Who Goes To College?

by MBT

Here is a chance to test your knowledge based on years of discussions on this site. The NY Times wants you to draw a graph showing the relationship between family income and college enrollment. The article links to a couple of other similar studies plotting relationships of various markers of achievement to family income. How accurate is your graph?

You Draw It: How Family Income
Predicts Children’s College Chances

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185 thoughts on “Who Goes To College?

  1. Hmph. I wonder how it accounts for situations like my stepson, where his mother has never earned more than $10 an hour in her entire life, whereas DH has done well. Of course his mother got child support too, which increased household income…

  2. My results:
    •You drew a more accurate picture of reality than about 91 percent of people who have tried so far.
    •Your line looked a little bit like an S, with a gradual increase for the poorest families and a leveling off for the rich.

    Of course, I kinda cheated. I saw this article when it came out; I didn’t remember the actual graph specifically, but I did remember the message confirming that college attendance is positively correlated with income.

  3. My graph was very accurate except for the poorest students. I underestimated how many of these kids will attend college.

    I already know some of this data because of the recruiting that I do for my alma mater. Many schools are trying to target certain groups so my college shares large amounts of data when they do the annual orientation.

    I recently had a chance to be the parent representative to interview candidates for an open teaching position in the middle school – ELA, and for the Assistant Principal of the MS.
    Some of the candidates were coming from NYC public schools. Even though I went to NYC public schools, and even though my parents still live in NYC – I was still surprised at the descriptions of their classrooms and schools. The stuff that these teachers and administrators deal with each day just to get a kid to come to school is crazy. Many are not living with parents, or they are living with a single parent that works multiple jobs. Many of the teachers can’t see or get in touch with a parent or guardian because the person works, doesn’t speak English and definitely doesn’t have email. Some of the ids live in shelters and they get their main source of food at school too.

    The odds are so stacked against some of these kids even finishing HS, so I thought the college numbers for the poorest students would be lower.

  4. Fred – I agree that the shape of the curve will be no surprise to people here. When I did my graph, I think I didn’t level off early enough. I think one of the reasons I find statistics like this interesting is because of my son’s cohort. He goes to a charter school that has ~43% of kids on free/reduced lunch, so a lot of people further down on the income curve, but 100% of graduates go on to college. (A requirement for graduation is presenting an acceptance letter for a four-year college). They put a huge focus from day one on college as a goal, provide and pay for the PSAT/SAT during school hours, provide SAT prep as a class that all juniors are required to take, and take groups of kids on college visits to Boston, Chicago, LA at a cost of only $100 per kid. The college counselor does home visits to every family starting sophomore year to make sure parents understand what needs to happen to get their kid to that goal. So – the kids get there, but I haven’t seen any statistics on how they fare once they get there. I’m curious to see if they have the supports they need in place to make it the whole four years. A fair number are children of immigrants, and some of the parents of his friends that I’ve met speak very minimal English (they’ll use a younger child to translate). It wouldn’t surprise me at all if some are contributing to household costs while still in high school, which would seem to make it harder to go to college full time.

  5. I did this little test back when it first appeared, and scored better than something like 94% of other respondents. But of course I am in the weeds with this topic, so that isn’t suprising.

  6. Interesting to me that the graph is so linear. I wonder how it would change (like MBT) if they measured graduation rates instead of enrollment rates. I had also guessed lower for children of poor families.

  7. I thought the line would be more of an S curve. After reading more closely, I noted that it stated attending college not graduating. Anecdatally, I have noticed that even in my kids’ high poverty/immigrant/ESL school, most kids at least start to attend the nearby community college.

  8. I agree that graduating is the important thing. Here is the problem though – we put the fewest resources into the schools that high poverty students are most likely to attend – the community colleges. We put the most resources into the schools that wealthy students are most likely to attend. It seems rather backwards to me.

    I was listening to an interview recently with the author of a recent book on redesigning community colleges, he pointed out that at his CC in NYC, there is about 1000 students for each advisor, meaning that these students, who often have the least understanding of how to navigate higher education, have no opportunity for meaningful advising. And really, it is at the advising level that students often start to go haywire.

  9. They put a huge focus from day one on college as a goal, provide and pay for the PSAT/SAT during school hours, provide SAT prep as a class that all juniors are required to take, and take groups of kids on college visits to Boston, Chicago, LA at a cost of only $100 per kid. The college counselor does home visits to every family starting sophomore year to make sure parents understand what needs to happen to get their kid to that goal.

    More broadly than just this comment, how do we reconcile this recurring topic with the somewhat-contradictory recurring topic bemoaning credential inflation?

  10. I didn’t close my blockquote.

    More broadly than just this comment, how do we reconcile this recurring topic with the somewhat-contradictory recurring topic bemoaning credential inflation?

  11. This information is from a very recent Goldman Sachs report that analyzed the correlation between housing trends and education levels. I can’t attach the whole report from Goldman, but this is the concluding summary.

    We have shown three stylized facts above. First, the top 1% ZIP codes, whether ranked by income, home value or education, has fared significantly better than other ZIP codes in house price appreciation since 2007. Second, diverging house prices have generated large variations across locations in underwater mortgages and household balance sheets. Third, the diverging fortunes in the housing market appear to be systematically related to educational attainment, after controlling for other social-economic characteristics.

    These stylized facts have important implications for the future of the housing market. The outperformance of the top 1% ZIP codes, when defined by education in particular, may reflect a secular trend. This trend was less visible between 2000 and 2007 because the housing boom fueled by easy credit had a disproportional impact on the lower end of the market. Whether the secular trend is driven by fundamental shifts in the labor market (e.g., skill-biased technological change) or by factors specific to the housing market (e.g., college graduates are likely to have higher financial literacy and easier access to mortgage credit than high school graduates) is a topic of future research. In either case, the link between educational attainment and local house prices may persist in coming years.

  12. Milo, I don’t think that the charter school’s effforts in pushing college is really an example of credential inflation. Rather, it seems the school is doing pretty much what Totebag parents already do – SAT prep, planning assistance, and college visits.

    The bigger question is – does that charter school also hold students to a standard that will permit them to do well in college? MBT’s post does not address that question.

  13. Lauren, the Goldman comment seems to be obvious to anyone who’s been watching this stuff for a while. “the link between educational attainment and local house prices may persist in coming years.”:

    – People who live in high priced houses get more education than people in low-priced houses. this education attained by subsequent generations continues them living in high-priced neighborhoods.
    – as the (small %-age) of people from low-priced houses attain college success, they now have the ability to earn/spend more so they move to the nicer (more expensive) neighborhoods.
    – and so it goes

  14. Lauren,

    The totebag class and above has never done as well as it is doing now so it stands to reason they are using some of those economic gains to bid up housing in the best neighborhoods.

  15. I wish I could post the whole report, but it has copyright stuff all over it.

    The stuff I posted is obvious, but they also talk about why some of the busted neighborhoods from 07/08 are still underwater vs neighborhoods for the tote baggers and 1%ers.

  16. Some of our neighboring district high schools, that tend to serve lower income, where kids are likely to be first time college students, seem to have more “programs” aimed at parents and kids about navigating the pre-college requirements/college application/college funding process. However, due to many of the factors that affect these families – limited English proficiency, ability to get to the school when these programs are offered due to work conflicts, ability to communicate about the activities due to lack of email or other “expected” technology, as well as a lack of understanding of the importance of what is being offered – I am not sure that the schools get the amount of participation that you would expect. I think Totebag parents would show up in droves for this same help/guidance.

    I was close on the starting percentage, but I thought there would be a dip in enrollment where the family income is just above the amount to qualify for need based financial aid and then would go up from there, with it flattening at a certain point. I do wonder what the graduation rate looks like. One of my colleagues whose husband works in the guidance office on a local CC campus noted that tracking graduation can be hard especially for students who are non-traditional. A student may go to several schools in different cities/states over a number of years and may change majors as they can afford school or have jobs that help offset costs. Some of these same factors affect HS graduation rates, but most students who don’t complete HS in 4-5 years will not. In contrast, some college students may take 8 years working on a degree part time.

  17. does that charter school also hold students to a standard that will permit them to do well in college?

    I obviously only have visibility to my child’s grades, so I can’t say for certain. It is a small school without a lot of money, so they’re very focused on the basics without a lot of electives – one traditional ELA plus a separate writing class each year, a math lab in addition to the regular math class, lots of science labs and experiments, as well as some larger scale projects (Project Based Learning, for those whose schools have picked up that trend), the standard AP offerings. Kids who do not pass the state standardized tests get three opportunities to pass, or they are not advanced to the next grade. Parents sign a contract to that effect when they enroll, and agree to have their kids come to weekly or bi-weekly tutoring during the year if the school has any concern that the student might not pass. So – they do try to ensure students are becoming adequately prepared over the whole four years, and there is attrition of students who are not meeting the stated goals or who don’t want to jump through the school’s hoops. So it’s my expectation that the students who stay through the end are as prepared for at least a mid-level school as, say, my neighbor with the 4.6 GPA/<1070 SAT. My concern for these kids is more along the lines of missing family/school support if they go away to school, the relative lack of structure relative to high school, the lack of resource to turn to for help, and the need to work while going to school.

  18. MBT, I don’t know how hard your state tests are, but here in NY, passing the Regents definitely does not ensure being ready for college. Nor did attaining a pass on the old state tests for elementary school. I can’t comment on the new state tests yet. So 3 tries to pass state tests may not ensure being ready for college, of course, depending on your state’s standards

  19. I only did better than 74% of people on the graph.

    At the university I work for I think 1/3rd of the students come from households who make $30K or less and they’ve developed a lot of programs to help these kids graduate, it’s really neat. The guy who runs the student success program is a rock star and his office has developed all of these programs that can tag kids who may be going off track, either due to finances, grades, not taking enough classes in their major, etc. so the counselors can stay on the kids who really do need help navigating higher ed. The graduation rates have risen quite dramatically.

  20. My impression is that passing the state level tests in HS in my state does not equate to being college ready as most of the tests don’t cover higher level (junior/senior) material.

  21. In my area I see quite a students going to Community College. Then there are others who attend 4 yr colleges in the UNC system. In talking to the parents their main concern is that at the end of their educational journey, their kids get a job to support themselves. They are concerned but very hands off, unlike Tote bag parents. I suspect that many of these kids are unprepared. I feel even if schools actively reached out to these parents, it wouldn’t help much because they are not actively involved.

  22. Mooshi – I agree. I was thinking of the inverse — if a student is not passing the state standardized tests, they are more likely to not be college-ready. I agree that being able to pass them is no guarantee. And I also think “college-ready” varies by major.

  23. My impression is that passing the state level tests in HS in my state does not equate to being college ready as most of the tests don’t cover higher level (junior/senior) material.

    What higher level high school material is pertinent to a directional state college accounting major?

  24. And, I don’t think you understand what is meant by not being college ready. Not being college ready means you can’t construct a coherent sentence, let alone a paper. Not good for passing those required writing courses. It means you can’t figure out how to compute a percentage – and trust me, I have seen this. Not good even for those maligned accountants.

  25. One of my concerns for kids who are not ready but go anyway – it is my understanding that a lot of the state schools will not accept transfer students from a 4-yr school if the student has flunked out of another school. That can limit affordable options if the student wants to give it another try. Community college would still be an option for an associates degree, but a four year degree could prove more difficult to obtain.

  26. Yes, graduating college is the more important measure we should be looking at.

    And enrolling is not everything. While rich children born around 1980 were nearly three times more likely to go to college than poor children, they were six times more likely to graduate, according to a study separate from the one we’re showing here.

    The challenge to graduate college is not limited to poor kids, of course. When I attended our local high school graduation last month, the superintendent talked about how the HS graduates would be going through this same ritual in four years when they graduate from college. I had to chuckle to myself because such a high percentage of them will not be graduating college in four years, and many not ever. This from an affluent school district with almost zero subsidized lunch students. The most important reason for their relatively low college graduation rates is because our K-12 schools do not prepare them adequately for college.

  27. My guess is that the kids in MBT’s school have a built-in advantage of involved parents. Since it’s a charter, I’m guessing that it’s not the default school for those kids, and getting into that school already implies either parental involvement to get them in, or extremely proactive kids.

  28. Mooshi,

    Nothing at all, some of my best friends are accountants (that’s actually true). And, I minored in accounting. I’m just honestly curious what sort of higher level high school material is relevant.

  29. It means you can’t figure out how to compute a percentage – and trust me, I have seen this. Not good even for those maligned accountants.

    Is it primarily that they were poorly educated or is it that they have low ability?

  30. The most important reason for their relatively low college graduation rates is because our K-12 schools do not prepare them adequately for college.

    I would tend to think its lack of ability, motivation, executive function, etc. Do you really think you could appreciably move the needle with different pedagogy?

  31. MM – I think Rhett is using Accounting as an example of a major that doesn’t require any hard classes in STEM to attain the degree. But a check of two SUNY programs (neither was Stony Brook, Binghamton, Albany or Buffalo) shows both require a semester of calculus.

    (Why accounting really needs calculus, I don’t actually understand. Maybe Meme can enlighten. But that’s a different discussion)

  32. “Do you really think you could appreciably move the needle with different pedagogy?”

    Yes. Undoubtedly, yes. Different pedagogy and curriculum.

  33. @Rhett and Mooshi – I believe gaps in Math are due to spending very little time on each topic before moving on the next. My kids’ school moved away from this. They have gone back to spending more time on each topic so that the kids have time to absorb and recall what they were taught.

  34. Louise, I totally agree, and happily, our schools have also moved to spend more time on each topic. When my oldest went through, it was fortunate that he was largely ahead of the class and able to teach himself. My daughter needs more focus, and would not have done well in the old curriculum. So far, though, she has done well in math and likes it, so the new approach seems to be agreeing with her. The bus stop parents, and many of the teachers hate it though because they say it is too hard and not creative enough.

  35. I was told that they buried “New Math” and went back to “Traditional Math”.

  36. Louise, it is that evil Common Core math… Mastery learning is part of Common Core.

  37. CofC,

    How much of the lack of success is due to lack of desire, poor executive function and low ability vs. poor pedagogy and curriculum? In an affluent school district I’d say 80% is due to things the school has no real control over.

  38. Mooshi – at my kids school the teachers and principal pushed hard for it. I knew what was happening because I realized they were teaching “Traditional Math” in class but the officially their curriculum was “New Math”.

  39. “In an affluent school district I’d say 80% is due to things the school has no real control over.”

    And in a poor district, what percentage would it be? 95%

    Of course, I disagree. The school, by virtue of good teaching of the right material, could improve student success significantly.

  40. “a lot of the state schools will not accept transfer students from a 4-yr school if the student has flunked out of another school”

    I think the “A LOT” = your really big name state schools.

    In Texas, I’ll bet UT – Brownsville or West Texas A&M would be affordable options for a kid who needs a second chance (that is, after righting the academic ship at a CC and getting an associates degree with decent grades)

  41. And in a poor district, what percentage would it be? 95%

    Pretty much. You’re the first one to say not everyone belongs in college.

  42. “I would tend to think its lack of ability, motivation, executive function, etc. Do you really think you could appreciably move the needle with different pedagogy?”

    Rhett, I think you have no idea how bad math instruction can be. For the last two years, the eighth graders and freshmen in my kids’ district have not had math textbooks. One math teacher told the kids that squaring a number is the same as multiplying it by two. While lack of ability, etc are certainly factors, the low hanging fruit, especially in low income schools would be providing both competent teachers and functional curriculum.

  43. The school, by virtue of good teaching of the right material, could improve student success significantly.

    Do you have any studies or examples to support your contention?

  44. In Texas these are the only 5 high school end of course assessments you must pass to graduate: Algebra I, Algebra II, English I, English II, English III, biology, and U.S. history (capitalized as is on Texas Education Agency website). A student can graduate with a total of 22 credits, which means most students could graduate at the end of their junior year. However, the 26 credit plan is what is recommended.

  45. For the last two years, the eighth graders and freshmen in my kids’ district have not had math textbooks.

    I certainly believe that. But, it’s in CofC affluent Westchester NY district that I have my doubts.

  46. When I taught at a directional state u, not only did we accept flunkouts from better schools, we specialized in it! Actually, those were often wonderful students. The typical scenario was the guy (usually) who had flunked out of a name brand school, worked for a number of years, and then realized he couldn’t progress without the degree. We also had women who had quit school because of kids and were now older and returning to the work force. Both groups knew why they were in school and tended to be successful.

  47. My daughter’s private HS has no math text book. The teacher’s provide links to online free textbooks, but they do not work from the book. It is merely for reference purposes. Last year that was not a great experience, but the teacher was not great in my opinion either. We will see how it goes this year.

  48. I believe gaps in Math are due to spending very little time on each topic before moving on the next. My kids’ school moved away from this. They have gone back to spending more time on each topic so that the kids have time to absorb and recall what they were taught.

    On WTOP (DC’s news/traffic/weather/money radio station) this morning, they said that Montgomery County is disappointed in the results of 8th Grade Algebra. Something like 75% of Asians passed with a C or better, 69% of whites, 35% of Hispanics, and 29% of blacks.

    I was thinking that when I was in school, taking Algebra in 8th Grade was still considered somewhat advanced. I know it’s the Totebag bare-minimum, but is it an across-the-board standard now?

  49. Milo, in our district, only “high performing” students can take 8th grade algebra. Everyone else takes it in 9th grade. That is pretty much the same as when I was in school.

  50. @Milo – all I know is that basic equations were introduced to my kid in 5th grade.

  51. Milo – maybe, maybe not. You mention a report on the results of 8th grade algebra. Is there a like report for 9th grade algebra (or all algebra) that might have the same distribution of results, but different sets of kids.

    I’m still thinking the “normal” sequence for most places is:
    7th “Math”
    8th Pre-Algebra
    9th Algebra
    10th Geometry
    11th Algebra II / Trig
    12th optional

    For more advanced students, quite a lot actually in my experience, they are thru the Algebra/Geometry/Alg2-Trig sequence by the end of 10th grade.

  52. Around here, it is becoming more common to take Alegbra 1 in 7th and Geometry in 8th, for advanced students. I would say Algebra 1 in 8th is slightly advanced, but fairly mainstream. Our MS offers Algebra 1 for 8th as “advanced” math. However, a couple of year back, my DD#1 got special permission to do math online through an approved program with a local university and completed both Algebra1 and Geometry in her 8th Grade year.

  53. Fred – Texas is flipping Geometry and Algebra 2, so you take Algebra1 and then Algebra 2. Then they only need one more math credit.

  54. ” You mention a report on the results of 8th grade algebra.”

    Yeah, I know. That’s why I said it was only something I heard on the radio. I was just surprised that it would seem like there are so many students taking Algebra in 8th Grade who probably weren’t ready, so why were they rushed into it in the first place?

  55. For the last two years, the eighth graders and freshmen in my kids’ district have not had math textbooks.

    Ugh, ours is the same way. It just adds an extra level of challenge for a disorganized kid when he can’t just open the textbook to find the explanation for the material they’re working on. My oldest somehow missed the fact that all his Geometry material was available in weekly sets of notes on a a website specified in the syllabus, until I pointed it out in the *fourth quarter*. Obviously the bigger problem is that he is some combination of unmotivated and dense with respect to hunting out school information, but it would be harder to miss a textbook. At least the teachers are more than competent, though.

  56. My disorganized kid actually managed to lose his textbook. He does better, in fact, with material on the class website, because he always looks there first.,

  57. In my kids’ district, the math textbook was available online, which I found out after I tried to buy the textbook, found out it was not yet in print, but that there was a online version. I contacted a school board member, and basically said, look, apparently we can’t get the hardbound version, but we can at least get the kids the online version. The school district had already bought the online version, but just hadn’t got around to setting up access for the kids. The teacher was also spectacularly incompetent.

    Somewhat later on, I had a conversation with a school official who told me that realistically, 80 percent of the kids in the district were not going to college. Well, not if there are a gazillion roadblocks in their way and the don’t have THAT mom (because I have taken that role) to find a path through.

    Unfortunately, this sort of thing is not unusual, nor restricted to my kids district. I have friends/siblings whose kids go to much more affluent districts. They also have stories of senile, incompetent, or vicious teachers. I think student ability is used as a excuse for pathetic teachers and curriculum.

  58. I haven’t had time to read the comments, but I was just at a conference and learned that any child with non-verbal learning disabilities should be receiving accommodations to get out of spiral mathematics (common-core). The general thinking is that 70% of students understand spiral math. Another 10-15% will learn it with tutoring and extreme parental involvement, and the rest will never learn it because of other factors. I imagine that most in the 10-15% grouping never will receive the extra help needed to succeed.

  59. I haven’t been close enough to it to join the “math panic” yet, but with common core our school district is re-aligning the math curriculum. Gone are the names that mean anything, so we have “7th grade math” and “8th grade math” and “advanced 7th grade math,” etc. As far as I can tell, this means the kids don’t touch Algebra until high school, with their grand plan being that the kids can catch up in high school by taking our (inaccessible due to budget cuts, and impractical in terms of in depth learning) summer school classes to cram in an extra math class. This sounds ridiculous to my ears, but my kids are so little I’m not quite ready to beat down the doors over calculus track when it’ll likely all change in another year or two as they get implementation under their feet.

  60. Lemon, spiral is NOT common core. Spiral is what districts were doing before common core

  61. And off topic – This touches on what Milo has talked about in the past about water safety, but I recently was in a pool during a near drowning of a boy. It was totally silent. I had no clue at the other end of a pool was a boy laying at the bottom. Very scary and surreal. CPR got him breathing before EMS arrived so I’m hoping all will be okay.

  62. From the Common Core website
    “The Common Core calls for greater focus in mathematics. Rather than racing to cover many topics in a mile-wide, inch-deep curriculum, the standards ask math teachers to significantly narrow and deepen the way time and energy are spent in the classroom. This means focusing deeply on the major work of each grade as follows:

    In grades K–2: Concepts, skills, and problem solving related to addition and subtraction
    In grades 3–5: Concepts, skills, and problem solving related to multiplication and division of whole numbers and fractions
    In grade 6: Ratios and proportional relationships, and early algebraic expressions and equations
    In grade 7: Ratios and proportional relationships, and arithmetic of rational numbers
    In grade 8: Linear algebra and linear functions”

  63. Lemon – I would be failing Math if I were forced to do spiral math. It was awful. I doubt 70% of students would be able to keep up. I think only those with natural aptitude would do well, average students who require time to understand would do very poorly. You had no time to know, what you did not know.

  64. Thanks for the clarification MM. I received a lot of math information, which isn’t my strength. My takeaway was that spiral would not work for my situation and avoid something called “Everyday Math”.

  65. Fred,
    I decided to check myself instead of relying on my colleague. From West Texas A&M website: Students who are currently suspended from another college or university are not eligible for admission to West Texas A&M University.
    From Sam Houston State: Students who are currently suspended from another college or university are not eligible for admission to Sam Houston State University.

    I checked 3 others that all say the same thing. So as my colleague was pointing out, it’s not just ‘not suspended from your last university’ meaning you can recover with a year at community college, but not suspended from any college you have attended. That is what is making it tough on at least this one boy to bounce back.

  66. Here is the problem though – we put the fewest resources into the schools that high poverty students are most likely to attend – the community colleges. We put the most resources into the schools that wealthy students are most likely to attend. It seems rather backwards to me.

    I don’t know if anyone hear knows who Gregg Easterbrook is – he writes a colum for ESPN.com called “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” and he writes for some conservative publications as well. In his ESPN column, he veers off into a lot of politcal topics, and one of the points he has made is how ridiculous it is when people make these multi-million dollar donations to Ivies and other top-tier colleges. His point is that if these people realy wanted to do the most good with their money, they would donate it to schools that have much less money and serve primarily lower-income students.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/080930#harvard

  67. “Everyday Math”.
    I was happy to see the whole lot of textbooks make their way to the recycle bin at the end of this school year.

  68. One of my youngest’s t-shirts proudly proclaims:
    “another day, and I didn’t use algebra”

  69. Lemon – that sounds very scary! It’s about this time of year when my FB feed blows up with videos of drowning with “It’s not what you think it looks like” messages. Hollywood makes it seem this dramatic affair, and it’s really not. And it happens in the blink of an eye.

    Other off topic thing, but I’m ridiculously excited about something so small I had to share. Literally, it’s very small. Dr. Brown (the bottle people) released a specialty feeder bottle. It is a little valve you add to any Dr. Brown bottle which decreases the amount of “suck” the baby has to produce to get milk. HOLY MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS GOOD! This valve is amazing! DS is now taking a “typical” bottle (with the addition of this little valve). I fed him using a glass dr. brown bottle last night (my little totebaggy corner of using glass… mock me if you will). And I finally have a bottle with a travel cap. The other feeder needed to be drained first (no cap that fit over the nipple). This one, I just pop the cap on and go. My life is infinitely easier. My babysitter list has just quadrupled (I don’t have to train anyone on how to feed my kid). And life is just good.

    Sorry! I have nothing on topic, except that I thought the curve would look like an S. Stagnant at the bottom, rise through the middle, stagnant on top. I guess more of the poor are accepted into college than I thought, and more of the rich are as well. I figured the rich kids just wouldn’t apply…

  70. Fred,

    Did you ever happen to see the movie Peggy Sue Got Married?

    Plot: Peggy Sue Got Married is a 1986 American comedy-drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola starring Kathleen Turner as a woman on the verge of a divorce, who finds herself transported back to the days of her senior year in high school in 1960.

    [Peggy Sue hands in her algebra test]

    Mr. Snelgrove: And what’s the meaning of this, Peggy Sue?

    Peggy Sue: Well, Mr Snelgrove, I happen to know that in the future I will not have the slightest use for algebra, and I speak from experience.

  71. I happen to know that in the future I will not have the slightest use for algebra, and I speak from experience.

    We were watching Tiny House Hunters on Saturday and, on this particular episode, the buyers were comparing the relative costs per square foot. They were commenting about how expensive it seemed (compared to a typical house). It takes a little bit of Algebra and a little bit of Geometry to intuitively grasp why it’s more expensive, since building costs are mostly proportional to the perimeter of any enclosure, not the interior space. Increase the perimeter dimensions linearly, though, and the interior space (square feet) goes up by a second order. This makes McMansions affordable and tiny houses expensive.

    A similar dynamic is at play when people wonder why the difference going from a 0.5 carat diamond to a 1.0 carat diamond appears so much greater than 1.0 to 1.5 (and that’s a volume factor, not just surface area).

    Another great example was Denver’s comment about the value of bringing one car from 10 mpg to 12 vs another from 50 to 100.

    Most people don’t get this stuff.

  72. Lemon – how terrifying. I will note that spontaneous breathing on scene is highly correlated with a sequellae-free outcome (good outcome).

  73. My district is fooling around with math content and sequence. It already had an impact on sixth grade because the district eliminated the accelerated program that allowed kids to finish algebra by 7th or 8th grade. They decided that the new regents in Algebra (common core) was very challenging and covered too much material to cover in one year. All of the kids will now sit for the algebra regents at the end of 9th grade. The math curriculum was re written by the math teachers, and now they combined algebra, geometry and trig into a four year plan.

    I think it is a mess, but I was still an elementary school parent when this was debated. The state only requires one math regents to graduate, so the kids will now take teacher developed finals instead of Regents.

    I’ve heard terrible things from all of my friends in the HS. The principal that created this mess is gone, so I’m hoping that they might fix it by the time DD gets to HS. I

  74. It does as a function of space.

    That’s not what you said.

    It’s sort of like overweight people choosing the restaurant with the biggest portions because of the value per calorie. That’s not the metric they should be using. If you’re looking to save money on housing $ per sq/ft might no be the best metric.

  75. Rhett – obviously, the point is, if you are going to use it, understand what determines it. People who say “I have no use for Algebra!” don’t know that they’re missing this.

  76. Milo,

    It seems by understanding it you’d delude yourself into buying a 3500 sq ft house for $700k vs. a 1750 sq/ft house for $400k on the grounds that the 700k is (by your metric) more affordable.

    Too smart by half as they say.

  77. “In grade 8: Linear algebra and linear functions.”

    I didn’t take linear algebra until my sophomore year in college. Most of the students were engineering majors.

  78. “in our district, only “high performing” students can take 8th grade algebra. Everyone else takes it in 9th grade”

    That’s pretty much the situation at my kids’ school too, and that school is supposedly one of the best in the state.

    Initially, I was a bit disappointed, but over time I’ve come to appreciate their approach. The kids will have plenty of time to take calculus and beyond, but there’s already enough academic stress without trying to finish geometry in 8th grade.

  79. Lauren, what on earth is your district trying to pull?? Are they trying to avoid looking bad on on the algebra regents? And why not let the kids who took 8th grade algebra take the Regents then, when it is fresh in their minds? That is the craziest sounding scheme.

  80. Lemon, Everyday Math has been the bane of parents who actually care that their kids learn math for many, many years.

  81. Finn –

    Are you trying to be funny? Linear algebra is sometime use to describe the x + y = 14 stuff that junior high kids take.

    True conversation with my freshman year roommate:
    Oh! I want to be a math major too! What kind of math do you take?
    I just finished Calculus.
    BC?
    No, AB. Um, that’s all my school had. Did you do BC?.
    A couple years ago. Now I am doing linear algebra.
    Linear Algebra? I did that in junior high.
    No, you didn’t.
    Umm…okay, are you bringing the fridge or am I?

  82. “His point is that if these people really wanted to do the most good with their money, they would donate it to schools that have much less money and serve primarily lower-income students.”

    This is a common criticism, which seems to make the assumption that “these people” really wanted to do the most good with their money I don’t get their basis for that assumption.

    OTOH, I’ve told my kids many times that if they want to do great things for the world, one way is to make a lot of money. You can do a lot of good with a lot of money.

    You can also buy a monument to yourself (or to your parents).

  83. Ada, yes, that is what they mean. I think they are taking some of the Algebra I content and moving it to 8th grade for the normal case (yes, I know lots of Totebag kids take Algebra I in 8th grade, but the norm still seems to be to take it in 9th grade).

  84. Our district *still* has the Everyday Math textbooks but says they are using them in a way aligned with Common Core. Shrug. So much of the education jargon makes me feel like we could be talking about anything. I mean, there is a specific thing referred to by “project-based learning,” for example, but then other places take anything where a project is assigned and call it project-based. The terms start to sound meaningless.

  85. And why not let the kids who took 8th grade algebra take the Regents then, when it is fresh in their minds?

    To weed out the kids with poor long term recall? Not that this is the main issue… But, I think you and CofC tend to underestimate the number of kids who were taught something, learned it, passed a test on it and yet 4 years later it’s all gone.

  86. MATH 311 Introduction to Linear Algebra (3) Algebra of matrices, linear equations, real vector spaces and transformations. Emphasis on concepts and abstraction and instruction of careful writing. Students may receive credit for only one of 307 or 311. Pre: 243 (or concurrent) or 253A (or concurrent), or consent.

    Math 243 is the 3rd semester of a 4 semester series in calculus. Completion of differential and integral calculus classes is a prerequisite for the INTRODUCTORY linear algebra class.

    I think Ada’s roommate had the Math 311 version of linear algebra in mind.

  87. From the syllabus:

    “Math 311 is a writing intensive class: The instructor for the class needs
    to comply with the requirements for a writing intensive class.
    Except at the beginning of the course, at least half of each assignment
    should involve the writing of proofs, or the explanation of examples or counterexamples.
    This includes both homework and exams. The instructor
    should insist that assignments be written legibly using proper grammatical
    English, with an effort towards clarity and conciseness.”

    I’m guessing that whoever decided to characterize 8th grade algebra as “linear algebra” was not a math major, and never took a linear algebra class in college.

  88. OK, one least quote from the Math 311 syllabus:

    “Linear algebra is one of the early courses in which the student is exposed
    to mathematics at an abstract level. The emphasis is on concepts, theorems
    and proofs, which are often made concrete through examples and counterexamples.”

    This is why I was surprised to see it in the 8th grade math curriculum.

  89. when they say linear algebra re the 8th-9th grade offering I’m pretty confident the “linear” part takes the form of y=mx+b

  90. ” Linear algebra is sometime use to describe the x + y = 14 stuff that junior high kids take.”

    I’ve never heard the term, “linear algebra,” used to describe that. I guess they’re using that term to describe the study of the equation of a straight line.

    The MIT online linear algebra class lists multivariable calculus as a prerequisite.

  91. Co-opting an existing term for another use, especially in the same general field, can be confusing.

    Sort of like when someone told me he was going to enter a biathlon, and had a very confused look when I asked him about his rifle.

  92. “when they say linear algebra re the 8th-9th grade offering I’m pretty confident the “linear” part takes the form of y=mx+b”

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure that in most cases, they don’t expect 8th graders to have already taken multivariable calculus.

    But isn’t straight line equations just a very small part of what most of us think of as Algebra I?

  93. “when they say linear algebra re the 8th-9th grade offering I’m pretty confident the “linear” part takes the form of y=mx+b”

    I’m with Finn. That’s called a linear equation, not commonly called linear algebra..

    “You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means”

    ‘I’m guessing that whoever decided to characterize 8th grade algebra as “linear algebra” was not a math major, and never took a linear algebra class in college.”‘

    I doubt many education majors take college linear algebra. They also describe 2nd graders as learning algebra.

  94. Sort of like when someone told me he was going to enter a biathlon, and had a very confused look when I asked him about his rifle.

    I’m assuming he was referring to a bike/run race. I’ve seen those referred to as duathlons to differentiate them from biatholons.

  95. “It already had an impact on sixth grade because the district eliminated the accelerated program that allowed kids to finish algebra by 7th or 8th grade. ”

    That’s the second affluent district I’ve heard about that has eliminated 8th grade algebra as the result of Common Core implementation. Many people didn’t believe it would happen, but I never underestimate educratic bureaucracy.

  96. “I doubt many education majors take college linear algebra. ”

    I doubt that many education majors take multivariable calculus.

    Rhett might be more accurate referencing education majors at directional U rather than accounting majors.

  97. To weed out the kids with poor long term recall? Not that this is the main issue… But, I think you and CofC tend to underestimate the number of kids who were taught something, learned it, passed a test on it and yet 4 years later it’s all gone.

    That’s pretty much 95% of the population. Unless they use the material subsequently, most people will forget it in four years.

  98. This is a common criticism, which seems to make the assumption that “these people” really wanted to do the most good with their money I don’t get their basis for that assumption.

    Of course they don’t want to do the most good, they just want a building with their name on it at Harvard.

  99. “I’m assuming he was referring to a bike/run race.”

    Yes, it turned out he was totally unaware of the Olympic biathlon.

    I’m waiting for the bicycle/shooting event.

  100. “That’s the second affluent district I’ve heard about that has eliminated 8th grade algebra as the result of Common Core implementation. ”

    It seems like Common Core could help generate more support for charter schools and vouchers.

  101. 8th grade algebra? What data do we have to indicate that it’s better to start it earlier?

    It’s like teaching a 3 year old to read. Just because it can sometimes be done doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

  102. “they just want a building with their name on it at Harvard.”

    OTOH, for the amount it costs for a building at Harvard, one could probably get one’s name on a bunch of CC buildings. At my kids’ school, I think it only takes about $1M to have a whole section of the school named after you. I’m guessing that for $400M you can get several entire CCs named after you.

  103. “8th grade algebra? What data do we have to indicate that it’s better to start it earlier?”

    Without finishing algebra in 8th grade, it will be difficult to get into calculus before graduating from HS. And we all know how important calculus is.

  104. I don’t know what is going on with others but from what I can see my kids’ private school that used to follow the state standards but used their own methods has become even more rigorous with Common Core. My second kid has it much harder than my first kid.
    Mooshi is right in that there used to Crayola type projects in kindergarten/first grade but all those disappeared. The writing piece has ramped up, the reading covers different types of materials, the questions are focused and based on the reading. Math has more time spent on each topic, so that the next year, the kids recall what they did last year. I think it is a step in the right direction if implemented correctly.

  105. “I’m waiting for the bicycle/shooting event.”

    Not to be confused with the bicycle shooting event. I’m definitely not waiting for that one.

  106. There are examples and studies that show commonly used teaching methods and curriculum do not prepare students as well as others do.  For example, direct instruction works better for many types of students than group problem-solving activities.  Nonfiction reading assignments and frequent testing raise achievement levels.  Many other commonly used methods particularly hurt students with “lack of desire, poor executive function and low ability”.  Another example is phonics instruction, which has been shown to be better for low SES students.

    My kids lacked textbooks in some classes, and instead were supplied with copies of handouts and/or website pages that were poorly organized or formatted.  That’s a challenge for students with poor executive function or low ability.  The spiral method was described by one teacher as the “kiss of death” for one of my kids.

    Yeah, changing pedagogy and curriculum can make a significant difference.

  107. 8th grade algebra is important for students who want to keep open the option of a STEM major. Eliminating it decreases the possibility that a student will be successful in completing a STEM degree in four years. Common Core was described as preparing students for college, but not for STEM majors. Lowest common denominator was how some people described it. CC standards are lower than those for some states, including MA.

  108. “Lowest common denominator was how some people described it.”

    Combine that with the way NCLB incentivizes ignoring bright kids, and I could see a high SES flight from public schools, thereby undermining support for those schools.

    IMO, NCLB should be much more literal.

  109. Mooshi, I agree with you. My friends with high school students actually warned me a couple of months ago when they learned that I was finally going to renovate all of my bathrooms. They said that we should just put our home up for sale, and move to a nearby district that hasn’t joined this craziness. The existing HS parents are so disgusted with the new math program.
    Also, the teachers that they selected to re write the math curriculum are not exactly rocket scientists. I don’t know the teachers at all since I am still a few years away from the HS, so one friend sent me a link to a “side” job that one of the teachers has outside of school. She was trying to prove that we have to move because it is so bad. This HS math teacher actually sells encapsulated placenta.

    We chose to stay because we like this town, and I told my husband that we might have to invest in math tutors unless they fix this mess before DD enters the HS.

  110. My kids lacked textbooks in some classes, and instead were supplied with copies of handouts and/or website pages that were poorly organized or formatted. That’s a challenge for students with poor executive function or low ability.

    Presumably one can only postpone the inevitable for so long. Won’t it become obvious at their first job that they have low ability and poor executive function?

  111. I attended college with people who did not have calculus before they started but finished in four years with a stem degree. Advanced math (and science) does not have to be taken in a sequence, a junior chemistry major can take 3 chemistry classes per semester, or a few math classes. It seems that the more advanced you are in these fields you are, the less the topics build on one another.

  112. “Won’t it become obvious at their first job that they have low ability and poor executive function?”

    No. As you have said, many jobs don’t require much in terms of effort or ability. But students need to perform well in school to qualify for those jobs. Add in the immaturity of K-12 students compared to 20-somethings, and it’s clear that schools have erected unnecessary barriers to learning and graduation.

  113. Louise, I agree with you about the common core. I couldn’t believe the high quality of the writing in the papers and school work that were sent home at the end of the school year. I think the common core is valuable if the district, or school is able to implement the CC in a reasonable manner.

  114. Ada, there are some sequence requirements. E.g., it’s hard to take physics (or linear algebra) without first knowing calculus.

    It is possible, but you need to start calculus as soon as you start college, as that is the prerequisite to much of higher level math. I agree that once you have that, you can take multiple math classes concurrently, but there are still sequences, e.g., Math 311 (introductory linear algebra) is still a prereq to Math 411 (linear algebra) or Math 412 (abstract algebra).

  115. CofC,

    Ah! Good point. So, let us say, 90% of management consulting is being willing to get on a plane every week and telling people what they want to hear. If you’re a good but not stellar student, who would love to do that, you’ll never get the opportunity if you don’t have that elite credential.

    That could very well be true.

    However, my hunch is your plan results in poor ROI in terms of dollars per unit of effort. You end up with a 30% percentile CFA working 70% percentile hours just to keep up.

  116. Yes, implementation of CC is key. And by the way, the CC website says the standards are not intended to be a ceiling, but to be a floor. Districts that eliminate 8th grade algebra and blame it on CC are not paying attention or are trying to pull some sleight of hand.

    What is so weird about the CC battle is that it seems like half the parents are complaining that it is too hard, and half are saying too easy. In truth, it probably depends on what your school district has done. Here in my town, most parents fall into the “it is too hard” camp. One of the bus stop moms, who is a teacher in a different district, barely speaks to me any more because I disagreed with her, and said that in higher education, we really need students to be better prepared. She teaches in a wealthy district up north, so it isn’t like she is dealing with needy, high poverty kids. But she was adamant that she thought most kids could not not write to the standards, and that reading nonfiction would kill their creativity.

  117. What is so weird about the CC battle is that it seems like half the parents are complaining that it is too hard, and half are saying too easy.

    Crazy, it’s almost as if half of kids are below the median and half are above*.

    * Relative to their peers

  118. While we are on the education topic, I do need to brag a little. You guys may remember that my oldest was very nearly gatekeepered out of honors biology this past year. He had a horrible habit of forgetting to hand in completed homework, and when he did, he would often use the wrong pen color. We had quite a fight on our hands, and getting him in included doing a full neuropsych to show he is as smart on paper as we all knew he was, and a 504 plan meeting with the psychologist participating via conference call, to get him in. His 8th grade science teacher was convinced he would flunk out.

    Well, not only was his final average in the 90’s, but he scored a 98 on the bio Regents, and a perfect 800 on the SAT Biology subject test. So there, silly 8th grade science teacher!

  119. “Crazy, it’s almost as if half of kids are below the median and half are above”
    Yeah, but that was true on the old curriculum too.

  120. “But she was adamant that she thought most kids could not write to the standards, and that reading nonfiction would kill their creativity.”

    I was just about to comment that similar to Lauren I have been astonished at the high quality of writing that my kid has done this year. Now, this is a child who will not read anything other than the required reading and did not enter kindergarten reading at all. In fact did quite poorly on timed reading and fluency tests. In two years there has been amazing progress. One of those two years was analyzing and writing about very sad novels, the second of those two years was reading and writing in the non fiction space. In between there was learning about poetry (that was fun).

  121. “reading nonfiction would kill their creativity”

    Well, unless they are going to be artists (broadly defined), politicians or evangelical ministers, it has to happen sometime.

  122. We had quite a fight on our hands, and getting him in included doing a full neuropsych to show he is as smart on paper as we all knew he was, and a 504 plan meeting with the psychologist participating via conference call, to get him in. His 8th grade science teacher was convinced he would flunk out.

    Presumably, he will thrive in careers that require a very high level of cognitive ability but tolerate a certain degree of absentmindedness. He would not do well in careers that requires a very level high level of cognitive ability and high levels of attention to detail and strict adherence to bureaucratic process.

    I guess I’m a little leery of damping the signals that would tend to sort people into the careers they are most suited for.

  123. “Reading nonfiction would kill their creativity”.

    The only books my then first grader would bring home from the school library would be “How Dams are built”.
    All of the child’s reading choices were fact based. This is still the kid’s preference. If novels are required reading the choice is novels based on historic events.

  124. I was told in 9th grade that I was too disorganized for the accelerated science track (the only way to take APs in high school). There was an adminitrative error and I was accidentally placed in the faster classes, even though I didn’t have all the paperwork.

    I am finally over it, but I wanted to take my MD back to show that teacher for years. Turns out my interest in earth science did not inspire me to organization, but past that, I did okay.

  125. I was thinking some about the original topic during bedtime games with my youngest.

    The next question the NYT should ask, after “What do you think the function looks like?” ought to be “What SHOULD the function look like, ideally?”

    Flat, I’m guessing, so that familial socioeconomic status has no effect on educational outcome. M=0. But what’s the y-intercept? What percent should be attending college?

  126. Rhett said “Presumably, he will thrive in careers that require a very high level of cognitive ability but tolerate a certain degree of absentmindedness. ”
    Agreed, but he has to get there first, and getting gatekeepered out of a bio course that he was perfectly capable of excelling in is not a way to do that.
    I do assume he will end up developing robotics algorithms or some such. That is fine. One of my friend’s kids, an equally bright but absent minded sort, got a job in a robotics startup after grad school. Google acquired them, and he made a killing on it.

  127. Agreed, but he has to get there first,

    But the default was non-AP with sky high test scores, correct? Would that doom him?

  128. ADA,

    Do you ever wonder what would have happened if you’d been left off the AP track? Better, worse, the same?

  129. Ada, there are some sequence requirements. E.g., it’s hard to take physics (or linear algebra) without first knowing calculus.

    It is possible, but you need to start calculus as soon as you start college, as that is the prerequisite to much of higher level math. I agree that once you have that, you can take multiple math classes concurrently, but there are still sequences, e.g., Math 311 (introductory linear algebra) is still a prereq to Math 411 (linear algebra) or Math 412 (abstract algebra).

    I went to a top 10 engineering school and probably half my classmates did not take calculus in HS. The programs were set up so that it wasn’t needed to have taken calc prior to starting.

    I just took a look at the current program requirements and you still don’t need to have taken calc. They now have a four credit calc I class first semester for people who took calc in HS, and if you haven’t taken calc, you take a five credit calc I class in its place. Then either way, you go into the same calc II class the second semester.

  130. Quick hijack. DD has been at WPI for the past few weeks. They had a college night and Stevens and Tufts both got her attention. Any thoughts about either school? My plan is to visit both on our way home.

  131. I think I had a lot of confidence going into college that I was “good at science” — I had done well in the hard science track in my high school and gotten a 5 on an AP exam. I recieved significant merit aid in college, and I think that was related to my generally high standardized test scores (AP and others). If I had done the standard track I would have left high school without having taken “college level” science. I may have been dinged by the admissions at my SLAC for not taking the most challenging courses available.

    I might have been a rock star in the “regular science” track, but I am not sure that would have served me so well. And to Finn’s general point – I might have not had the same circle of AP friends.

    And, to MM’s point about her kid doing well on the exams – the SAT is a subject test, not an aptitude test (or so they say). So, had he not gotten into the more competitive class, he may have learned less.

  132. Sheep Farmer, WPI is a much better school than Stevens, but Stevens is in a gorgeous setting in Hoboken, playground of yuppies, while WPI is in Wormtown. Tufts is a completely different sort of school, more liberal arts than engineering.

  133. Sheep Farmer,

    Around here Tufts is one level below Harvard and MIT but above BU and BC.

    TAXI DRIVER: Oh, yeah, sure, and now I’m gonna be stuck here. But you knew the way to go! You went to college!

    ELAINE: Hey, I went to Tufts! That was my safety school! So don’t talk to me about hardship.

    Elaine Benes and the totebagger’s lament.

  134. Mooshi, congrats to your DS on his 800! Did he just finish his freshman year? Which SAT Bio test did he take– ecological or molecular?

    I’m guessing that he took the SAT subject test because that’s the last bio class he plans to take in HS. DS thought about taking it last year, but he plans to take AP Bio, so he plans to take the SAT Bio test the Saturday right before the AP test, just like he did this year with Chem.

  135. Sheep– I don’t know much about Tufts, but I do know several alums, and a mom whose daughter is there now. The mom was quite happy and proud when her daughter got in, and it was her daughter’s top choice (she got in early decision).

    The reactions I’ve seen when some of the alums mentioned they went to Tufts suggested that it is considered a pretty good school.

  136. Sheep–we visited Tufts several years ago with my older one. It is a beautiful campus, and is considered a very good school. They are big on demonstrating interest in them–they hate it when applicants consider them a safety school. ( Google “Tufts Syndrome”).

  137. I went to BU. Even back inthe dino days, we considered it a step below! And BU has improved since then. I recall it was most noted for a vet school

  138. I went to BU. Even back inthe dino days, we considered it a step below

    No one but BU alumni think that.

  139. Tufts seems good for international studies, pre-med offerings, dental school.
    If looking for engineering, CMU and Case Western seem to come up a lot as possible choices (within the set of colleges that include WPI).

  140. I think RPI and WPI are roughly equivalent. CMU is much more prestigious in engineering. In computer science, it is in the top 3, along with Stanford and MIT.

    For engineering, really, the most important thing is that the school should be research oriented and have strong research, as well as ties with industry, in its engineering and science departments. Schools with strong research will have the most up to date labs and equipment, and will be teaching up to date topics and approaches. In particular, I have never seen a decent CS department where the professors weren’t doing research. It is amazing how fast professors can fall out of touch with the changes in the field if they aren’t doing their own work.

  141. I did a little nuzzling around the Internet to see how people are regarding the various Boston schools these days, and the thing that most strikes me is that a lot of people express the opinion that Northeastern is a better school than any in the Boston area except Harvard and MIT. That is a total sea change. In my day, everyone looked down on Northeastern. Its reputation was that it was a school for commuters who couldn’t get into any of the other schools. One of my friends took a lot of his courses at Northeastern because he was working fulltime and their courses were more convenient, but he came back to BU for his final year because he said he wanted his diploma to say BU, not Northeastern. I suspect he would choose differently today.

    Northeastern is a shining example of the fact that if the administration spends a lot of money, more people will want to come to their school.

  142. Mooshi – in business Northeastern is known for their coop program. Also, from Northeastern average (academically) accounting/finance students (Rhett’s favorite) but who had good social skills and worked well within teams during their summer internships would have a very shot at landing jobs when they graduated. I knew a lot of people who went to Northeastern, BC, Brandeis, Holy Cross, Babson and similar Boston area schools.

  143. Yes, I know about Northeastern’s coop program. It was around even when I was in college, but in those days, was the reason everyone saw Northeastern as a poor local kid’s school. Now it draws nationally, and is well regarded in engineering.

    For the record, Holy Cross is not a Boston area school. And Holy Cross is as different from Northeastern as you can get. Holy Cross does not allow any practical or job oriented field to sully its campus.

  144. A friend’s two daughters went to Tufts (one is still there, in fact.) As a family they love it. Friend has a tendency to say things like “When DD had dinner with Antonin Scalia…” so I guess they have good networking opportunities if you hustle. Also Daniel Dennett is there in the philosophy department and he’s a huge philosophy big-shot, like anyone on this blog cares.

  145. I am very familiar with Daniel Dennett, since his writings are important in cognitive science, which is a field that overlaps significantly with areas in computer science. I read Brainstorms when I was in college

  146. Oh, and the Tufts mom mentioned above has a B.S. in chemistry from Princeton and an MBA from Northwestern, so she’s not some hick who doesn’t know from colleges.

  147. Milo,
    IMHO if m=0, b=>90=y

    Just not all at age 18. I truly believe at least some college is right for almost everyone between high school graduation and death.

    Now, if we’re talking fresh out of high school only, then I think around 30% seems right.

  148. Mooshi,

    Interesting article, “many feel that the undergraduate experience will fall short in some respects because of the professional focus of a Northeastern education.”

    I know several people who thought that and pursued undergrad somewhere more academically oriented and were very upset to find that friends who went to Northeastern ended up getting far better jobs after graduation.

  149. for amusement’s sake, here is US News and World Reports list of the top undergraduate engineering programs in the country (schools that offer the PhD): MIT, Stanford, UC-Berkeley, California Inst of Technology, Georgia Inst of Technology, Univ of Illinois Urbana, CMU, U of Michigan, Purdue, Cornell, Princeton, UT Austin.
    This is a very different list from the standard “top school” list. Note that 6 of the 12 schools are public.

    The best non doctorate undergrad engineering schools are: Harvey Mudd, Rose Hulman, Olin (I have friends who have taught there), West Point, US Naval Academy, US Air Force Academy, California Polytech, Bucknell, Cooper Union (my DS2 wants to go to this school), Embry Riddle

  150. And computer science rankings: MIT, Stanford, CMU, UC Berkeley, U Illinois Urbana, Georgia Inst of Technology, U Michigan, UT Austin, Cornell, California Inst of Technology

  151. Agreed with Rhett on the relative standing of Tufts. Several of the smart-ish jocks from my HS went there. I think of Northeastern as a step below – kind of like NYU, they have spent a lot of money on attracting students recently but older people (hiring managers?) may still remember the older ranking/reputation.

  152. Tufts is an excellent and highly in demand private college, and frankly always has been. If your child can get into Tufts, she can certainly get into UVA if I recall your location correctly (VA, but not NoVA), so why spend all that money? Northeastern has made a gigantic academic turnaround – a friend is a prof in one of the professional schools, her son went there because he was a difficult high schooler, being near home wasn’t a bad idea and being free it left his tuition money for after he found himself, and he just got his PhD from Berkeley in Math. His sister went to one of the three well known elite SLACs in Maine, and I can’t see the value for all that money.

    Many of the private engineering schools have the same sort of regional future job connections as the good state engineering schools (we don’t have an all purpose top state engineering program in MA – there are a few scattered good programs but our state schools overall suffer by comparison with all of the private offerings). WPI is frankly a hidden gem of which we New Englanders are quite proud, despite its location in an faded industrial town. So if your daughter goes to a well known regional private engineering school, the recruiters will be primarily from that region. Sometimes, and i think WCE could comment when she gets back home, to end up in the preferred region or specialty a student relocates for a master’s degree.

  153. Univ of Illinois Urbana.

    I knew that this school had a good reputation but didn’t know it was so highly ranked.
    My friend’s son will be attending this school.

  154. “I truly believe at least some college is right for almost everyone between high school graduation and death.

    Now, if we’re talking fresh out of high school only, then I think around 30% seems right.”

    I think I’d agree with that, actually.

  155. Chilling chart about where the fed student loan money goes. I would not spin the loan debacle (or the mortgage debacle, for that matter) as liberal largesse gone bad because of unworthy students or buyers a la George Will, but because of predatory “educators” or lenders.

    Half of the top 20 schools based on the amount of federal loan dollars received were for-profit institutions.

    Institutions Receiving the Most Grad Student Loan Disbursements, 2013-14

    Institution name
    Type
    Amount
    Walden University
    For-Profit
    $756,336,024
    Nova Southeastern University
    Private-Nonprofit
    $532,479,305
    University of Phoenix (APOL)
    For-Profit
    $493,078,509
    New York University
    Private-Nonprofit
    $471,627,155
    University of Southern California
    Private-Nonprofit
    $460,167,597
    Capella University (CPLA)
    For-Profit
    $399,450,066
    Liberty University
    Private-Nonprofit
    $351,847,277
    Midwestern University
    Private-Nonprofit
    $335,146,070
    Grand Canyon University (LOPE)
    For-Profit
    $329,153,677
    Strayer University (STRA)
    For-Profit
    $284,209,616
    Columbia University
    Private-Nonprofit
    $241,667,574
    St. George’s University, School of Medicine
    Foreign-For-Profit
    $241,203,227
    Kaplan University
    For-Profit
    $226,598,462
    Ross University School of Medicine
    Foreign-For-Profit
    $218,874,479
    Georgetown University
    Private-Nonprofit
    $214,982,053
    DeVry University (DV)
    For-Profit
    $214,752,052
    George Washington University
    Private-Nonprofit
    $206,524,570
    Argosy University
    For-Profit
    $201,828,298
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
    Public
    $192,355,258
    Western University of Health Sciences
    Private-Nonprofit
    $185,081,134

  156. “Half of the top 20 schools based on the amount of federal loan dollars received were for-profit institutions.”

    Why is that bad?

  157. I saw that list in the Chronicle. Notice NYU’s position on the list. As long as I can remember, NYU has depended on a large number of very expensive cash cow MS programs. They do this in computer science – they have a highly ranked PhD program in CS, and a cash cow MS program. For the most part, the MS students are evening students who hold down fulltime jobs. Usually the employer is paying. They are kept quite separate from the prestige PhD students.

  158. It is bad because for profit schools are a small fraction of universities. This is also true of student load defaults at the undergrad level.

  159. Students at for-profit colleges make up 13 percent of the nation’s college enrollment, but account for about 47 percent of the defaults on loans. (this was from a Senate commission report in 2012)

  160. Meme-You make an excellent point about the regional recruiting. I had not thought about that. No mater where DD ends up going to school, I know that she will not come back here for a job. Not too many opportunities here. WPI did the hard sell and one of the things that stood out is that they don’t require kids to take all sorts of liberal arts classes in addition to the ones for their major. A quick check of UVA’s website shows that all students have to take a language, history, social science, etc. WPI stressed the point that because their students aren’t required to take those extra classes they have a much higher percentage of kids who graduate in four years. I have no idea if that is true or not, but it makes sense. Hopefully DD will choose UVA or Tech, but since she up north, we thought it was a good idea to check out a few other schools, if for no other reason than to compare to the ones closer to home. Milo, we will be making a stop at the Naval Academy over the weekend. We stopped at the Coast Guard Academy on the way up. DH is trying really hard to sell her on that one.

  161. “I think I’d agree with that, actually.”

    And, while I might be right, that clearly means something different than saying only 1/3 of Fred’s or Milo’s or MM’s kids should go to college right out of high school. Or that only 1/3 of each graduating class from the charter school MBT was talking about yesterday should go. It would mean 100% of some families’ kids and 95%+ of some high schools’ classes would go and 0% from others.

    Then we have a whole ‘nuther political mess on our hands when only those who are actually prepared to do college work go right out of high schools.

    Note, also, the 30% number I guessed at includes all colleges offering admission to freshmen (4yrs + CCs)

  162. Sheep Farmer – I was commenting specifically on Tufts, not one of the engineering schools, as an expensive alternative to UVA. – If she wants an engineering program, I don’t know whether Va Tech is comparable to the others on her list. I believe many good engineering schools have ROTC, so that is also an option for funding if the Naval Academy does not float her boat (collective groan).

  163. @Mooshi – I wanted to ask you about the reputation of NC State and UNC – Chapel Hill for engineering. NC State is the STEM school. I know people who have gone to NC State for Math or Business but none for engineering.

  164. I actually don’t know. I am not so familiar with NC State. I consider UNC Chapel Hill to be really good in computer science, mainly because of their research strength. I honestly think either one would be fine. Most likely, grads end up working in the Research Triangle area.

  165. “NC State is the STEM school. I know people who have gone to NC State for Math or Business but none for engineering.”

    I’ve worked for two NC State engineering grads. One was my CO.

  166. Olin seems like a great school – I was on campus once for a lecture. Affordable too (though i see they stopped that, everyone goes for free program). It never comes up on here. Why?

  167. Thanks Milo.

    NC State is a land grant university and

    “NC State also maintains its connection to the military. ROTC is a strong presence on campus, and the university’s academic and research programs are helping to prepare and protect soldiers. NC State has also graduated more general military officers than any non-service academy in the country.”

  168. Olin is very new and very non traditional. Fulltimers are on 5 year contracts. They also bring in experts to teach for just a year or so. I have a friend who participated in that, and said it was the best teaching experience of her life. The educational paradigm is also very non traditional. Everything is project-based, and group work predominates. They believe in the idea of working on a project before the formal learning happens, which I think would make CoC shudder. One of Olin’s missions is to totally redefine engineering education.

  169. “NC State has also graduated more general military officers than any non-service academy in the country.”

    They’ve graduated more officers, in general, or they have more alumni who have become generals?

    I know a guy who became an officer to attend medical school, without having participated in ROTC, so his grasp of customs and etiquette and lingo was slightly lacking. He went to the base exchange as a young second lieutenant, and he noticed the reserved parking spaces designated “General Officer Parking.” He thought “Oh, cool. I’m an officer,” and took the spot.

  170. “WPI did the hard sell and one of the things that stood out is that they don’t require kids to take all sorts of liberal arts classes in addition to the ones for their major. ”

    My alma mater also minimized the amount of liberal arts requirements, e.g., no foreign language, in order to keep the graduation requirements theoretically completable in 4 years (averaging about 16 credits/semester) while still requiring sufficient engineering rigor.

    I don’t think it is an outlier in this. In any case, I suggest not assuming this is unique to WPI, and to look specifically into the graduation requirements for all schools in which she’s interested.

    And please continue to share these experiences.

  171. Northeastern has crossed my radar screen as a school that gives generous aid to NMF. Most of those schools have been using that aid as part of larger programs to improve their academic profiles.

  172. “The best non doctorate undergrad engineering schools are: …. California Polytech….”

    Which Cal Poly? There are two: Pomona and San Luis Obispo.

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