News US university admissions scandal

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Vanadium 50

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One of the beneficiaries of the scandal, Olivia Jade Giannulli, videoed herself describing her academic intent: "I do want the experience of like game days, partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”

So, again, what's the big deal? If college is just four years of partying, why are we upset that people bribe their way in? It's no different than slipping the bouncer at Studio 54 some cash.

If the problem is that real colleges are evolving into diploma mills, so anyone with rich parents can buy themselves a credential saying they know things they don't, how exactly is this the fault of some B-list actresses?
 

StatGuy2000

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One of the beneficiaries of the scandal, Olivia Jade Giannulli, videoed herself describing her academic intent: "I do want the experience of like game days, partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”

So, again, what's the big deal? If college is just four years of partying, why are we upset that people bribe their way in? It's no different than slipping the bouncer at Studio 54 some cash.

If the problem is that real colleges are evolving into diploma mills, so anyone with rich parents can buy themselves a credential saying they know things they don't, how exactly is this the fault of some B-list actresses?
To answer your questions, college/university is not just 4 years of partying -- it functions as a gatekeeper to a wide range of careers. After all, how many times do we see job postings where the minimum requirement is a 4 year degree?

Second, there is a point made that someone who bribes their way in to college/university, or someone who is accepted to college/university solely due to being a legacy, is taking a spot in school that more deserving applicants have worked and struggled to get into.

I should also add that the issue isn't (solely) about Olivia Jade Giannulli (or even her parents, who were directly involved in the scandal -- any reporting to indicate that Olivia was aware of her parents' actions?). It's a broader issue about how higher education shouldn't be something that should be bought or sold fraudulently.
 
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Vanadium 50

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it functions as a gatekeeper to a wide range of careers
But how long will it function in this role? On another thread, it was pointed out (by me, as it happens) that a California community college is giving college credit for...wait for it....fractions.
 

russ_watters

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To answer your questions, college/university is not just 4 years of partying -- it functions as a gatekeeper to a wide range of careers. After all, how many times do we see job postings where the minimum requirement is a 4 year degree?
I'm not sure that's as true as you imply. A lot of jobs where they list a college degree don't actually require one to do the work. They list it because they can. And students who know it doesn't actually matter don't bother to learn skills that matter. The piece of paper is essentially meaningless to both the employer and the employee and both are fully aware of that. A meaningless piece of paper that you spent $80k for proves nothing more than that you chose to spend $80k on a piece of paper.

For a lot of so-called entry level jobs "requiring" degrees, there is an alternate path in: 4 years of progressive work experience.

When I was in college I worked as a temp, doing accounts payable work. They offered me a permanent job, because they saw I could do it (and the guy who was doing it flunked a drug test and they were in a jam...) and the fact that I had no degree didn't matter. But I wasn't after a meaningless piece of paper and mindless office job.
It's a broader issue about how higher education shouldn't be something that should be bought or sold fraudulently.
I don't think V50 disagrees with that, it's just that the fraud is the direct issue and what it tells us about the education is the broader issue.
 

russ_watters

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One of the beneficiaries of the scandal, Olivia Jade Giannulli, videoed herself describing her academic intent: "I do want the experience of like game days, partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”

So, again, what's the big deal? If college is just four years of partying, why are we upset that people bribe their way in? It's no different than slipping the bouncer at Studio 54 some cash.

If the problem is that real colleges are evolving into diploma mills, so anyone with rich parents can buy themselves a credential saying they know things they don't, how exactly is this the fault of some B-list actresses?
Agreed, this is the real dirty secret exposed by this scandal - though it is somewhat hidden by who the perpetrators are, and advocates of "college for all" won't want to look at it this way. It's easy to dismiss this by saying it's just celebrities who think this way and not indicative of a systemic problem, but the reality is that most people who go to college don't really need to. The vast majority of jobs do not require a college degree education, including many that list it as a qualification (because they can). So it doesn't matter what most people major in or if they get a quality education. Since it doesn't matter, they can focus on other things - more fun things.
 

russ_watters

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This says 40% of recent college graduates take, as their first job, a job that does not require a degree:
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/25/why-your-first-job-out-of-college-really-really-matters.html

This one (older study, during the recession) says that only 27% of their jobs match their degree field:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/05/20/only-27-percent-of-college-grads-have-a-job-related-to-their-major/?utm_term=.49fb675b7da4

This tells me that roughly the other third get jobs that *say* they require a college degree but really don't require the education. Either way, it means only 27% of college graduates really need their college education.
 

StatGuy2000

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I'm not sure that's as true as you imply. A lot of jobs where they list a college degree don't actually require one to do the work. They list it because they can. And students who know it doesn't actually matter don't bother to learn skills that matter. The piece of paper is essentially meaningless to both the employer and the employee and both are fully aware of that. A meaningless piece of paper that you spent $80k for proves nothing more than that you chose to spend $80k on a piece of paper.

For a lot of so-called entry level jobs "requiring" degrees, there is an alternate path in: 4 years of progressive work experience.

When I was in college I worked as a temp, doing accounts payable work. They offered me a permanent job, because they saw I could do it (and the guy who was doing it flunked a drug test and they were in a jam...) and the fact that I had no degree didn't matter. But I wasn't after a meaningless piece of paper and mindless office job.

I don't disagree with you that many jobs listing a college degree as a requirement don't actually require it. When I referred to a college degree as a "gatekeeper", I meant that many (although by no means all) employers use a college degree as a symbol of prestige and as a tool to screen out potential applicants, regardless of whether the particular position requires skills gained from studying at college/university.

So in essence, not having a college/university degree becomes an obstacle to obtaining a range of jobs (irrespective of whether said jobs require college/university skills). That obstacle is not insurmountable, as you've pointed out with your own example, but it is still nonetheless an obstacle. After all, how easily can someone without a college/university degree can get that 4 years of progressive work experience?

I don't think V50 disagrees with that, it's just that the fraud is the direct issue and what it tells us about the education is the broader issue.
I concur with both those points above.
 

StatGuy2000

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This says 40% of recent college graduates take, as their first job, a job that does not require a degree:
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/25/why-your-first-job-out-of-college-really-really-matters.html

This one (older study, during the recession) says that only 27% of their jobs match their degree field:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/05/20/only-27-percent-of-college-grads-have-a-job-related-to-their-major/?utm_term=.49fb675b7da4

This tells me that roughly the other third get jobs that *say* they require a college degree but really don't require the education. Either way, it means only 27% of college graduates really need their college education.
First, it is worth pointing out what is meant by "matching their degree field" as outlined in the Washington Post article. For example, are physics graduates applying their quantitative skills in areas like finance or firms specializing in data science working in an area that "match their degree field"? My impression based on the article is that these graduates would be counted as "no", even though it is perfectly clear that these positions in finance or data science require a college/university education of some sort.

There are many other examples where a particular position will require skills gained from a college/university education, but which is not tied to a specific degree field. So your conclusion that only 27% of college graduates needed their education (or whatever the estimate that is today -- remember, this study was taken during the middle of one of the worst economic downturns in US history since the Great Depression) isn't necessarily accurate or warranted.

Second, regarding the first link, it may be worth asking why 40% of recent college/university graduates take as their first job a position not requiring a degree. In part this is due to a failure among many students to adequately plan on what to do post-degree (which I've talked about at length in previous posts), but this could also speak of a need for improvement among colleges and universities to provide services to make such planning more readily available and accessible.
 

StatGuy2000

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The vast majority of jobs do not require a college degree education, including many that list it as a qualification (because they can). So it doesn't matter what most people major in or if they get a quality education. Since it doesn't matter, they can focus on other things - more fun things.
But isn't it the case that a large percentage of jobs are dead-end jobs with no path toward advancement? I can think of a number of examples like street cleaners, janitors, part-time retail clerks. Presumably people go to college/university so that they can seek other areas of employment, at least on a long term basis. And there are many jobs which do require a college degree -- doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, engineers, etc.
 
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Dr Transport

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Since this thread is going on forever, I'll add my $0.02 and hope that i have not repeated other thoughts.

Blind admissions: let all applications be completely sterilized of names and high schools before the final admissions committees look at them. This could possibly eliminate bias /pressure due to donors.

This one is a financial nightmare: decline any donations from anyone if they have a family member applying to the school and only accept it when the family member is graduated.

Athletic scholarships: give them after they make the team and only after they make the team, this ensures that the student actually has the skills to do the sport.

I'm an idealist, these would never be implemented, but they might work if they did. Of course, I think that college tuition is way too high and that is due to govt requirements for funding. Eliminate govt aid at the undergrad level and I think you'd see tuition rates drop.
 

symbolipoint

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But how long will it function in this role? On another thread, it was pointed out (by me, as it happens) that a California community college is giving college credit for...wait for it....fractions.
Vanadium 50,
I took a look through this topic or thread but did not find your reference to college giving credit for fractions. Maybe done in another topic? Either way, if a college gives credit for "fractions", then this must be part of a Basic Math or Basic Arithmetic course at some community college, and such level of course, will not transfer as University credit, and should not be included in any kind of credentialing or licensing. It is also, NOT college-level credit. What that one school thinks it is doing, difficult to imagine or understand.
 

Vanadium 50

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I think the class was called "pre-Algebra", but they most certainly did grant credit for it towards their own (AA) degrees. If no other college would accept those credits, more power to them.
 

WWGD

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I see nothing exceptional about this. College admissions have been manipulated by many, including the government with its Affirmative Action mickey mouse, so what is the difference? Getting into Harvard, MIT, or Berkeley is not a right to anyone, nor is it necessarily a particularly great advantage. For most students, they can learn just as much at State U, as they can at Harvard. So, what's the big deal?
And from what I hear, at least at the undergrad level, these schools have plenty of classes that are taught by TAs who took the classes themselves just a semester or two prior. The top schools advertise the Nobel winners, top researchers in their staff but these are often too busy traveling to conferences worldwide or doing research at home to have any contact with students, specially undergrads. Do you really think most of these top researchers want to hear how Joe undergrad is doing in their calc classes? Not often, they are hired for their ability to do research that brings $ to their schools, not because they are giftex teachers.
 

WWGD

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For Nobel Prizes, it's faculty (researchers), not undergrad students and for USSC, it's law schools. These are just the most obvious I could think of quickly. Here's the data:
https://www.bestmastersprograms.org/50-universities-with-the-most-nobel-prize-winners/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_law_schools_attended_by_United_States_Supreme_Court_Justices

The top school for both is the same: Harvard. For the USSC, the difference is most stark: All of the justices currently on the bench are from Harvard or Yale (or both). It's a heavily discussed issue/"problem" every time a new USSC justice is nominated.

Huh? I've done no such thing! There are many levels of success and I'm quite happy with mine. You're going to extremes with your interpretations. The only purpose I had for picking these extremes is because of the [relative] data I knew off the top of my head and hoped others would as well. Extreme cases tend to be well known.
Doesn't Harvard graduate more students from other schools? And it was founded in 1636 ( though I have no idea who lost it :)), )way before most other schools, so that there is a larger proportion of students with degrees from Harvard than from smaller, more recent schools?
 
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russ_watters

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Doesn't Harvard graduate more students from other schools? And it was founded in 1636 ( though I have no idea who lost it :)), )way before most other schools, so that there is a larger proportion of students with degrees from Harvard than from smaller, more recent schools?
You can easily google the year the Nobel Prize was first awarded, college sizes by number of students or university research funding and the current makeup of the USSC. Harvard is not unusually large or well funded for research and not the only Ivy League school founded before the USA (which would not explain the present day disparity in the USSC anyway).
 
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WWGD

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You can easily google the year the Nobel Prize was first awarded, college sizes by number of students or university research funding and the current makeup of the USSC. Harvard is not unusually large or well funded for research and not the only Ivy League school founded before the USA (which would not explain the present day disparity in the USSC anyway).
But wouldn't a better yardstick be to determine whether the proportion over time of Harvard/Ivies graduates is significantly higher than that of non-Ivies? It is true what you say about the current court, but, is that anything more than a temporary trend? I am not trying to be argumentative with random what-iffs; I have read that e.g., barely anyone flunks out of the Ivies, that classes are taught by TAs, that over time, someone from an Ivy is , by many measures, as likely to do well as someone from State U. And, while competition with high performers may be beneficial to some, others may thrive in a more low-key environment. I have also seen at the graduate level that quality is pretty uniform ( at least in Math, which I am familiar with) with students from State U presenting their research at the top schools and doing their theses with professors from the top schools. True that those from the top schools are often better prepared, but this is made up for by the difference in the time to finish the thesis. Students from non-top schools often longer to make up for the disparity. Anyway, I will try to do the research and get back with what I find.
 

russ_watters

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But wouldn't a better yardstick be to determine whether the proportion over time of Harvard/Ivies graduates is significantly higher than that of non-Ivies? It is true what you say about the current court, but, is that anything more than a temporary trend?
This analysis is much easier than that because the disparity is so stark (from my link above):

Of the 9 current justices, 4 graduated Harvard law, 4 Yale law. Ruth Bader Ginsberg went to Harvard law and transferred to and graduated from Columbia Law, and counts in both (making Harvard's total 5).

So if you want to be on the USSC today, you basically must have Harvard or Yale on your resume.

In total, 20 justices have come from Harvard, 11 from Yale, 7 from Columbia (RBG counted twice). No other school is represented more than 3 times.

The first Justice who went to law school joined the court in 1846. 48 of 114 total justices have had law degrees; 77% from those three schools.
 

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