Re: Homework

1

Keep in mind, though, his advice only applies to historians. If you are studying in another discipline, just applying to any old random schools will probably suffice.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:13 PM
horizontal rule
2

And I also said nice things about Ben w-lfs-n. Fat lot of good that did me, though.


Posted by: Eric Rauchway | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:16 PM
horizontal rule
3

Hey, shiny new blog!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:19 PM
horizontal rule
4

This isn't just a question of not sounding like an ignoramus. The actual conditions of life and work at many places may diverge wildly from its overall rank or reputation.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:25 PM
horizontal rule
5

The very first job interview I went to after I left university was with a big, big computer company. (Left un-named to spare my blushes.)

I did my homework! I looked up everything I could find about what this company had done, and what this specific center for this company had done, and what I might expect to do if I got the job. I read news stories, magazine articles, the company website, the brochures. I was prepped and ready.

Then at the first interview, the first interviewer looked at me - very very new just-graduated shiny-degree almost-a-student - and said, in a tone that expected the answer "No" more clearly than I have ever heard before, "Do you know much about what we do here?"

and, rattled and uncertain and nervous and already wondering how I could have expected to work here, I obediently mumbled "no - not really"...

(No, I didn't get the job. But I got better at interviews.)


Posted by: Jesurgislac | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:27 PM
horizontal rule
6

4: Yes, our department is reputed to be quite convivial. And our ranking is reasonably high. But I administer twice-weekly beatings to all of my advisees, and Rauchway casts prospective students into the torrent that is Putah Creek. If they can swim, he stones them to death. If not: natural selection.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:30 PM
horizontal rule
7

4: Indeed. We're trained to be desperate enough to accept whatever, but I have a couple friends who have noted that it's not really bad to think of yourself, especially at the campus interview staged, as interviewing them.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:30 PM
horizontal rule
8

We're trained to be desperate enough to accept whatever

You're the kind of job candidate that makes our hiring possible, Cala.


Posted by: Eric Rauchway | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:32 PM
horizontal rule
9

Unfortunately, however, prospective grad students are not always prepared to understand the information they receive. Like young-version of me: "Oh, the department's in receivership and my advisor will be up for tenure review as soon as I arrive? Well, that can't really have much of an impact on me! It's a good university, after all!"


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:36 PM
horizontal rule
10

Oh, the department's in receivership and my advisor will be up for tenure review as soon as I arrive? Well, that can't really have much of an impact on me! It's a good university, after all!

Oh my god.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:37 PM
horizontal rule
11

As a cynical grad student, I'd say don't worry too much about who's there, as they'll probably all leave right as you finish coursework.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:37 PM
horizontal rule
12

This is a mildly embarassing topic for me, because I was really bad about doing this sort of research when I was applying to grad programs.

The fact that I was bad at that was part of what made me decide (correctly I think) that I didn't really want to go to grad school, but at the same time nobody every explained it to me this clearly.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:41 PM
horizontal rule
13

I got educated on this stuff very early, because I applied to graduate schools without knowing what I was doing, and was very lucky to get accepted by the one place that admitted me. Based on the faculty listed on the dept web page I then spent the build-up to going there constructing an elaborate rationalization of how this place was a perfect fit -- I was going to work with Prof X and Prof Y whose interests overlapped strongly with MA work I'd already done elsewhere and blah blah. Then I got there are learned during the first week that Prof X was only visiting for a year and Prof Y had just been denied tenure. I never met either of them. Once someone kindly explained what tenure was, I sat down and thought, "I need to find out how this place works, and fast, or I'm fucked."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:42 PM
horizontal rule
14

Truth be told, I just applied where my undergraduate advisor told me to. But, by the time I hit the job market, I made sure to know everything I could about potential employers. Not that it helped much.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:46 PM
horizontal rule
15
I am, honestly, unclear on the concept of being a graduate student.

Hoo boy, was this ever me. Which led to freakout and taking a leave of absence my second year.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:47 PM
horizontal rule
16

I once had a student who was planning to go to grad school and was ranking places based on proximity to the ocean.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:49 PM
horizontal rule
17

16 seems reasonable to me.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:50 PM
horizontal rule
18

13--
"was very lucky to get accepted by the one place that admitted me"

lucky indeed; i mean, what are the odds of getting accepted by a place that admits you?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:52 PM
horizontal rule
19

16 seems not only reasonable, but brilliant.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:53 PM
horizontal rule
20

I was a deeply clueless grad school applicant. I hadn't majored in the field I was applying in and came from an adamantly non-professionalized undergrad college. I had no idea what I wanted to work on or that I ought to have such an idea. I had no idea of advisers or how one worked with them. I had to learn -- quickly -- how to take notes in a lecture class (once I got in). Honestly it was extremely dumb luck that the whole thing managed to work out at all.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:55 PM
horizontal rule
21

Two of my undergraduate mentors counseled that I only apply places I could imagine living, since I'd be there for many years.

Too bad I wasn't forward-thinking enough to realize that if I followed a career in academia, that would be the last time for a good while that I'd get to pick where I'd live.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:57 PM
horizontal rule
22

extremely dumb luck

The customary term for that is "brilliance and hard work."


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 4:59 PM
horizontal rule
23

One of my MA professors told me that the main downside of the program I was going to for my PhD was that if I got a job I'd have to leave that city. She was right.

The upside, though, is that if you're in a city that doesn't suck and you *don't* get a job, it's not all that hard to console yourself by realizing that means you can keep living in Seattle rather than moving to east nowhere.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:01 PM
horizontal rule
24

lucky indeed; i mean, what are the odds of getting accepted by a place that admits you?

I'm wondering whether you think this is a paraphrase of what I wrote in 13. The difference is as between "I was lucky to win the lottery I bought a ticket for" and "Yeah, what are the odds of winning a lottery you won?"


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:01 PM
horizontal rule
25

It is a paraphrase of what you wrote, Gonerill -- reread the end of your first sentence.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:02 PM
horizontal rule
26

24--
no, no; no serious intent to paraphrase.
though we could probably get 100 comments just on whether your lottery example is or isn't equivalent to the original pair.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:05 PM
horizontal rule
27

Out of curiosity, am the only one who spent months and months applying to graduate schools, and then decided not to go?

Surely that can be that unusual, but all of the other stories are, "I didn't know what I was doing, but went anyway."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:05 PM
horizontal rule
28

25--
sorry, snark; to be a paraphrase it would have to be aiming to convey the same meaning.
i aimed to convey something i was sure he had not meant.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:06 PM
horizontal rule
29

27: Maybe all the others are gainfully employed at jobs that don't give them hours and hours of time to comment on blogs.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:28 PM
horizontal rule
30

I really ought to stop reading job-search-related threads for the duration. They only make me break out in hives. Why do I keep clicking, why?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:30 PM
horizontal rule
31

I'm sure you'll find a nice place to live in Rexburg or Tuscaloosa, rfts.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:32 PM
horizontal rule
32

Huh, I didn't know BYU had a campus in Idaho. Makes sense, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:35 PM
horizontal rule
33

30: There's good advice to be found in Eric's post. And the comments contain a citation for an excellent article on the academic job interview. It really is very helpful. And try Calamine lotion for the hives.


Posted by: Ari Kelman | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:39 PM
horizontal rule
34

31 is mean!

I am reading in between paper grading. Using all of my will not to read the ones that I know will be good/clear first.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:39 PM
horizontal rule
35

Please find out, so you will not sound (not to be rude, but) like an egomaniacal ignoramus.

For all the SAT-industrial complex that has grown up around undergraduate admissions at selective schools, I have seen some remarkably incompetent interview performances by high school seniors applying to Big Important University.

ME: "Why did you decide to apply to BIU?"
HER: "My grandfather and my father went there, and my parents really wanted me to apply."

ME: "What extracurricular activities do you think you might want to get involved in?"
HIM: "I don't want to get involved in anything that would distract from my studies. Maybe if there is a robotics club or something..."

ME: "Is there anything about yourself that the admissions committee ought to know that they wouldn't learn from your application folder?"
HER: "No. I was very thorough."

(In the last case, I really liked the candidate, and she ended up getting admitted; she was just super reluctant to toot her own horn.)


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 5:47 PM
horizontal rule
36

so where is my celibate deity
i am in a mood to worship
chimera


Posted by: i.e. read | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:07 PM
horizontal rule
37

When I applied, all I did was the kind of research Rauchway mentions. I didn't take much account of school prestige, or my grades, or what was a "normal" path; I just looked up the scholars I really liked, found out where they taught, and applied there. I was told by one of my advisors that I was being psychotic, that it was stupid to apply to [my school] and not [three others in the City]. I wasn't interested in the others, because I didn't want to work with anyone there. She shook her head slowly at me.

So I got into the one school where I was really crazy about someone's work, and knew a lot about it, and got rejected from four others around the country (some of them extremely mean in their rejections). And it turns out the person I flattered so heavily in my application letter never read it and hadn't heard of me when I presented myself to him with my eternal love. In fact, since no one ever seeks him out, he sort of freaked out and didn't talk me unless he had to for about a year. We're friends now.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:13 PM
horizontal rule
38

35: But what is wrong with not wanting to get involved in extracurricular activities? The college admissions game these days seems ridiculous to me -- why wouldn't a college admit students who want nothing more than to immerse themselves in their studies? Maybe the kid would be a fantastic robotics engineer.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:14 PM
horizontal rule
39

We're friends now.

In fact, you're photoshopping a graphic storybook commemmorating your friendship right now!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:14 PM
horizontal rule
40

2: And I also said nice things about Ben w-lfs-n. Fat lot of good that did me, though.

I was going to, but I didn't want him to get the impression I have any clue what he's talking about 99 percent of the time.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:15 PM
horizontal rule
41

Other than my personal experience (in which I followed an extreme form of Rauchway's advice by doing the homework first, the choosing second), I meant to say I really liked his post and will probably send it to several of my students who are applying to grad school.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:17 PM
horizontal rule
42

But what is wrong with not wanting to get involved in extracurricular activities?

Absolutely nothing. As an undergrad, I did nothing but study and read for pleasure. As a grad student, I do nothing but write and blog and wait a minute, I think I just changed my mind.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:17 PM
horizontal rule
43

35: wow, I don't see what's wrong with the second and third example. They both sound like people trying their best not to sound like they're entitled to anything and who think they should act as if the admission process is entirely objective. That's the message most kids get, unless they're true superstars of some sort.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:17 PM
horizontal rule
44

40: When will Rauchway learn what the rest of us know already, that loving Ben is a losing game?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:17 PM
horizontal rule
45

37--
this is not necessarily a bad method, but i would not recommend it to people for the simple reason that personnel shift around too rapidly (see 13 and others up above).
so the wonder is not that you're friends now, but that he's still there at all.
that's why it makes more sense to choose by depth of bench, or by overall strength (the thought being that a strong department will probably replace a departure with an equivalent--it may not be the friend you hoped for, but someone roughly as good).


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
46

43: Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. What would the kid have been supposed to say? "I'm nice"?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
47

I didn't want him to get the impression I have any clue what he's talking about 99 percent of the time.

Seconded.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:19 PM
horizontal rule
48

But what is wrong with not wanting to get involved in extracurricular activities?

In some contexts, nothing at all (U. Chicago, say). But if you are applying to BIU, you should have done enough homework to know that that was the WRONG ANSWER.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:20 PM
horizontal rule
49

What would the kid have been supposed to say? "I'm nice"?

Really. I would have interpreted that question as "So, did you forget to include anything in your application?" I wouldn't want to admit to that kind of sloppiness.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:21 PM
horizontal rule
50

45: Yeah, the nice thing about my school is that all the profs are tenured, and no one wants to leave NYC. We've lost a few stellar young people to Ivies, but that's pretty rare, and all the people I wanted to work with here are old and comfy.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:22 PM
horizontal rule
51

But if you are applying to BIU, you should have done enough homework to know that that was the WRONG ANSWER

Gaaaah. At 17 years old (and a crappy urban public high school), I would have had no idea hat a university admissions officer would have wanted to hear from me, other than the truth, and would have been equally clueless as to how to find out. Do colleges these days actually want kids to game the system and/or hire college application consultants?


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:25 PM
horizontal rule
52

+w


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:25 PM
horizontal rule
53

43, 46: Someone who really knew how to play the game would have come up with something along the lines of "I'm so much more than the sum of my parts" or "The paper record is but a pale reflection of my inate awesomeness." Even LB's "I'm nice" would have been a respectable answer. By the time these kids are seniors in college and applying for jobs, they know the drill.

FWIW, I didn't hold it against the girl in the last case (not that my opinion was dispositive in any event). I thought she was a sincere constitutionally modest individual whose talents showed pretty clearly through her record.

In the second example, you'll just have to take my word for it that this kid had the most unidimensional personality imaginable. I wasn't going to sentence anyone to being his roommate.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:26 PM
horizontal rule
54

There are twelve bloggers polled in the McLemee article. Of them, four regularly comment here. That means Unfogged represents, let me see ... carry the three ... divide by eleven ... eat sandwich ... that means a full thirty-three percent of the academic blogosphere lives on Unfogged. Pretty impressive digs you have here, ogged ...


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:26 PM
horizontal rule
55

39 made me laugh and laugh.


Posted by: Cleo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:27 PM
horizontal rule
56

In the second example, you'll just have to take my word for it that this kid had the most unidimensional personality imaginable. I wasn't going to sentence anyone to being his roommate.

I'm hating you a whole lot right now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:27 PM
horizontal rule
57

In the second example, you'll just have to take my word for it that this kid had the most unidimensional personality imaginable.

It's pretty amazing that you can gauge this with such certainty from a 30 minute interview with a nervous teenager you've never met before.



Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:28 PM
horizontal rule
58

Of course, Teo, they want students who are preternaturally mature and have a vision of some kind for their future, mixed with an irrepressible curiosity about the world. These kids do really exist, but they're truly rare, and they have to compete against all the rich kids who got consultants to teach them how to say, "I am preternaturally mature and have a vision for my future mixed with an irrepressible curiosity about the world!"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:28 PM
horizontal rule
59

OMG, I don't know why I read jms as Teo. I need to pay more attention. Haven't eaten all day. Hello, trusty lentils and quinoa!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:28 PM
horizontal rule
60

Blah. The "so anything else you want to tell me" question is an opportunity to, you know, be a *person* rather than an application. Every human being on earth bitches about writing cover letters because they're so damn dry; offered a chance to sound like a human being, the answer "it's all in the application" sounds awfully robotic.

Now, of course, college applicants, especially the high-achieving type girls, tend to be the nervous, color-in-the-lines sort. But still.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:29 PM
horizontal rule
61

At 17 years old (and a crappy urban public high school), I would have had no idea hat a university admissions officer would have wanted to hear from me, other than the truth, and would have been equally clueless as to how to find out.

At 17 years old from a crappy rural high school, I knew enough even from reading the BIU brochures that you were expected to have some interests outside of academics, and even if I didn't, I would have been savvy enough to fake some, and I was about as unsavvy as they come.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:29 PM
horizontal rule
62

In some contexts, nothing at all (U. Chicago, say). But if you are applying to BIU, you should have done enough homework to know that that was the WRONG ANSWER.

I swear that was the answer my alumni interviewer for MIT was looking for. The guy seemed positively peeved when I asked about some of the sports there, and then continued his hour-long blovation on how hard the academics were and how you have to invest all your time in the school work because "you're competing with the best in the world".

Bleh, I'm sure you're a much better interviewer, Knecht, since you come across as a nice guy on the interwebs. But my US college applications really soured me on the entire idea of alumni interviews. They still seem inexplicable and fairly useless.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:29 PM
horizontal rule
63

But if you are applying to BIU, you should have done enough homework to know that that was the WRONG ANSWER.

What kind of homework? How does one find out what homework is required?

In both my college and grad-school admissions processes I had countless moments of despair trying to find some secret part of each college's website or literature in which they explained some way in which they weren't identical to every other college. But no, almost every college claims to be the ideal college for everyone, and they all present themselves exactly the same way. I figured any rumors I heard about the places' true reputations were just anecdotal and biased, which probably was a mistake on my part, but I never heard very many rumors anyway.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:29 PM
horizontal rule
64

Someone who really knew how to play the game would have come up with something along the lines of "I'm so much more than the sum of my parts" or "The paper record is but a pale reflection of my inate awesomeness." Even LB's "I'm nice" would have been a respectable answer. By the time these kids are seniors in college and applying for jobs, they know the drill.

*moan*

I'm sure the actual interviews came off as you're describing, but this set of expectations, as you have phrased it here, is drastically icky.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:30 PM
horizontal rule
65

I had an alumnus interview in which the guy spent almost the whole time showing off his house to me and telling me how much he knew about Finnish. I was not admitted to that school (Harvard).


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
66

I did, however, figure out on my visit to Franklin & Marshall that they had worse biology facilities than my high school, so I shouldn't go there to be a biology major. But they wouldn't have told me that if I had asked.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
67

It's pretty amazing that you can gauge this with such certainty from a 30 minute interview with a nervous teenager you've never met before.

Fair enough. But I have rarely been so confident in my assessment of a person. I could give many examples, but I can't say more without revealing confidences.

I will say that I didn't blackball the guy. I wrote something along the lines of "BIU will either be very good for Mr. X, or make him very miserable, or possibly both."

BTW he didn't appear at all nervous. He exuded self-confidence, as it happens.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
68

I had an alumnus interview in which the guy spent almost the whole time showing off his house to me and telling me how much he knew about Finnish.

Did he score?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:32 PM
horizontal rule
69

I am with jms. Down with hoop jumping

But if you are applying to BIU, you should have done enough homework to know that that was the WRONG ANSWER


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:33 PM
horizontal rule
70

I think that question is an invitation to say something personal about you, which no one really wants you to say (whether it's "I totally run a knitting blog!" or "I did cocaine for a few years, but reading Derrida turned me around!") but should probably know about you nonetheless.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:33 PM
horizontal rule
71

Ooh, I had a tense, scary MIT alumni interview. I was working as an RA for an education professor, and she was doing a study of how non-cognitive variables affected student performance by race -- like, you'd hand out a questionaire asking about family support and that sort of thing, and then see how it correlated with grades broken down by ethnicity. And I started talking about the research, and suddenly the interviewer's ears pricked forward and I realized that I needed to be very clear that this was not intended to be Nazi race science, and at the end of the interview I was not certain that that had come across. But she clearly didn't ding me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:34 PM
horizontal rule
72

Not with me, boy. His evaluation was probably along the lines of, "Did not strike me as sufficiently intellectually curious for the Harvard Way. Frigid."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:35 PM
horizontal rule
73

During my one college-application interview, I think I responded to that type of question by saying "I've always wanted to work at a college radio station". He was not impressed at all, though some interviewers would have been. I probably would have been unhappy at MIT anyway.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:35 PM
horizontal rule
74

Colleges interview people?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:36 PM
horizontal rule
75

The generic applicant for jobs in English and history should reflect on the fact that 99% or so of the time their chances will be exactly the same as mine.

And a Merry Christmas to all.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:37 PM
horizontal rule
76

this set of expectations, as you have phrased it here, is drastically icky

I don't mean to leave the impression that I'm setting a bar at "effective bullshitting". I just found it amusing that even in an era of hyper-prepared, overcoached applicants (the area I live in is the epicenter of college application neurosis) that such flashes of ingenuousness come through.

And to repeat: I did not hold it against the girl; I found it kind of endearing.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:37 PM
horizontal rule
77

At my house, we like to say "Merry Fuckwad."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:37 PM
horizontal rule
78

(I knew many graduate programs did, but undergrad??)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:37 PM
horizontal rule
79

knew enough even from reading the BIU brochures that you were expected to have some interests outside of academics, and even if I didn't, I would have been savvy enough to fake some

So BIU really is looking for a class of system-savvy fakers. Blech, I say unto them.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:38 PM
horizontal rule
80

66 was true of Notre Dame when I visited (and was a biochem prospect). Very sad.

What kills me is that, when you're applying as an undergrad, it's like you're getting married or something. Wake Forest flew me out for a weekend, wined and dined me, had long, long interviews for me with the Biochem faculty and the administration (who indulged my infantile interest in French film), called me afterwards to persuade me, and even called again after I turned them down. My undergrad interviews weren't all like this, but a lot of them were. I've never felt so irrationally loved by so many different people who should have known better.

But does grad school do interviews? Hell, no. They looked at basically a transcript, a letter, and a writing sample, and asked little else. No phone calls, no interviews, not from any of the schools I applied to.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:38 PM
horizontal rule
81

MIT and Harvard do. That may be all.

Penn and Williams never interviewed me, even though I ended up on the waiting list at both.

I applied to six colleges, four of which I could never have afforded to go to, indicating that my entire painstaking decision of where to apply was based almost entirely on the expectations of my peers. All four of them rejected me anyway, after three had me on the waiting list.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:39 PM
horizontal rule
82

Wake Forest flew me out for a weekend, wined and dined me, had long, long interviews for me with the Biochem faculty and the administration

Holy fucking hell. I must have been one seriously undesireable candidate.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:40 PM
horizontal rule
83

What kills me is that, when you're applying as an undergrad, it's like you're getting married or something. Wake Forest flew me out for a weekend, wined and dined me, had long, long interviews for me with the Biochem faculty and the administration (who indulged my infantile interest in French film), called me afterwards to persuade me, and even called again after I turned them down. My undergrad interviews weren't all like this, but a lot of them were.

Whoa, that sounds like something I never thought happened in reality.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:40 PM
horizontal rule
84

Smart kid from Kansas? Bear may have been geographically desirable, and therefore worth wooing hard. MIT did some wooing for the female and minority applicants -- a nice weekend on campus -- and it worked for me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:42 PM
horizontal rule
85

I'm sure I've shared this anecdote because I love it so:

I snuck a peak at my college recommendations once, in some administrative office when the person stepped out for a minute and left my file sitting there. Quote: "Heebie can make or break the best laid lesson plans."

I sure can!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:42 PM
horizontal rule
86

Oh, please: how the hell is an applicant supposed to know unless s/he has spent upwards of a fortnight in every given department?

American academic departments are pretty much the same everywhere; the difference lies in degrees that are difficult to discern during a recruitment visit.


Posted by: fig | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:42 PM
horizontal rule
87

What kills me is that, when you're applying as an undergrad, it's like you're getting married or something. Wake Forest flew me out for a weekend, wined and dined me, had long, long interviews for me with the Biochem faculty and the administration (who indulged my infantile interest in French film), called me afterwards to persuade me, and even called again after I turned them down

I have the creeping suspeicion that AWB is the daughter of royalty, or that she invented the sticky pad in the eleventh grade.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:42 PM
horizontal rule
88

I had an alumnus interview in which the guy spent almost the whole time showing off his house to me and telling me how much he knew about Finnish.

Heh. My Harvard alum interviewer was an insurance salesman from Peoria of "Will it play in Peoria?" fame. He was a nice enough guy, and an anthropology major, but he wouldn't even talk about his subject despite anthropology possibly being the best interesting-small-talk subject in existance.

When he asked me with a straight face "If you could be a breed of dog, what breed would it be? And why?", I knew it was time to shuffle that school even lower on the choice ladder.

(Not that it mattered, as they rejected me anyway)


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:43 PM
horizontal rule
89

84 sounds right, although I wouldn't have said it myself.

Every college wants to say they have people from all 50 states. I have no idea why they trumpet their love for affirmative action policies that benefit the good citizens of Wyoming.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:43 PM
horizontal rule
90

suspicion, I mean.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:43 PM
horizontal rule
91

um, yeah; did awb hit the sat jackpot, or what?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:43 PM
horizontal rule
92

82: Affirmative action, baby.

Actually, I got lots of undeserved love as an undergrad applicant because, not only was I a girl in the sciences, I was also one who wrote bad poetry and acted, and had worked two years as a biochemical technician. My grades were sort of shitty, and my test scores meh, but I think I looked like the sort of "well rounded" person they're always saying they want.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:43 PM
horizontal rule
93

LB is right about geography too. All my friends had similar interviewing experiences, so I assumed they were normal for the pretty-smart set. But it's probably the Kansas in us. Everyone wants some!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:45 PM
horizontal rule
94

And it turns out the person I flattered so heavily in my application letter never read it and hadn't heard of me when I presented myself to him with my eternal love. In fact, since no one ever seeks him out, he sort of freaked out and didn't talk me unless he had to for about a year.

The thousand-yard stare is not appropriate to every social situation.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:46 PM
horizontal rule
95

All these articles about how to get your brilliant kids into colleges need to think about location. They can't accept the 9/10 of your NYC private-school graduating class who want to go to the same 3 schools. But they'll always at least consider a kid from the sticks.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:49 PM
horizontal rule
96

95: See, my 31 was encouraging, not mean.

The child of a professor in Rexburg has a great shot at the college of her dreams.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:50 PM
horizontal rule
97

95--
very true.
also for privates vs. publics. don't send your kid to choate or exeter; send them to the public high school in camden, nj.
if they survive and pass all their courses, they'll get accepted to any college in the country.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:50 PM
horizontal rule
98

Colleges interview people?

All five schools I applied to did, but they were an odd set. The best by far was the interview at Cambridge, which was actually two interviews, one with a more "dean of students" type prof who was either a humanities person or a science-y person depending on your desired subject, and the other was a subject-specific interview with one or two profs in your subject throwing questions at you to see how you thought and how quick you were.

It was probably the best single source of information on how good a student is that I've ever seen in college applications.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
99

Do alumni interviews matter at all? I always thought they mostly still existed (and yes, Brock, they do, but only at handful of schools, mostly Ivies and similar) to make the alumni feel useful. My one alumni interview was with a very pleasant woman who was very clearly not going to have any substantive influence on the admissions decision whatsoever. I got in and ended up going to the school, but I doubt her (doubtless very positive) report had anything to do with that.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:51 PM
horizontal rule
100

95 is true. Kids from my high school in north Florida placed very well. Granted, it was a magnet school in a college town, so it had a pool of reasonably ambitious kids. But still.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:52 PM
horizontal rule
101

Florida is not exactly North Dakota in terms of scarcity of high-school students. On the other hand, I guess it's tough to get people to move from there to Minnesota or rural New York in order to fill a college's roster.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:55 PM
horizontal rule
102

99--
"I doubt her (doubtless very positive) report had anything to do with that"

au contraire. if you went to a snooty school, then the alumni interview played an important role.
remember: the snootier the school, the more the students look indistinguishable on the paper credentials. i have ten applicants for this one slot, and all ten of them have 4.0's and 770's or better on their sats.
so i've got to discriminate on other factors, and the alumni interview looms larger.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
103

I have no idea why they trumpet their love for affirmative action policies that benefit the good citizens of Wyoming.

Because Wyoming and similar states are composed almost entirely of white Christians.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
104

I don't know, 103. Sometimes they want someone from DC and Puerto Rico, too.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:58 PM
horizontal rule
105

102: Huh. How do they choose the alumni who do the interviewing?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 6:58 PM
horizontal rule
106

Sometimes they want someone from DC and Puerto Rico, too.

These days, sure. But 103 really was the original reason for interviews, which were instituted in the early twentieth century when the Ivies began to get concerned that their student bodies were getting too Jewish.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:02 PM
horizontal rule
107

And the geographical diversity requirement, I meant to say.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:03 PM
horizontal rule
108

also for privates vs. publics. don't send your kid to choate or exeter; send them to the public high school in camden, nj.
if they survive and pass all their courses, they'll get accepted to any college in the country.

IME, this is not actually true (except, possibly, if you're a member of a disadvantaged minority group, and even then I'm skeptical). They want kids who can hack it, and that means schools they know.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:04 PM
horizontal rule
109

But I'm from a rural, undereducated state too, dammit! That's probably what I get for not applying to any colleges that weren't in my or an adjacent state. Oh well.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:05 PM
horizontal rule
110

My this thread is depressing.

I'm not even sure why.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:06 PM
horizontal rule
111

Not to harp (counterfactual rhetorical introduction), but Jesus F. Christ, you guys are reinforcing my nihilism.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:06 PM
horizontal rule
112

What kills me is that, when you're applying as an undergrad, it's like you're getting married or something. Wake Forest flew me out for a weekend, wined and dined me, had long, long interviews for me with the Biochem faculty and the administration (who indulged my infantile interest in French film), called me afterwards to persuade me, and even called again after I turned them down

I had the exact opposite experience: I had to beg and plead my way into undergrad (not surprising, since I had a 1.7 GPA coming out of high school); but Indiana, Wisconsin-Madison and UCI all flew me out for a formal interview and meet-and-greet.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:07 PM
horizontal rule
113

My this thread is depressing.

Isn't it just.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:07 PM
horizontal rule
114

110: Because we're grownups getting weird about undergraduate admissions? The grad-school stuff is depressing enough for those it applies to, but dwelling on getting into college is just grimly depressing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:07 PM
horizontal rule
115

Undergraduate admissions do stay with people well past the moment of truth. I remember telling my college roommate that I had enclosed my high school band's cassette with my application. "I should have done that," he said. "Yes," I said. "Then you might have gotten in."


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:10 PM
horizontal rule
116

Florida is not exactly North Dakota in terms of scarcity of high-school students.

Hey, we think we're special. Plus I said north FL.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:11 PM
horizontal rule
117

I'm mostly just still bitter about not getting into Chicago, for which I blame ben w-lfs-n.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:13 PM
horizontal rule
118

if you have reason to think someone prevented you from getting into chicago, then you have reason to send them a thank-you note.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:14 PM
horizontal rule
119

Do you blame him for your bitterness or for their admission decision?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:14 PM
horizontal rule
120

North Florida is not a separate state, heebie.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:15 PM
horizontal rule
121

What kid said. Oh, I should be grateful, they took me in when I was fleeing MIT physics. But not a fun school.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:15 PM
horizontal rule
122

Five-sixths of my alumni interviewers were investment bankers. The exception went to U of C, naturally.

This is to say: alumni interviews are useless.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:16 PM
horizontal rule
123

I went to big State U. It was hella good times. You poeple missed out.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:17 PM
horizontal rule
124

North Florida is not a separate state, heebie.

It's a gas! Whereas south Florida is liquid.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:17 PM
horizontal rule
125

Yeah, I'm with Wrongshore. Something about the first time of really being judged at a semi-stringent level based on very limited data sticks with you. Grad school interviews, job interviews, resumes upon resumes, they come and go after the first time, but you'll always remember when you first stared at a piece of paper and thought "I have to write something that will impress people I've never met, and make them like me. They have thousands of other people doing the exact same thing."

Plus, I totally wish I'd gone with my first instinct and just written my main "What you should know about me / Why you should accept me" essay in the form of a free-verse spoof of "Song of Myself".


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:17 PM
horizontal rule
126

So alumni interviews are useless and are also the crucially important tiebreaking factor for admission. This thread is indeed depressing!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:17 PM
horizontal rule
127

Chicago was my dream school for undergrad. I got in, but not with nearly enough financial aid to make it doable. I'm still bitter.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:17 PM
horizontal rule
128

Do you blame him for your bitterness or for their admission decision?

I blame him for everything.

But not a fun school.

Neither was the one I ended up going to. I figure U of C would have at least been unfun in a way more suited to me.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:19 PM
horizontal rule
129

Because we're grownups getting weird about undergraduate admissions?

No, actually it reminds me that, if the system is based on the assumption that everyone will oversell themselves, it's hard to find a path that allows you to be only moderately ambitious. Particularly if you're not good at BS, and have a strong aversion to overselling yourself.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:19 PM
horizontal rule
130

Do alumni interviews matter at all?

Good question. My hazy memory reports that mine involved animated discussion with the alumna about her recent interest in digitizing a local library system, and her recounting of some classmate of hers who kept an armadillo, or some such, as a pet. We must have talked about other things.

If I did anything right in that interview, it may have been my ambivalence over being accepted. I'd applied under pressure, entirely expected to be rejected, and so walked in innocent as hell, slightly frowning, wondering what these people wanted of me, anyway. I just talked, and we laughed some.

A confluence of uncontrollable factors. Actually, freshman orientation involved a long speech from B/ok or someone to the effect that none of us knew why we should be there, yet we must trust that they'd seen something in us, but a third of us would fail. Creep-city.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:20 PM
horizontal rule
131

Gah! This thread just reminds me how clueless I was as a teenager and how clueless I still am. As has been said before, cultural capital is important.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:20 PM
horizontal rule
132

No, actually it reminds me that, if the system is based on the assumption that everyone will oversell themselves, it's hard to find a path that allows you to be only moderately ambitious. Particularly if you're not good at BS, and have a strong aversion to overselling yourself.

God, Nick, we really are the same person.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:21 PM
horizontal rule
133

I remember an alumni interview with a woman from Bryn Mawr. It was lovely. Actually everything about applying to Bryn Mawr was lovely, including their acceptance packet. And the campus tour at Haverford was really warm, with students yelling out the windows "come to Haverford!"

When it came down to it, though, I went to the place that offered me the most money.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:21 PM
horizontal rule
134

129 gets it right.

I was hoping the process would be as objective as possible, because I'd spent my whole life trying to be mature and avoiding risks and mistakes. But it wasn't like that.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:23 PM
horizontal rule
135

I think the weird and depressing elements of all of this, or what makes it stay with us, as Wrongshore said in 115, relate to learning the game, and when and how you figure out certain rules. For instance, 60 makes me far angrier than it probably should. Now, part of it is the sting of recognition, sure. But this -

Blah. The "so anything else you want to tell me" question is an opportunity to, you know, be a *person* rather than an application.

- is something I just don't think the first 17 years of my life had put me in a position to be able to figure out on my own. So, yeah, residual angst about growing up, figuring it out, etc.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:23 PM
horizontal rule
136

Although I love the grad school experience so far, no one I know from or at UofC undergrad seems to have really enjoyed the experience. Except for the guys on the frisbee team, who don't really go in for all that academics nonsense. They're having a great time.

The lesson is clear for any lurkers out there looking to attend UofC.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:23 PM
horizontal rule
137

Blah. The "so anything else you want to tell me" question is an opportunity to, you know, be a *person* rather than an application.

- is something I just don't think the first 17 years of my life had put me in a position to be able to figure out on my own.

I certainly didn't think the interviewers wanted to hear my sophomoric attempts to be clever and witty and unique.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:25 PM
horizontal rule
138

This thread is making me furiously angry, which is odd, since I didn't have a stressful or unpleasant college application process at all. I don't think I'm really angry at the thread, though; I'm angry at the enwhitelment. (In the world, mostly. Not the thread.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:31 PM
horizontal rule
139

God, Nick, we really are the same person.

Creepy isn't it?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:32 PM
horizontal rule
140

I'm angry at the enwhitelment.

One of my roommates asked me what blackface was today. Oh, god...


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:32 PM
horizontal rule
141

Well, yeah. I'm pretty damn enwhiteled: big city kid with professional parents, went to a good high school, and I still feel hostile about someone saying that any savvy 17 year old should have known how to work the system. I'm reasonably bright, but at 17 I had very little of that sort of savvy. If it really makes a difference, that's wildly unfair to kids with less in the way of cultural resources.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:34 PM
horizontal rule
142

This is similar to some advice I had for folks a while back. Folks thought I was kind of exaggerating, but really I don't think so. I'm also not necessarily endorsing the degree of specialization that this involves, and the lack of exploratory discovery in grad school, but that's the way it is, and if you want to get a doctorate, you really need to seem like you know something about the way it is.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:40 PM
horizontal rule
143

a subject-specific interview with one or two profs in your subject throwing questions at you

This reminds me of an interview I had for a summer program. I had to write essays on various intellectual topics, and then three (!) interviewers argued with me about them for an hour.

I wanted to die at the end, but it earned the program a great reputation with colleges.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:42 PM
horizontal rule
144

I feel like it has suited me very, very well not to seek out the most prestigious institution at any crossroads.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:43 PM
horizontal rule
145

Whereas I was from a medium-sized backwater city with a famous gang problem, my folks were school teachers who finished their degrees at the local state college after I was born, I went to an okay high school, and I just didn't worry all that much about college apps--my SATs were fine, I knew I was smart, and while I was a little bit nervous about the interviews I also really thought that part of the point of them was to find out if I wanted to go to that particular school or not, as much as "would I get in?"

So, you know, maybe the secret is a certain *lack* of enwhitlement (defined in part as the kind of noxious pressure to Get Into Harvard that the upper middle class is so obsessed with).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:43 PM
horizontal rule
146

I don't recommend trying to game the system. I recommend sending kids to high schools that aren't too terribly demanding and urging them to have a broad sense of their abilities. I played the game well by chance. I had no friends until I went to high school, so I bored myself with reading, Scrabble, computer programming, and dissecting animals my dad killed in the backyard. In high school, I had nothing to lose and people didn't seem to remember how much they hated me as a kid, so I blithely signed up for all the activities my older brother did and made a few friends. I had parents who were really religious, but also interested in film, so they gave me stuff to think about on top of nerdery and desperate friend-making behavior.

I would have been a total wreck if I'd grown up around people who gave me any warnings at all about what I needed to do to become a good candidate for undergrad schools.

I would have been a much better candidate for grad school if I'd grown up around people who game me any warnings at all about what I needed to become a good candidate for grad school.

It's all the crapshoot of life, and it blows.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:44 PM
horizontal rule
147

(How's that for some reverse-snobbery horn-tooting? Oh heebie, you're so deliciously slumful.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:44 PM
horizontal rule
148

Pwned by Heebie. Damn.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:44 PM
horizontal rule
149

the kind of noxious pressure to Get Into Harvard that the upper middle class is so obsessed with

My mother met someone at a party who was a member of a support group for Ivy-league alumni whose children did not get into Ivy Leagues.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:45 PM
horizontal rule
150

144 is teh true. I've always ended up at the less-prestigious place, but happier in my class rage than I would have been. Wake Forest offered me a better fellowship and more prestige than the college I attended, but most of the students I met were insufferable snobs who'd never met anyone without money before. The college was really sweet to me, but man, that place was fucking white.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:46 PM
horizontal rule
151

149 is kind of awesome.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:47 PM
horizontal rule
152

149: that's hilarious. I'd like to sign up my parents as a joke.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:51 PM
horizontal rule
153

So, you know, maybe the secret is a certain *lack* of enwhitlement (defined in part as the kind of noxious pressure to Get Into Harvard that the upper middle class is so obsessed with).

Lacking this myself in its entirety, I can assure you this is not the secret. At least not all of it. OTOH, 144 and 150 seem right.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:52 PM
horizontal rule
154

Is it really much more competitive to get into elite schools today than it was for the class of ten years ago? That seems to me to be the case, but it also seems a case of boomer parents generating a media feedback loop.

I'm high school 'XX -- do those of you who are my age and teach see kids who have had to prove much more to get the same kind of acceptances you got?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:53 PM
horizontal rule
155

152: Christmas present!


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:54 PM
horizontal rule
156

My secret to getting into college was getting terrible, terrible grades and reasonably high test scores. Sure enough, I got into one of the schools I applied to!

One of the ten.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:54 PM
horizontal rule
157

I have the same impression about increased competitiveness (high school '88), but I don't know if it's true.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:57 PM
horizontal rule
158

I suspect it's largely a result of the fact that my generation is a lot bigger than yours.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:58 PM
horizontal rule
159

My undergraduate strategy was to go to the two-year college that reminded me the most of summer camp, then follow my ex-girlfriend to university.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:58 PM
horizontal rule
160

159: yeah that was my strategy the second time around, minus the ex-girlfriend. Worked swell.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 7:59 PM
horizontal rule
161

158: How much bigger?

I think the common application also helps--the cost of applying to all of the colleges at once is very low. Are acceptance rates lower these days than they used to be?

Someone invent the internet so we can find answers to these question.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:00 PM
horizontal rule
162

But if you are applying to BIU, you should have done enough homework to know that that was the WRONG ANSWER.

Of course, this imposes a greater burden on kids at schools without competent, or any, college counselors, who don't know that that might be relevant, etc, than it does on privileged kids.

In the second example, you'll just have to take my word for it that this kid had the most unidimensional personality imaginable. I wasn't going to sentence anyone to being his roommate.

And you think this is what (my preferred version of) Chicago wants?

Someone who really knew how to play the game would have come up with something along the lines of "I'm so much more than the sum of my parts" or "The paper record is but a pale reflection of my inate awesomeness."

If I were doing interviews, anyone who said that would get a big thumbs down. Of course, interviews for Chicago really aren't that influential (something I have to tell myself since my interviewer was my father, and the interview was conducted while cooking dinner).

I realize that all of this has been said in the thread before, but eh.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:00 PM
horizontal rule
163

I suspect it's got a *lot* to do with the fact that many of the people commenting here are from the east coast and/or went to Ivy League schools. There are, you know, a lot of colleges that aren't Ivies. Some of them are even quite good.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:00 PM
horizontal rule
164

I can't think of any two-year colleges that are anything like summer camp. Well, okay, one. Which, just now looking at Wrongshore's facebook profile, I see that he attended.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
165

Also, in case it isn't obvious from 1, I had the least savvy grad school application process imaginable, and now I regret it. :(


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:01 PM
horizontal rule
166

Does Chicago still have the really cool application question? I remember seeing one that was based on the teleportation booth from Reasons and Persons.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:02 PM
horizontal rule
167

How much bigger?

I don't have exact figures, but a lot. There are more of us than there are boomers.

Are acceptance rates lower these days than they used to be?

Yes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:03 PM
horizontal rule
168

And in fact, I think sometime lurker Craig has the same attitude as I espouse above about the seemingly well-coached, and he really does interview people.

(I figure that if you seem well-coached but aren't, you're probably a slimeball anyway, so a few false positives isn't a big deal.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:03 PM
horizontal rule
169

Does Chicago still have the really cool application question?

When I applied it was "How do you feel about Wednesday?"


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:04 PM
horizontal rule
170

144, 150: It does seem very important to recognise what kind of institution will be culturally comfortable to work and study in. I was so surprised to get a job offer from an institution much more prestigious than my PhD-granting one that I took it without thinking through the degree to which its white, middle-class cultural homogeneity would drive me crazy.


Posted by: Cleo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:04 PM
horizontal rule
171

Does Chicago still have the really cool application question?

The question I answered last year:

Essay Option 1
"Don't play what's there, play what's not there." -- Miles Davis (1926-91)

Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:04 PM
horizontal rule
172

Does Chicago still have the really cool application question?

Sort of.

The new administration (hissssss) wanted to move to the common application, I think. Jesus christ.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:04 PM
horizontal rule
173

163: It's not just the east coast and the Ivies, though. It's a lot harder to get into our alma mater than it used to be, for example, B.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:05 PM
horizontal rule
174

My grad school is bringing in better students every year. We're more prestigious now, but I wouldn't have gotten in.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:05 PM
horizontal rule
175

164: Um. I suppose that's fair, but let's leave it right there, for discretion's sake. (Confirming via Facebook profile isn't really fair, but it was easy enough to get to without going there.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:06 PM
horizontal rule
176

163. Roll eyes.

Damn. Still in a maze of twisty passages.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:06 PM
horizontal rule
177

Oh, destroyer proves me wrong, I guess.

Immediately after the year I applied, or the year after that, they stopped doing the truly bizarre questions and started soliciting questions from the matriculating class one of which would be selected as an option for next year's applicants. So they didn't all have the same feel. The year my sister applied was great but I don't know if it was exceptional; one was required to write an essay starting with the phrase "I still remember my first experience with ice", or something like that, and it had to include three or four of a list of items, one of which was the complete works of shakespeare, and it couldn't be about a college applicant.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:07 PM
horizontal rule
178

173: True, but then again it always was a safe school for Ivy League applicants.

The UCs are apparently much harder to get into as well. Then again, there are also a lot of professors who would have been teaching at the UCs or other 4 year schools who are now teaching in community colleges, and I would certainly advise prospective freshmen that (1) public universities are *just fine*; (2) doing a couple years at a CC then transferring to save money is also *just fine*.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:07 PM
horizontal rule
179

I suppose that's fair, but let's leave it right there, for discretion's sake.

Sure thing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:07 PM
horizontal rule
180

172: Yes, I know. It's terrible. Ben, were you there for the Fun In? Protesting the ditching of some of the required classes?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:07 PM
horizontal rule
181

My Chicago application asked me to write a short story incorporating the complete works of Shakespeare, a jester, a lost sock, a hospital, and I forget what else. It was really difficult, and I loved it.

But, as I realize now, not having a common application (for lots of things) makes application so much more stressful. I went to a workshop on the job market last week where they told us to be ready for the possibility that every job we apply for will email us asking for a writing sample of a different length, to be given to them within three days. 50 pages, 30, 25, 15, 10, 5, etc. It's really fucked up.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:09 PM
horizontal rule
182

178 gets it right.

The UCs are apparently much harder to get into as well.

I knew a girl who was unbelievably happy to have gotten into UCLA, which to hear her tell it had something like a 60% in-state acceptance rate and a 5% out-of-state acceptance rate. But she couldn't afford it, being out of state.

Penn State worked fine for her.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:09 PM
horizontal rule
183

The UCs are apparently much harder to get into as well.

When I was applying to schools it was common knowledge that the acceptance rate to Berkeley and UCLA for out-of-state students was effectively zero. I don't know if this was or is actually true, but everyone believed it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:10 PM
horizontal rule
184

177 proves that Ben's sister and I applied to the same class at Chicago. I'd forgotten the ice thing, but that was it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:11 PM
horizontal rule
185

180: I don't think so. I was there 00-04, so I was late for the first wave of protests about cutting down the core, and I think the next ones were later.

I remember talking my last year with someone who was part of the undergrad group that got to pretend to be involved with administrative matters who wanted to make Chicago more accessible, or have a softer image, or something, so that people who didn't know that much about it, or who went by the (good lord) US News rankings, might be more likely to apply. And of course I appreciate the concern, that there could be people out there who would be right for Chicago who wouldn't know about it because the information distribution about these things is so fucked. But the right way to attract those people is to make the university more ordinary.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:12 PM
horizontal rule
186

179: That said, I will strongly recommend the summer camp in question to anyone who has or is a ten- to sixteen-year-old they wish to learn arts, music, self-government and folk dancing in the company of children from many different nations. Kids do the dishes, it ain't hoity-toity.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:14 PM
horizontal rule
187

I can't think of any two-year colleges that are anything like summer camp. Well, okay, one. Which, just now looking at Wrongshore's facebook profile, I see that he attended.

Wrongshore went to Deep Springs? Holy crap.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:14 PM
horizontal rule
188


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:15 PM
horizontal rule
189

whoa, cryptic, dude.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:16 PM
horizontal rule
190

Ned...


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:16 PM
horizontal rule
191

188 s/b >sigh<


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:17 PM
horizontal rule
192

sorry, I had no idea that might actually be true. redact if needed, of course.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:17 PM
horizontal rule
193

188: Wait. Did you go to Deep Springs? That's pretty intense.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:17 PM
horizontal rule
194

It looks neat, Wrongshore. What's the general profile, socio-economic-wise?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:18 PM
horizontal rule
195

Were you there the summer they hosted a TASP and everyone fucked each other?


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:18 PM
horizontal rule
196

193: Oh, ok. Sorry -- delete me too. I didn't know we were treading on anything.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:19 PM
horizontal rule
197

I'd settle for google-proofing. Given that my age is in the thread, it identifies me as one of fewer than twenty people.

But yes, I kind of gave it away.

It was way cool. And dirty.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:20 PM
horizontal rule
198

194: Dismally white. There had been three black students there by the time I got there. It swings back and forth between higher and lower concentrations of prep schoolers. The thinking is that minorities who can get in are often offered a lot of incentives to go to elite schools, and have a lot of pressure to accept. This is self-serving, though I think accurate thinking.

195: No, but two years after, and it totally traumatized the discussion around coeducation.

Consider this my official request that De/p Spr/ngs be googleproofed. I'm out of politics, so I don't need to be that sensitive.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:23 PM
horizontal rule
199

197: That is super cool! I went to a weirdo college, but yours is a bigger weirdo college.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:23 PM
horizontal rule
200

Also, if anyone's looking, that my h.s. year in 154 be redacted. Sorry to be a pain. I will now have this discussion, as it is a very cool thing.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:24 PM
horizontal rule
201

Weirdoer!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:25 PM
horizontal rule
202

195: did you do a TASP?


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:25 PM
horizontal rule
203

Do alumni interviews matter at all?

No, at least not at any of the schools I'm familiar with. A particularly bad alumni interview might be noteworthy to the admissions officer, but too many them are glowing for them to be useful.

Brown just switched to the common application, which makes me a little sad.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:26 PM
horizontal rule
204

B, if you think Deep Springs looks cool, check out this summer program. It's both the best thing I've done and the reason I got into college.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:26 PM
horizontal rule
205

I love that part of C/alifornia. The drive up 3/9/5 from L/A to B/urning M/an is one of my f/avorites.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:27 PM
horizontal rule
206

did you do a TASP?

Yes. I'm very tempted to be a factotum, too.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:28 PM
horizontal rule
207

I never had an alumni interview, at least that I remember. I did have several overnight campus visits, some at very strange places where I saw the drunkest people I've ever seen (still). That scared me, as a teetotaling youth. The clammy handshake from a tottering, sweaty, pallid man... ugh. I believe that was at Washington & Lee. Not a good fit for your Bear.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:28 PM
horizontal rule
208

204: Ha. I applied to the Telluride program (in approximately the year of the Flood), but I did not get in!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:29 PM
horizontal rule
209

205: You are mocking a makery of me. But stop in for lunch some time, they can be friendly.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:30 PM
horizontal rule
210

205: Proving once again that you can get away with being an ass if you're entertaining about it.

Undergraduate stuff is pretty faded for me and the application process more so, but I'm not to keen on having my kid go through it in a few more years. I'm already telling him the elite school application process is a crapshoot even with strong credentials and that there are lots of good schools out there. My wife is already telling him that he should go to Stanford.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:31 PM
horizontal rule
211

The Telluride house at my school had a reputation for being very, very weird.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:32 PM
horizontal rule
212

206: It's good to know that the oral tradition is very much alife. (ATM, of course.)


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:33 PM
horizontal rule
213

210.1: sorry?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:33 PM
horizontal rule
214

211: Because of the common founder, my school sends a transfer student to that house every year or two. The joke goes, "How many Telluriders does it take to change a lightbulb? One De/p Spr/nger."


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:34 PM
horizontal rule
215

214: Our joke.

Q: How many Johnnies does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: What do you mean by change?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:36 PM
horizontal rule
216

So were you at Chicago too, oudemia, like half of this blog's commenters (roughly)? When (if I may ask)?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:36 PM
horizontal rule
217

Oh, I was talking about the summer camp linked in 186. But yeah, Deep Springs looks really awesome too, for the right sort of person. As does this TASP thing.

I love Unfogged: ya'll give me all these links to nifty ideas for what to do with PK in a few years. How you found out about them, I have no idea. When I was a kid, my big experiences were 4H camp and band camp.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:36 PM
horizontal rule
218

The Telluride Houses and Deep Springs are definitely the weirder branches of the program. Rumor has that one of the Telluride Houses produced porn, and the Iraq War.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:37 PM
horizontal rule
219

214: Heh. I briefly considered applying to live there, because it's free, but quickly discarded that idea when I heard more about it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:37 PM
horizontal rule
220

216: Grad school. I was around from like '98 to '02, because I followed my adviser elsewhere at that point.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:38 PM
horizontal rule
221

Could everyone please stop writing the name of Wrongshore's alma mater without non-googleproofed?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:40 PM
horizontal rule
222

I mean with non-googleproofed, of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:41 PM
horizontal rule
223

the common founder

It's funnier if you say his name, Wrongshore. The founder was Lucien Lucius Nunn. He had a twin brother who died at birth named Lucius Lucien Nunn.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:41 PM
horizontal rule
224

Ah. You know Rob G/rmany?

And do you know what the story was with Krostenko? He was there for a year (00-01) under mysterious circumstances and then left again. He was an awesome teacher.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:42 PM
horizontal rule
225

221: Geez, teo. "McD/n/lds H/mb/rger U/niversity", happy?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:42 PM
horizontal rule
226

happy?

Very.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:42 PM
horizontal rule
227

220 con't: But the degrees are and will be (this year!) from there.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:42 PM
horizontal rule
228

217: Oh, good! I really encourage it and will gladly provide many details.

It's an American sleepaway camp, so there's a strong base of professional-middle-class kids who go, but they do a good job of giving scholarships and getting kids from outside that milieu. They also do a good job of restricting the kind of things you can bring so that kids can't display wealth--no electronics, for example, and food care packages have to be for everyone (not too hard with ~24 campers). The countries represented have tended to be USA and Western Europe; I was in camp with kids from Poland, Yugoslavia (when it was still), Japan and Korea to think of some exceptions.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:43 PM
horizontal rule
229

221: Thank you, teo.

225: Thank you, Grimace.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:44 PM
horizontal rule
230

224: Yes and yes. My understanding with K. is that he really only ever wanted to be at the place from which he had come -- since it was a friendlier Catholic and family kinda place, unlike the mean streets of HP.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:45 PM
horizontal rule
231

218: Clare Wolfowitz was a trustee of DS while I was there; there's a Strauss connection.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:46 PM
horizontal rule
232

(Rob is the one who, during the spring quarter program in Greece, for which he was the TA, related to us his Texan Greek teacher who favored "fixin'". Also his daughters are hilarious.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:49 PM
horizontal rule
233

Paul Wolfowitz is of course strongly associated with my alma mater.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:50 PM
horizontal rule
234

Oh, and K., from whom I took a latin prose class, had us, on the final, translate into latin the sentence "no one thought puff daddy would be convicted", helpfully providing a translation for "puff daddy": tata tumens.

This concludes my anecdotage—for now.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:51 PM
horizontal rule
235

McD/n/lds H/mb/rger 'n Endl/ss W/r Un/vers/ty?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:52 PM
horizontal rule
236

Ben, if you're feeling adminy, I would love it if you could redact my age in 154. The other horse seems to be well out of the china shop.

I know I'm being a priss, but still.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:52 PM
horizontal rule
237

Wrongshore is super, super old. Like crazy old. Methuselah of the high desert.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:53 PM
horizontal rule
238

237: No, but I went to school right near Methuselah of the high desert.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:54 PM
horizontal rule
239

232: Aha! He's a super nice guy. I think just about everyone in that dept. -- faculty and grad student -- is terrifically nice.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:54 PM
horizontal rule
240

D/eep S/prings is a nice cheap school for poor people.

I was in a TAS/P before y'all were born. That's how I eventually met P/aul W/olfowitz, though he was a year older.

1963 T/ASP was the high point of my worldly success, no shit.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:55 PM
horizontal rule
241

234: I took a Greek prose class with prof whose initials are LA and had to translate something about pot brownies aka platakes kannabinos.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:56 PM
horizontal rule
242

238: I knew you were a tree.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:56 PM
horizontal rule
243

Do alumni interviews matter at all?

My impression is that they are more likely to hurt you (or be neutral) than to help you. For the schools that use interviews, the admit rates are so low to begin with that it's basically a crap shoot: at least 60%, if not 80% of the applicants are over the threshold for admission, but there is only space for 10-20%. So the admissions committee is looking for something to distinguish a candidate from a large pool of qualified peers. In very rare cases, that something might be a gushing alumni interview report. More likely, though, the interview will be one more positive data point among many others that does nothing to differentiate the candidate.

By contrast, a negative report is likely to be fatal, since the committed is looking for reasons to winnow down the candidate pool.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 8:57 PM
horizontal rule
244

It's good to know you're a child of Nunn, John. You always struck me as a "blacksmith with an abundance of heart" type.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:00 PM
horizontal rule
245

228: Nifty! I've bookmarked it; PK'll be 9 in only a couple of years, and god knows even last summer I started wistfully wondering when I could send him to a sleepaway camp, so hopefully I'll remember, when the time comes. And since I'm sure that we'll all still be here, you can write him a rec. letter or whatever, if they do such things. The internationalism of the thing alone looks like an awesome opportunity.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:01 PM
horizontal rule
246

By contrast, a negative report is likely to be fatal, since the committed is looking for reasons to winnow down the candidate pool.

Should we really be letting people that seriously mentally ill make admissions decisions?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:01 PM
horizontal rule
247

245: Awesome. I'd love to. I can sing in fourteen languages.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:02 PM
horizontal rule
248

1963 T/ASP

Speaking of enwhitlement, the the 1954 T/ASP.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:02 PM
horizontal rule
249

I interviewed at Harvard and Columbia undergrad. They were low key & unmemorable--then Harvard called me a second time & informed me that they were on the fence about me & would like to re-interview with me by a three-person panel. I'm sure I was too nervous to show even a trace of personality on that one; I'm not sure what it was supposed to accomplish.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:02 PM
horizontal rule
250

My parents totally encouraged me to go to DS (mostly because of the cost issue). I thought the idea was ludicrous, since the point seemed to be to physically isolate people to let them stew in their intellectual juices, while familiarizing them with manual labor. I argued that I had spent my entire life to date being physically isolated and stewing in my intellectual juices while doing manual labor, so I would get a lot more out of going straight to BIU and hanging out with the kids with green hair.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:03 PM
horizontal rule
251

248: That must be Emerson in the hat.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:03 PM
horizontal rule
252

My own alumni interview experience as a HS senior with BIU was as fortuitous as they come. I had to travel to the state capital to meet a doctor dude who was the alumni interviewer. When he heard where I was from, he started to ask me very detailed questions about local topography, zeroing in on a particular fishing hole. I recognized the one he was talking about, and informed him that my father owned that property. His eyes lit up, and he started to tell me about how his father used to take him fishing at that very spot when he was a boy. I spent the next 40 minutes hearing about his childhood fishing trips, and then the time was up and he told me he thought I was a great candidate and he hoped I would get into BIU.

I already suspected that privilege was distributed pretty arbitrarily in our society, but that experience really drove the point home.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:09 PM
horizontal rule
253

250: Yeah, I'm not so convinced about physical isolation during college. I think one of the best things about college is going away and meeting people unlike oneself.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:14 PM
horizontal rule
254

210.1: sorry?

That was intended as a compliment of your witty snark. Next time I'll use emoticons.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:14 PM
horizontal rule
255

254: I'll cut you, motherfucker.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:16 PM
horizontal rule
256

255 LOLz!!!!!:-D


Posted by: OPINIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:18 PM
horizontal rule
257

My wife is already telling him that he should go to Stanford.

Why?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 9:35 PM
horizontal rule
258

I meant to say I really liked his post and will probably send it to several of my students who are applying to grad school

Woo-hoo!

a full thirty-three percent of the academic blogosphere lives on Unfogged

That you know of, SEK. That you know of.


Posted by: Eric Rauchway | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:01 PM
horizontal rule
259

Seriously I am increasingly convinced that upwards of 70% of the humanities faculty in the US is on here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:03 PM
horizontal rule
260

257: Because it's a nice place to go visit him, mostly.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:13 PM
horizontal rule
261

I have heard that Stanford undergrad is divided into athletes and creepy stoners.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:14 PM
horizontal rule
262

I have a friend who went to Stanford who is neither an athlete nor a creepy stoner.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:16 PM
horizontal rule
263

Seriously I am increasingly convinced that upwards of 70% of the humanities faculty in the US is on here.

That would make academia a much, much cooler place than it actually is.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:18 PM
horizontal rule
264

Hearsay vs. a single data point: I am torn.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:21 PM
horizontal rule
265

263: Not to mention much less productinve

262/264: I used to live nearby, and knew a handful of people there who were neither, for what it's worth.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:24 PM
horizontal rule
266

Seriously I am increasingly convinced that upwards of 70% of the humanities faculty in the US is on here.

That would make academia a much, much cooler place than it actually is.

What would make academia cooler is if all of us would be more honest with our students about how we spend more time fucking around online than they do, even.

Not that that's an excuse not to do the reading, mind.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:25 PM
horizontal rule
267

Why?

As NPH said, nice weather. The relative proximity to SF would also be nice in a college.

A good friend of mine bemoaned the lack of preppily-dressed girls at Stanford, but that seems like a boon for those who aren't as lame as his Polo-clad ass.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:27 PM
horizontal rule
268

The relative proximity to SF would also be nice in a college.

If only there were any colleges easier to get into, closer to SF, and cheaper.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:29 PM
horizontal rule
269

Hey, I wouldn't know. I refused to look at California schools for fear of catching the west coast crazy.

Now I'm feeling kinda stupid because I'm realizing that my body really isn't happy with the winters around here even after 20 years of supposedly adjusting. A coworker from my old team just transferred to my company's division in Sydney, and I'm incredibly jealous. Great weather, decent amount of civilization, a currency that's actually rising, English-speaking, and most importantly of all, a points-based immigration system. I may have to do some investigating once I finish up my current degree. Who cares if the damn island is 8 hours away from anywhere else in the world when you have 50 degree days in mid-winter?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:46 PM
horizontal rule
270

I refused to look at California schools for fear of catching the west coast crazy.

Now I'm feeling kinda stupid because I'm realizing that my body really isn't happy with the winters around here

Serves you right.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:50 PM
horizontal rule
271

267: You can never have too little preppy.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:50 PM
horizontal rule
272

Hey, I wouldn't know. I refused to look at California schools for fear of catching the west coast crazy.

So did I, but I somehow ended up learning about them anyway. But my point is that there are several such schools.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 5-07 10:51 PM
horizontal rule
273

Evergreen State here in Washington is the only college that accepted me and my not-quite-bad-enough-to-not-graduate high school grades and stratospheric SAT scores. I think a big part of it was me being from St. Louis, MO; I doubt Evergreen gets a lot of applications from former Confederate states.

And I dropped out after a socially wonderful, academically disastrous, personal-growth-filled year and am only now re-entering college for, like, an actual degree.

Ten years of getting one's perspective straight helps, though; my 4.0 is hanging on my last essay assignment grade.


Posted by: Nbarnes | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:29 AM
horizontal rule
274

alumnus interview

does this mean what I think it does? that's fucking hilarious.

By the way, I am on Team Man That's Fucked Up. If you're going to all this effort in researching and developing interview skills for a graduate program, why not go the extra couple of yards and interview for a proper job?


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 2:37 AM
horizontal rule
275

We breed future academics in special pens, where they learn from a young age to fear the concept of "job".

I actually used the exact reasoning in 274 when I dropped out of grad school. The faculty was trying to impress upon me the importance of networking and keeping up appearances. I thought if I was going to whore myself out like that, I should at least be paid for the privilege.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 2:58 AM
horizontal rule
276

275--
yup, that's academia. all the whoring, none of the pay.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:19 AM
horizontal rule
277

This is all like something from another planet. I'm tempted to start asking Gonerill about his CAO form and how many points he got in the Leaving.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:25 AM
horizontal rule
278

Yeah, my application process to university involved filling out an application form and informing them of my exam results. No interview, no nothing.

Applying to 'graduate school' was the same, only I had to ask a couple of referees to write on my behalf. Still no interview, still just a single application form.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:41 AM
horizontal rule
279

278--
on the other hand, i had a long chat this summer with two friends who teach at oxbridge (one at each) about how their colleges interview prospective undergrads. they were talking about the difficulty of getting any useful read on the kids, because they are scared to death.
so you try to lead off with any innocuous thing to put them at ease, e.g. "so, what did you read on the train coming here?"
no good. immediately they make up some nonsense, like "i was just reading, uh, wittgenstein's tractatus!"
so one of them tried simply saying: "so why do you want to come to oxford?"
this worked fairly well with some kids, except the very intense and brilliant girl from hk who sat silently for almost a minute, then burst into tears bawling "my parents have sacrificed *everything*! to make it possible for me to go to oxford!"

which makes it rather awkward trying arrive at a dispassionate assessment of her merits later on.

shorter version: some uk schools may not interview undergrads, but i believe some others do.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:47 AM
horizontal rule
280

shorter version: some uk schools may not interview undergrads, but i believe some others do.

Yeah, I do know that [I went to a university as an undergrad where they don't, but have taught and been a grad student at a university where they do*]. I think the numbers where they interview undergrads are lower than the numbers where they don't, though, generally speaking.

* although, funnily enough, while they interview undergrads, they didn't interview me for graduate admission.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:50 AM
horizontal rule
281

280--
yup, and i knew you know, as you once showed us a picture of duke humphrey's library, in the bowels of which you work.
so my point was addressed to the great variety of readers.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:56 AM
horizontal rule
282

re: 281

Being the kind of horrible ignoramus who forgets things about other people, I tend to assume other people are the same!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:57 AM
horizontal rule
283

282--
that's alright--i am the same kind of ignoramus, with unreliable exceptions.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 7:02 AM
horizontal rule
284

274:

It's all very fuckedup indeed, though for me it's fortunately far enough removed from my own experiences that I can admire its fuckedupness without feeling any of the anxiety this creates in some here.

High school exams on the other hand...


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 7:06 AM
horizontal rule
285

High school exams on the other hand...

It's a pretty clear tradeoff between one kind of fucked-upness and the other. If you have any kind advantages associated with elite educational institutions, there will be competition for that opportunity. If you base the competition on a purely "objective" meritocratic standard like grades or exam scores, you get crazy cramming behaviors like in France or Japan. If you have a system where everyone over a certain minimum threshold is eligible, and a committee will semi-arbitrarily select 10% out of that pool, you get crazy behaviors trying to stand out from the crowd.

On balance, I like the latter system better, although I would like to purify it of some of the more blatantly anti-meritocratic elements, especially preferences for legacies and varsity athletes.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 7:57 AM
horizontal rule
286

I don't have a problem with preferences for legacies and varsity athletes, just when people insist that letting EmmaJacob into college with lower grades is fine because they're an athlete or a legacy, but that letting in BillyBobJamalConsuela with lower (or let's be honest, higher but not from a prestigious school/right areas/with the right amount of ballet lessons and summers building homes in Honduras) grades is non-meritocratic and therefore evil and wrong affirmative action.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:09 AM
horizontal rule
287

286--
i agree that the right-wing hypocrisy is especially galling, and so you might think it works in reverse, too: if you want affirmative action, you have to be willing to stomach legacies.
but it doesn't follow. there are good reasons to treat them differently: the affirmative action system increases social mobility, whereas the legacy system locks in rigid castes and dynasties.
if stupid people have to get into yale, i'd rather see new families of stupid lifted up the socio-economic ladder rather than see bushes held up there artificially.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:18 AM
horizontal rule
288

There's an argument for legacies from the elite school's perspective in having an interest in making their university be a place where the smart kids meet the rich kids. In other words, AA only increases social mobility because BillyBobJamalConsuela's degree is appreciated by people like EmmaJacob's parents, and so it can be a ticket into the middle class. The same thing, to a correspondingly less extent, for less prestigious schools.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:24 AM
horizontal rule
289

you mean if the ivies stopped admitting legacies, the value of their degrees would drop? i'm doubting it.
also, you're forgetting that there is a much larger supply of rich kids, as well as smart kids, than the ivies can admit. so even if they committed themselves to an anti-legacy policy, i.e. refusing entry to the offspring of graduates, they would still have an oversupply of the needed ingredients for being "a place where the smart kids meet the rich kids".

what would really tank, if they did this, is not the value of their degrees, but their alumni giving.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:29 AM
horizontal rule
290

what would really tank, if they did this, is not the value of their degrees, but their alumni giving.

Even this argument rests on a weak empirical foundation. The value of the legacy preference, strong as it is, is much less than it used to be. Back before admissions were hypercompetitive (i.e. as late as the mid 1960s), upwards of 90% of legacy applicants to the Ivies were admitted. Now the rate is around 30-45%, depending on the school. So the value of the preference has dropped by half even as alumni fundraising breaks all records. Now you could argue that even a weaker legacy preference gives alumni some hope and therefore stimulates their generousity (I have seen some studies that suggest that alumni giving patterns peak in the years when the donor has high school-aged children). But the reality is that the Ivies have successfully weaned their alumni off the expectation that all but the biggest dolts would gain admission (as used to be the case), and I believe they could wean them off of the preference entirely.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:42 AM
horizontal rule
291

That's a pretty weak argument for legacies, though; social mobility doesn't depend on meeting the Bushes, and EmmaJacob's parents don't appreciate the Ivy League degree only because they have an in at Harvard.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:44 AM
horizontal rule
292

I think the empirical link between legacies and donations in much stronger than 290 suggests. The penultimate sentence is probably true. The last might be true in the long haul, but it would be a pretty big short term problem. Maybe if they keep slowly decreasing its importance (over decades), people could be weaned off the expectation. But isn't this more or less what is currently happening?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:49 AM
horizontal rule
293

289 Bingo.

My general observation on this from a number of years of observation and participation, is that the overall process works to achieve the pragmatic result of an admission pool that serves to maximize a Net Present Value analysis of the endowment (with a comparatively low discount rate for assessing future contributions.)

I think the actual results for most individual student outcomes is not as mercenary as it may seem, a lot of factors influence the composition of the admitted pool including academic rank of the institution, social and intellectual capital for current alumni and associated communities. As a result a "top" college or university gets the mix you see of truly top and diligent students, athletes, legacies, children of the very rich, famous and influential, and backfill of those others savvy enough to have the right answers to Knecht's questions. All of these groups contribute in some way. As does some level of diversity and community outreach.

A somewhat less cynical view might substitute "Overall Health of the Institution" for "NPV of the Endowment". I'll hold back on any judgmental statements other than to say it is unsurprising that this process mirrors overall trends in society including the "rich getting richer".


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:49 AM
horizontal rule
294

290: i agree that the legacy role is dropping - and apart from their child, I think most graduates of top schools would agree that an over-reliance on legacy admits would ultimately lower the social capital that they get from their degree.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:53 AM
horizontal rule
295

294 is funny.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:54 AM
horizontal rule
296

I don't have a problem with preferences for legacies and varsity athletes

Fuck the athletes. That's the pro system getting a free farm team system from the colleges. The NFL, NBA, etc. should just pay for a minor league like baseball does.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:57 AM
horizontal rule
297


My belief (based on no inside knowledge whatsoever, just a surmise): If Larry Summers had not stuck his foot in his mouth and got himself run out of Harvard, he would have eventually ended the legacy preference there.

Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part, but I always sensed that he was even more deeply uncomfortable with it than his immediate predecessors, and that his strained defenses of it were spoken through gritted teeth.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 8:58 AM
horizontal rule
298

297--
certainly harvard is a good example of a place that runs no threat of devaluation in either its reputation or its endowment.
and it really could fill up every new class with a mixture of geniuses and zillionaires, without ever going back to the same family twice.

a crucial part of the changing admissions picture that hasn't been mentioned upstream (that i see): the fact that u.s. universities are now educating a much bigger chunk of the world than they did twenty years ago. you're no longer competing against the hottest kids in america. you're now competing against the hottest kids in the us, china, india, indonesia, etc. etc. (or at any rate, the kids in those places who are both smart and lucky enough to get into their educational tracks).


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:04 AM
horizontal rule
299

It's a balance, and I didn't suggest that the legacies were the only thing contributing to the success of Harvard. But I think it surely helped to create the name-brand power the school has, unless we honestly believe that they really do pick the best and the brightest every year.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
300

296: I agree entirely with this. Many schools are making approximately one zillion dollars off of the athletes who are not allowed to make a dime. And a lot of the time they aren't really bothering to educate the athletes either. They really, really ought to be paid.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:13 AM
horizontal rule
301

"But I think it surely helped to create the name-brand power the school has, unless we honestly believe that they really do pick the best and the brightest every year."

that sentence seems to me to yoke together entirely different issues, a historical one and a contemporary one.
the ivies got their exalted reputations for a variety of historically contingent reasons which, granted, had little to do with picking the best and the brightest. (and ditto for every other college with a good reputation). we're talking crap like, whose graduates happened to sign the declaration.

but that's ancient history, and unrepeatable (indeed, it's the difficulty of repeating it that makes it so hard for a new school to break into the prestigious club).
second half of the sentence: do they currently pick the best and brightest (setting aside legacies and athletes)?
fact is, the top schools have such an embarrassment of talent that they turn away four or eight or ten times as many of the "best and brightest" as they can accept. the ones they accept have some legitimate claim to be the b&b, but no more than the bulk of those they turn down.
still: the kids they accept would be sufficient to maintain their "name-brand power", even without accepting any more legacies.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
302

If you have a system where everyone over a certain minimum threshold is eligible, and a committee will semi-arbitrarily select 10% out of that pool

Is this really the case for even the very top schools? There are a fair number of extremely prestigious national and international competitions, like the Intels, the various math and science olympiads, and (I'm sure) similar stuff in the humanities, that will produce a pretty clear crop of kids who consistantly kicked the shit out of everyone else on a national level. There aren't enough of those kids to fill the top colleges, but there are quite a few of them when you consider the variety of subjects they could excel at, and when I met large groups of them, you better believe they were all headed to Harvard, Princeton, MIT, CalTech, Stanford and the such.

It just seems hard to believe that there isn't a fairly substantial number of kids who are gimmies for admissions even into the most competitive schools through (quite) meritocratic competition.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
303

296: This isn't really true outside of football and basketball.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:14 AM
horizontal rule
304

I agree about the name-brand power. I just think that the name-brand power is its own thing, and is mostly destructive, rather than productive, of social mobility and actual education.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:15 AM
horizontal rule
305

296, 300: Fuck the athletes.

There are really two systems at work here. The first is partially as you describe - and is what you see in Big Football etc. The second is much more widespread and is practiced most anywhere that has sports teams and serves more as a mechanism for providing social capital for alumni and the university and surrounding communities. In the latter form it does not modify the admissions process as radically as the former, but it does have a significant impact.

It is worth mentioning that for all the talk of the "Ivies" one of the cardinal rules of applying to Ivy League schools is to not mention "Ivy" unless you are an athlete. The Ivy League is not an academic conference, just an athletic one. (Unlike some such as the Big Ten which bring academic component along with the sports - one of the reasons Penn State joined.) The genesis of the conference in the early '50s was to basically sign a treaty so that the schools would not be tempted to go the way of big time football powers. Hence no athletic scholarships - and not sure if it is in place now, but at one time I believe there was a complicated agreement on caps on average SAT score below school median for recruited athletes (for football at least).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:17 AM
horizontal rule
306

Oh. 300 was me. And I should say that I agree with everything but "Fuck the athletes." I more like "Pay them for the job they are doing which is enriching university coffers, or athletic department coffers, at any rate."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:18 AM
horizontal rule
307

There are a fair number of extremely prestigious national and international competitions, like the Intels, the various math and science olympiads, and (I'm sure) similar stuff in the humanities, that will produce a pretty clear crop of kids who consistantly kicked the shit out of everyone else on a national level.

Everyone else who competed. And it isn't true (though whether it should be is up for debate) that the only thing selective colleges care about is academic talent.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:19 AM
horizontal rule
308

305: No athletic scholarships

Ha! They can't call them that, of course.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:20 AM
horizontal rule
309

305--
"sports teams and serves more as a mechanism for providing social capital for alumni and the university"

ah yes--what's the classic line?
the coach of behemoth state u. says to the legislature, "gentlemen, we want a university our football team can be proud of!"


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
310

I still hold on to the belief that universities should actually educate the kids they admit on athletic scholarship. I tried my damndest to do that when I was teaching summer school courses for athletes, even though the goddamn coaches would schedule shit opposite class.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
311

302: Per my 293, I do think that at the very top - the International award winners etc., there is a group that are pretty sure of getting in just about anywhere. I do think students who really stand out (and 800s + 4.0 +AP or IB not even close to defining that) are identified and do get selected for the "very top".

But this is but one of the groups who are pretty sure to get in.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
312

305--
"one of the cardinal rules of applying to Ivy League schools is to not mention "Ivy" "

gah! he said it! the word of reverse-power! he is anathema! he is accursed!

but what do i know--i sure didn't get admitted to any ivies.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:23 AM
horizontal rule
313

I think athletic scholarships are absurd. It's a university, not a damn training camp. Sure, set up intramural leagues and such. But paying people to go to college because they can spike a volleyball or something? Gah.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:27 AM
horizontal rule
314

Coach at a football factory is having a crisis. His star tailback has failed math, and is about to lose his academic eligibility. The coach goes to the professor and pleads with him to let the player re-take the exam. Professor agrees.

Coach and player show up at the professor's office. The professor says, "Son, I'm going to give you a special exam with one question. Take your time and think it over before you answer. You ready? What is five plus five?"

The player thinks hard, scratches some figures on his paper, counts his fingers, and finally says, "Professor, the answer is 10."

The coach jumps up and says "Oh please, won't you give him another chance?"


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:28 AM
horizontal rule
315

the coach of behemoth state u. says to the legislature, "gentlemen, we want a university our football team can be proud of!"

That's an actual quote. Not entirely seriously said.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:31 AM
horizontal rule
316

315--
ok!


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:33 AM
horizontal rule
317

To show that the tension between academics and athletics is not a merely a recent phenomenon, here is a bit from Thurber's University Days:
[The scen is an econ prof trying to get an Ohio State tackle to name a "means of transportation".]


All of us, of course, shared Mr. Bassum's desire that Bolenciecwcz should stay abreast of the class in economics, for the Illinois game, one of the hardest and most important of the season, was only a week off. "Toot, toot, tooo-oooooot!" some student with a deep voice moaned, and we all looked encouragingly at Bolenciecwcz. ...
Mr. Bassum himself rounded off the little show. "Ding, dong, ding, dong," he said, hopefully. ...
"How did you come to college this year, Mr. Bolenciecwcz?" asked the professor. "Chuffa, chuffa , chuffa, chuffa."
"M'father sent me," said the football player.
"What on?" asked Bassum.
"I git an 'lowance," ...
"What did you ride here on?"
"Train," said Bolenciecwcz.
"Quite right." said the professor.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:38 AM
horizontal rule
318

249: At my Columbia undergrad-admission alum interview, with a law professor at my hometown's University of Bigass, he basically assured me that the interview didn't matter. IIRC, he said, "They told me, 'we find standardized test scores to be the best predictor of college performance,' and I said, 'but what if the interview turns up something critical that's not in the test scores or application,' and they said, 'we find standardized test scores to be the best predictor of college performance.'"


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:45 AM
horizontal rule
319

That's a pretty weak argument for legacies

there are only two kinds of argument for legacies and "none" is apparently having the day off.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:48 AM
horizontal rule
320

d^2: is the uk term for legacies, "legacies"?


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 9:53 AM
horizontal rule
321

My alumni interview at the school I attended was disastrous. I got in via a two-pronged attack, one of which was making contact with members of the department in which I planned on concentrating.

I had a very good interview with an alumnus from Yale, but I think that I was really helped by having had an individual on-campus interview that summer with someone not-too-junior on the admissions staff. We talked about my friend who was at Yale and how much she was enjoying Directed Studies, and I felt safe being enthusiastic about literature. My Harvard guy seemed like the sort of person around whom it wasn't safe to care deeply about anything.

Princeton had group interviews on campus, and the people who interviewed at my school were super preppyand young. I didn't get in. I had a great interview at Wellesley. I'd left a bag or something in the office, so when I went back to pick it up, I overheard someone ask how the interview went, and teh woman said, "Oh She was great."


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:01 AM
horizontal rule
322

I think that the universities and the university-based professions have puffed up and diversified to the extent that it's almost impossible to say what the purpose is even within one of the university's component parts. Funding comes from many sources (many government programs, donors, endowments, students' parents, students) and often goes into a big pool or slush fund, and creative accounting can shift money around even when it has strings attached. On the other end, the beneficiaries are society in general, various political pressure groups, various jobholders, future employers, society in general, the students's parents, and even the students themselves. Though of course, we must all agree that ultimately the main beneficiaries are Science and Truth, which the university produced in mass quantities.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:04 AM
horizontal rule
323

Law school is really different from anything else (possibly excepting) medical school, but I was told by a rehtoric professor at Berkeley that Boalt's admissions procedures were kind fo screwy and hard to gauge, He'd had students that he knew, based on grades and LSATs would get into Harvard (which is probably less selective) or Yale who didn't get into Boalt, and there were students who weren't as qualified who did get into Boalt.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 10:07 AM
horizontal rule
324

Many schools are making approximately one zillion dollars off of the athletes who are not allowed to make a dime.

I don't even think that's true for more than a handful of schools. Accounting standards for college sports seem to be built on the same model as economic impact studies for new stadiums. There's a hell of a lot of money being made from college football and basketball, but with honest accounting I don't think it's a moneymaker for most schools. (Whether it's a worthwhile marketing cost for the schools is a separate question, which probably has a different answer since they mostly all keep doing it.)

(And I'm with you that it's criminal not to pay the athletes who are busting their bodies and screwing up their educations to produce revenue for pretty much everybody but themselves. The pious bleating about amateurism makes me puke.)


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:42 AM
horizontal rule
325

324: there have been some fairly sophisticated empirical studies of this, which I'm too lazy to try and google, if they're even available online. The bottom line is that football is the only big winner for the vast majority of 1A schools. But it is a really big winner. Basketball is a net drain at all but a very tiny handful of programs. Even at some of the big name basketball schools.

Pretty much everything else is, on net, sucking away education dollars.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:47 AM
horizontal rule
326

The link claims:

"Graduate school applicants: applying to graduate school is like applying for an medieval apprenticeship -- you're applying to study with someone, as much as at someplace. You need to show that you know why you should be an apprentice to this person, and not to some other person. Furthermore:"

Is this generally true? When I applied to graduate school in mathematics I had no idea who my thesis adviser would be and I don't think I was expected to.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 11:57 AM
horizontal rule
327

290

"Even this argument rests on a weak empirical foundation. The value of the legacy preference, strong as it is, is much less than it used to be. Back before admissions were hypercompetitive (i.e. as late as the mid 1960s), upwards of 90% of legacy applicants to the Ivies were admitted. Now the rate is around 30-45%, depending on the school. So the value of the preference has dropped by half even as alumni fundraising breaks all records. ..."

You data does not show the value of the preference has decreased. What is important is the increase in admissions rate for legacies not the absolute rate. And as admissions become more competitive the value of any edge increases. Furthermore you are totally ignoring the fact that these schools now admit girls giving alumni twice as many children to benefit from the edge.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
328

325: Huh. I thought I remembered seeing something fairly recently indicating that football is in the same place you indicate basketball is if you track down all the costs that end up in places other than the athletic department budget, but I too am lazy.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
329

328: to be fair, the work I'm thinking of is probably about 10 years old now, so it's possible things have changed. (Or even if things haven't changed, more sophisticated analysis may have changed the results.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
330

322 - I think universities really do produce science is mass quantities, though looking at the process up close it hard to figure out how.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 2:45 PM
horizontal rule
331

I haven't looked in much detail at this, but my cursory glance at it looked like both basketball and football are generally revenue-positive, and that the financial drain occurs when you add women's athletics to the mix. Which makes intuitive sense to me.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 2:55 PM
horizontal rule
332

re: 326

Yeah, it wasn't true at my institution either, although there were a couple of people who came with someone in mind, I don't think that was true of the majority.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 2:59 PM
horizontal rule
333

As a child of the mid-70's I lucked out by being born during a period when the birth rate dropped a bit. College admissions has gotten a lot more competitive for many reasons, but there was a bit of a drop in the number of applicants in the late 80's/ early 90's.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:06 PM
horizontal rule
334

Speaking for the UK, things have changed a bit from when I first went, I suppose. I applied with very good but not totally stellar high school exam results. They'd be nothing super-impressive today, certainly. Nevertheless, I could have gotten in pretty much anywhere I wanted, with the exception of a few very heavily over-subscribed courses [medicine, primarily].

It's still true that people with that level of exam results could go to a wide range of universities, but they certainly would have less choice than I did 15 years ago.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:09 PM
horizontal rule
335

Oh, I just saw 324 and 325 now. I'm sure you are right. I am thinking of the big name schools in fancy divisions with television contracts and regular bowl game appearances. I realize that this is -- compared to the total -- a small fraction of colleges. But it's enough of them. And it's just these schools that are likely to shortchange, nay sabotage, the education being offered to their top flight athletes.

And oh boy am I with you about the "pious bleating about amateurism" (nice!). That's all well and good for the lacrosse team at Williams. It's not what's going on at UNLV.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:20 PM
horizontal rule
336

There was a really terrible article about walk-ons, ie athletes who were not recruited and who didn't have their applications flagged during the admissions process but who have managed to get a place on a team, in the stanford alumni magazine recently. At one point it basically admitted that the presence of walk-ons, who have to really work hard to get on the team and may see a total of ten seconds of game time during their entire career, is the only thing propping up the semblance of the student-athlete, mens sana in corpore sano, "amateur" ideal.

One coach said that when he has particularly hard-working walk-ons he sometimes threatens his "scholarship" athletes with taking away their deals and giving them to the walk-ons, which I'm sure the latter really appreciate—he basically compared them directly to handy spurs to motivate other people. And apparently they don't get to eat with the "real" athletes, god only knows why, perhaps to remind them of their place.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:29 PM
horizontal rule
337

It was an odd article in that it had to romanticize the situation but occasionally one could tell anyway that it's basically corrupt.

If admissions were athletic ability–blind, the way they're supposedly need-blind at some schools, things would presumably be better.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:31 PM
horizontal rule
338

And apparently they don't get to eat with the "real" athletes, god only knows why, perhaps to remind them of their place.

Jesus.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:33 PM
horizontal rule
339

Hence no athletic scholarships [in the Ivy League]

This might be the case, technically, but athletes are still treated with absurd care. One of my roommates, who was one of the top five lacrosse players in nation, threatened not to come to Princeton unless his cousin, merely one of the top twenty-five lacrosse players in the nation, came too. They gave in and retracted his cousin's rejection letter.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:39 PM
horizontal rule
340

This guy, who is a friend of mine http://www.dfj.com/team/tim_bio.shtml
was a walk on football player at Stanford, which is not a factory but is Pac-10. He was kicked off the team when he went skiing one weekend instead of spring practise.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 3:50 PM
horizontal rule
341

At an Ivy League school, your financial aid is technically need-based. Athletes are probably able to argue for better awards, if they know what they're doing, but there's a crucial difference between this and an athletic scholarship: if you get injured or decide that you don't want to play anymore, you still keep your financial aid.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
342

No athletic scholarships in Div III, period.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:08 PM
horizontal rule
343

342: Yes, but if the school cares about a particular sport it is pretty much as described in 339 etc.

341: In my experience, the main difference in financial aid is that the athletes that they want get 100% straight grant, no loan or job. (And of course experience a significantly different application/admission process - the coach becomes the key person.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:17 PM
horizontal rule
344

No athletic scholarships in Div III, period.

Theoretically. In practice, at least some schools have "leadership potential" scholarships than coincidentally all go to athletes. *cough*Kenyon*cough*


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:31 PM
horizontal rule
345

Yes. Swimming at Kenyon is one of the prime examples of 343.1. Div III schools can also opt up in one sport - John Hopkins in lacrosse is an example.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:43 PM
horizontal rule
346

What I like is how in every minor sport, the rankings of top college teams include some utterly random college that just happens to prioritize its world-class wrestling,
lacrosse, or women's ice hockey team.

Here is one of the most bizarre lists of colleges you'll ever see. What do they have in common? Really good target rifle shooters.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:46 PM
horizontal rule
347

And, of course, we all know what the two most consistently dominant US college chess teams have been over the past decade.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 4:52 PM
horizontal rule
348

MIT won the national championship in women's riflery a couple years ago, although from 346 it looks like they've fallen off lately.
I once taught the 9am section for introductory biochemistry at Harvard, so I had some jocks but I'm guessing the hardcore jocks don't take biochem at all. It's definitely clear when certain people are there for reasons other than academics.
Looks like I missed an interesting conversation but I don't have the time to catch up on 350 comments.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 6:07 PM
horizontal rule
349

I haven't looked in much detail at this, but my cursory glance at it looked like both basketball and football are generally revenue-positive, and that the financial drain occurs when you add women's athletics to the mix.

Forgive me if I'm suspicious of the expense lines on those charts. For starters, I don't think there's much accounting for capital costs going on anywhere (gee golly, since we happen to have this beautiful stadium here that the university decided to build for some reason, let's play football in it!).


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 6-07 7:13 PM
horizontal rule