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College Application Inflation — Marketing Meets Admissions

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the forward-this-application-to-seven-of-your-friends dept.

Education 256

gollum123 sends this quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education: "The numbers keep rising, the superlatives keep glowing. Each year, selective colleges promote their application totals, along with the virtues of their applicants. For this fall's freshman class, the statistics reached remarkable levels. Stanford received a record 32,022 applications from students it called 'simply amazing,' and accepted 7 percent of them. Brown saw an unprecedented 30,135 applicants, who left the admissions staff 'deeply impressed and at times awed.' Nine percent were admitted. Such announcements tell a story in which colleges get better — and students get more amazing — every year. In reality, the narrative is far more complex, and the implications far less sunny for students as well as colleges caught up in the cruel cycle of selectivity. To some degree, the increases are inevitable: the college-bound population has grown, and so, too, has the number of applications students file, thanks in part to online technology. But wherever it is raining applications, colleges have helped seed the clouds — by recruiting widely and aggressively for ever more applicants. Many colleges have made applying as simple as updating a Facebook page. Some deans and guidance counselors complain that it's too easy. They question the ethics of intense recruitment by colleges that reject the overwhelming majority of applicants. Today's application inflation is a cause and symptom of the uncertainty in admissions."

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Wikiversity is free (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140830)

Gee... it don't cost nuthin to get your wiki degree. [wikiversity.org]

I'm a debian user (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34140846)

and I'm gay.

Re:I'm a debian user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141136)

Debian makes you happy?

Re:I'm a debian user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141152)

On a MBP? Well this obviously points away from it being OS X issue.

Must be something apple coats their hardware with.

Re:I'm a debian user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141790)

I'm gay

So, you prepend a "GNU/" to every proper name then?

Will high school grades determine kids' destinies? (4, Interesting)

NumberField (670182) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140854)

College want their admissions process to become a proxy for due diligence in hiring. ("Sally went to XYZ college, so she's more likely to be a valuable employee than Bob who went to a less selective school.") While this makes sense a little bit, it's also scary. For example, does this mean that what kids do in high school will increasingly set their destinies for life? Are XYZ graduates actually better employees, or is it just marketing?

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (3, Informative)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140900)

Well, it depends. Some schools ARE better than others. I hardly think you'd consider an engineering degree from MIT equivalent to an engineering degree from UC Berkley - not knocking their program there, just saying that MIT's is better. However, for the majority of colleges, no, it doesn't matter much because few people are going to know EVERY program at EVERY college to judge on how your specific choice of college affected your education.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141030)

When they do the regressions, it turns out the schools you got turned down from were the biggest factor on career success, far more than where you actually attend.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141290)

I believe that, a C student who applies to Harvard but was rejected has ambition, which is something no school can teach

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (2, Funny)

viking099 (70446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141440)

Or that they have a good sense of humor.

Like that one school I saw a flyer for:
"Attend Harvey Mudd! Then you tell people where you went to school can say it quickly and make people think you were saying, 'Harvard Med!'"

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141668)

The funny thing is Harvey Mudd is one of the best colleges in the country. For some engineering disciplines probably beats out Harvard.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (3, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141448)

I've always heard that unless you go to one of the top schools in the nation for your degree, it doesn't really matter where you go. So while Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and a handful of others are excellent, there's no point spending the money on a Vanderbilt, USC, or SMU when you can go to a state school or University of Phoenix. I suppose there are regional exceptions (if you plan on staying in North Texas, SMU can be worth the money) or certain professions (USC is a much better choice for budding Speilbergs than just about any other college in the country), but outside of those two specifics it just doesn't matter a whole lot.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (2, Informative)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141814)

To a certain extent; I'd extend the top school list down more, though. Like Vanderbilt is first-rate, has a strong alum network and great academic reputation nationwide (no, I didn't go there). USC probably not worth the money, even if you want to be the next Spielberg. SMU is way too expensive unless you're staying in Dallas and need to rely on the alumni network. I would not lump University of Phoenix together with even obscure state schools. I would always take the state school over UoP.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (3, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141942)

To a certain extent; I'd extend the top school list down more, though. Like Vanderbilt is first-rate, has a strong alum network and great academic reputation nationwide (no, I didn't go there). USC probably not worth the money, even if you want to be the next Spielberg. SMU is way too expensive unless you're staying in Dallas and need to rely on the alumni network. I would not lump University of Phoenix together with even obscure state schools. I would always take the state school over UoP.

To add to the parent's point, there are tiers. There is the top tier populated with the Harvards and MITs. There is the second tier populated with good schools (both public and private). Going to one of these will look good on a resume but shouldn't make any recruiter drool. The third tier is populated with the safety schools of students who went to the first and second; you can still get a good education but it's not going to jump out on a resume. Fourth tier would have trade schools like University of Phoenix.

Disclaimer: I literally put these definitions together on the spot. Feel free to critique them but understand they are underdeveloped definitions.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (2, Interesting)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141954)

So while Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and a handful of others are excellent, there's no point spending the money on a Vanderbilt, USC, or SMU when you can go to a state school or University of Phoenix.

I work in higher ed. I'd advise my own kids that if they don't end up at a really top school that a state school will do just fine. However, I'd certainly avoid them to avoid schools like the University of Phoenix. They're expensive, unremarkable, and poorly regarded.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141958)

That depends on your specific situation I'd say. Better schools do provide a better education or at least don't assume you're a grade A moron. The professors and administrators also seem to either be better (ie: not a FOB Russian who can't speak English and assumes he's God just like in the good ol' soviet school system) or at least care more.

Most companies essentially require internships on resumes for technical positions and a good school would likely give you better ones. If you plan to do research instead or other such things than a good school would also give you more opportunities.

If you're doing CS, for example, and plan to go to the Bay Area than any good school will give you plenty of network opportunities no matter where it is.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (2, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141968)

In general, yes. Some other schools have more pull, especially if you're applying for a job within a few states. For instance, I'm in grad school for Economics and there are several very big multi-national corporations in my home city, and as such due to the research the professors / grad students do for the businesses in the area, you have more pull in getting a job with one of those companies.

For instance, when I was in high school applying for college and advisor told me that if I was planning on staying in the area, the nearby high reputation private school would be a good choice but if I was planning on leaving the area, then another much more nationally known university would be a better choice.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141456)

Wait, of all the possible choices, you chose Berkeley?

I'd say that Berkeley and MIT are equivalent, and Stanford is clearly superior ;)

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141684)

With Caltech far, far out in front.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (3, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141660)

On the other hand, one could argue that the education you get is largely unrelated to the school you attend. I would instantly pick an A student from UC Berkeley (or even someone from a cow college in flyover country) who was actively involved in outside projects over a C student at MIT who wasn't involved in outside projects. At an undergrad level, you can get the basic skills anywhere, and beyond that basic level, what you get out of your college education is directly proportional to what you put in. In the grand scheme of things, I'm not convinced that there's a dime's worth of difference on the average between a Berkeley grad who puts in the effort and an MIT grad who does the same. Most of what you really will need to know on the job, you'll be picking up in your first few weeks anyway, and (good) employers know this.

The only real advantage I can see for MIT and other schools that have strong specialization in a particular area over smaller, less specialized schools is that students have more opportunities to work in various areas of specialization that would not be feasible at other schools. This matters if you are hiring somebody in that area of specialization, but only for maybe a few years after graduation. After that, the field has changed too much for what they learned to be relevant anyway. The ability of a graduate to learn is far, far more relevant to that person's success than which specific pieces of information the person has learned upon graduation. Also, a fair amount of what you need to know for a given job is going to be specific to that job anyway, so it is critically important to be able to hit the ground running and learn as you go. That matters much more than what you know going in.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140982)

Sure, the 'brand name' of a school will have an impact, but so will the student's degree type, their grades and a bunch of other things. Yes, bad high school grades might well translate to a less selective university, which will then knock a few points off against the guy who went to Harvard, but that's not the same as having one's destiny set for life by the age of 18.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (3, Insightful)

flyingkillerrobots (1865630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141000)

As a student who attends a very selective engineering school, I have long since realized that is the case. While convenient for me, the trend is disturbing from an ethical point of view.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (4, Interesting)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141466)

Amusingly, I once worked at a company that refused to hire recent graduates from a certain local selective university because they found the graduates to be too egotistical to handle the kind of low profile work that is usually given to new hires with essentially no experience. That is not to say that there were not a lot of very sharp students coming out of that university. They just too often had a superiority complex for a while after they graduated.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (2, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141980)

Apparently that ego is a problem for a lot of graduates these days, especially ones with a business degree. I've heard many hiring managers complain that a lot of these kids graduate and expect to be made a mid-to-high level manager right from the start instead of getting an entry position.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (2, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141008)

For example, does this mean that what kids do in high school will increasingly set their destinies for life?

It certainly should. here's no question that most high school kids do not take education as seriously as they should. For many, high school is really just a social gathering.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (2, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141492)

And that should be considered a serious problem, because even high school students who do take their high school education seriously are adversely affected by how not seriously everyone around them takes it. And that factor is affected generally by how rich and/or white your neighborhood is.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141694)

It certainly should. here's no question that most college kids do not take education as seriously as they should. For many, college is really just a social gathering.

FTFY.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (3, Informative)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141178)

That is how it is in law school. A lot of law firms put a lot of weight on GPA and what school one graduated from. A tier 1 college (as per US News and World Report) will get one hired essentially anywhere. If someone came from a lower tier, they would need to have a resume with entries to compensate for not having Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, or UT by their academic section.

This doesn't say that a lower tier is a bad thing -- there is no such thing as an unemployed attorney unless they get disbarred, but the plum positions starting from graduating are essentially about what tier you came from, all things being equal.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141490)

Not that there's anything wrong with this approach. The tier 1 schools are tier 1 for a reason, and, all else being equal, one should assume that new attorneys from those schools are going to be better at their profession than someone from a lower-ranked school. Five years into their careers, this might no longer hold, but it's impossible to know that right after graduating.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141864)

Used to be that way, but right now Tier 1 is meaningless. Now you'll probably get a job if you went to Harvard or Stanford, with Yale still probably ensuring you have a job. The legal market is bad to the point of surrealism.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (1)

BergZ (1680594) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141674)

Having your destiny set by your high school grades is a marginal improvement on the current system which is:
Having your destiny set by how much money your parents make.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (1)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141796)

No, the system is still like that. It's all a self-perpetuating cycle.

How much money your parents make determines, in large part, what high school you go to,
What high school you go to determines what sorts of opportunities you have readily available, especially regarding college prep.
The quality of your college prep work in high school determines how likely you are to be accepted at a top tier university.
The perceived quality of the university you attend determines the job opportunities you will get after graduation. Compare the job fairs at Harvard or MIT versus the job fairs at your average state school.
The quality of the job opportunities you get goes a long way toward determining how much money you'll make in your lifetime.
How much money you make will determine what high school your kids go to.

And on and on and on. Yes, there is the occasional student that breaks this cycle, but it takes a whole lot more effort and quite a bit of luck to do that. Your parents' income is still by far the best indicator of your future earning potential.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141676)

To me, the current college application system is a bit like a cute b*tch. She wants ALL the boys to fall in love, but will hand pick just a few.
That does not make the b*tch a top model or a genius!
It also does not make the boys any better.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141932)

What determines kids' destinies these days is how well they follow orders in high school; that is how high school grades are determined, which is how college admission is determined, which is how jobs are doled out. I know many people like myself: people who ignored their assignments in high school, and studied more interesting material. We all wound up getting poor grades, despite the fact that we were actually studying material that was more advanced than what we were supposed to be studying. The grades are not a reflection of a students' abilities. A student could ace every exam and get a D in a high school course. A student could be tutoring other students in a course, and get a D.

Basically, the system is designed to punish people who are too far from what is expected -- regardless of whether it is a case of being unable to keep up with the material, or being too advanced. Conformity is the name of the game, and anyone who fails to fall into a specific range of abilities is supposed to be weeded out. You can be intelligent, but you have to do what you are told, and if you are told to do something that is trivial and boring, that is just too bad.

High school basically exists to ensure that people will be ready to do as they are told, nothing more. The rest of the society is just looking at high school grades to ensure that the person they accept to college or offer a job to will perform as commanded, nothing more or less.

Re:Will high school grades determine kids' destini (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141966)

Not all schools are created equal. Some are more equal than the others.

By the way, this is not what I would call selection.

MGU in my days had between 1% and under 0.1% pass rate. Even the rather 2nd rate by Eastern European standards Sofia State University to which I went had higher selectivity for some majors than the "scary" 5% listed here. IIRC Biotech had a sub-1% pass rate, same for law.

IMO there is nothing wrong here. That is what scores and exams are for. You perform well you get in a good school. You perform badly you get in a bad school or no school at all. Discrimination? Yes of course, however I am all for it. We need more such discrimination throughout society as it is a discrimination _AGAINST_ the stupid and the lazy.

FTFS (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140860)

They question the ethics of intense recruitment by colleges that reject the overwhelming majority of applicants.

Come to us, we want you, we need you, we love you! Oh wait...just kidding.

This reminds me of advertising for pharmaceutical drugs. "THIS WILL HELP YOU!!! TAKE IT NAO!!!" Then who does the patient get pissed at when their doctor tells them that drug won't help due to a specific condition? If my time spent in the industry is any indication, it isn't usually the pharmaceutical company...

Business Opportunity is Knocking (1)

abbynormal brain (1637419) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140882)

Talk about demand ... just give your school a catchy name that will attract elitists and - whamo! You've got cash to burn. Try something like "Slashdot U" or "Snarky U" ... you get the picture

Re:Business Opportunity is Knocking (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141046)

Lorena Bobbit School of Culinary Severance?

Want to know more about admissions? (0, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140902)

Come apply [princeton.edu] at the Princeton University, where you can explore all your horizons!

Take the value off the name and the degree. (0, Troll)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140918)

* Strip the name off the degree

* Ban selectivity for any US citizen (e.g. citizenship guarantees a place once you're otherwise qualified)

* Remove the degree (or any indirect indications of it) from consideration in any job.

Re:Take the value off the name and the degree. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141092)

Better yet, nationalize all colleges and universities. Academics are all communists, so they'll love it!

Re:Take the value off the name and the degree. (1)

BStroms (1875462) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141308)

I know it would work better in some fields than others, but what I'd like to see is national standardized testing. Ideally they would have a number of different tests for each degree program, so school curriculum could still vary. So you could take a database exam, an AI exam, an operating systems exam, and perhaps language specific exams for the more popular ones. Then potential employers could look at which tests the applicants took and how well they scored on them. This would allow them to get a far better idea of how well each applicant's skills fit for the position. Which college you went to would become all be irrelevant.

Re:Take the value off the name and the degree. (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141576)

Except that as an employer I am far more interested in how you performed in challenging situations in the past, not how you did on a standardized exam. This is why it's a bitch for new graduates to get hired. They lack that experience history, and so employers are left to a higher risk gamble when hiring them. Most tech positions in industry requiring a 4 year degree are not standardized.

Unsolicited parental input (2, Insightful)

OffTheLip (636691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140938)

As an aging Slashdot'er and parent of two kid$ recently completing the "goat rope" called US college education I concur. The payout vs payoff would not be a consideration in my retirement portfolio but is status quo for our kids. I don't claim to have a solution, I'm glad I'm out of the game.

Re:Unsolicited parental input (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141120)

Might as well go to college. Maybe in four years there'll be a job opening.

Not to mention, what's the reward? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34140948)

What I find hilarious is that there's all this competition for schools. What benefit do college grads see these days? A college degree certainly doesn't guarantee a job. So even if you're one of the 9% or whatever that get admitted, your chance of getting a job after school is still going to be 5%.

Cost benefit analysis of college is really showing that it's really not worth it. You're better off starting your own business and learning stuff as you go along. Google is a better teacher anyway.

Re:Not to mention, what's the reward? (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140978)

As my friends were in college, I was working as a car mechanic, making around 50k a year. Did that for about three years.

Once some of my friends got out of college, many of them couldn't find a job. For the past 5 years, I've been building my career by working as a programmer and, soon (if things go as they look like they will) as a business analyst for call center database development.

And some of my college-educated friends STILL can't find a job. I'm not saying a college education is worthless, but it is something to consider nowadays.

Re:Not to mention, what's the reward? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141104)

business analyst for call center database development.

You should die.

Re:Not to mention, what's the reward? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141180)

It's a fun, challenging position that requires a lot of effort and pays decently well. Best of all, it's a great stepping stone in my career.

Where's the problem?

Re:Not to mention, what's the reward? (1)

leonardluen (211265) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141472)

Where's the problem?

probably the assumption by the gp that call center == evil telemarketers

Re:Not to mention, what's the reward? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141526)

Possible.

In this case, it's a pharmaceutical call center that runs patient assistance programs, insurance verifications, and denied claims appeals.

Basically, we're the good guys :-)

Re:Not to mention, what's the reward? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141880)

The question is, where do you run the call center out of?

Re:Not to mention, what's the reward? (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141768)

Your friends lack motivation.

Too Many Applications are Stressful and Useless (4, Insightful)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140974)

Which is why I applied to exactly ONE college, where I knew I would get in wanted to go. Half the people I know apply to Stanford and crap just so their parents can brag about it, and brag even more if they get accepted. They have no intention of actually going there.

But frankly, the elephant in the room is that the students they DO accept get stuck with loans they can't pay off--proving their education was wildly overpriced. Being from a Big-Name School these days just isn't worth the extra $50,000. It's insane.

Re:Too Many Applications are Stressful and Useless (2, Interesting)

pablodiazgutierrez (756813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141348)

I also applied for one school, my home University of Granada, in Spain. But that's just because the admissions system is completely transparent and I knew without room for exceptions: They average your high school GPA with the grade in a common regional exam, and then they rank applicants. Starting with the highest grades, they assign them to different schools and majors within. With my grade, I knew I would enter any major of choice, even if every applicant before me also chose that one school and major.

So my question is: what would have you done if you hadn't been accepted? Was it a similar, transparent system, or the more subjective and extensive classic US selection method?

Re:Too Many Applications are Stressful and Useless (1)

viking099 (70446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141556)

I don't know about the GP, but I also only applied to one school. I put in my application in September or October, had a reply before Christmas, and had a very relaxed Spring semester.

Had I not been accepted, I still had plenty of time to think about "fall back" schools or other options.

Re:Too Many Applications are Stressful and Useless (2, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141638)

If I hadn't gotten in I would have been extremely surprised that a public college would turn down someone with a near-perfect GPA, an entire semester of AP credits (good for college credit), and relevant extracurricular activity. And concluded that I didn't want to go there after all and gone to the community college for year. Sure, it wasn't totally transparent, but it was pretty obvious.

I know some people don't like stressing about one number, grades, and you can see it to an extreme in Asian countries and the like, but I think it beats stressing over whether you have enough other crap on your resume--in addition to grades, not instead of. Plus I wonder how many people who get into college on something other than their grades actually get a job to pay off their loans. There's a point at which you just say fuck it and use the simpler, more predictable, less "equitable" metric.

Okay, now I'm rambling, but that reminded me of a chapter in a book I read about Canada's hockey player recruiting strategy. Basically, everybody has to compete against other kids born in the same year as them, and as early as age 10 the best players of each year get selected for better training camps. The problem is the kids born in January and February are essentially a year older than the kids born in November and December, and the almost-eleven-year-olds beat the crap out of the just-turned-ten-year-olds, and they get selected. So if you're born in the second half of the year, you can't play hockey in Canada.

Re:Too Many Applications are Stressful and Useless (1)

TelavianX (1888030) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141434)

I agree. I went to my local university for my BS and MS and I thought it was fine. Things were challenging and I learned a lot. I think if the school is accredited and the professors are not a joke then they are fairly similar. The main thing to learn in school is that you should never stop learning. Those with this attitude will tackle the biggest problems no matter the school they came from.

Re:Too Many Applications are Stressful and Useless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141486)

If your parents make less than $100k/year, Stanford waives undergraduate tuition.

Re:Too Many Applications are Stressful and Useless (3, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141488)

Which is why I applied to exactly ONE college, where I knew I would get in wanted to go. Half the people I know apply to Stanford and crap just so their parents can brag about it, and brag even more if they get accepted. They have no intention of actually going there.

But frankly, the elephant in the room is that the students they DO accept get stuck with loans they can't pay off--proving their education was wildly overpriced. Being from a Big-Name School these days just isn't worth the extra $50,000. It's insane.

The biggest name schools aren't so expensive. The Ivies, and I assume Stanford, won't leave you with more than ~$20k of debt, and places like Yale and Princeton replaced loans with grants a few years back, leaving you with 0 debt. If you made the mistake of having a college fund, though, the amount they expect you to pay will magically increase by exactly the size of that fund.

Vocational Schools (5, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140992)

Maybe high schools should start advertising the merits of vocational and tech schools a little bit more. I remember my high school councilor advocating four year college to a lot of students that, quite frankly, just weren't going to do well in four year college (disinterested in abstract concepts, prefer working on something tangible, rather than developing math problems or theses, far too lazy to put more than an hour-a-day on homework, etc.). We have this obsession in the States with four year degrees, acting like employees without one are incompetent and useless. We have students that don't want to attend college attending college because they are told there's no other way to succeed in the world. And, simultaneously, it seems like fewer and fewer college kids I know are actually prepared for the world that they are put into. Few know how to maintain a car. Most don't understand the first thing about taxes. The concept of fiscal responsibility is lost on many of them. Hell, most kids I know didn't even know how to cook before heading off to college.

So maybe this increase in college applications is indicative of the trend that, when a society obsesses over a college degree in all walks of life, then that is one thing that most coming-of-age adults value.

Re:Vocational Schools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141074)

The UK did that a long time ago and they're still going today. Guess what employers want? Yup, degrees from regular, or preferably top universities.

today's employers don't know how bad costs are for (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141398)

today's employers don't know how bad costs are for college and some of the big name colleges are more well known for that sports teams then the school part.

But the tech / Vocational Schools are more to topic for the real world with less filler and more upto date courses but employers don't like then why?.

Re:Vocational Schools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141644)

The problem is that Vocational Schools have a stigma here in the US where just about any HR employee in the last 15 years has been trained to believe that their graduates are lazy pot smoking high school dropouts who are training for careers at Jiffy Lube. (Watch US daytime television for no more than 10 minutes...you'll see what I mean)

There are far too many job positions in the US today that really truly do not need a 4 year degree in order to be performed successfully, but upper management requires it anyway.

The Ivy League is the worst (3, Funny)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141066)

The Ivy League is the worst. Getting into MIT is hard, but so is going to MIT. (Despite this, if you get into MIT, you have a 90% chance of graduating.) Getting into the Ivy League schools is hard, but then you can make contacts and coast on academics. George Bush Jr. went to Yale and Harvard, after all.

(I went to Stanford, in CS, in the 1980s. The education was at best mediocre.)

Re:The Ivy League is the worst (5, Informative)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141366)

To be fair, this means the Ivies are the best. Despite a staggering price tag, they still appear to be worth it.

The other side of that coin is that the vast majority of private colleges and out-of-state public colleges are simply not worth full price. There are limited exceptions, but mostly you shouldn't bother unless you can get a scholarship (and if your intellect is formidable enough to exceed the capabilities of your state's flagship university, it's good enough to get you a scholarship at a good one).

Toward that end, I have one piece of advice for any 9th or 10th graders reading this: practice and study for the PSAT. Your high school may not place much emphasis on it, especially if you live in a rural area; they may not even tell you when it will be offered. MAKE SURE YOU TAKE IT IN 11TH GRADE. A sufficiently high score (and if you're in a low-achieving state, that score won't be all that high) will make you a National Merit Semifinalist, which is enough to get you a full ride at quite a lot of universities and at least half tuition at many others. It will also open up other scholarship opportunities. And apply for every scholarship you hear of; $1000 here and there adds up.

Re:The Ivy League is the worst (3, Interesting)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34142020)

Toward that end, I have one piece of advice for any 9th or 10th graders reading this: practice and study for the PSAT. Your high school may not place much emphasis on it, especially if you live in a rural area; they may not even tell you when it will be offered. MAKE SURE YOU TAKE IT IN 11TH GRADE. A sufficiently high score (and if you're in a low-achieving state, that score won't be all that high) will make you a National Merit Semifinalist, which is enough to get you a full ride at quite a lot of universities and at least half tuition at many others. It will also open up other scholarship opportunities. And apply for every scholarship you hear of; $1000 here and there adds up.

This is a huge piece of great advice for HS students! I took the PSAT my sophomore year of HS and did better than anyone else in my school (juniors included). My adviser told me that, with my score, I could get a full-ride to any school I wanted. When PSAT time rolled around for my junior year I came down with appendicitis and missed the test. Later on, when I started looking for scholarships, I was rejected out of hand for 95% of them because sophomore scores can't net you the National Merit Semifinalist title (only junior scores can). That single stroke of shitty luck cost me a lot of $$$. Take the parent's advice to heart young ones.

Re:The Ivy League is the worst (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34142056)

Test is a joke since they added the writing section bullshit.

Re:The Ivy League is the worst (4, Informative)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141520)

Dude, I went to Princeton. At least in the engineering school, you do not "coast" on academics. It's a 70hr/wk workload. I graduated with honors - with a C+ average.

You sweat blood to get a BSE degree at Princeton.

Ditto for pol sci or international studies; the Woodrow Wilson school is incredibly hard.

Maybe as an art major or something, but the majority of programs is *hard*.

OK, I can't spead for Harvard or Yale, no doubt they're a cake walk.

Re:The Ivy League is the worst (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141528)

The Ivy League is the worst. Getting into MIT is hard, but so is going to MIT. (Despite this, if you get into MIT, you have a 90% chance of graduating.) Getting into the Ivy League schools is hard, but then you can make contacts and coast on academics. George Bush Jr. went to Yale and Harvard, after all.

(I went to Stanford, in CS, in the 1980s. The education was at best mediocre.)

That ceased to be true at Yale in 1969, just after W left, when the school began admitting women as undergraduates. Since then, academics of admission and attendance are quite competitive. The idea that you can "make contact and coast" may fly in movies, but not in the current real world.

Re:The Ivy League is the worst (1)

nwf (25607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141802)

(I went to Stanford, in CS, in the 1980s. The education was at best mediocre.)

I did my undergrad at CMU and got a masters at Stanford, both in CS. I felt that CMU had the better program, by far, but I was living close to Stanford after graduation. I didn't think it was mediocre in the mid 90s, but grading was easier. They'd fail you at CMU, but not really at Stanford unless you really tried to fail. But, I do value having gone to two different schools.

I've interviewed students from many schools, and Berkeley is the only "top tier" school for CS that I just wouldn't hire from.

Re:The Ivy League is the worst (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141888)

It's cute that people still think that academics are the primary reason people go to Ivy League schools. Academics won't get you nearly as far as a good network will, and the people with the best networks send their kids to Ivy League schools. If you want to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a Senator, or Ambassador, or a high profile lawyer it's almost impossible to do that without first building (or inheriting) a huge network. To do that, you need to get in the right social circles, and you're not going to get that at State U.

If you want to be an engineer or other such professional, then there's not nearly as much need to get into Stanford, Harvard, etc... You'll just as well served by a much less expensive education in almost all respects. There are some exceptions, like MIT, but for the most part you'll be fine in a "well respected" school in your field.

ha (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141140)

More applicants, more money. Higher education is rapidly turning into a scam, anyway, they just want to bleed more application fees out of people.

Reflection of the economy? (2, Insightful)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141166)

Am I the only one who think it's more likely a reflection of today's bad economy?

I imagine with how difficult it is to get a job right now, even a student just graduating high school is aware that he'll have a hard time getting a decent job without a college or vocational degree.

Sure it's easier to apply online...but I don't think it's really harder for someone to send the application by mail, just slower

the free market says buy a college degree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141310)

the free market says buy a college degree and you may be able to a big court case over a religious / church degrees not being taken by employers under religious discrimination.

Follow the money (1)

rbayer (1911926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141212)

The sad part is that many students and their families are talked into sending in dozens of applications to schools that they really have no chance at getting into. At $50-$100 each, application costs in the thousands of dollars are becoming more and more the norm. What's worse, many schools apply a simple GPA/SAT based gross-cut filter and won't even look at some of these applications; in essence, these students and their families have spent $50 to have a computer think for 1ms and then spit back a "no."

Re:Follow the money (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141252)

the computer says no.

*cough*

Re:Follow the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141598)

...to have a computer think for 1ms and then spit back a "no."

woohoo! it makes me feel better knowing that i chose the right profession! Somone has to program that computer to say no

Re:Follow the money (1)

Moses48 (1849872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141690)

$3.7 million is the amount of admission fees received at Stanford for students that did NOT get accepted. I think that more than covers teh admission offices expenses for selection. But honestly why wouldn't they want more people applying, they don't have to read every essay, just the actual potential candidates.

View from the ivory tower (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141234)

Being a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at one of the big name Ivy League schools, I am yet to see all these "amazing" students. Yes, practically every student get the basics (something that doesn't happen at less selective schools), but give them a problem that requires creativity and you'll see that a handful of students in the class are able to solve it. They might work hard and they are motivated, but it's not like every student is terribly smart.

Re:View from the ivory tower (2, Insightful)

isaac (2852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141788)

Being a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at one of the big name Ivy League schools, I am yet to see all these "amazing" students. Yes, practically every student get the basics (something that doesn't happen at less selective schools), but give them a problem that requires creativity and you'll see that a handful of students in the class are able to solve it. They might work hard and they are motivated, but it's not like every student is terribly smart.

Motivation to work hard is far more valuable to a future employer than genius. Past a certain size, any enterprise (for proft or otherwise) needs regular hard workers more than it needs hard-working geniuses. This is even true in specialized fields like engineering.

To understand this is to understand the appeal of an Ivy pedigree to employers.

-Isaac

Re:View from the ivory tower (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 3 years ago | (#34142072)

Intelligence and creativity are two somewhat separate things. Especially in mathematics where you either need to have the right gift or learn the tricks of it (likely both I suppose).

Plus, everything else equal a hard working above-average person will do a lot better in life than a lazy genius.

What's the problem? (2, Insightful)

Webz (210489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141280)

Just because all the applications are amazing doesn't mean they have to accept all of them. Maybe they don't have the resources to support that many amazing students. There's no incongruity here.

Re:What's the problem? (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141572)

Just because all the applications are amazing doesn't mean they have to accept all of them. Maybe they don't have the resources to support that many amazing students. There's no incongruity here.

The notable bit is that the colleges are putting out weird press releases stating that the pool has expanded and the applicants were amazing, when the real change that comes along with the pool expanding is the average applicant quality decreasing. However, the larger pool essentially has no effect: the same couple thousands kids will be admitted. The expanded pool, to a large extent, is just expanding the list of rejected students. The biggest change occurred about a decade ago, when widespread online applications made it easy to apply to more reach schools without much extra effort.

Not to mention the fact that (5, Insightful)

Glarimore (1795666) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141352)

Colleges get $50 (sometimes $100) from each applicant. That means that if Brown or Stanford increase their applicant pool by 5,000 people in a year, thats an extra quarter million they are making, minimum.

What's easier than making money from overpriced tuition? Convincing underqualified people to apply, taking their application fee, and instantly throwing out their application in a GPA/SAT filter.

New tiering of college degrees? (1)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141362)

I wonder how long this can keep up. In my experience, as soon as you graduate and get your first job, almost every future employment prospect is based on how well you perform in the "real world." Getting that first job is tougher if you are a state school graduate (like me,) but if you majored in something marketable, you do eventually get hired. My first 2 jobs were awful, but I was able to gain enough experience to eventually get the job I have today. No one has ever asked me where I went to school or what my grades were, unless it was just out of curiosity.

If you're truly headed for an academic career, elite schools can give you a leg up also - but if you're good, you will be able to go somewhere for grad school also. Same goes for the professions (law & medicine.)

Contrast this with someone who pays the price, gets past admissions and graduates from a top-tier school. From what I've seen, the price of the school gives you access to opportunities you wouldn't normally have, such as:

  • The investment banks generally recruit from the top 25 schools. That's an instant ticket to a six-figure income right out of school.
  • The top-of-the-top-tier management consulting firms (Bain, Booz, Boston Consulting, McKinsey, etc.) also recruit out of the Ivy League, and also lead to an instant six-figure salary.
  • Your classmates tend to be more well off and more connected than the anonymous guys like me who went to BigStateU. I guess that can help you in the future with political/business/personal connections.
  • You also tend to have a much easier time getting that first job, and it may pay better.

As far as any other benefits go, I can't see them. You may have some very famous professors and top experts in their fields, but you may never see them, and that may not matter to you if you are not pursuing the subject as a career.

It's a big shift - even when I graduated 15 years ago, it was pretty much a given that you would at least be employed if you went to any college and got a bachelors' degree. If you went to an elite school, you were revered by future employers as if it was an infallable indicator of your abilities. Now, you hear all these stories of students taking out $150K+ in loans and not finding work even remotely related to their field or paying enough to cover the huge investment they made.

I think kids and parents are really going to have to take a hard look at whether it's worth it for the kid to go to the most expensive school they can get into. It's going to have to be seen as an investment rather than a rite of passage. If you hate investment banking or consulting, or can't hack medical or law school, you may never get out from under the debt you rack up for yourself.

Thoughts?

Re:New tiering of college degrees? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141752)

If you are going to study in physics, and you can get into a high end score that has a Nobel Laurette, then I would say go to that school and find a way to meet the person. You may not get into the class, but a smart motivated person will find a way.

The underlying false premise with college is that it guarantees you an immediate job.

In the real world... (1)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141388)

...there's maybe a half dozen universities whose name carries "weight". If it's not an Ivy League caliber school (and not even all of them), nobody gives a rat WHAT school you went to. nobody, but NOBODY cares if University "x" has a more exclusive student body than University "y". Mostly they don't care because they don't know...and they don't know because they don't care.

There are a few exceptions for schools that are particularly well known for a given discipline, but mostly a degree is a degree is a degree...unless it's from University of Phoenix, then it's trash.

Re:In the real world... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141708)

false.

I graduate from Harvard business school is going to have a lot more opportunities then someone who got a business degree at the community college.

The same thing with engineers who go to Carnegie Melon vs a community college.

If you just want a desk job, then it doesn't matter.

Re:In the real world... (1)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141924)

false.

I graduate from Harvard business school is going to have a lot more opportunities then someone who got a business degree at the community college.

You started by saying "false" and then almost quoted what I DID say. You are aware that Harvard is an "ivy league" school, right?

Where you go matters -- for grad school (5, Insightful)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141400)

Undergrads at prestigious universities are just the suckers that pay for all the R&D the grad students do. Do yourself a favor and research the undergrad programs in your state. There's a good chance you'll find an excellent program at a fraction of the cost. Of course you won't get the brand name recognition.. But you also won't be in debt the rest of your life.

Re:Where you go matters -- for grad school (4, Insightful)

gargeug (1712454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141496)

I absolutely agree with this, for the most part. At the undergrad level, your school name doesn't really matter, but it is everything in grad school, because the big name schools have awesome research programs, great professors, and lots of money. I went to a smaller, no name school for undergrad, but made it a point to go to a big name engineering school for my masters because I knew that the opportunities there are much better, and my experience here so far is proving itself right. The only reason I say for the most part is that some niche research areas exist in weird places.

Costs about the same as public ed. Sometimes less. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141422)

Most of the Ivy Leagues make a commitment that if your family + you make less than $75k a year, they'll pay your tuition. No loans. No nothing. Straight up full ride.

University is like a cult (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141538)

Anyone disagree?

If you are denying (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141654)

93% of applicants, should you be expanding?
Granted, you won't want a percentage of those applicant under any conditions.

Recommended viewing (2, Informative)

blixel (158224) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141658)

"The business of higher education is booming. It's a $400 billion industry fueled by taxpayer money. But what are students getting out of the deal? Critics say a worthless degree and a mountain of debt. Investors insist they're innovators, widening access to education." Watch the video. [pbs.org]

Has anyone had a chance to read this book? The Student Loan Scam: The Most Oppressive Debt in U.S. History-and How We Can Fight Back

Data Mining to the Rescue! (1)

kbean0007 (1935462) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141662)

I'm a grad student at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Our admissions department uses the past performance of students in their university careers to track back and see what high schools give their students inflated marks. An adjustment is calculated for the high schools that have enough students going to UW to make the results statistically relevant. If you say every potential undergrad is "amazing", but they consistently flop once they get on campus, we downgrade your "amazing" to our "mediocre".

Is this something to be afraid of? (1)

Cyph0n (1739442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141672)

According to the article, tens of thousands of "amazing" applicants got rejected from high-tier universities. Now, won't these declined undergrads try to apply to other universities? And since most of them are talented students, won't they pose a threat to other 'normal' students, like me, for instance?

It's a Scam (1)

Mr Pleco (1160587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141780)

They want your application fees.

Brown: $75
Stanford: $90
Harvard: $75

If they all make applying FREE then I would believe that they're doing it for the betterment of the student body, and not their budget. Source: https://www.commonapp.org/CommonApp/MemberRequirements.aspx [commonapp.org]

Start a new college (2, Interesting)

byteherder (722785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141876)

What has amazed me is that while the population of graduating high school students have grown, the number of admission slots to the elite universities have remained relatively constant. So inevidently the process for getting one of those admission slots has become more selective. What I would like to see is someone create a new university or universities that compete with the Harvards, Princetons, and Yales of the world. Some additional effects would be to bring the cost of college down as there is more competition for students and to employ more PhDs who want to work in academia but are having a hard time finding a job due to the lack of new professorship opening up each year.

1. Start elitist university..
2. Recruit lots of applications for students.
3. Reject 90% of them.
4. PROFIT.
.
// Universities are supposed to be non-profit but I just had to throw in #4
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