Effects of increasing international student populations on college campuses

by WCE

I have friends who are STEM academic advisers at OSU and UIUC. My OSU friend confirmed the accuracy of this article. When I was in graduate school, my department was ~75% international students. I think people can learn the fundamentals of engineering in the U.S. with a limited grasp of English, but I’m not sure that other disciplines, especially language-intensive ones, are suitable for people with limited English proficiency. I was surprised to see how high the percentage of international students at Mt Holyoke and Bryn Mawr is (28%) and I wonder if the education there is affected. One of my acquaintances left his engineering professorship in part over how repeated cheating by international students was handled by the local university.

Do you think a US college education will continue to be valuable? Do you share my concern about students with limited English requiring slower instruction in language-intensive disciplines?

On a recent Monday, 22-year-old [Shao] woke up in the apartment he shares with three Chinese friends. He walked to an engineering class at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he sat with Chinese students. Then, he hit the gym with a Chinese pal before studying in the library until late into the night. He recalls uttering two fragments in English all day. The longest was at Chipotle, where he ordered a burrito: “Double chicken, black beans, lettuce and hot sauce.”

At first glance, a huge wave of Chinese students entering American higher education seems beneficial for both sides. International students, in particular from China, are clamoring for American credentials, while U.S. schools want their tuition dollars, which can run two to three times the rate paid by in-state students. On the ground, American campuses are struggling to absorb the rapid and growing influx—a dynamic confirmed by interviews with dozens of students, college professors and counselors.

Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Students Sows Discord on U.S. Campuses

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178 thoughts on “Effects of increasing international student populations on college campuses

  1. good topic…something that I am involved in professionally and as an alum of a school that has always in my memory had a very high Asian (Chinese) population. Hope to come back to comment in detail later.

    I strongly agree the practice of admitting/enrolling full-pay foreign students is changing the look/feel of many of our very top universities, both public and private. Illinois is a unique case. Like most things, not that big an issue once you get out of the “top 200” schools. IMO

  2. “The whole idea was to create cultural exchange,”

    Bullhockey. The “whole idea” was to admit a bunch of full-pay kids to offset the declining state contributions.

    I have to admit, I’m kind of having a “get off my lawn” moment here, because some of the complaints are sounding like entitled twitdom. Back IMD, when I studied at Unnamed European University, the US school that ran the year abroad program (i) had fluency requirements for admission, (ii) provided us an intensive 4-week language immersion before classes started, and (iii) helped make sure we got signed up properly for the classes. From that point on, we were on our own — took the same classes as the kids who lived there, had to interact in their language, and earned whatever grades we got.

    I have no problem if they want to create some special side services for these kids — like registration assistance, a more intensive orientation, etc. And any career office worth its salt should be prepared to help anyone (it can’t be only the Chinese students who don’t know how to prepare a resume). But I just can’t imagine going in expecting the university to change how it taught its courses to reach me — if my language or writing skills weren’t good enough, that was on me, not them.

    “Do you think a US college education will continue to be valuable?”

    Well, I think it’s a self-resolving problem. If it’s not, people will stop coming.

  3. “Bullhockey. The “whole idea” was to admit a bunch of full-pay kids to offset the declining state contributions. ”

    +1

    SSK – enjoying the mental image of me as Lucy in the chocolate factory. A fav. episode in my family. Real life in assembly was much more mundane.

  4. At my university there were foreign students, but not a large portion of the student body, What universities offer in terms of service to any student completely relates to what they are measured on to get their funding.

    For example, Texas perceived (real or not is not important) that students were taking too long to graduate and part of this was the cost. Now several major universities now offer tuition/fees that are flat for 12 hours or more. I haven’t seen anything definitive about whether this is shortening the length of time in school or not. There are always factors such as course availablity, course scheduling, etc. that cannot be fixed by reducing the cost to the student.

    Another example, remedial courses for those who aren’t really ready for college. Colleges were getting heat for “drop outs”. Remedial courses are the solution, though that again makes college take longer and higher costs to the students.

  5. From the article-Many Chinese students “are woefully underprepared,” she says. “They have very little idea what it means to be analytical about a text. They find it very difficult to fulfill basic requirements of analytical thinking or writing.”

    Maybe the US education system isn’t broken after all.

  6. “Many Chinese students “are woefully underprepared,”

    which is why there are for-profit companies who provide language and other remedial services, frequently via agreements with US colleges to help with the on boarding process for foreign students (not just Chinese)

  7. “From the article-Many Chinese students “are woefully underprepared,” she says. “They have very little idea what it means to be analytical about a text. They find it very difficult to fulfill basic requirements of analytical thinking or writing.”

    Maybe the US education system isn’t broken after all.”

    From WCE’s OP, this was my knee-jerk reaction. I quickly recalled an afternoon with a prof I knew. He recounted the issues that Asians had with his grad school’s (and most US college’s) definition of plagarism. The Asian grad students (who did not come from US colleges) really struggled with being able to summarize without direct copying. I think the issue resolved itself over time with a bit more oversight on the part of the professors and the U. But the idea stuck with me –

    How different is the US system from everyone else that copying has different accepted uses?

  8. The year abroad programs have really changed too. Like the international students, these have become cash cows. Our international programs are typical in that there are no language requirements and very little preparation. Like many schools, we have campuses in a couple of hot European destinations, so the students get shipped to those locations where they study with lots of other Americans, both ours and students from other schools who use our programs. I refer to international study programs as “party abroad” programs because that is all they have become.

  9. “How different is the US system from everyone else that copying has different accepted uses?”

    I don’t know that it’s different “accepted” uses of copying as much as it is a different emphasis in instruction. It sounds like the Chinese education system focuses on *knowledge* of specific facts, whereas the US (at least from what I have seen) is more focused on *analysis* of those facts — i.e., you need to know the facts as your baseline, but then you’re judged based on what you do with them.

    Under the former approach, plagiarism isn’t a huge deal — you’re being judged on your knowledge of objective facts, so copying from someone who wrote out those facts is still proof that you know what the facts are. Under the latter approach, you’re taking someone else’s analysis — a unique idea that someone else’s brain pulled together — and submitting it as if it were your own. I think our schools focus so much on citations/references not so much to teach kids that every fact needs support as to emphasize that you don’t claim someone else’s idea as your own.

  10. My undergraduate degree was at a school that always accepted lots of international students, both for undergrad and grad. I actually lived in the international student housing for a couple of years – each room had an American student and an international student. But the way this university did it was to put the international students through a special program for a semester or two before they could enter the regular programs. That is so they could beef up their language skills. The universities are not doing that any more, which is the problem

  11. MM –

    a big +1 on the study abroad topic.

    Nowadays people (parents/kids) think it’s a big deal to spend a semester in, say, Prague. (and, like MM says, not needing to know a word of Czech). My experience was as LfB describes…I had taken 6 years of a foreign language, got a 5 on the AP exam, spent 6 months in another country in HS where that language was spoken before going on my junior year abroad. We viewed the kids who came for only a semester as wimps.

    The issue I think is that people (students/job recruiters) have come to view studying abroad as a “GOOD THING”, so everyone needs it on their resume. But except for the original schools who set up their own programs in e.g. Madrid at the Spanish-Language University (Univ. of Calif., Marquette, IU/Purdue, Wash U, there are others) many/most of the others are set up by companies who arrange for classes to be taught separate from the regular students and often not even at the university itself, but at “institutes”. Too often, coursework is in English, rather than the native language and the only people in the class are americans. Little if any local language./culture is learned.

    I think the reasons for this are three-fold:
    1) the change from a liberal arts education focus (i.e. go to college, learn how to think critically, get a degree, and you’ll get a job). Now everything is focused on the job outcome with little flexibility for a broad-based education, so people other than foreign language majors who want to teach really derive little direct (degree) benefit from studying abroad.
    2) like MM says, profit motive. Colleges funnel kids to professionals running these programs, get a cut of the revenue (said another way pay less to the programs than they collect in tuition/program revenue), can say they have a (HIgh %) of kids who spend some time abroad during their time at University of ___________.
    3) the upfront language knowledge requirements have become non-existent. Really.

  12. The reason that so many Chinese undergrads are suddenly coming is because their system doesn’t have capacity to meet the demand. It isn’t just US schools – Chinese are flooding to Australian and European schools too. In the Chinese system, there is one high stakes entrance test for the university, the gaokao, which determines which school you can go to and whether you can go to any university. Weirdly in China, the better colleges cost less than the lower ranked ones. So at a certain point, it becomes more cost effective to go overseas. And there is a lot of wealth in China, and a cultural system that puts a huge premium on getting a college degree. So now there are droves of undergrads looking to go overseas, anywhere.

  13. I came to the U.S. as an international student. Got through the TOEFL and GMAT. I was offended at having to take the TOEFL. The university had just started recruiting from abroad but they did have staff to support international arrivals. I would say the staff helped with logistics but academically we were on our own. I didn’t know how to write a paper, use a computer or do an in person presentation. But, I did know English and Math was not problem. I had written all my exams in essay format, that helped with paper writing. The professors all assumed that international students could quickly get up to speed to succeed in their classes. The international students from Europe didn’t like their stay, the Russian students – one had a Mafia connection bought new cars and raced them around. In general the students from Asia and Africa tried the hardest because they really wanted to be in the U.S. On discrimation – I think with the Internet, I hope the students born in the US would know that not all people from overseas live in huts.

  14. When I was at local accounting school for my second dose of university, there were many full pay international students. Our main rival, which is a local business (not primarily acctng/cis) school with a well regarded broader business curriculum, and a decades long tradition of serving the children of the wealthy, had even more international students. All of them spoke and read English well. Of course, at that time mainland Chinese were not able to come to the US to study in large numbers, for reasons both financial and political.

  15. The previous wave of Chinese in the 80’s and 90’s was very different. Those were graduate students, mainly being sent by the government. They were the best and brightest, mostly grads of the elite Chinese universities like Tsinghua University, Peking University, or Nanjing University. I have a dear friend who was in that group, coming over after having finished at Tsinghua. They were seen as a special group, the ambassadors for China. They were very smart and very driven. They lived in abject poverty here in the US, since the Chinese government support was never enough, but they really succeeded.

    Today;s group are mainly undergrads, the kids of wealthy families who did not score high enough on the gaokao to go to one of the elites (which they would prefer to a US or European school, btw)

  16. My youngest went to Australia on a California system program to study marine biology for one semester. He was very disappointed because it was even in 2003 mostly a boondoggle. He wanted to learn, not party, and it was a huge additional financial burden for the family. No language requirement, of course, and housing with a local family (immigrants from somewhere else in the commonwealth).

  17. Posted above… “Remedial courses are the solution, though that again makes college take longer and higher costs to the students.”
    You guys should know that the trend is to eliminate remedial courses for precisely these reasons. This is mainly happening at public universities, imposed from above by state legislatures.

  18. LfB – I do understand that. But in fields where original thought is required, how are Asian students supposed to compete? If a person reading the work can’t establish what is/is not original thought, how can that person judge the merit of the work?

    I feel for the profs stuck in these situations. Do they alter the curriculum, or plow ahead? Should the U offer more safety nets for the Chinese students to protect the income stream? How do they balance the needs of the other students?

    MM – do you see a rise in population of Chinese students in your classes? How do you accommodate, if you do at all?

  19. Somebody commented above that maybe the US educational system isn’t so bad after all, after seeing the products of Chinese education…

    IMHO, the mainland Chinese educational system is terrible, and nothing we would ever want to compare against. It focuses on rote memorization, and isn’t even very good with that. The focus in China for a long time was producing lots of factory workers, so there wasn’t much need for a good educational system. Those really smart graduate students were succeeding almost in spite of the system.
    Families with aspirations for their kids beyond factory worker pay for lots and lots of tutoring and classes outside of school. They know that the basic system isn’t very good. When we stayed in Guangzhou, our hotel overlooked a school. We noticed that classes were running until 10pm at night. I remarked on the long school day to a Chinese person, who said that these were science lab classes that were privately paid for by the parents.

  20. “Posted above… “Remedial courses are the solution, though that again makes college take longer and higher costs to the students.”
    You guys should know that the trend is to eliminate remedial courses for precisely these reasons. This is mainly happening at public universities, imposed from above by state legislatures.”

    This is another quandary for me… I understand the need for remedial courses. But I often wonder if we should return to a system where a 4 year college is a privilege, not a right (or high school plus). I don’t like saddling the community college system with people who need more help than most, but it seems like the cheaper option. Let the students get some credit (maybe half) for the remedial courses, and work their way up. But that puts a huge burden on 2 year schools who, probably, are in more need of support than 4 year schools.

  21. Rhode, I am seeing the rise in Chinese undergrads, and yes, their English is terrible. They just float, clueless, through the classes. However, we have so many students for whom English is a second language (not international students, but immigrants) that they kind of get lost in the shuffle.

  22. Regarding remedial classes….maybe we should start by eliminating tenure and increasing teacher pay to get some competent teachers for kids k-12.

    I’ve posted many times about my kids’ less than competent teachers, but my nieces and nephews in the suburbs face the same issues; senile teachers, those who are burnout, those who don’t know the subject, or don’t come to class.

    I suspect that a large portion of the kids who need remedial work need it because they never had access to functional curriculum and teachers.

  23. “I refer to international study programs as “party abroad” programs because that is all they have become.”

    Well, FWIW, those existed even in the ’80s. I did not attend my own school’s standard study abroad program in my language, specifically because they traveled around in their own little group and were taught by their own profs in English.

    @Rhode — yeah, I get that, too. It’s funny watching DD, because she has this whole history paper that was due today, and it’s her first significant real research paper (10-12 pp). She’s fantastic with facts but just really struggles with what to do with them — her first draft she had @8 pages of background facts and research, and then like a quick para or two of the analysis. I think she thinks the facts speak for themselves and truly doesn’t understand what she is supposed to do to pull them together. But at least she has teachers who are really focusing on this, and parents who have spent the past @10 years helping her learn what that all means and how to do it. I can’t imagine how she’d make it through the US college system if she spent her first 18 years getting patted on the back for just regurgitating facts.

  24. “I hope the students born in the US would know that not all people from overseas live in huts.”

    Louise – I just caught Trevor Noah’s standup on Comedy Central over the weekend. He pokes a lot of fun at how Americans view Africans and has a really funny bit on those commercials for the starving African children. I haven’t watch the Daily Show since Jon Stewart left, but I may give it a shot after watching Trevor Noah’s standup.

  25. The use of a library for research was foreign to me. It was good that I liked to read and got a job at the campus library. I had the librarians (my work supervisors) help me pull books and articles for my papers. All of this is taught to U.S. students but I bet there are many countries where all these skills are not taught.

  26. Louise, most of my American undergrads also have no idea how to use a library. Many of them came from schools that had no usable library :-(, but even those from wealthier schools often are just taught to “use the Internet”.

  27. I think Mooshi will like this – I have to prevent my kids from using the computer to make their projects electronic Crayola equivalents. They spend too much time on presentation. The teachers give good directions but my kids go overboard when they sit at the computer.

  28. “I think she thinks the facts speak for themselves and truly doesn’t understand what she is supposed to do to pull them together.”

    I struggled with this at the beginning of 10th grade, when both Honors English and AP Euro history were suddenly asking for critical analysis and grading accordingly– and harshly. Until then, the requirements were either to regurgitate the facts or to state your personal opinion or reaction, or even both.

  29. @Milo — you give me hope. :-) This is a real “parental mis-match” issue, because I am exactly the opposite, and so I really struggle to teach her how to do something that is as natural as breathing to me. Do you remember how you figured it out?

  30. “Do you remember how you figured it out?”

    I think the two teachers were just relentless in their expectations. One of them I really liked–we’re Facebook friends, actually, and she’s no longer teaching but working in recruiting and recently tried to hire me–and the other I hated.

    They were both preparing us for AP test essays, and using the nine-point rubric, which was then scaled into grades on a 100-point basis. So getting an 8 out of 9, which is decent for the AP test, meant a B, and getting a 7 was a C. There weren’t many ways to inflate the average grades in those courses, so I kept trying to figure out and ask them what I was missing. Under any other system, my essays would have earned a comfortable A-, and I never would have given them a second thought.

  31. Devil’s advocate…(with the exception of state-taxpayer-funded schools which by their charter have an obligation to the residents of their state)…why shouldn’t colleges take just the best qualified of those who meet their admissions standards (which, by the way, should include an English-language component as a measure of the ability to understand and communicate with professors etc)? If that approach changes the composition of the student body, so be it.

  32. LfB – how about *you* doing the same exact paper, so that your DD has an example of what the final outcome should look like. I didn’t know how to write a paper, so I had to look for samples that other people had done. We were warned about simply quoting the facts or plagiarizing. In the beginning it was hard but became easier with each paper.

  33. MM – eliminating them from CC’s is atrocious in my book. I can see at 4 year schools, but not CC’s. That should be the stepping stone (if needed) from HS to 4 year. That’s if we believe everyone deserves a college degree. If we don’t, then well, remedial classes shouldn’t be there at all.

    What does your school do for those students who get lost in the language or comprehension requirements?

    LfB – I wish I could help you. I honestly don’t remember how I learned to go from regurgitating facts to critical thinking. Maybe prepping some guiding questions? Or ask her teacher about that? There has to be resources available.

    And now for something completely different – the snow is falling so heavy and thick I can’t see out my office window. Apparently mother nature is really loving RI’s tourism slogan of “cooler and warmer”… it will be ~60deg mid week, but now we are below freezing.

  34. @ LfB – I think it’s good to have some conversations about what ‘critical thinking’ is in general, unrelated to this particular paper. Point out instances where you’ve seen someone do it, and stories from your days when people have really missed the boat. She may not understand the fundamental concept, but once she internalizes what it means to think critically and analytically, she may find it comes more naturally than she thinks.

  35. “so I kept trying to figure out and ask them what I was missing.” Yeah, there’s the difference — DD seems to believe that asking any question exposes a critical character flaw. E.g., the teacher marked down her rough draft for cite form but didn’t say why, and she thought she’d followed the rubric. Could she, at any time in the past three weeks, have asked him what he wanted? Nooo, far too simple. So last night she finally emails (night before it’s due), and of course he now doesn’t remember her from Adam and can’t tell her anything helpful. If she spent half the time trying to figure out the answer that she spends justifying why she can’t figure it out, she’d be a star. Argh.

    @Louise: Because then she’d plagiarize. :-) Actually, the last time I made direct suggestions on an English paper, the teacher marked her down (I told her to lead with an awesome quote, because, well, it was awesome; that apparently was against the rules). This time I ended up helping her do research — she makes things SO much harder than they need to be and then gets frustrated. For ex: she needed research to support her proposed solutions. By definition, there will be no studies to show her solution works, because she’s supposed to come up with a new idea, so her solution was to throw up her hands for two weeks. When she finally sat down to start last week, I helped her brainstorm ideas for other kinds of studies that might have some data she could use by analogy, and how to run those searches. Well, that’s 8,000+ websites — time to throw the hands up again. So then I had to show her really basic things like “skim the Google descriptions to see which ones look useful; then pull those up and skim the first line of each paragraph until you get to the part that talks about the issue you are looking for.”

    Constant, constant struggle between “she needs to be responsible for her own work” vs. “I need to intervene to teach her what she needs to know to do the work.”

  36. LfB – I sympathize with your homework struggles, having had to deal my own this weekend. One kid completely loses it any time I suggest he re-read his work, and (heaven forbid) re-write it because it is illegible and is not in complete sentences. The other stares off into space unless I am sitting there prompting him. And this is at the same time.

    Both hate writing. DS1’s main issue is fine motor – it’s hard for him to write neatly – and he rushes just to get it over with, regardless of what ends up on the page. For the other, the answer comes less easily, he wants attention after seeing how much DS1 gets, and he simply doesn’t want to do it.

    Think they’re ready for this week’s NYS ELA tests?

  37. I hope the students born in the US would know that not all people from overseas live in huts.

    Never underestimate the ignorance of our great nation.

  38. LfB – what you did was good showing how to break the project into pieces. What she needs in addition is a hard self imposed deadline for each piece. Project management – I guess. It is a skill that needs to be taught and renforced.

  39. OT, My contractor has assured me that the repairs for the water damage will be a lot less than my $2k deductible. Do you think that my insurance company may still raise my rates for initiating the claim, even if it’s closed out with no payment?

  40. @Milo — don’t know if they will raise rates, but it will likely go as a “claim” in your history that will count against you if they are subsequently looking to drop folks from the rolls. We had that issue @15 yrs ago.

  41. Thanks, I’ll keep an eye on it, and I’ll raise Hell if I see an increase. I should have enough goodwill and leverage built up that my argument would be successful.

  42. HM,

    Never underestimate the ignorance of people from other lands either.

    Some years ago, we hosted some Chinese visitors as a favor for one of my old professors. They were amazed that we had and used a computer.

  43. They were amazed that we had and used a computer.

    Amazed that a farmer would would have a computer?

  44. Louise, most of my American undergrads also have no idea how to use a library. Many of them came from schools that had no usable library :-(, but even those from wealthier schools often are just taught to “use the Internet”.

    the libraries are pretty much all online now, especially the research journals. If you go to the library in college, you’re going to sit down at PC, search for your sources, and print out the articles or save them electronically. You can do all that from home so what’s the point in going to the library?

    Yes, there should be a mandatory orientation in how to navigate everything. When I took mandatory freshman English, library orientation was built into the class. In our case, it was using the online search tools and then knowing where the materials were located so we could retrieve them.

  45. “Some years ago, we hosted some Chinese visitors as a favor for one of my old professors. They were amazed that we had and used a computer.”

    Really? Maybe they were amazed that people as backwards as Americans would have a computer?

    China has a lot of weird things, but it is truly one of the most computerized countries around. And everyone has a smart phone, even the Tibetans we saw in Chengdu. Nothing like watching a Tibetan woman in traditional dress whip out a smartphone at a McDonalds.

  46. “If you go to the library in college, you’re going to sit down at PC, search for your sources, and print out the articles or save them electronically. You can do all that from home so what’s the point in going to the library?”

    Um, you need to be in a school district that can afford the databases? Also, the databases are not that useful for elementary school kids. For them, a physical library is often a better way to get them into the habit

  47. “Really? Maybe they were amazed that people as backwards as Americans would have a computer?”

    Wouldn’t that be analogous to assuming everyone overseas lives in a hut?

  48. The way that eliminating remedial courses is supposed to work, both at CCs and at 4 years, is that students who need remidiation will be placed in the regular credit bearing course, and then will get “support” in the form of tutoring in parallel. Of course what that means is that the student never learns the skill because the tutor will essentially do the writing for the student. The student passes the class and then moves on, still unable to write.
    Can you tell I am really down on tutoring? We are having massive issues with it right now.

  49. Milo, I was being tongue in cheek there. Although the Chinese really give Americans a run for the money in terms of being ignorant of other cultures. In fact, they may have us beat.

  50. The original article made me realize that I care about the specific program my children will be entering, not just the college/ university. I never realized that study abroad programs had declined, in quality for example. Either you were fluent in a foreign language and took engineering courses in that language (assisted by the abundance of equations when you couldn’t figure out what the professor was saying) or you went to a country where the courses were taught in English (British Commonwealth, but also countries like Vietnam, where engineering courses are taught in English and not Vietnamese.) People majoring in a foreign language generally needed to study abroad in a country that spoke that language.

    Two of my siblings spent a semester in Australia taking a few engineering classes and some “Australia” classes like history, because they had room in their schedules to take extra classes and still graduate in 4 years. Their scholarships could be used for tuition/room/board and so the main extra cost was plane fare and money for traveling, which they funded out of their co-ops. If your AP credits let you have some fun along the way and still graduate in 4 years, why not?

  51. It’s the Middle Kingdom because it’s at the center of the universe, right? I mean, isn’t the ignorance of other cultures just a case of reverting to historical type?

  52. We had the back window of a car broken once. We called our insurance – unclear if it would be covered or not. They made some recommendations of local places that could do the job. I don’t remember if it was not covered or if it was less than the deductible, but they raised our rates for the “claim” – even though they paid/did nothing. However, we had an accident in the past year, so we really didn’t have leverage to shop around.

  53. MM, of the universities you listed, would any be considered “the Harvard of China”? Despite all having gone to different universities, quite a number of my DH’s colleagues described their universities that way. A couple also told him that what your transcript says when it is translated to English for college applications depends on how much you are able to pay. One of his cube-mates was sending their company’s proprietary code to friends/family in China and having them write what she was assigned to do, because she had claimed proficiency she did not have. She was fired when she was caught, but I think it creates a guilt by association problem for some of her colleagues who were competent at their jobs.

    In the Econ department of a university recently discussed here, my daughter said it was about 75% Chinese, 10% other international, and a few Americans. All of the doctoral candidates but one were from China, so those students could get help as needed in those classes.

  54. Milo – similar story to Ada with my car insurance. My rates went up after the lovely city of Boston’s pothole gave me 2 flat tires. Then it turned out it wasn’t the city’s pothole but the MBTA’s pothole, so I couldn’t even get any compensation up to the city limit of liability!

  55. Also for your daughter: I had a real problem when I started college because I didn’t want to spell out a lot of the points in my essays. I thought that people would be bored, because I was certainly bored reading the usual blah blah blah overview and basic analysis. I told my favorite professor that I didn’t want to tell people what they already knew. She said, “People like being told what they already know. It makes them feel smart.” That was a huge revelation for me and helped me when I had to do literature reviews and so on.

  56. MBT, the 3 I listed, along with a handful of others, are definitely the elite universities of China. And most Chinese students I have met would have far preferred to have gone to Peking University than even a flagship American university. The elite of China come from those universities. Their model has always been to go to a top Chinese university and then on to the US for grad school. The flood of undergrads is really about kids who couldn’t get into the best Chinese universities.

  57. L/Ada – The frustrating part is that if you don’t know the extent of the damage, you’re not supposed to get any work started until their appraiser has seen it. It’s almost, but not quite, one of those paradoxical situations made famous by the novel from which I take my Internet name.

  58. “the novel from which I take my Internet name.”

    And all this time I thought it was Milo… as in Venus de.

  59. “Both hate writing. DS1’s main issue is fine motor – it’s hard for him to write neatly”

    How about letting him use a word processor, at least until his fine motor skills catch up?

  60. Cheating on entrance exams and plagiarism in classwork are enormous issues with Chinese applicants and students. At DH’s previous university, his department was forced to prepare a “How not to Plagiarize for Dummies” handbook because so few of the Chinese grad students understood the concept. Some of his Chinese students ended up with sub-optimal placements because even after 5 years at a U.S. university, their English skills were very poor. Most of them did NOT want to go back to China, so they ended up at government agencies or other non-academic positions.

  61. Um, you need to be in a school district that can afford the databases? Also, the databases are not that useful for elementary school kids. For them, a physical library is often a better way to get them into the habit

    I was talking about college, not elementary school.

  62. Milo – similar story to Ada with my car insurance. My rates went up after the lovely city of Boston’s pothole gave me 2 flat tires. Then it turned out it wasn’t the city’s pothole but the MBTA’s pothole, so I couldn’t even get any compensation up to the city limit of liability!

    You actually filed an insurance claim for flat tires?

  63. the novel from which I take my Internet name.

    I always thought is was from “The adventures of Milo and Otis” but I can never remember if Milo is the cat or the dog.

  64. Well, I was talking originally about students who arrive at college without reseach skills because they never did library research (school library or online, whatever) in K12. Originally, people were talking about high schoolers learning to do that kind of paper.

  65. Denver – 2 tires and 2 rims/wheels, I had to get it replaced by the dealer because the Audi roadside people were the ones who towed it (it was 10 pm at night) and it cost $2K.

  66. If your AP credits let you have some fun along the way and still graduate in 4 years, why not?

    Because children of totebaggers aren’t allowed to have fun. If something isn’t going to help with getting on the calculus track, getting into a HSS, getting into grad school, and/or getting a good professional UMC job, then it’s a waste of time.

  67. Now you guys are giving me flashbacks to the annotated bibliography fights with my youngest over his history research project from last semester. On the one hand, ooh, the PTSD. On the other hand, I suppose I can’t complain that they’re not including citation skills as part of the academic expectations.

  68. L, the rims make it much different. You still could have had it towed someplace else the next day rather than pay dealer prices.

    This is another reason I like AAA, they will tow you to the place of your choice.

  69. “If something isn’t going to help with getting on the calculus track, getting into a HSS, getting into grad school, and/or getting a good professional UMC job, then it’s a waste of time.”

    They could be networking.

  70. HM, bibliographies and citations are so easy to do with Word and online tools now.

  71. “I always thought is was from “The adventures of Milo and Otis”

    Due to my lowbrow persona, no doubt.

  72. Denver – maybe it was the place I called, I tried a couple of different towing places and it was a few hundred bucks to tow again, so I figured for less hassle I would stay with the dealer this once.

  73. “I had to get it replaced by the dealer because the Audi roadside people were the ones who towed it”

    Ahhh, that’s the business idea.

  74. “How about letting him use a word processor, at least until his fine motor skills catch up?”

    I offered to let him type, but his typing is very, very slow. He’s only 8 and is working on typing with his OT. In the end, I suggested that he slow down, just a little, and skip lines (so there’s more space between each written line) in case his writing drifts. After he calmed down and took a break from homework (by reading not electronics), he finished the assignment in minutes. (Taking away electronics is my main threat for him to behave. We rely on it a bit too much but it is effective.) He is either at zero or 100 and ramps up to 100 very quickly; been this way since birth.

  75. They could be networking.,

    And that would be included as contributing to one of those items.

  76. But if you’re 11 and have never done one before, you still have to figure out where to find information like publisher name, edition, and so on. And every book lists its photo credits in a different place (relevant if your project happens to require citing to specific photos of artifacts and places). And if you’re not terribly motivated to start with, well, it’s never going to be a good time to work on that ^&*( bibliography.

  77. After he calmed down and took a break from homework (by reading not electronics)

    I’m not sure what is more totebaggy – that you didn’t let him use electronics while taking a break, or that you have to make sure everyone knows that you didn’t let him use electronics.

  78. “why shouldn’t colleges take just the best qualified of those who meet their admissions standards (which, by the way, should include an English-language component as a measure of the ability to understand and communicate with professors etc)? If that approach changes the composition of the student body, so be it.”

    I wonder if there aren’t some schools that do that, ar at least try to do that. Perhaps state flagships?

    This does raise (does it beg?) the question of how to determine whose qualifications are better than others. E.g., for HSS, one problem they have is the lack of granularity of standardized testing at the high end. How do you differentiate between two applicants who both have 2400 SATs and 4.0 GPAs (unweighted)?

  79. Anon – LOL! Not my intention at all. I tend to overshare and vent a lot on this site, particularly when work is particularly dull. Have some patience; I try to do the same.

  80. getting a good professional UMC job

    In my estimation, totebagery feels that doing well academically is lessened if it is done with thoughts toward an eventual payoff. Doing well in school so you can have nice things? Very un-totebaggy.

  81. “I offered to let him type, but his typing is very, very slow.”

    Another thought is to let him use a voice recorder to capture his thoughts.

    It seems like his mental development is ahead of his motor skills development, so I’m thinking of ways to let his mental development not be limited by his motor skills.

  82. “If that approach changes the composition of the student body, so be it.”

    Uhmmm . . . never mind.

  83. Hey, anonymous, use your name if you’re going to be borderline snotty.

  84. “In my estimation, totebagery feels that doing well academically is lessened if it is done with thoughts toward an eventual payoff.”

    It depends on the payoff. E.g., doing well academically in elementary school, with the eventual payoff of entry into the honors track, is quintessentially totebaggy.

  85. Another thought is to let him use a voice recorder to capture his thoughts.

    Or use something like Dragon voice recognition to dictate the paper.

  86. Finn,

    Eventual financial payoff, I should have said And even then, the financial payoff is fine as long as you don’t spend any of it on anything fun.

  87. “And even then, the financial payoff is fine as long as you don’t spend any of it on anything fun.”

    E.g., spending it on your kids’ ballet lessons, AS language classes, etc.

  88. “Most of them did NOT want to go back to China, so they ended up at government agencies or other non-academic positions.”

    Agencies of whose government?

  89. I see; thanks, HM.

    ““And even then, the financial payoff is fine as long as you don’t spend any of it on anything fun.””

    :)

  90. Back OT, I can see why UIUC and other state schools in IL are doing this– out of desperation, e.g., Chicago State on the verge of closing.

    My concern is that state schools are not charging foreign students enough. IMO, if they’re being admitted for their ability to pay, they should be charged enough that they’re not using up any tax dollars. I.e., a quick calculation of the total number of students times their tuition rate should be enough to support the college without any state support (perhaps looking at total budget minus research grants).

    If they’re paying less than that, they’re a burden on taxpayers.

  91. Finn, I am guessing they probably are. Even in state students these days are not that heavily subsidized.

    My sib is at a CC, not in IL, and they just got hit very hard with layoffs this week, after the state slashed their funding. Things are depressing for state schools in many states

  92. “They were amazed that we had and used a computer.

    Amazed that a farmer would would have a computer?”

    What happened, we were explaining the farm, and somehow the computer got brought up. Some of the visitors commented to themselves and their translator told us that they were amazed that the farm wife used the computer. My former professor laughed and hastily explained in English and whatever dialect the group spoke that I was not just a farm wife. I don’t think the prof thought about how that might sound. He was a nice guy, I imagine he was just surprised at what was said.

    Sometime before, at a reception for new grad students (I was an old one at the time). I was engaging in get to know you chit chat with one of the new Chinese students. He mentioned that he had a new child, I mentioned that I had just gotten married. He asked what my husband did. I explained DH was a farmer. The new grad student sputtered for a bit, said that his English wasn’t good enough to phrase the question politely and asked why I would marry a farmer, if I was in the program I was.

  93. It is a shame when CC is slashed because I know it helped to change the lives of two of my babysitters. They came from very different countries, but they were fluent in English. Several of their equivalent classes from their home countries didn’t transfer to CC, but they took classes at CC at a reduced rate. Advisors helped steer them to the right courses so they could eventually go on to a four year college. One of them eventually got her MBA, and the other is now a Physician Assistant. They needed the advice of the CC plus the relatively low cost. They would e not have been ready for a four year college, and they probably wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

  94. “Agencies of whose government?”

    Ours. And some get jobs at international organizations like the World Bank, I think.
    DH had a Chinese student who grew up in a house heated by the animals living on the lower level. After one trip to Tyson’s Corner, there was NO WAY she was going back to China. She changed her name to Jennifer and got serious help with her English skills and ended up with a domestic placement somewhere.
    In general, the Chinese women did much better than the men, because they were far more willing to seek out and put into practice advice from their professors.

  95. After Tinnamen Square, it was a open secret at my doctoral program that the Chinese students were not going to finish their dissertation, because at that point they would be sent back. They went on a status that said they were working on their dissertation, but they didn’t have to pay fees. There were some who were “working on their dissertation for in excess of a decade or more.

  96. There are two competing origin stories in academic and, in an analogous but not identical fashion, athletic or musical elite achievement. One is some variant on effortless natural talent. No studying, grinding it out, building a resume, paying one’s dues for the chosen ones. Lots of flameouts and failed prodigies here, but also some of the truly great, who often hide their study and training regimens behind the façade of The Natural. The other is the scrapper who by dint of hard work, perseverance and a little luck rises to elite level, and whose considerable natural gifts get lost in the underdog narrative. Even rose colored glasses can’t fool most parents into thinking that they have the ONE, so the alternative is obvious.

    I don’t really care if so called totebaggy parents steer their children into improving activities. There are a lot worse childhoods one can have. My only complaint is if the parents deceive themselves into thinking that the choices are child driven and the child is following a dream or having fun, when it may not be the case.

  97. The private school our sons attended here has started enrolling a few Christian Chinese or Korean students each year. There is apparently a healthy demand among middle- and upper-middle class Asian families for the American secondary school experience, and Christian parents seem willing to send their kids here alone as young as 6th or 7th grade if they can live with other Christian host families. By the time they graduate, they are pretty Americanized, fluent in English, and more competitive applicants to good American colleges. One girl came just for her senior year, and at 19 was able to live in her own apartment. I don’t know if it will be a growing trend, but if it’s happening here in flyover country, it is probably happening elsewhere.

  98. “They went on a status that said they were working on their dissertation, but they didn’t have to pay fees. There were some who were “working on their dissertation for in excess of a decade or more.”

    ??????????

    I was in grad school then, and knew many Chinese PhD students. There was no such status. If they were working on a dissertation, they paid fees. It is entirely possible they were being supported on a research grant, which would have paid fees – but that would have nothing to do with being Chinese. The other possibility was “practical training”. The visa that the international grad students came over on allowed for up to 2 years of practical training post-degree. Most international students, Chinese, Korean, and Indian, took this option and translated it into a green card.

    Fewer Chinese stay today. My husband has even lost a few Chinese colleagues who have decided to return.

  99. Here in Westchester, some of these Korean and Chinese high schoolers are showing up, though none in our school that I know of., Again, I think it is insurance in case they can’t pass their gaokao.

    Interestingly, many of our Japanese families send their high schoolers back to Japan, often to live with relatives there while finishing high school

  100. @Rocky — Thanks. Those are just the kind of “not mom” things she might have the tolerance to pay attention to.

  101. Korean and Chinese enrollment at many New England prep schools has soared over the last 10 or so years. It’s all about prepping to gain admission to US universities.

    A recent graduate tells me that some of the Asian students at one top ten US university stuck closely together, both academically and socially. They “collaborated” on assignments, worked harder than most US students, and typically broke the curve.

  102. DH had a Korean grad student who left his tenure-track position at a southern university because his wife, whose English was poor, was unhappy living outside a Korean enclave. His kids were about 8 and 10 when they went back to Seoul. DH visited them there a few years ago, and the now teenage daughter was adamant that she was coming back to the States for college. The kids are in a rigorous Korean school and then they have extra classes at least three nights a week. They don’t have much fun, but, unlike her little brother and most of their peers, the daughter has seen how the other half lives.

  103. CoC said
    “They “collaborated” on assignments, worked harder than most US students, and typically broke the curve.”

    Hmm, that is exactly what we used to say about the many Taiwanese, Iranian, and Indian students back in my days as an undergrad…

  104. Yeah, I know, I wasn’t very anonymous yesterday. But, I am going over the edge on the college stuff and you guys already know that.

    What, if anything, is your (in the collective) sense about Vanderbilt?

  105. “They “collaborated” on assignments

    Isn’t that how the real world works? If client A sends in an RFP your team is going to tweak an existing successful proposal for a client similar to A. You’re not going expect (in Most cases) one person to create a proposal out of whole cloth.

  106. ” But, I am going over the edge on the college stuff and you guys already know that.”

    I don’t think so. You seem to be going about it in a quite rational manner.

  107. One of my cousins recently graduated from Vanderbilt. He loved it, but I have a one sided view of his experience because his experience was all about Greek life. I attended a university that did not have a Greek system, but it seems to be a decent part of the life there. He said that almost half of the school is part of the Greek system.

    The school admits many more students from across the country. He met lots of kids from the south, but he is from the northeast, and he had plenty of friends from northeast, mid atlantic and CA. I don’t know the stats, but they definitely seem to be attracting a more diverse student body as they grew into a very competitive u. One thing I noticed is that there seems to be more of a formal culture when it comes to clothes. I wouldn’t describe him as a slob, but he wasn’t a preppy, blue blazer guy until he went to college. It might be the Greek thing.

    As for graduation and beyond, he now lives on the other coast. A decent number of his friends seem to have landed on the west coast, Atlanta, Chicago and NY.

  108. Anon – my siblings both attended Vanderbilt (but in the 80s’). My impression is that they really enjoyed it. I believe that it still has quite a southern feel, which could be a plus or minus for your dd.

  109. Yes, my siblings were in the Greek System as well. We did not have a family history of being in sororities, although my dad was in a fraternity, so it was new to them, but they made great friends.

  110. What, if anything, is your (in the collective) sense about Vanderbilt?

    Greg: I-I don’t like to tell a lot of people this, but I got into Emory Business School. It’s a pretty good school. They call it like the Harvard of the South.

    Bartender: I thought the Harvard of the South was Vanderbilt.

    Greg: No. No. No.

  111. I failed to mention how much I enjoyed studying at a U.S. university. For the first time, school didn’t feel like drudgery. In the home country through high school and college I took extra private tutorial classes at night, just like Mooshi described. I understand why the daughter in Scarlett’s post would want to come back to the U.S.
    I had professors who showed up, taught and assignments and research that was interesting. I liked group projects. My troubles with paper writing, computer eating my work faded over time. I was sorry to graduate.

  112. Louise, I am curious about the size of your university. Was it midsize, or one of the large universities?

  113. At the time with no internet, I had to rely on a student advisory agency in the home country to help me narrow down my choices in terms of where I could get in and the cost. Then I started to correspond with the admissions office. They were very good. I recall on my list of things to bring it said Windex. I had no idea what Windex was.

  114. Windex? How bizarre. Yes, bring that in your luggage from overseas, because you can’t possibly buy it locally at any grocery store.

  115. I ran the net price calculator on Vanderbilt’s website as if my eldest were applying now. It helpfully suggested that we pay $67,000 for the first year.

  116. Louise, I have a lot of respect for your decision to take a risk to attend school in the US. I don’t think I would have been able to do that when I was 18.

  117. @ “Anon” – Cost aside, I think Vanderbilt has a very strong reputation. One of the most highly regarding Southern liberal arts colleges.

  118. Is Vandy a liberal arts college? I’ve worked with engineers who are Vandy grads.

  119. I took my kids to an engineering career expo yesterday. There were about 50 engineering schools there, as well as lots of companies, and Girl Scouts doing robotics. We brought a friend of my oldest kid too. They wandered around and filled out contact forms. The most valuable info for me pertained to DS2. His first choice school (and remember he is only 8th grade) is Cooper Union so we spoke to the rep and learned that they weight drawing skills very highly if he wants admission to the architecture program. She recommended that he take lots of drawing courses. Secondly, we learned that if he goes to RIT, he can go for really cheap because he is hearing impaired. They have a specially funded program that pays most of the tuition. I was already interested in them because they have a strong track record getting hearing imparied kids through a demanding engineering program – I didn’t realize it was also so cheap.

  120. Vandy also gives decent merit aid. Not sure of the stats required. We will tour Vandy this summer, as we have plans to visit a relative in Nashville.

  121. “Is Vandy a liberal arts college? I’ve worked with engineers who are Vandy grads.”

    You often seem to assume mutual exclusivity here.

  122. “His first choice school (and remember he is only 8th grade)”

    And thus this is when he needs to start looking seriously at colleges and majors.

    A coworker has a son who is a junior, and only this year began thinking seriously about going to college. But it’s already too late for him to take the requisite classes to get considered for acceptance at many schools, and is most likely headed to a CC for at least one year before he’ll be ready for a 4-year college. OTOH, he has a brother in the 8th grade who’s been planning on college for a long time already, and has already been planning his HS courses to give him a lot of college options.

    Mooshi, would woodworking be a good hobby for a wannabe architect?

  123. http://collegeapps.about.com/od/glossaryofkeyterms/g/liberal-arts-college-definition.htm

    This suggests exclusivity between engineering and liberal arts.

    Engineering curricula typically are not very compatible with “a breadth of courses in fields such as religion, philosophy, literature, math, science, psychology, and sociology.” We’ve discussed here before how the demands of engineering curricula often preclude foreign language requirements.

    Vandy has a highly regarded liberal arts college, in addition to a well-regarded engineering college.

  124. Harvard of the South – wouldn’t that be Duke ? That’s how I’ve heard it described.

  125. Louise, that came up as part of the running joke in the episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that I quoted above.

  126. ATM – I’ll second the recommendation for a Dragon Dictation type product. The Apple dictation software is good. It really reduces frustration and lets them focus on content rather than mechanics. I recognize that it is also important to work on the mechanics, but that added difficulty can really deter them from developing any kind of writing ability.

  127. “They “collaborated” on assignments

    “Isn’t that how the real world works? If client A sends in an RFP your team is going to tweak an existing successful proposal for a client similar to A. You’re not going expect (in Most cases) one person to create a proposal out of whole cloth.”

    It’s a fallacy to characterize a school activity as beneficial just because it’s how the “real world” works.  Students need to learn fundamental skills and concepts before they can apply their educational experience to the real world.  This fallacy is applied to school group projects all the time.  Yes, it’s good to learn how things work on the job, but students should not be robbed of their education because educrats believe schools should always mimic the real world.

    BTW, this “collaboration” in college occurs in many settings.  For example, Greek organizations have their test files and other tools to help members do well in their classes.

  128. ATM – I have kept MBT’s suggestion of Dragon Dictation in mind. That said, as time has gone on, DS has matured and now he can type – still not fast but OK. Also now, there are more tests and quizzes, than sentence writing. Short answers but those are manageable. Sometimes I see “Sloppy Work” remarks by English teacher for bad handwriting but that’s about all.

  129. I know I posted that I hate Nova, but that game was amazing. Last night’s final sums up why I love the college game.

    As we continue to discuss college selection, I realized that going to a school with a presence in a football or basketball program didn’t even enter my mind when I looked at schools. I wasn’t a sports person, but it was such an exciting experience that it was easy to get swept up in the spirit. It brought the entire community together, and it is something that continues beyond graduation.

  130. The Greeks don’t even have to keep their files any more because there are web sites that the students all know about, that collect this stuff. It is a big problem for those of us who need to assign projects, because we can’t ever reuse a project – and it takes me about 10 hours to put together a project in an advanced CS course (and my colleagues report similar time spent). In the old days, you could just use the projects in the book but no more.

  131. Lark, there are now words. I just hope it doesn’t take you as many years as it took me to recover.

  132. The college discussions over the past few weeks have made me realize (yet again) how insular the Northeast really is. As someone said recently, every region or sub-group has their preferences/biases/limited views, but among the educated classes we are less self aware or if aware are not willing to own it publicly. The fact that my 3 younger kids went to school far from home did not seem unusual to me, if a bit difficult in our financial circumstances, and the eldest eventually moved to the left coast for ten years.

  133. I don’t think the comment abut insular choices is limited to the northeast. When I do the interviews, and recruiting for my alma mater, the biggest obstacle to getting kids to attend from distant states is financial, but number 2 is a strong preference to stay closer to home. Some kids and families don’t want to travel far from home. Also, the opportunities post graduation might be much easier in certain fields if you attend the regional universities. The cost is always an issue too, as it becomes much more expensive once you have to travel by air.

  134. In addition to cost and wanting to be near home, family size has declined. In the home country, this change has had a huge impact. Where once, families wanted their older kids to move out and weren’t that concerned about how or where they moved, now with smaller families there is more focus on each child and parents are tending to hold on to their kids more.

  135. “And thus this is when he needs to start looking seriously at colleges and majors.”

    I strongly disagree that EIGHTH GRADERS need to be thinking about college majors. College, yes, but after getting halfway through “The Math Myth,” I am rethinking my long-held view that all reasonably smart kids should be on the calculus track and therefore in Algebra I by 8th grade. Most totebaggy high schools will have graduation requirements for kids on the college prep track that will meet the entrance requirements for most universities. Even our selective university, which has a peculiar insistence that students seeking admission to several particular majors have taken a specific high school course, allows them to meet that requirement over the summer before freshman year.

  136. Sorry Lark. Tough loss.

    I have an intern who went to Vandy undergrad working for me. He is of course high on the school but strongly urged going to campus for a visit to understand the social aspects of Vandy.

  137. MM – I have a cousin at RIT. He has had the most interesting internships than anyone else I know (SpaceX, F1 Racing). I think the networking at RIT is a big plus.

  138. I agree with the networking value of RIT in fields like mine.

    As someone who lives in Oregon and co-oped with students from land grant-ish schools around the country, I’m pretty sure the focus on ranking and where you went to school is higher in the Northeast than elsewhere. The locals here who attend nationally well-ranked schools are bright but not extraordinary kids. It’s probably easier for kids to get into competitive East Coast schools from here, but people everywhere tend to want to stay by family and companies usually recruit geographically. (How many Northeastern kids are looking at Reed College?) Higher salaries and older parents/smaller families in the Northeast also affect college savings, I suspect.

    One of my babysitters is headed to a BYU campus in mechanical engineering, one of the most cost-effective ABET-accredited options for her. Few kids here have parents who could/would pay the Expected Family Contribution for a private college, due partly to financial situation and partly to family situation, including number of children in the family and financial support to elderly parents.

  139. As someone who lives in Oregon and co-oped with students from land grant-ish schools around the country, I’m pretty sure the focus on ranking and where you went to school is higher in the Northeast than elsewhere.

    WCE, I agree. There are also a lot of schools on this side of the Mississippi whose degrees are highly regarded regionally but don’t “travel well”.

  140. As someone without money who went to law school 3000 miles from home, I had to make a big leap of faith, too. I’d never been to the city or to the campus because money for college visits wasn’t an option. My father didn’t have the money to come with me. He bought me a plane ticket, a couple of very large suitcases, offered to ship a small # of things and pay for books, and wished me luck! I can’t see sending my kids off to anything that way if I can financially afford otherwise, unless that’s what they want! It was a bit intimidating for law school, and it made me really appreciate why a 17 or 18 year old wouldn’t really want to do that for freshman year of college.

  141. I worked with someone from the East Coast who assured me that ANY degree from ANY East Coast college was superior to ANY degree from ANY West Coast college. Thus her degree from Simmons was superior to a degree from Berkeley. Okey dokey then.

  142. Every region is insular. In my graduating class of 900 kids, only 3 went out of state to college. That was the upper south.

  143. I very much disagree with the premise of the Math Myth. Not only would that have been wrong for me (it was HS calculus that made me fall in love with math, and I doubt that would have happened if I had waited until college), but it would be wrong for my oldest kid, who is self teaching himself calculus right now in the 10th grade (and no it is not because I am pushing him – I didn’t even know he was doing this until recently). He just can’t stop himself – he loves math.

  144. Once again, my experience differs from WCE’s.

    A lot of companies, including my former and current employer, and many other with which I interviewed, have two levels of recruiting.

    There’s one level where they are just trying to get smart people, and don’t necessarily recruit for specific jobs. Often people hired this way start in rotation programs in which they get to work in multiple functional areas, and choose one at the end of the last rotation. At this level, recruiting is often at a national, or at least superregional, basis. Schools are typically targeted based on reputation/history, or having a champion within the company, typically and alum, or both. Thus SV companies are more likely to recruit at MIT than Northeastern, or at GA Tech than UNCC, and companies outside of SV are more likely to recruit at Stanford than San Jose State.

    Then there’s a second level of recruiting to fill specific jobs, e.g., our masking engineer is leaving and we need to replace her, or all these new products means we need to add another test engineer. If looking for a college recruit to fill that, typically the hiring manager will look through the resumes recommended by national recruiters and/or recruit locally. These positions also are often filled by experienced engineers. For some jobs, a degree from MIT will merit a longer look than one from Northeastern, but for others, e.g., a support engineering position, as opposed to a circuit designer, a San Jose State degree might get a longer look than one from MIT.

  145. MM,
    If you read as far as I did in The Math Myth, you would know that the author is NOT dissing math, and would agree that calculus is completely appropriate for kids like your older son. His point is that most people, even those working in technical fields, don’t need to use mathematics, as opposed to arithmetic, in their professional work, and that algebra/geometry/calc are not indispensable for teaching critical thinking skills. I did not realize the extent to which math class failures are responsible for high school and college dropout rates. I still do not understand why so many otherwise intellectually capable students struggle with math, but I am willing to consider that maybe all college-bound students don’t really need to take calculus in high school. Or ever.

    DH uses calculus all of the time in teaching and research, but I’ll bet that most of us would not do very well on the math portion of the SAT/ACT if we took it today.

  146. I’ll bet that most of us would not do very well on the math portion of the SAT/ACT if we took it today.

    Of course it helps if you have recent experience going over someone’s PSAT answers and discussing why each answer was correct / incorrect. But the Math II or whatever the current equivalent is would kick my butt now.

  147. I completely detached myself from the SAT/PSAT/LSAT prep my kids did, and though I have no illusions regarding how well my A’s in Calc would serve me now, I’m wondering whether the verbal portions of the SAT, or any portion of the LSAT, would be nearly as challenging as the math sections if taken cold today.

  148. It was actually kind of a fun bonding thing — we were curled up together on the couch and laughing about the various ways the tests try to fool you. But certainly the rights and wrongs in the verbal portions have become crystal clear to me in the intervening decades (well, apart from the occasional ambiguous one) whereas the math I have to reach back across the years to try to come up with the right approach.

  149. Fred, the RIT near you. Two of my present/former colleagues have one of their degrees from there.

  150. “DH uses calculus all of the time in teaching and research, but I’ll bet that most of us would not do very well on the math portion of the SAT/ACT if we took it today.”

    You don’t need to know calculus to do well on the SAT math, at least the old SAT. DS took it early in his sophomore year, just as he was starting Alg II, and still did well.

  151. HM, was it the old or new PSAT?

    I’m curious about the changes. From what I’ve read, the new SAT is more like a test to see what you’ve learned, as opposed to the old SAT, which was more of a test of aptitude and reasoning ability.

    If you looked at the new PSAT, was it consistent with that?

    I know the addition of the penalty for not guessing put more of a premium on test prep over reasoning ability.

  152. Finn, I wonder how much of our different perceptions are geographic and how much are due to changes in the industry. Microelectronics is no longer considered desirable, and the graduate programs are filled with international students looking to stay in the US in any way possible.

  153. Finn, I didn’t think the math part looked that different. For the verbal, although it’s true that you no longer have pure vocab questions, I actually don’t agree with the various articles suggesting that it’s now dumbed down and will no longer favor heavy readers. What they’ve moved to seems to be more of the understanding how a work is working in context. In other words, you may know what intensifies means, but do you know it well enough to pick out which of several correct definitions best describes the way it’s being used in an analytical piece of writing? To me, that’s still going to reward the life-long readers because it’ll be intuitive for them to pick out what the word is doing in the context.

    Of course I still miss the analogies from the old old version.

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