

This is a great point (among other great points in that post). Here are a few schools that are highly selective and roughly as prestigious (to those in the know) as Ivy League schools:
Similarly, outside of the Ivy League, you also have the Patriot League (where I graduated from), which is also an athletic conference. Wikipedia describes these schools as "Outside the Ivy League, it is among the most selective group of higher education institutions"

-American University
-West Point
-Boston University
-Bucknell
-Colgate
-Holy Cross
-Lehigh
-Lafayette
-Loyola
-Annapolis

Again, mostly old, prestigious private colleges. Perhaps not the instant "wow" factor of Harvard or Stanford. But students from these schools tend to be smart and achieve relatively high levels of success.
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Old 03-17-2019, 08:50 PM
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After all, if the kid can't pass the SATs or whatever, how the hell do they expect them to ever be able to handle the actual schoolwork?

This new NYT piece may interest you. (TL;DR--the overly-helped kids often don't handle it.)
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Old 03-17-2019, 09:09 PM
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I didn't go myself, so I'm unclear on the finer points---

At first I didn't understand why the parents of these affluent mediocre students were so desperate to get their kids admitted to topflight universities;
Let's note that not all the schools in the admissions scandal were topflight schools. Several of the students got into USC, for example. It's not considered one of the best schools. It's good, but not elite. The reason they went there is because that school has a certain cache among some young people, especially kids of actors. There's a reason it's sometimes known as University of Spoiled Children. Most of the other schools were also not topflight.
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Old 03-17-2019, 09:52 PM
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The U.S. is spoiled rotten with good colleges. Most countries have maybe half a dozen really top flight schools. The U.S. has a couple of dozen and probably a hundred more who are very good overall but have certain departments and specialties that are equal to anyone. There's a book called the Hidden Ivies that discusses 63 schools "to create greater awareness of the small, distinctive cluster of colleges and universities of excellence that are available to gifted college-bound students." These are private colleges, but there is a similar concept called the public ivies.

Getting a really good education is possible at any of these schools. Being guaranteed a really good education is something different. Elite colleges need to live up to their reputations. They have to spend their money on the best professors, the biggest libraries, the most up-to-date labs. An elite college will generally be elite in dozens of programs. A very good college may be elite in a dozen. A good college may only compete in a handful. Harvard offers a degree in Statistics. Is that an elite program? I have no idea. It's probably very good but equally probably other schools have Statistics departments of equal worth. The point is that your odds at Harvard are good even if you throw a date at the degree list, and that's not as likely to be true for non-elite universities.

Most of this discussion is made completely moot by the basic fact that the eliteness of a university's education is about 99% determined by their graduate schools, not their undergraduate degrees. Harvard's graduate degrees are hard to get into and hard to get through. No "gentleman's C's" there. And they have 14 graduate schools, from Business to Public Health. That's where Harvard shines. And none of the people getting in through bribes are going to any of them.
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Old 03-18-2019, 02:06 AM
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Here's some lists of very selective American colleges:

https://www.niche.com/colleges/searc...est-to-get-in/

https://www.forbes.com/top-colleges/list/#tab:rank

https://www.collegexpress.com/lists/...018-2019/2780/

https://www.timeshighereducation.com...-united-states

Note that there's no dividing line between the most selective colleges and non-selective colleges. There's just a spectrum from the most selective to the least selective. There's no way that a good high school student should say to himself, "Well, I didn't get into one of the top X colleges that are worth going to, so my life is over." For all that student knows, the (X+1)-th most selective college will accept them. What I remember from books about applying to colleges that I read years ago, a student should apply to a spectrum of colleges from one that there is a bare chance that they could get into to one that they are certain to get into. The books recommended applying to half a dozen colleges. Today I hear about students who apply to twenty colleges.

In any case, if you go to a community college and get a 4.0, go to the top public university in your state for the last two years and get a 4.0, go to a top graduate (or professional) school and get a 4.0 and some publications and good recommendations from professors, you're in just a good shape to get a good job as someone who spends their entire time in very selective college and graduate (or professional) schools who gets the same grades, publications, and recommendations at that graduate (or professional) school. Your life is not ruined by going to some place other than a very selective college immediately after high school. You'll be judged by how well you do at the end of your education, not at the beginning. An employer is not going to look at two people whose accomplishments in graduate (or professional) school are equally good and say, "Well, these two people are both brilliant and their grades, publications, and recommendations show it, but one of them went to community college. We can just kick that person to the curb. Maybe they can flip hamburgers at McDonalds. We'll give our fantastically well-paying job to someone who went to a very selective college immediately after college."
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Old 03-18-2019, 02:13 AM
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Originally Posted by brujaja View Post
Oh...I think I get it. Because you will rub elbows with All The Best People and acquire useful contacts for later life.

But what does that say about the actual quality of the education? I always thought it was part and parcel of going to one of these Ivy League colleges that a graduate could at least be relied upon to have a superior, cutting-edge, exemplary education.

I guess that's simply not necessarily true. Perhaps people are actually getting better educations at the less glamorous institutions. Where prestige is simply not a polluting factor. After all, amazingly enough, many employers like to see actual skills.
Look at it this way.

Why is it that many Americans think Notre Dame and Miami are great schools, while pretty much no foreigner does?





























Because we tend to think that "stuff I have heard of but don't associate with something horrible" has to be not just famous, but good. And what makes those two famous is American football.






A school that's superb at a certain type of studies may be not-so-good or even bad for some other offerings, but in the case of these particular families, many if not all of the parents weren't looking for "good teaching" so much as, yep, good contacts. And as several other posters have mentioned, a school you've never heard of until you start researching a particular course of study (it doesn't have a good sports program or get namedropped in movies) may turn out to be superb at that stuff you're interested in: people who know what is it they're interested in may end up having as their first choice a school which isn't in the list these parents were looking for.
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Last edited by Nava; 03-18-2019 at 02:17 AM.
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Old 03-18-2019, 02:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
Incidentally, talking as if Ivy League schools are the only very selective American universities is deceptive. Ivy League is not a term for all very selective colleges. It's a name for a group (which now means just an athletic conference) of eight old, very selective colleges. There are quite a few American colleges besides those eight which are also very selective:
<snip>
This is a great point (among other great points in that post). Here are a few schools that are highly selective and roughly as prestigious (to those in the know) as Ivy League schools:

- Pomona
- Haverford
- Smith (and all of the Seven Sisters)
- Deep Springs
- Macalester
- William and Mary (actually a state school)
- Oberlin
- The Colorado College
- The New School
- Sarah Lawrence
- Berkeley

While plenty of hiring managers who graduated from state schools might not know enough about Sarah Lawrence to be impressed, many hiring managers who attended Columbia would understand a Sarah Lawrence graduate to be very well educated. It’s all about connections, but there’s more than one way to make them.
That is a very odd list. Berkeley is hardly an obscure university. The Silicon Valley parents near me drive their kids to it, as much as Stanford. My wife went to William and Mary and while it is an excellent school, it is not anywhere near Harvard except being older if you look at it the right way.

It is true that a motivated student at a good school could do better than a slacker at Harvard - maybe. A slacker at the good school will not do better. I say maybe because Harvard has significant grade inflation, and because there is an assumption that anyone making it into an elite school is in the club. I know people at MIT who screwed up royally and still made it through.

Besides contacts made at school you also can make good contacts at the alumni organization. I was heavily involved in the MIT club in Princeton, and I got to know some famous and powerful people really well. You can also get involved with famous professors in your field in these places.
And there is the job situation. My company, a Fortune 50 one, did not look at resumes outside a reasonably small group of elite schools. There were exceptions if you cleared it with a very high level HR person. I managed to do so once, but I also got a resume rejected from a good but not top school. Recruiters don't go everywhere - you are going to see a lot more at an elite school.

Our rule for our kids was that they should go to the best school they could get into - legitimately - and which they wanted to go to. Worked very well.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 03-19-2019 at 01:53 AM. Reason: fixed quote tags
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Old 03-18-2019, 02:58 AM
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Voyager, please note that I wrote only the first three lines of what you are quoting. msmith537 wrote the rest of it. msmith537 quoted a little bit of one of my posts. Be careful when you quote a post that contains a long quote from someone else. I do not wish to be associated with anything I did not write, even if it's a reasonable good post.
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Old 03-18-2019, 03:59 AM
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Universities are well aware of this and people do get caught. Anti-cheating policies range from requiring students to show their photo ID prior to turning in a test (to prevent paid substitutes) to requiring papers to be processed through a comparison service (like TurnItIn) to detect plagiarism. Student evaluation, in general, is done department-by-department, and faculty are generally aware of who is enrolled in their classes and their overall performance.

The idea of someone paying a substitute student to stand in for their entire college career is basically movie fiction.
Yeah. And I believed, til a few days ago that you got into a prestigious University by your works. Not because Mommy/Hollywood star paid your way in.
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Old 03-18-2019, 04:09 AM
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Adding, I have a college student. She worked very hard to earn her full ride to her Uni.
It makes me sick to think of some Ms.Money bags Mommy showing and buying her kid a spot and possibly shutting out my student.
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Old 03-18-2019, 06:06 AM
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But its not a panacea. Plenty of screw-ups flunked out of Ivy League schools or graduated and proceeded to do nothing remotely interesting. My ex, as Ive said, was the first in her family to go to college, attending a good small liberal arts school. Now shes a fancy full professor running the top program in the country (in her field). Attending an Ivy League school doesnt hurt, but its not a golden ticket either.
Yeah, at the consulting firm I used to work at, I was giving my 28 year old senior associate a hard time because one of his classmates at Princeton was recently hired as CFO of Fortune 500 company Kraft Heinz.

That's more an exception that the rule IMHO. At 28, I would expect even an Ivy League grad to be working as maybe a manager or "VP" (typically the first level of "management" at an investment bank) at a consulting firm or investment bank. I have a number of classmates who achieved top positions at major companies, but they did so in their 40s.
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Old 03-18-2019, 06:19 AM
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I guess that's simply not necessarily true. Perhaps people are actually getting better educations at the less glamorous institutions. Where prestige is simply not a polluting factor. After all, amazingly enough, many employers like to see actual skills.
You're thinking about it from the perspective of learning a trade so someone will hire you to perform specific tasks. Like a plumber or HVAC technician. That's not really the purpose of college, particularly as you go to the more prestigious schools. Yes, there are certain degrees like engineering, accounting, finance and so on where you are learning specific subject matter expertise related to your profession. But the main purpose of higher education at the more prestigious schools is to teach you how to think creatively and be a leader.

Think of it this way. You can probably learn how to be a competent accountant from going to community college or even taking a bunch of inexpensive Udemy courses online. The goal of a top education is to prepare you to be the sort of leader who can eventually run a multi-billion dollar professional services firm like Deloitte or EY in an age of constant technology, economic, political and regulatory change.
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Old 03-18-2019, 06:51 AM
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The employment benefits of a prestigious school are very limited if all you have is the degree. In addition to informal networking (which is a little over-rated, IMO), elite schools offer pretty amazing future career support, starting day 1.

First, there's a lot of on-campus opportunities to do things that can get your foot in the door at a company--research in real labs, sophisticated productions, entrepreneur clubs, etc. One of the distinctive features of elite schools is that they recruit lots of go-getters. A critical mass of "go-getters" makes it much easier to find other dedicated people who want to make a movie, write a video game, etc. You can start building a portfolio.

Then, there's the internships. This is like a whole different world. Everyone from top companies to area start-ups competes for the kids from the elites. I feel like all the kids I send to "elite" schools ends up with residential internships (where they fly you to some city, put you in company housing, and pay you a 5-figure stipend). They end up at Google, Facebook, investment banks--all kinds of places. My kids at state schools have to compete like hell for a much smaller pool.

Finally, there's the industry recruiting at the end. Interviews start early your senior year--like October--and you just have access to a pipeline that doesn't exist at other schools.

Now, in all of this (even the clubs, in some cases!) your grades and general academic performance will be evaluated. And by people that KNOW your school and program intimately, so you can't BS this part. They know what organizations exist, what grades your classmates get, what opportunities you've had, etc. etc., so your performance really does matter. If you've just coasted through these last years, you're not going to do great, and you may well have to actually go looking for a job in the same pool as "regular" college grads.

So yes, grades and performance at an "elite" school has a dramatic influence on your post-graduation success.

There's a thread about "what counts as elite?" that's active right now in IMHO. I've talked everyone's ear off there, so I won't repeat it here.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:10 AM
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Beckdawrek, if it's true that you "believed, til a few days ago that you got into a prestigious University by your works", then you don't know the ways that rich and reasonably well-off students get into top colleges easier than those from less well-off families. Parents have gotten students into top colleges by donating lots of money to the colleges. Reasonably well-off parents help get students into top colleges by paying for SAT and ACT preparation courses and college-essay writing coaches. Middle-class parents buy SAT and ACT preparation books and books about choosing a top college for their child and have enough money to allow the student to apply to a number of top colleges and are willing to encourage their child to apply to them. Parents from economic levels below that haven't gone to college themselves and generally can't tell their child anything about applying to top colleges. They barely understand how to apply to community colleges. They do't know anything about the SAT and ACT tests. The poorer the parents are, the less chance the student has of getting into a top college, no matter how smart they are, just because they don't know about these legal ways of improving their chances, some of which cost considerable money. The news stories recently have been just about the illegal ways that parents improve their child's chances.
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Old 03-18-2019, 07:34 AM
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You're thinking about it from the perspective of learning a trade so someone will hire you to perform specific tasks. Like a plumber or HVAC technician. That's not really the purpose of college, particularly as you go to the more prestigious schools. Yes, there are certain degrees like engineering, accounting, finance and so on where you are learning specific subject matter expertise related to your profession.
We call them "vocational" degrees. Nursing, medicine, law, computing, several branches of engineering, etc are all degrees that prepare you directly for a job.
  #34  
Old 03-18-2019, 08:11 AM
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We call them "vocational" degrees. Nursing, medicine, law, computing, several branches of engineering, etc are all degrees that prepare you directly for a job.
I believe now "trades" go by "CTE," (which was part of the language in the most recent Carl Perkins renewal), while MD, law, engineering, go by "professional." Nursing is sometimes considered CTE (especially LVN), but I've seen it qualified as a distinct kind of CTE at some institutions.
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Old 03-18-2019, 08:12 AM
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I didn't go myself, so I'm unclear on the finer points---

At first I didn't understand why the parents of these affluent mediocre students were so desperate to get their kids admitted to topflight universities; where surely the curricula were punishingly tough. After all, if the kid can't pass the SATs or whatever, how the hell do they expect them to ever be able to handle the actual schoolwork?

But then when I heard that Trumpf's college grades were sealed, it occurred to me that all you have to do is sail by with a C- average, and you still get a shingle! Your grades are sealed, and no one will ever know whether you learned anything, retained it at all, whether you passed with flying colors or were just some knucklehead who barely scraped by. It's the same degree. I mean, you could graduate summa cum laude or what have you. But basically, a degree is no indication at all that you are more than minimally competent, and your grades are sealed so no one will ever know.

Is that really how it works?
Like most things in life, you get out of college exactly what you put in to it.
  #36  
Old 03-18-2019, 08:36 AM
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I believe now "trades" go by "CTE," (which was part of the language in the most recent Carl Perkins renewal), while MD, law, engineering, go by "professional." Nursing is sometimes considered CTE (especially LVN), but I've seen it qualified as a distinct kind of CTE at some institutions.
Another way to distinguish them is as a "Liberal Arts" or "Applied Science".
  #37  
Old 03-18-2019, 10:27 AM
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Yeah. And I believed, til a few days ago that you got into a prestigious University by your works. Not because Mommy/Hollywood star paid your way in.
Never been true. The modern university is a product of the late 19th century, when American colleges, starting with Johns Hopkins, started imitating German universities. Before then most colleges were intended to turn out ministers or teachers or farmers (the A&M land grant schools). Germany was the global home of science and Americans saw that as the necessary future.

Only a small number of schools put real effort into modernization. Those became what we now think of as the elite schools. Their focus, as I said earlier, lay in making their Ph.D. programs equal to those of other countries. Spreading this attitude to professional schools started in the early 20th century, when major medical, law, business, journalism, and other specialized disciplines sprouted schools.

This aura gave a glow to the undergraduate colleges associated with the graduate schools. The well-to-do and powerful sent their kids there for prestige and networking. An education was secondary. (The Ivy League got its nickname probably in the thirties - for sports. The formal Ivy League conference started in 1954.) Because alumni were pursued for donations, schools actively sought their kids and gave them preference for admission. They were known as legacies.

Until a couple of decades after WWII, probably 90% of the elite college student bodies were there because their parents could afford it, many of them legacies, with the remaining 10% the true students who scraped and clawed to get in. (Remember that until the GI Bill, only 5-10% of Americans went to college, much less grad school.) That changed with the flood of baby boomer kids, the rise of standardized testing, the removal of quotas against Jews and minorities, and the sense of being in an intellectual world war with the Soviets.

Today more than half of American kids attend some kind of college. That was never the intent of these schools. True, the sheer numbers mean that many more schools have been forced to get better to compete and that good educations are available everywhere in the country. But it also means that the competition to get into a name that might give an edge later is that much fiercer.
  #38  
Old 03-18-2019, 10:43 AM
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But the main purpose of higher education at the more prestigious schools is to teach you how to think creatively and be a leader.
The main purpose of higher and lower education should simply be developing the skills to think logically and creatively, and to continue to learn throughout life. If I had a nickel for every student who went to school for that reason last year I would have twice as many nickels as you could find under my couch cushions right now.
  #39  
Old 03-18-2019, 10:56 AM
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Interesting thread...

Miami is considered a better university? Obviously something I'd never heard before.

Somebody who becomes a CFO of any company at 28 is pretty special - either very good at their job or also very good at office politics.

I went to a job fair many many years ago when I was graduating college, and someone at the Q&A asked a local executive for Exxon (Esso Canada) how important marks were. He mentioned they'd done an informal survey of the ivory tower, and none of the top executives had notably high marks. What lets you succeed, especially in management, is other skills. Marks get you in the door of your first job. The presumption is that a good uni means you were pretty smart to get in in the first place, and that the "better" institutions are less likely to resort to grade inflation (or need to). But few years later, just having a degree is sufficient. You will be judged on your work history.

There's the joke that "why is university faculty politics so vicious? Because the stakes are so small." I imagine that the whole faculty knows which students need to be coddled. Not sure I went to large government-run university (UofT) so it's not like they had a giant endowment fund or cohort of prestigious alumni to satisfy. I imagine it's different in Ivy schools.

But this scandal is different. It did not involve the school administrations, it was upper middle class types bribing front-line officials to make smooth the road of their little messiahs. I doubt anyone in the college faculties is privy to the need to coddle these students. I should point out - I went to private school, then to university. I never met actual STUPID people, mentally challenged, until I dropped out and took a blue collar job for a while. You don't know stupid until you've met some. Presumably these students are not completely brick-shy-of-a-load stupid, they've had an interesting upbringing and good nutrition. While a STEM degree may require some grounding in basics of math and science, presumably some facility with language and life will suffice to eke out a C in arts degrees, especially if you latch onto (suck up to) a sympathetic professor. So I would imagine most of those who can compose a good video blog can write a decent essay, and then hire someone to teach them to polish it with footnotes and punctuation. I.e. they're not as dumb as they look.

Last edited by md2000; 03-18-2019 at 10:57 AM.
  #40  
Old 03-18-2019, 11:41 AM
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When I applied for my first job after college, several hundred years ago, employers would always require a college transcript as part of the application process. The way transcripts work is you, the graduate, requests a transcript from your college, and the college then sends the transcript directly to the employer (or sometimes they send it to you in a sealed envelope which you give to the employer). The transcript is a record of all the courses you took and what your grades were. So the employer can tell whether you were a superstar or just barely squeaked by.
In my field that is totally true. Teachers get paid based on years of service and credit hours post-BA. In my district, the columns look like: BA (rare, only for special cases), BA +15, BA+30, BA+45(or Masters), BA+60(or Masters+15), Masters+30.

Anecdote: A few decades back, one of my fellow teachers was playfully ragging on me for graduating from a CalState school. He felt superior because his degree was from Georgetown. I noted that we were both teaching at the same school for the same pay, and I just didn't see the edge. Shut that issue down toot sweet*.



Or as a Georgetown grad would say - tuit de suite.
  #41  
Old 03-18-2019, 11:52 AM
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Beckdawrek, if it's true that you "believed, til a few days ago that you got into a prestigious University by your works", then you don't know the ways that rich and reasonably well-off students get into top colleges easier than those from less well-off families. Parents have gotten students into top colleges by donating lots of money to the colleges. Reasonably well-off parents help get students into top colleges by paying for SAT and ACT preparation courses and college-essay writing coaches. Middle-class parents buy SAT and ACT preparation books and books about choosing a top college for their child and have enough money to allow the student to apply to a number of top colleges and are willing to encourage their child to apply to them. Parents from economic levels below that haven't gone to college themselves and generally can't tell their child anything about applying to top colleges. They barely understand how to apply to community colleges. They do't know anything about the SAT and ACT tests. The poorer the parents are, the less chance the student has of getting into a top college, no matter how smart they are, just because they don't know about these legal ways of improving their chances, some of which cost considerable money. The news stories recently have been just about the illegal ways that parents improve their child's chances.
For the most part this is not true. SAT and ACT prep classes don't increase scores very much at all. Most schools waive application fees for poor students.

The biggest advantage non-poor kids have in getting into a better schools is the knowledge of which schools are goods and the encouragement to apply to the best schools.
  #42  
Old 03-18-2019, 12:11 PM
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In my field that is totally true. Teachers get paid based on years of service and credit hours post-BA. In my district, the columns look like: BA (rare, only for special cases), BA +15, BA+30, BA+45(or Masters), BA+60(or Masters+15), Masters+30.

Anecdote: A few decades back, one of my fellow teachers was playfully ragging on me for graduating from a CalState school. He felt superior because his degree was from Georgetown. I noted that we were both teaching at the same school for the same pay, and I just didn't see the edge. Shut that issue down toot sweet*.



Or as a Georgetown grad would say - tuit de suite.
Or as a French speaker would say, toute de suite.

BA+60 years of service? Is the retirement plan that bad?
  #43  
Old 03-18-2019, 01:26 PM
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Voyager, please note that I wrote only the first three lines of what you are quoting. msmith537 wrote the rest of it. msmith537 quoted a little bit of one of my posts. Be careful when you quote a post that contains a long quote from someone else. I do not wish to be associated with anything I did not write, even if it's a reasonable good post.
My apologies. I noted that the quote tags were screwed up, but didn't pay it enough attention.
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Old 03-18-2019, 01:32 PM
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BTW, there was a letter in the Times today from someone who claimed that athletic departments got a quota of admissions, and there was a similar quota for legacy admissions and donors admissions, so the regular student was not affected by the scandal (except perhaps in decreasing the reputation of the school.) Real athletes in minor sports were.
I'm not sure how true this is, but it seems plausible.
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Old 03-18-2019, 01:43 PM
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I didn't go myself, so I'm unclear on the finer points---

At first I didn't understand why the parents of these affluent mediocre students were so desperate to get their kids admitted to topflight universities; where surely the curricula were punishingly tough. After all, if the kid can't pass the SATs or whatever, how the hell do they expect them to ever be able to handle the actual schoolwork?
I've heard that getting into schools like the Ivy Leagues is the tough part and that the curriculum is not necessarily "punishingly tough" at all, especially if you major in something like liberal arts.
  #46  
Old 03-18-2019, 01:45 PM
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Or as a French speaker would say, toute de suite.

BA+60 years of service? Is the retirement plan that bad?
Credit hours, not years of service. Hopefully upper-division college coursework designed to update/enhance your teaching assignment. Although it can be gamed...

We get step increases every couple of years until Year 29, when it caps. F29 is as high as you can go. I'm currently at E29+3, which is just fine. I never wanted to get the Masters anyway.

Last edited by silenus; 03-18-2019 at 01:46 PM.
  #47  
Old 03-18-2019, 03:05 PM
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Somebody who becomes a CFO of any company at 28 is pretty special - either very good at their job or also very good at office politics.
I imagine both.

I looked at his background in a Forbes article (his name is David Knopf ). His prior jobs included:
Goldman Sachs - investment banking - analyst
Onex - private equity - ??
3G Capital - private equity - Partner, involved in $45 billion Kraft Heinz merger

To me it looks like he started down a typical investment banking career path. His "big break" appears to have been his involvement in the Kraft Heinz merger. I don't know if he was a partner before or after the merger, but presumably his skills impressed his client so much that they made him their CFO.

Certainly a smart guy, but also a bit of luck being in the right place at the right time.




Interesting article about where the Fortune 500 CEOs went to college:
https://www.usnews.com/education/bes...ent-to-college

Only 14 graduated from Ivy League undergrad schools.
  #48  
Old 03-18-2019, 03:19 PM
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Interesting article about where the Fortune 500 CEOs went to college:
https://www.usnews.com/education/bes...ent-to-college

Only 14 graduated from Ivy League undergrad schools.
"Only" 14/500 in Ivy League (2.8%) is high proportion compared to the proportion of Ivy Leaguers in the total population of college-educated people (based on current enrollment, about 0.5%)
  #49  
Old 03-18-2019, 04:18 PM
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Only 14 graduated from Ivy League undergrad schools.
Entrepreneurs make up a large portion of the modern Fortune 500 and generally are not terribly representative of the elite, although their kids might be. And where they got their graduate degree, if any, might tell you more.

I couldn't find an equivalent listing for the Fortune 500 but this article, Here Is What It Takes to Become a CEO, According to 12,000 LinkedIn Profiles, has a broader picture.

The top ten universities attended include both undergraduate and graduate schools, most of which would definitely be called elite.

1. Stanford
2. Penn State
3. Harvard Business School
4. Berkeley
5. MIT
6. Stanford Business School
7. Harvard
8. INSEAD (France)
9. The Wharton School (Penn)
10. Northwestern Business School
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Old 03-18-2019, 06:13 PM
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Fun fact, I have a degree, I list it on my resume, and I have had jobs where people asked about it. Only twice in a long working life have I gone for jobs that required me to prove I had a degree, and they were both real shit jobs (well I'm not sure about the one I didn't get, but I have an inkling). One of them asked for a transcript and one of them, the shit one I got, wanted to see my diploma or a copy of it.

I also worked on my college newspaper and literary magazine, and I mentioned it, for the first couple of jobs I went after. Not since then. Had it been the Harvard Crimson or the Harvard Lampoon, I could have mentioned it forever and it would have meant something.

I have a friend who went to Antioch, which at the time was considered elite, in that it was pretty selective about who went there, and it had a great reputation. Now it's gone. I have no idea how that works for my friend but it's good that he had a couple of decades of experience before the college he went to folded up and disappeared.
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