Varsity Blues

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Varsity Blues

Postby Steve James on Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:32 am

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/college-ad ... 019-03-12/

Paying for entry to elite colleges isn't really new. If you have a million to donate, your child will probably be accepted. (Of course, the proof will be in the educational pudding that child will make there. If he or she is a fraud, people will know). Cheating on tests has also been commonplace. All it takes is a doctor's note that the child has ADHD, and he'll get extra time to take a test. Paying for prep courses and paying to have surrogates take the tests have also been common. All it takes is cash. However, in this case, the university didn't get a new building or a big donation. The parents wrote the money off as a charitable donation. That's stealing.

The children of the people who did the bribing had all the advantages anyway. The parents could have hired full time tutors. But, they wanted their children to have attended prestigious institutions. Now, their children's reputations are ruined or riddled with suspicion. Their degrees, if they have been awarded, may be rescinded. It's possible that their admissions may be revoked. The colleges might not want to do it, but there are sure to be complaints, if not legal suits, that assert someone's child was not accepted because of a bribe.

The strangest thing is that children who never played sports were claimed to be athletes and accepted as such. There'll have to be a movie about this.:)
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby vadaga on Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:14 pm

heard something about this a couple years ago... 'legacy' and parents who will open their wallets do a lot for admissions chances at certain prestigious universities.
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby Michael on Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:00 pm

SAT has been gamed forever. Chinese dude did an AMA on reddit a couple of years ago and described the cross-country network of people who report questions across time zones on test day to their counterparts, who are using fake IDs in order to be proxies for college applicants.

Similar answer-gathering agents have been reported for decades. There was a test-prepoer in NYC who invited his students to come to a party to celebrate their finishing the test earlier in the day and the "entrance fee" was one question from the test. In no time, he had the entire thing.
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby Steve James on Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:08 pm

'legacy' and parents who will open their wallets do a lot for admissions chances at certain prestigious universities.


Legacy students are those whose parents or ancestors attended or help to fund the college. If you're a descendant of John Harvard or Thomas Jefferson, it will make it more likely you'll get into Harvard or William and Mary. If you're dumb as a brick, you'll probably graduate too. The college wouldn't want a high profile failure.

Yes, cheating has been going on forever. And, the people with the most privilege can afford to cheat the most. But, when their son or daughter doesn't get into the college of their choice, they blame someone else. The money is only an insurance policy so they can keep congratulating themselves on how special they are.It's been going on forever, but it just hasn't always been considered cheating. In this case, though, it was a crime.
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby edededed on Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:03 pm

University acceptance should be fair.

As a comparison, Japanese medical universities were in the news recently for altering applicants' test scores (e.g. women and re-takers (they failed last year) were docked points via some algorithm). Clearly, this is not fair, and they admitted so.

Compared to (public) Japanese universities (just a test), US universities have a much more complicated and multi-faceted application process (test, essay, interview, sports, etc.). But if we imagined that the US method was also just based on a test, it would be similar to the Japan news - e.g. bolstering or docking test points based on ethnicity, legacy, donations, sports, etc. That doesn't sound fair. But since the US system is less clear (i.e. not numerical), it is also easier to abuse the system without it being obvious.

I always did think that the sports angle was a strange thing about US univerities. Sports are sports, study should be study. Having sports as a back door to get into prestigious universities also gives an opportunity to people who want to game the system.

Also true that certain groups of people are quite good at cheating, and do not feel any guilt about it. (The Chinese network may take advantage of the fact that many Americans may not be good at telling them apart.) Partially this is due to extremely high pressure to succeed, and partially due to culture that does not really teach guilt about cheating (or plagiarism, etc.). I know that in the US, this was drilled into me at school.
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby everything on Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:06 pm

Having someone study the tests is what the test prep companies do to help understand how to help students prepare. AP test graders also teach AP classes. That in itself is fairly meaningless.

One of the biggest gaming of the systems, kind of embedded into the system itself, is when a prep school's "counselors" are all ex admissions officers from "elite" schools, and there is no "class rank" or GPA because they don't want unhealthy "competition" when , and every student can play every sport, and all have the best test prep.
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby edededed on Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:49 pm

I'm not a fan of AP courses themselves, either - the main objective becomes passing the AP test (and getting AP credit), instead of focusing on learning. The university versions of the courses are often better and more robust (not focused on the AP tests), but due to AP, they skip them.

But yeah, basically it is too qualitative (biased) and not quantitative (objective) enough. But since the system is money-based, actions follow the money.
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby everything on Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:14 pm

IB is an interesting alternative and more focused on essays.

We could say writing and math are fundamental.

But what about creativity and engineering?

Integrative thinking?
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby edededed on Wed Mar 13, 2019 9:30 pm

Tests are objectively judged, but then we get the problem that they limit what people study for.

Creativity is also quite difficult to judge objectively.
Engineering would be great to include in high schools - something kids could actually use all their math skills for.

I like what I have seen of IB so far (but I only know much about the younger levels). I like how it is international though.
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby Steve James on Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:24 am

Ah, so some students are suing: https://www.foxnews.com/us/usc-yale-uni ... dal-report

I think the speakers are right on most of the issues. I think they're right that this may make some people question whether Yale, etc., is worth 55K per year. It's not necessary to go to Yale to get a great education --because education is something the student gets because he wants it, not because of the building he's in. Too many people want the prestigious degree more than an education. This also happens in countries where getting into a good college can be all that''s needed to advance a career.

It's worse that getting into school on an athletic degree and taking "jock" courses to graduate. But, athletes make universities millions of dollars, they just aren't allowed to be paid. So, there are simply schemes designed to get the athletes paid covertly. Hey, coaches at big time colleges make hundreds of thousands of dollars and more per year. Way more than many professors.
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby Steve James on Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:58 am

Yikes, the results could be far-reaching.
All University of Southern California applicants who are connected to the admissions cheating scheme will be denied admission, university spokesman Gary Polakovic said Wednesday.

A case-by-case review will be conducted for students who are already enrolled at USC and may be connected to the scheme. USC will "make informed, appropriate decisions once those reviews have been completed. Some of these individuals may have been minors at the time of their application process," he said.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/us ... li=BBnb7Kz
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby edededed on Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:29 pm

My ideal university would:
- require all students to major in a hard science or engineering, and minor in a humanities or art (or vice versa; for utility and balance)
- evaluate potential students on academic merit only
- have athletics for fun/health only

*Edited
Last edited by edededed on Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby everything on Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:45 pm

your last point should've said "athletics" right?
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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby Ian C. Kuzushi on Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:01 pm

edededed wrote:My ideal university would:
- require all students to major in a hard science or engineering, and minor in a humanities or art (for utility and balance)
- evaluate potential students on academic merit only
- have academics for fun/health only


This not only displays a profound misunderstanding of the purpose of education, and higher education in particular, but it would make for a lot of problems very fast.

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Re: Varsity Blues

Postby Steve James on Thu Mar 14, 2019 9:14 pm

edededed wrote:My ideal university would:
- require all students to major in a hard science or engineering, and minor in a humanities or art (for utility and balance)
- evaluate potential students on academic merit only
- have academics for fun/health only


M.I.T. fits that bill, somewhat. However, it's specifically an engineering/science school. Cooper Union, otoh, specializes in art and architecture. Measuring academic merit depends on what a school focuses on.

But, there are plenty of colleges and libraries. The issues only occur because of competition for the "elite" colleges. Let's say there are 10 of them. Well, the "Ivy League" only has eight members. M.I.T. is right down the road from Harvard, but it isn't in the Ivy League. Afa selecting students, though, the problem is similar. There are close to 40 thousand public and private high schools in the US. An Ivy League college's freshman class may be 1500 for a large Ivy (like Yale) or 150 for a small college (like Dartmouth). Anyway, there may be 10K spots. That means that they wouldn't have space to accept the very top student from every high school.

So, if 40K A students apply for Harvard, 30 K will say that someone with a poorer record must have been accepted. But, maybe the one who was accepted was also a great athlete, or an Eagle Scout, or a musician, or an inventor, or was the school valedictorian in spite of being homeless, etc. Students with near perfect SATs are a dime a dozen for Ivy League schools. And, those schools, because their alumni have deep pockets, don't need the student's tuition. In fact, even the 50K per year tuition doesn't cover the costs.

Unfortunately, there are often students who are accepted and feel that the job is done. Actually, at those schools, it usually is. Those colleges invest in their students, who are only allowed to fail if they want to. Once the student graduates, the degree is his ticket. It won't matter that he graduated with a 2.5 GPA. Nobody checks that. Anyway, many instructors know that, if they fail a student, his parents will complain about the teaching. After all, how could their A student child star not pass? The solution to this is what is called the "Gentleman's B-." I.e., Johnny can write home and say he got a B from an unfair professor. :)
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