Out of state students

Both MooshiMooshi and Rhode sent in posts for this topic.

by MooshiMooshi

Are cuts to public state universities forcing kids to go out of state?

This article, from the NYTimes, contends that increasingly, this is the case. The article discusses reasons why some states are sending so many students out of state, and the second article shows the data, state by state.

Public Colleges Chase Out-of-State Students, and Tuition

How Cuts to Public Universities Have Driven Students Out of State

In my experience, some states have traditionally sent lots of students out of state – CT and MA come to mind immediately. Even back in the 80’s, it was assumed in CT that many students would leave. Both states had relatively underfunded flagship public universities at the time, and little tradition of widespread public university education. The best students always went private. But other states, like CA, had a long standing tradition of public higher education. In the state where I graduated HS, very few students went out of state, and that appears to still be the case. But CA is now sending a lot of students out. And Illinois???

How is your state doing according to the data? If your state is sending a lot of kids out of state, do you agree with the reasons given? Do most students in your state go to public universities or do many go to private schools? And do you think we should continue to have state based public higher education systems? Or should everything thing be national, or even private?

* * * * * *

by Rhode

This article describes how public college students migrate. Did you follow the pattern of your home state? What about your kids?

The interesting backbone to this article is the reduction of state aid to public colleges. How does this affect you? Are your children’s colleges choices or how far the budget will stretch affected?

The broader question I have is what do you think about the reduction of state aid to public colleges?

At least in RI, the aid from the state is supposed to subsidize RI student costs, so that way our state public colleges are very affordable. In an odd twist, the cost to keep the lights on is the cost of out-of-state tuition, so the state aid basically fills the gap between “what the state thinks RI students should pay” and “what it actually costs to run the college”. I’ve never agreed with the model – it’s a catch-22. The college needs to recruit out-of-state students to keep the lights on, so the state thinks that the college doesn’t care about in-state needs, and then reduces aid, forcing tuition to increase across the board. If the college focuses on drawing in-state students, then programs may be cut because the college doesn’t have enough out-of-state tuition to keep the lights on.

What about your state? Is funding to public colleges decreasing? Do you think it’s important for states to fund public institutions? What about the federal government? Should more aid be given to reduce tuition costs across the board?

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172 thoughts on “Out of state students

  1. In an odd twist, the cost to keep the lights on is the cost of out-of-state tuition, so the state aid basically fills the gap between “what the state thinks RI students should pay” and “what it actually costs to run the college”.

    How this that “an odd twist” – that’s how it should work. The school should receive the amount of money per student that it needs to operate. Out of state students should pay the full price. The state subsidies should be applied to in-state student’s tuition. What am I missing?

  2. “In my experience, some states have traditionally sent lots of students out of state – CT and MA come to mind immediately.”

    To me, it would also seem likely that, regardless of how strong and well-funded their public universities were, they probably have the highest concentration of parents who value name prestige in colleges and the willingness to pay for it.

  3. Joe – a good business model would make the in-state tuition rate equal to the cost to keep the school’s lights on. Then up-charge the out of state residents. The way the model is run in RI means that the major U of the state is basically operating like a private U without the endowment. The state used to cover ~40-50% of the U’s budget, now it’s something like 10%, forcing the U to recruit out of state and tuition increases across the board.

  4. Joe X, I think the “odd” part is the next step: the legislature apparently no longer thinks that an educated population is a social good that the state ought to support, so it doesn’t provide sufficient funding, so the university turns to out of state students. That hurts instate students in the end. because tuition is raised across the board.

  5. The chart showed Minnesota having a pretty large exodus. However, it doesn’t mention that MN has a reciprocity agreement with WI, SD, ND, and Manitoba. For example, MN residents can go to Madison and be charged the instate tuition rate of UM-Twin Cities. This is a very popular option.

  6. Texas used to have a more “regulated” process for funding higher education where it basically set the tuition rates for all state schools and funded the a portion of that rate. The universities said it not working because different degree programs cost different amounts to operate and if the bulk of the students were in a more costly program, the university was in a different position than if the bulk of the students were in a less costly program. This argument also held true across schools. And, then tuition deregulation was born and each school sets its own rates, which can and often does vary across programs within a single school and across schools.

    Texas has the top 10% rule that requires state public schools to automatically accept students who graduate in the top 10% of the high school class, except UT has a lower percentage (7% currently I think). This doesn’t guarantee which degree programs they will be accepted to and some other caveats, but I think it does keep some kids in state.

    Yes, the argument has been made repeatedly that the top 10% in one school may not be as qualified for college as the top 20%-11% at another school. But, this is the system.

    My mom went to the state flagship in her state and I went to one of the state flagships in my state. My HS junior is just starting to look. A smaller school might be a better fit for her. At this point, she is trying to figure out what she wants to major in and then we will look at schools that offer that major.

  7. The state I am from does not see a lot of students go out of state for college. However because of downturns in the economy, they see a lot of students leave the state after earning a degree. To try to draw students back, the state flagships offer good scholarships to out-of-state students. My son did not earn the highest possible scholarship (and has no interest in retaking the SAT to try to increase his score to the level needed) but it would still end up being a few hundred cheaper than a Texas flagship, and cheaper room and board. I do see a lot of Texas students who do not get admitted to state flagships go out of state to nearby state flagships, as well as kids with strong family ties to those schools. Because some of those states don’t focus on class rank, a decent GPA and test scores can earn merit aid to make the tuition cost comparable to Texas in-state tuition.

  8. Well, this is what happens when you spend two decades cutting funding to the state schools and telling them that they need to learn to operate more like a business. Guess what — it worked! The schools learned the number one rule of business: when money is tight, focus your efforts on your highest revenue sources.

    What I don’t get is Alabama’s approach — the idea is that the out-of-state students should pay full price and thus subsidize the in-state students. I gather from the article that the theory is that by enticing high-scorers with a free ride, you raise the overall scores and thus attract even more out-of-staters who pay enough to more than offset the difference. I assume their numbers demonstrate that it works and is a net positive to their budget. But that troubles me, because the #1 job of state schools should be to provide a reasonably-priced education for run-of-the-mill kids, because what other options do those kids have for a 4-year degree? Those are the kids who are likely to end up paying some for-profit school $100K for a meaningless degree.

    One thing governments can tend to forget is that liberals may be happy to pay higher taxes, but that they do expect to get something for their money. I pay 9% to the state of MD every year — that’s not an insignificant portion of our budget. For that, I expect decent streets, public safety, clean water — and an accessible and affordable education for my kids. You renege on that deal, and your constituents will turn on you as fast as any Tea Partier. Especially where their kids are involved.

  9. The lines on that map are weighted by number. I wish they also showed percent of students in the sending states, maybe by color, and that the states showed proportion of students who are out-of-state.

  10. More students come to my home state/state where I attended school than leave. It sends the highest % to Ohio, which makes sense to me. I would be curious to see the data with how this lines up with where people go after college.

  11. The state map shows that NC sends out as many students as we take in. The movement is between neighboring states.
    Here, there is an 18% cap on OOS students. There is a strong in state tradition. Good students aim for admission to the state flagships. The students who are decent but don’t get into the state flagship will consider schools like U of Alabama that offer them incentives to attend. I don’t think they are interested in attending any of the lower ranked UNC campuses.
    A difference I have noticed with private school students is that they tend to attend more out of state colleges. I don’t know if this is because their guidance counsolers have ties to OOS colleges and steer students to those.

  12. “Joe – a good business model would make the in-state tuition rate equal to the cost to keep the school’s lights on.”

    I would argue it is somewhere in-between. First, the legislature needs to provide sufficient support to keep the in-state rates low enough to be affordable for state residents. Then the in-state and out-of-state tuition rates should be set at a level that requires only a certain amount of out-of-state students to meet the budget.

    When I was in TX long ago, it was flipped: the University had extremely affordable tuition, because state coffers were overflowing from the oil boom, and the Legislature had decided to invest some of those proceeds in creating an educated populace. But the flip side of that was that there was a firm cap on the number of out-of-state students (e.g., 10%) — so being in-state got you not only cheaper tuition, but also a much better chance of being admitted, because there was so much competition for the limited out-of-state spots.

  13. I always thought the assumption of charging out-of-state kids more had to do with the fact that their (in theory anyway) families had NOT be paying taxes in that state and therefore shouldn’t get the taxpayer funded subsidy of lower tuition.

    At all the college presentations and the bajillion emails I am now getting, the schools all say, do our tuition/financial aid calculator before ruling us out. The cost isn’t as easy to determine as just looking at the sticker prices.

  14. How do NMS figure in here? I know the cut-offs differ by state. Does that mean their scholarships are to their state universities only? What are other benefits of being one, aside from the prestige?

  15. Here it is perfectly acceptable for kids who need more time to figure out a career path to take classes at the local community college. So, after a year or so you want to be a dental hygienist you start down that path. You don’t have the debt from starting at a 4 yr school.

  16. I admire the Top 10%/7% program that Texas has. Some kids are cut out, but it increases diversity and seems like a simple/fair way to admit students.

    I understand Bama’s approach. They want to attract a higher caliber student body and they are paying to do it. Other colleges do this–it’s a well travelled path to higher rankings. Does it have less spaces for lower performing state students? Yes. However, many nationally ranked flagships exclude lower performing state students–Michigan, Cal, UT, etc.

  17. they probably have the highest concentration of parents who value name prestige in colleges and the willingness to pay for it.

    It’s also a totebag approved form of conspicuous consumption. “Where is Chase going next fall?” “Bowdin.” “Ah, very nice.”

  18. “One thing governments can tend to forget is that liberals may be happy to pay higher taxes, but that they do expect to get something for their money. I pay 9% to the state of MD every year — that’s not an insignificant portion of our budget. For that, I expect decent streets, public safety, clean water — and an accessible and affordable education for my kids. You renege on that deal, and your constituents will turn on you as fast as any Tea Partier. Especially where their kids are involved.”

    And they also forget that conservatives might not be happy about paying higher taxes, but they would be willing do so if they got something for their money.

    On topic, DH and I are still upset that out of state flagships were willing to offer enough scholarship money that it was cheaper for DD to go to school out of state than instate. The other states were willing to invest in and maybe keep higher performing students and our states couldn’t be bothered to invest in them.

  19. Rhett – not when I attended (though with some restructuring in last 3 years that may have changed).

    Given the hoops I had to jump through to get in-state status to reduce my tuition costs to my grants, I wonder if the state gives the U a set amount of money regardless of number of in-state students, so the U loses money if too many in-state students attend. Which then goes back to the point I made – the catch-22 of how the state funding model works.

  20. Saac, if a student qualifies as NMS based on their state cut-off, they are NMS for all available scholarships. Each school sets its own program, ranging from virtually nothing at HSS to full tuition, books, monthly stipend and contribution to study abroad at schools who are trying to attract them. The benefit is a virtually free education if you choose a school with generous scholarships.

  21. As a general principle, when the majority of adults don’t have a four year college degree, is it fair to ask taxpayers to subsidize state schools that neither they nor their children will be able to attend? I used to believe that societal benefits from higher education justified high state subsidies. But why shouldn’t students, who are the primary beneficiaries of their degrees (assuming that they actually earn them), pick up more of the cost gong forward than has traditionally been the case in the past?

  22. The problem with the Texas system, is kids who are not really college ready getting admitted, then needing remedial courses, which ends up costing them more. A former classmate of my DD#1 was in the middle of the MS class. Moved to a district that is not as rigorous and is now in the top 5% of the HS class. However, all of the PSAT scores are on the border of college ready. In part, the good grades are due to the teachers being required to give extra credit to any student who asks. Without that, the former classmate would likely not be in the top 10%. Unfortunately the parent thinks the former classmate is prepared enough to enter a highly competitive program at a Texas flagship.

  23. Saac–some state schools limit their NMF scholarships to in-state residents. Others, like Alabama and Oklahoma, don’t. You have to look at each state.

    My state sends more kids out, because: our state flagship sucks; and it can be expensive, depending on major. About 10% of the kids in National Honor Society in DS’s class went to the flagship. A lot went to out of state flagships.

  24. But why shouldn’t students, who are the primary beneficiaries of their degrees (assuming that they actually earn them), pick up more of the cost gong forward than has traditionally been the case in the past?

    Because that is just a bit much to lay on the back of eighteen year olds. Back in my day, California had a three level system that was basically free. Tuition at the UC’s was a couple hundred dollars and you had to eat and sleep somewhere anyway. That system gave kids whose parents couldn’t/didn’t save for college and chance to go. And if you were a slacker in high school, the community college system gave a second chance. The system worked.

  25. Scarlett that pretty much sums up my opposition to the proposals to forgive all student loan debt or provide free college. The degree recipient is receiving a life-long benefit. I’m okay with them shouldering the cost of their investment in themselves. And if shouldering the costs encourages them to make a more cost-effective set of choices, all the better.

  26. But why shouldn’t students, who are the primary beneficiaries of their degrees (assuming that they actually earn them), pick up more of the cost gong forward than has traditionally been the case in the past?

    That’s not how it works. For whatever reason, we’ve decided to base financial aid on the income of the adult student’s parents. If we had a system like Australia, where school was almost free and graduates/attendees paid a higher tax rate to cover the cost – that would be fine.

  27. I find college pricing complicated and agree with Rhett on parental income.
    Also, the financial aid form filling can you authorize the transfer of tax information directly from the IRS to the colleges ?

  28. No, Rhett what I meant was that the current trends toward less state funding and more reliance on tuition seems fair to me. With need-based financial aid for lower income students. I don’t understand why UMC state residents shouldn’t be expected to pay tuition at closer to market rates instead of being subsidized by plumbers and electricians and small business owners who lack college degrees.

  29. Scarlett,

    I don’t understand why UMC state residents shouldn’t be expected to pay tuition at closer to market rates

    Because everyone should feel they are getting value for the taxes they pay. Same reason we shouldn’t means test Social Security.

    I also find the whole idea that what an adult has to pay an organisation should hinge on his parents income and assets very odd.

  30. @Cordelia: Fair point.

    Tangentially related (the “college readiness” comment), our schools have just revamped the grading policy, in a way I think will be good, but with major caveats. They now have graded and ungraded work (of course they use fancier words, like “summative” or “formative” or whatever). The work that counts is basically tests and projects. All the rest — homework, class participation, etc. — gets graded but doesn’t count. So I suspect this will do a better job of weeding out kids like my DD, who tend to float by with extra credit and participation but do a full letter-grade lower on the tests.

    One of the other changes I am on the fence about but think is ok: if you don’t like your grade on the test, you can retake it. BUT you also have to (a) complete any homework and other ungraded work you didn’t do, (b) do the assigned test prep problems if you didn’t do them before, and (c) explain where you went wrong on the answers you missed and why. In other words, if you’re a smart kid who can fly through the tests, you’re welcome to blow off the homework; but if you blow a test, don’t whine to the teacher until you’ve done everything you were supposed to. I would have loved this. :-) I think this benefit DD (from the learning standpoint), because it will force her to spend more time focusing on the stuff she didn’t get until she understands it. I’m worried about the grade inflation potential for HS, but the most important thing is that the kids get the material, and historically things have moved so quickly that if DD missed a concept, she just brushed it off because they had already flown off to the next. This will, I think, help both the students and teachers focus more on what has *not* been learned. And for the lower grades, where grades are basically meaningless, I think it’s a total win.

    The part that I do NOT like is that there are no more zeroes. The lowest score now (“LS”) computes to a 50%. So if you miss an assignment, you don’t get a 0, you get a 50%. If you blow a test, you don’t get the 33 you earned, you get a 50. I see absolutely no reason for this other than grade inflation.

  31. “No, Rhett what I meant was that the current trends toward less state funding and more reliance on tuition seems fair to me.”

    Only if they lower my taxes commensurately.

  32. In other words, if you’re a smart kid who can fly through the tests, you’re welcome to blow off the homework;

    It’s like they designed the system just for me. Smart slackers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your mindless busywork.

  33. Thanks MBT and Benefits! I thought Rio had said something about conferences of NMSs, but maybe not.

    On the Texas model, I agree with Houston, that the point is fairness, bringing students in who have done well in their small pools. That recognizes potential, compared to classmates, more than accomplishments, which, as this blog knows very well, often reflect parental input much more than anything about the actual student, and are biased in favor of kids whose families have the money to pay for “extras”.

    Looking at how unbelievably high CEO: employee wages have gotten, there are some people who get more benefit out of their higher education than they contribute. But seeing as everyone will likely benefit from something that some educated person does at some point in their lives, state schools make sense. That’s why many state schools began as schools of agriculture and engineering, or as teachers colleges. Health care is also something that everyone needs, so they benefit from having good training for doctors and nurses. Maybe there needs to be a distinction between careers students are going into to see who receives taxpayer-supported education. Or leave it to the realignment of corporate salaries with rationality.

  34. Scarlett, don’t most “plumbers and electricians” get training at vocational schools that are also supported by the state?

  35. LfB – just yesterday my kids’ school said that if a graded assignment/project/test/quiz is missing it shows up on the weekly grade update as an asterisk. That means the student has to contact the teacher and make up the missed work. But after a few weeks the asterisk will change to a zero. Still it doesn’t mean all is lost and till the grade book closes at the end of the quarter, the student can get a grade with points off for lateness.

  36. LfB, I agree with you on the 50%! But requiring all the lead-in work to be redone doesn’t make sense. If you go back and do it after a poor test grade, you will do better on the retest. If you don’t, you’ll get another low score, so still a fair grade. And like Rhett, I love that system!

  37. Agree on the 50% floor. That’s pure inflation.

    I think test re-do is a good idea, but every re-do should come with an automatic 20 percent off from the beginning.

    Otherwise, can you re-take an A- to get a 100? Can you re-take more than once? If so, there’s absolutely no excuse whatsoever for anyone to not get straight As all the way through high school.

  38. Laura, I wouldn’t worry about the grade inflation. That’s a lot of work and most kids won’t do it. I used to allow kids to resubmit papers, and they simply didn’t do it.

  39. My observation of high school students who are the most successful are those who have two characteristics:
    1. Are self-disciplined enough to do what they need to do to learn the material to be successful on the test, compared to others only do what the teacher has laid out for them to do, which may not be enough for them or may not be in the way they need to digest the material.
    2. Are detail-oriented enough to get all the assignments done in compliance with whatever rubric or instructions were given on top of just getting the answer right. (For DD#2, getting the answers right gets you 95% of the points, but if you fail to BOX each answer, you will lose 5% of the possible points. She has yet to have boxed every single answer on any given assignment.)

    When you rely on extra credit or do-overs, those are a corrective action so that you have learned the material, but after the fact. Unless college has changed more than I think, professors don’t give you extra credit or do-overs.

  40. Otherwise, can you re-take an A- to get a 100? Can you re-take more than once? If so, there’s absolutely no excuse whatsoever for anyone to not get straight As all the way through high school.

    Ummm, the time required to redo all those assignments over and over. And what’s wrong with getting straight As all through HS?

  41. “When you rely on extra credit or do-overs, those are a corrective action so that you have learned the material, but after the fact. Unless college has changed more than I think, professors don’t give you extra credit or do-overs.”
    Ha! I wish those weren’t standard features.

    “1. Are self-disciplined enough to do what they need to do to learn the material to be successful on the test, compared to others only do what the teacher has laid out for them to do, which may not be enough for them or may not be in the way they need to digest the material.”
    Doing what YOU need to do might also be less than all the garp the teacher lays on you, because that is geared towards the majority of students.

  42. Between my kids, I’ve lived through a multitude of late work/bad test procedures.
    The best was DS’s AP Physics teacher. If you got below a 90 on a test, you could redo a problem that was similar to any problem that you had gotten less than an 85 on,but you couldn’t get above an 89 overall. So it protected the kids who had learned the stuff in the first place, while helping kids who thought they understood a concept but had really missed it. (And this teacher has an amazing record on the AP exam results, so it works).

  43. @Louise: that is how our old system worked. Leading to many arguments over where that “M” assignment was before it converted to the “0.”

    I definitely simplified the retake explanation — each teacher has their own requirements. So for ex. in math, it’s point out where they went wrong and then write three sentences explaining why they got it wrong and what the right answer was and how they know that. So it’s not just “try again” — they have to demonstrate to the teacher that they actually do get it now. @SM: I think the reason for requiring all of the lead-in work to be re-done (and for these explanations etc.) is to create a barrier to entry to avoid the kind of grade-seeking retakes that Milo mentioned. Plus if I were the teacher, why would I waste my time giving a kid another chance if he didn’t even care enough to do the work I assigned so he could learn it the first time?

    @Milo: They have been very clear that this is not to change a 93 to a 97, or even to turn a B into an A.

    I just wish they had done this in prior years, because the first month of precalc has clearly identified a number of things she missed in her earlier math classes. She’s gone from straight-As to a mid-C, and her natural reaction is to throw up her hands and say “I just don’t get it” and “this is stupid.” We have been fighting the battle of “you need to stick with it until you get it” for several years now, so I am very glad that the new grading system actually encourages her to do that.

  44. “@Milo: They have been very clear that this is not to change a 93 to a 97, or even to turn a B into an A. ”

    Hmm. I wonder if you realize during the test that you’re not doing as well as you’d hoped and you may only get a B-, if you should intentionally get a D so you can re-take it for an A?

  45. ‘saacnmama – No, plumbing in my state is an apprenticeship process no government sponsored education. Apprentices don’t even need a HS degree or GED, only to be at least 16 years old. They must work under a master plumber and then work their way up.

    The problem with the Texas process is when kids are top 10%, but are not college-ready. Local estimates are 35% of students need remedial courses before they can start their college curriculum. Some are opining that this is a factor in the early dropout rate – combined frustration of having to take a number of unexpected courses and/or the additional cost a semester to a year will add on to their total bill.

  46. If so, there’s absolutely no excuse whatsoever for anyone to not get straight As all the way through high school.

    I assume you think they are going to take the same exact test over again?

  47. ‘saac – Point 1 – was what you need to do for understanding, which I totally agree could be more/less/different than the path the teacher laid out and Point 2 – was what you need to do to get as many of the available points as possible. If you can get by with less on Point 1, you may end up doing it anyway to accomplish Point 2.

    Milo – My DD#1 alway got mad that kids who got below an A could do something to raise their grade to a max of a 90. But, if she got a 91, she wasn’t allowed to do anything to get it to a 95. At her HS now, the only “extra” is several tests have bonus points on them with a much harder question or some obscure part of what they learned.

  48. Austin, some kids may be in schools that are not able to get them “college ready”. I agree that it would be better to have every high school be that good. That would mean overcoming the long history of segregated residences and of requiring localities to pay for their own schools. If the kids from rich neighborhoods didn’t have much better schools to begin with, then I would agree with you. The 10% rule means that even kids from crappy schools are able to get a college education. It just requires smarts and dedication, which are not divided by parental income.

  49. Several people here seem to think it’s really important to learn about WWII right this instant instead of a few days from now. I don’t get that. If a kid puts their work off for too long, they will have to pull all-nighters to get it in before grades are due. If they put it off longer than that, their resulting grade will teach them to get things in on time far better than any externally-imposed policies will.

  50. their resulting grade will teach them to get things in on time far better than any externally-imposed policies will.

    That assumes they care.

  51. Milo – you have to be careful about retakes because some teachers take an average. If you did worse the second time, that wouldn’t be good. Right now, my kids will not retake a test they did well enough on unless there was an incentive to do so.

  52. Rhett, if they don’t care about their grades, I don’t see why I should either. These are college students we’re talking about. If my kid could be in charge of his own homework and get good grades in 7th grade, it’s not too much to ask from 18+ yr olds.

    I always had a couple students who waited until the end of the semester and turned everything in all at once. They usually did poorly. Sometimes it’s an issue of learning your own abilities.

  53. Rhett, if they don’t care about their grades, I don’t see why I should either.

    Do you want them living in your basement forver? A neurotypical kid is going to have numerous interests competing for his attention with school work just one of many.

  54. These schools have bloated and expensive administrative suites, They need to be reminded that they are non profits – we should not be paying $ 800,000 to the president of the school and other over inflated salaries at the top. Most schools that have football spend more on the program than they receive – most schools aren’t Alabama. We spend too much time and money worried about their feelings, and a bunch of other hooey. They are suppose to be on the pathway to adulthood and leadership. Their great-grandfathers were fighting a world war at their age not boo-hooing that someone said something mean.

    I believe that the State taxpayers pay for the schools in their State and their children should be able to attend instead of out of state and foreign students taking up all the spaces.

    Mooshi-Mooshi, I am not taking a dig at the professors – I think we should have more professors to do the teaching instead of using adjuncts because they are cheap.

  55. we should not be paying $ 800,000 to the president of the school and other over inflated salaries at the top

    In most cases, the president is basically a commissioned salesperson being paid a percentage of funds raised.

  56. ‘Saac – All those things you say are true. But, also true is that kids who need remediation are paying college tuition to remediate high school. This is a costly way to remediate, especially if you are in a more expensive program like engineering that is $500 per credit hour at a state flagship.

    I heard a speaker last year talk about this and that while some people see the 10% as the opportunity you refer to, others see it as setting those kids up to fail. Why? Because if the remediation isn’t identified early, then those kids fail the course they are in putting them in the position to pay for the course they failed, paying for the remedial course and then paying to retake the failed course. In essence, they paid 3 times to get the credit for one course. If they persist through this, they will have higher college costs than paying to take the course once.

  57. The president of my former school makes close to $800k/year in salary. I think that is probably pretty reasonable. It is a tough job. I have more issues with how much they pay some of the other administrators and how much they spend on facilities. The football program is big, the coach makes A LOT, but I believe the whole program is a separate entity that doesn’t fall under the university budget. We should just give up the pretense and let these student athletes get paid.

  58. Rhett – The President was not hired to be a commissioned salesperson – he was hired to be the head of a non-profit and should be paid accordingly – if he/she feels they are not being paid enough they are welcome to go out into the profit world,.

  59. The President was not hired to be a commissioned salesperson

    Yes, he or she was. Fred might be able to chime in but other than funds raised and US News rankings, are there really any other performance metrics for a college president?

  60. Large research universities aren’t really comparable to many other nonprofits. They are running a set of related businesses — housing, retail, food service, police, building and grounds maintenance, recreation and entertainment complexes, research labs, health care, fundraising, legal offices. And education. It is a very complicated job and requires a unique skill set to pull it off.

  61. Salary for college/university presidents is just one part of their total compensation. In order to really compare, you also have to look at their bonus payments, housing and travel allowances, and other non taxable benefits. My alma mater discloses all pay, but they also disclose that in certain years the salary is only 40 – 50% of the total comp that the president received.

    I happen to think that the amount paid to certain college leaders is ridiculous. For example, does Quinnipiac University have to pay over $3 million to a president? I am sure it is a good school, but it is not a large school, or even a top tier school.

  62. Rhett, you are right. I got my threadlettes tangled. But still, there is something off about thinking of about my kid as more organized than the standard peer his age. I think most kids could do it, if they weren’t so accustomed to heli- (or lawnmower) parents saving them every single time. He screwed up a few times in lower grades, but there is only one assignment he hasn’t turned in so far this semester, and I think it was on purpose (he somehow was placed in a reading class that’s using a textbook that he honestly could have read when he was four or five. They have to keep a reading log–five pages a day. He left it at home, so his grades in there 100-100-100-100-100-100-0.I have since gotten him moved out of there to the college-prep class).

    Austin, so set up a standard screening to see if kids need remediation. It’s not as if the schools in Tx change every year. The schools from which kids are likely to need help are identifiable by track record.

    Rhett, other metrics for success of a university Pres might be %graduated (n 6 hrs is the standard metric), no of patents, SSCI scores for profs. It all depends on what’s important to you.

    Old mom, I agree with you and would add that it’s not just high salaries for a couple of people–there is an entire extra layer of admin at most universities.

  63. Travel funds as part of compensation? They’re supposed to be used for university-related business.

  64. Scarlett, good point re all the other things involved in running a university. I agree with Kate re sports programs. I’d much rather see talented athletes be paid and have classes covered after their careers are over.
    A stat from my kid’s peincipal & an anecdote: .02% of high school athletes make it to the pros. There is a star athlete who is befriending my kiddo. Saacy was over a foot shorter when they met, but I think the kid may look up to him; he says he’s trying to emphasize academics, and has gotten himself into a couple honors classes. Makes me happy in several ways.

  65. @SM — Well, I have to say, not all kids can remember all the stuff or manage all the work at ‘Saac’s age. DD couldn’t — she’s making great strides, but she still misses stuff. And getting a low grade didn’t “teach” her to learn better habits — it convinced her she was stupid and couldn’t do it. That is the opposite of the truth, but she is a perfectionist with big anxiety, and so she’d rather not try than try and fail. You know me — I’m not exactly helicopter. But some kids do need the structure of routine expectations to learn how to manage their time and work — in the hope that when they actually get to college, they will have internalized all that.

    Having DD has been very humbling, because a lot of the things I assumed to be true based on my own HS experience turned out to be not remotely true for her. Like, having a puzzle I couldn’t solve ate at me until I got it done; for her, it’s deer in headlights and shut down. Requires totally different parenting skills and approach to school than I was prepared for.

  66. Well, there’s whatever scorecard items the board of trustees are measuring him/her on in addition to building the endowment & the USNews metrics. E.g. diversity (student, faculty), facilities projects (obviously enabled/limited by success/failure in fundraising), grant funding (fundraising of a sort, and the president has more of a wave-the-flag role in this especially wrt NIH/NSF/other government funding for which the lead investigator/researcher files the application(s)), enrollment.

    My friend from grad school who is the president of a very small college definitely spends a lot of her time keeping the school in front of alumni / donors in an effort to keep the money flowing in.

  67. LfB – from what I can tell the perception in the U.S. is that learning should be fun all the time and a student must get whatever is being taught the first time around.
    This is different from my school days and culture where the thought was that there will be good days and bad days, with the majority being good days. Also, there was not the expectation that every student would get things on the first try. There was definitely the expectation that they would take the time to work through topics.

  68. The elaborate grading systems that LfB describes are what transform regular parents into helicopter parents. And it’s hard to imagine how kids whose parents for various reasons aren’t able to helicopter would manage.

  69. “And it’s hard to imagine how kids whose parents for various reasons aren’t able to helicopter would manage.”

    That’s why it’s a feature for us — they can’t. All we have to do is just make sure that our kids keep re-taking any bad tests, and they’ll ultimately get A’s. They don’t even have to be that bright.

  70. On the original topic, some of the decreased state funding depends on whether you look at funding on a per student basis. As more students have gone to college, per student funding has declined. This is especially problematic because the students who now go to college who didn’t used to go often require more support to learn the material or simply don’t learn it.

    LfB’s reference to her state tax rate (9%) is the same as what we pay in Oregon or California. The services you receive in return for your taxes seem to depend more on the demographics of your population (% low income, % ESL, % without adequate health insurance) than on your actual tax rate. California has prioritized services to the poor over maintaining per capita support for higher education.

    I believe “an educated populace” is a threshold good and few brilliant, gifted, Jonas Salk/Norman Borlaug/Thomas Edison people aren’t able to access higher education. I am unconvinced that the least able 10% of students attending 4 year universities are better off due to their higher education, including its cost, which makes me suspect that we are at or above the “benefit from an educated populace” threshold.

    There are certainly access issues by class, where the dull children of Totebaggers are likely to receive 4 year degrees and the bright children of the working class become navy nuclear technicians, but I’m not particularly bothered by that.

  71. And there are all the day-to-day basic items Scarlett mentions (housing, retail, food service, police, building and grounds maintenance, recreation and entertainment complexes, research labs, health care, fundraising, legal offices. And education.) that just seem to be assumed. The president does none of those things directly unless s/he also has an appointment as a professor, but the buck does stop in the corner office.

  72. “The elaborate grading systems that LfB describes are what transform regular parents into helicopter parents.” Yes. And they are also the result of helicopter parenting: the Administration designs these very complex grading systems so that the grades appear to be the result of a highly objective process, so we mommies can’t yell or sue if Precious gets a B. But the reality is it is all total crap — sure, if you’re solving math problems or filling out bubbles, the grades are objective measures of success or failure, but anything that involves actual writing and analysis, it’s totally subjective. So they keep slicing and dicing to create rubrics that are more and more detailed and specific — ok, let’s create a rubric that says spelling will be worth 3 points, using topic sentences 2. But the more you try to break down grading into box-checking, the less attention you pay to what actually matters: the ideas, the analysis, the writing. Meanwhile, the parents now have to spend more time figuring out what counts more than what, what the individual teachers’ variations are, etc.

    I hate, hate, hate these grading systems, because it is all CYA. Taking a whole bunch of subjective judgments and throwing them into a hugely complex mathematical analysis doesn’t magically transform the final grade into an objective assessment of performance — it’s just the wizard behind the curtain, throwing smoke and mirrors to make it look that way. I would much rather the teacher take that same time and give real feedback on what my kid is doing well and poorly. But at least the new one is a little simpler and focuses more on actual substantive performance.

  73. “some states have traditionally sent lots of students out of state – CT and MA come to mind immediately.”

    Geography would seem to make it easy for students from these states to attend school in other states.

  74. “the argument has been made repeatedly that the top 10% in one school may not be as qualified for college as the top 20%-11% at another school. But, this is the system.”

    That is often presented as a feature, not a bug.

  75. “It’s also a totebag approved form of conspicuous consumption. “Where is Chase going next fall?” “Bowdin.” “Ah, very nice.””

    This group doesn’t seem to approve, especially for undergrad. The consensus here seems to be to treat an undergrad education as a commodity rather than an experience or approved indulgence.

  76. LfB, not to mention the worst effect of all. These rubrics suck all love of learning out of the most able kids and turns them into point-pursuing zombies. Just reading your descriptions made me tense. It’s no wonder that kids binge drink in college.

  77. @Scarlett: one of my least favorite moments last year was when DD asked me to help review her big SS research paper — she had the ideas and the quotes and all but was struggling with the instructions to make it “punchy” (or somesuch — how you blindly zombie your way through a 73-point rubric while at the same time making it “punchy” is beyond me). So I suggested she take one of her quotes, which perfectly summed up the point of her paper, and use it as her opening sentence — it really hit the nail on the head, and was pithy and pointed to boot. Plus it allowed her to get an extra quote in (rubric assigned points for # of quotes – of course). She *loved* it.

    You know where this is going, right? Of course she got marked down for it. Because that broke the rules — not a rule that was in the rubric, mind you, but some unstated rule that she was supposed to know.

    Yeah. Dude. I write for a living. With all due respect*: Bite me.

    *I love that line, because it totally leaves open how much respect you think is actually due, and most stupid people don’t even realize they are being insulted.**

    **This is also why I always write “respectfully” in briefs. Don’t want judges, many of whom are not stupid, to wonder about that.

  78. “The consensus here seems to be to treat an undergrad education as a commodity rather than an experience or approved indulgence.”

    I agree with your observation. I wonder how many of us will send out kids to state schools v. private schools. How are you approaching this, Finn?

  79. “the current trends toward less state funding and more reliance on tuition seems fair to me. With need-based financial aid for lower income students.”

    In this model, where will the money come from for the need-based aid?

  80. Houston, I’ve been influenced by our experiences, observations, and perceptions of our kids’ experiences in school. I have no regrets about all the money we’ve spent on our kids’ schooling, because their school has provided an environment where they’ve thrived, and I place a lot of value on that.

    OTOH, DS is pretty sure he’s going to go to grad school of some sort, so the argument against spending a lot of money on an undergrad education, and instead saving much of that to finance grad school, also resonates.

    I’m hoping that we will be able to identify a school that meets his criteria, but also provides generous merit aid, and that he’s accepted there with generous aid, sparing me from having to make that choice.

    OTOH (three hands), some of his reach schools would be hard to turn down, even if it means paying full MSRP.

  81. From the UMC and rich families who are paying full freight. Just like the business model for private schools, but with sufficient state subsidy to make even full freight cheaper than private.

    In the same way, schools like Harvard could double their list price and still have more highly qualified applicants than seats in the class.

    I don’t see why the plumber has to pay more state taxes so lawyers’ kids can go to UVa for less than it would cost them at Duke.

  82. I should point out that, in this model, the list price at UVa would still be less than Duke, but more than a directional school.

  83. The vast majority, about 90%, of last year’s graduates from the public high school my older two kids attend listed some form of further education as their next year’s plan in the special yearbook supplemental insert. Only about 10% listed military or work / other. And most of the college-bound listed public in-state schools, and the majority of those were community colleges.

    Including this one, which offers plumbing apprenticeship training, among other areas:

    http://www.honolulu.hawaii.edu/apprenticeship

    There are also culinary programs, medical vocational programs, travel industry programs, and so on. Tuition is noticeably less at the community colleges than at the state flagship research university. So I am unconvinced that the tax dollars going to higher education aren’t helping the future plumbers.

  84. Back OT, looking at the map on the link Mooshi posted leads me to wonder if in some states with low populations (e.g., Wyoming), it is necessary to constantly attract OOS students to maintain the critical mass necessary to sustain the sort of universities those states have decided is important.

    One thing that just jumped out was that most of the arrows pointed from states with high populations.

    Looking a little more closely, I’m a bit surprised as to how many arrows point to Alabama. And only a few states (Utah, NM, Nebraska) seem to largely educate (or not) their own.

    It sort of mirrors college sports.

  85. HM, that CC also has programs for Microsoft and Cisco certification, teaches AutoCad to train draftspersons, and trains electricians.

    One of my best friends from HS went to the local CC to become an auto mechanic.

  86. @Scarlett: But that model only works if there is a direct relationship between the degree and the cost. The problem is the plumber’s subsidy comes largely in the form of loans, not grants. Which is fine if his kid goes on to law school and lands at a big firm. But not so much if the kid majors in social work or early childhood education and comes out to take a job that pays $25-$35K/yr. I’m not talking about froofy stuff — I’m talking about filling jobs that our society needs that require a college degree but just flat-out don’t pay well.

    Not to mention that those lawyer parents are likely going to be more sophisticated about working the financial aid system and have parental loans available to fill gaps. The reality is that higher list prices pose a huge obstacle for LC and MC families to overcome — they don’t have the knowledge or resources to work the financial aid system, and they have even less of a chance of understanding the long-term impact of student loans (e.g., non-dischargeability). Plus the data suggest that they are more likely to drop out short of graduation, unless they get significant support, at which point they will be in debt without the degree they need to pay then loans.

    So if you want to talk about a system that provides grant-based support that is simple and well-advertised (“free if your parents make less than $XX”), I would agree. But I think the data show that the current system trend is in fact shutting out more of the poorer kids, notwithstanding the financial aid already available to that demographic. I don’t think that’s a good thing for our public school system, and I don’t think that’s an appropriate use of my tax dollars.

  87. “I’m not talking about froofy stuff — I’m talking about filling jobs that our society needs that require a college degree but just flat-out don’t pay well.”

    One could argue that not paying well suggests that our society does not consider those jobs important.

  88. Finn, Our kids have gone to public schools due to child preference, convenience, and cost (in that order). DS is only applying to 6 colleges. 4 are quite affordable. His 2 reach schools are small and expensive, but neither has as strong a reputation in his field of study (engineering) as the affordable colleges. We will see where he gets in, and the final choice is up to him.

  89. Finn, Alaska, North Dakota and Wyoming all have low out of state tuition rates at their “major” research universities which I assume are to encourage a flow of students from out-of-state to achieve critical mass. I haven’t looked at Montana.

    Fred, Mooshi, or anyone else with knowledge of how universities apportion costs, what has driven the increase in tuition? How much is because professors teach fewer courses? Is it because students require more support services? Is it because of the cost of IT/labs/journal subscriptions? Is it because of public employee pension costs?

    Given that many classes are very large and/or taught by inexpensive adjuncts, increasing tuition is a puzzle.

    One factor I thought about for Utah is that BYU is a large private school with costs comparable to or less than a public school.

  90. Houston, I’m scratching my head WRT your DS’ choices of schools to which to apply.

    My DS started with about 6 schools, but a couple of pretty decent schools offered free applications, so he’ll probably apply there as well. 3 reaches, one a step down with a long shot at merit aid, and 3 with good chances of acceptance and merit aid. Not sure what the other free application school offers in aid.

    Final choice will be collaborative, especially if he’s accepted to a reach without any aid, since we’ll need to figure out how to pay for it, and also look ahead to grad school.

  91. WCE, a lot of people attribute rising college costs with increasing administrative costs, including increasing numbers of administrative personnel, and high salaries for many of them.

  92. Finn, I, too, would add a few more schools to the list, but he’s happy with what he has. I like the schools on his list, and his choices have been validated by several engineers, so we’re ok.

  93. WCE, I think that colleges are raising tuition for the same reason as pharmaceutical companies charge such insane prices for their drugs–they both sell a very important product, the cost is often subsidized, and the market will bear pretty much any price.

  94. One could argue that not paying well suggests that our society does not consider those jobs important.

    Or that there are more applicants than jobs. Social work is fairly important, but there are a bazillion earnest white girls with MSW degrees and consequently the salary goes down.

  95. There’s also our societal assumption that certain types of work ideally *should* be provided for free, as a labor of love, or as volunteering to ‘give back’, so the relatively limited monetary compensation for doing the work is assumed to be bolstered by the knowledge that the workers are doing good works, or getting to work with children (what a privilege!), plus the meager pay seems generous when compared to a basepoint of free.

  96. I am not sure how much professor teaching loads have really changed over the years. My father taught a 2/2 back in the 60’s, which is still pretty much what you will see at R1 universities today. At elite SLACs, they are expected to do research. so they teach a 3/3 or 3/2, but again, that hasn’t really changed. And 4/4 has been standard forever at your regional teaching schools. The growth in enrollment has been handled by the huge increase in adjuncts, who make $3000 a course. They now account for over half of all courses taught. So I don’t think professor costs have changed much.

    The big drivers seem to be: 1) infrastructure, especially computers, networking, and the army of people to support all the computers and servers and networks. The students now expect fast free wifi in every building,and expect they can all stream high def videos as much as they want anywhere on campus. I know at my university, IT costs are a big problem. Then there is also the big increase in administrative staff, partially due to student expectations and partially due to increased paperwork, mandates, etc. We now all have to do assessment for accreditation, which is this vast exercise in paperwork – for every test or project assigned, we have to record the learning objectives, the rubrics, and save the worst, best, and average papers/tests submitted. This all turns into this vast sea of paper (or electronic submissions) which have to all be recorded and tabulated. It is a huge effort. 3) Lots of new fancy buildings going up, which have to be maiintained. Students and families expect lots of big glitzy buildings, fancy computer areas with big video screens all over, and of course lots of recreational facilities. We’re putting in these new “maker spaces” with 3D printers, drones, and other toys that no one has any idea what to do with, specificially as eye candy for potential students. This all costs money.

  97. Yes, I’ve heard it said that one reason teacher salaries are so low is because there are so many teachers who “love working with kids so much they would do it for free.”

    One reason I like engineering is that it pays well.

  98. what has driven the increase in tuition…all the things MM mentions are results IMO. The root cause I think is just classic economics…more $$ chasing a static supply of goods over the short term.

    Specifically, with the advent of guaranteed student loans in the 70s certainly, maybe it was the late 60s, anybody could go to college and pay later, even to relatively higher priced private schools. Schools caught on and since the cash was coming in, started to build out their physical plant with more dorms (to house the increased # of students), more and bigger classrooms. Bigger classrooms meant more students per prof, but not necessarily a larger teaching load and little additional marginal cost, since e.g. in my Poli Sci 1 class there were ~350 students and ~15-20 TAs (poorly paid grad students) who ran our weekly ‘section’ and graded everything. The prof could still lecture 3x50min/week. What difference if to 200 or to 350? Then, later, the fancier gyms, pools, student unions, etc. Which all lead to higher ongoing operating and maintenance. And ‘student services’ + all the other staff/administration overhead costs. Plus, let’s not forget, the admissions-industrial complex. Oh, and DEVELOPMENT, which while bringing in endowment resources to help support the university, spends a lot.

  99. Mooshi, EKU and plenty of other places assume a 5/5. Sorry you couldn’t be here today. Good topic.

    “schools like Harvard could double their list price and still have more highly qualified applicants than seats in the class.” In reality, Harvard, Stanford, etc are moving in the opposite direction and giving free tuition to kids from families with MC incomes (I think I’ve heard a cutoff of $100k for a two-earner household, but don’t quote me) and lower.

    Laura, Saac and I have had the same experience. Ha! Maybe that’s wh he doesn’t want me involved in his homework. I usually think I think highly of him, but the response to my comments about him being in charge of his own homework today suggests that’s not the case. I get the same responses IRL when I talk about him grocery shopping or being in charge of his own bedtime and getting himself ready for school. Guess I need to recognize an ability there. I recall that your darling daughter did manage her own NHS application a couple years ago. You wanted to tear your (or her) hair out, but she made it. Did she learn from that? I think Isaac is helped in this by the 1:1 relationship. For years he had to come along to the grocery store, so he learned how the list works, and we used coupons and price comparisons to do math. He got a huge boost in getting himself off to school in the mornings and managing his own schoolwork when I had laparoscopic surgery nearly two years ago. The first 2-3 weeks of Dec I was in bed, on narcotics, or carrying my tummy in my hands when I walked across the apt. There was no one else to microwave his frozen dinners, pour his cereal or oversee wake up and homework times. It freaked him out to see me so weak, but man, did he ever rise to the challenge. Got himself up in the mornings, rode his bike to school, everything! This summer I was on narcotics again for something different, and he seems to be off to a great start. Is there a pattern there?

    Finn, there is someone here who is very loud about education being and summer good, but I don’t think it is a consensus. I know I value the “experience” as much as the degree, and as an educator, I hate the idea of students slogging in just to get their ticket stamped. I don’t think one has to go to Harvard to get that experience, but it is a huge part of why I’d prefer he not start off with a couple years at community college. Just being on campus for summer camp or for a doctors appointment gets him fired up. I want him to live around that excitement, not just see people in the classroom.

    There were more comments I wanted to respond to, but I’m on my phone, so I’ll have to post this & then go back and check.

  100. “Like, having a puzzle I couldn’t solve ate at me until I got it done; for her, it’s deer in headlights and shut down.”. That’s my DS too. It’s really strange to me. I always wanted to play up in sports, and never minded being razzed, as Lon as I was getting feedback on what I was doing wrong. Seeing this guy just fold is baffling to me. He has been excited recently at being able to be nostalgic. He enjoys looking back and will comment on what he thought or what he could do then. I hope that by adding in little comments about how doing X (that he does all the time now) that seemed impossible then, I’ll be able to build up his willingness to take on “big” things.

  101. “There are certainly access issues by class, where the dull children of Totebaggers are likely to receive 4 year degrees and the bright children of the working class become navy nuclear technicians, but I’m not particularly bothered by that”. How many of the bright working class kids will get an exciting, responsible, interesting position that is paid well and how many will manage grocery stores? I agree with you about there being too many kids in college right now, but as I’ve said before, I really think universities should be subsidized to the same degree that they were when my dad was coming up. As the child of an auto mechanic single father, he had no financial support from home, but by working summers and taking on part-time jobs, he was able to put himself through school with no debt. Judging from the comments people in my hometown made to me about my father (spit & image), there seem to be a lot of working class people who thought they benefitted from him having an education. I recall being stopped by salesclerk, a worker at the post office counter, a classmate’s father who worked at the steel mill, all of whom had stories about how grateful they were for my dad’s work. Do we really want surgeons who got where they were because, even though they weren’t that bright, their parents put them through good schools?

    “Only” applying to six? Wow!

    Finn, paying for grad school? Wouldn’t there be some kind of assistantship available? I know it doesn’t hold for law school, but otherwise, what I’ve always heard is that if they aren’t covering your tuition and offering you some kind of work, they don’t really want you there.

  102. Saac, I think another of your father’s advantages is that he wanted to live in a rural, rather than Totebaggy, area. I wonder how many Totebaggy physicians will want to live where physicians are most needed, or whether medicine will be delivered another way. My high school friend who went into surgery is bright enough, but more importantly, he’s conscientious, hardworking and willing to work long hours.

    There aren’t that many exciting, responsible, interesting positions that are paid well and I suspect people with the right educational and social credentials will continue to disproportionately attain them. I don’t know if my extended family is typical, but perhaps working/regular middle class people expect to find their family lives more rewarding than their work lives. Compared to Mr WCE’s professionally inclined cousins, we are quite family-oriented.

  103. WCE, people in cities need doctors too. Where ever he had his practice, I think a doctor attending a state subsidized school is a good example of an instance of the taxpayers receiving benefit. Yes, he practiced in a different state, so “the taxpayer” is rather general here, but I think all the states had the kind of tuition that would enable a bright kid of no means to attend. If we had that kind of system open to everyone, it would be much more fair than what we have now.

  104. I hit return too early.

    The personal characteristics you describe–bright, hard-working, consciencious, willing to work long hours (or longish anyway–surgery at 7 or 7:30 several days a week, otherwise office visits starting at 9, home for supper at 6 or 6:30) and family oriented describe my dad and probably most physicians of his generation, at least the ones in our small town. I think those traits, rather than ability to pay or jump through sophisticated financial hoops, are the kinds of traits that should be supported.

  105. One comment of how hard it is for students to take responsibility is the unsaid expectation of the school on the role of parents.
    Growing up, my mother worked whereas the norm at that time and place was for women to stay home. I struggled mightily with some of the assignments which my parents thought were silly but it was a HUGE deal for me. I was as on the ball as a student could be. I found out that my friends parents did little things for them that made their assignments go smoothly. All of us ended up in similar places. My experience has shaped finding the right balance between letting my kids take ownership and helping them out.

  106. Unlike other highly educated professionals, academics in most disciplines have to suspend their geographical preferences in obedience to the vagaries of the job market. If they have an academic spouse, their choices are even more constrained. None of my law school classmates ended up in Lawrence or East Lansing but there are lots of newly minted PhDs from top programs who do. Academics do have considerable control over their schedules but not over their location.

  107. I noticed NMSF for our local schools were published this week. 4 out of a class of about 230 (I’m guessing) for our high school. That’s the most I’ve seen in years. 3 out of 4 may have tiger parents.

  108. I just checked our local HS and there are 5 NMSF out of a class of 120. My friend has a DD in that senior class, and it is an unusually small graduating class. There are usually 6 – 10 NMSF from our HS, but most graduating class sizes are usually closer to 175 – 180 kids.

  109. Coc – were your kids NMSF ? Just trying to gauge how rare or not it is for the typical Totebaggy kid.

  110. Sports parents often have a wildly unrealistic view of how likely an athletic scholarship is for their children. Do totebag parents have an unrealistic view of merit aid?

  111. parents have more unrealistic expectations of where their child fits into the “competitiveness” distribution for admission to HSS. Every Totebag school has at least a few NMSF students. They all have straight A’s and great activities. And they all want to go to the same small list of schools, which schools also have to admit the athletes and URMs and legacies and donors and other hooked applicants. But many parents on college confidential and IRL don’t seem to see that.

  112. I think parents of above average kids
    but reaches for HSS have to make choices between say the state flagship school in my state and OOS (say University of Alabama) or private colleges like say Wake Forrest which will offer to take the kid in for free saving the parents even the in state tuition. Those are the type of choices I hear about.
    From what I can tell the smaller SLACs (except Davidson) don’t figure much in college choices.

  113. “Sports parents often have a wildly unrealistic view of how likely an athletic scholarship is for their children. Do totebag parents have an unrealistic view of merit aid?”

    Yes. In addition to Scarlett’s comment, I think it is extremely common to overestimate the likelihood of getting merit aid, the quantity of aid (merit or need-based) that will be offered, and the amount of aid that will be grants vs. loans.

    I think this is the biggest reason for the “I saved and paid for my kids’ college, and my spendthrift neighbor got aid, I’m being penalized for saving” attitude — sure, it does happen to a degree, but I think from the outside, you have no idea how much of that aid is in loans.

  114. To add to LFB and Scarlett, I think that financial aid is pretty much off the table for most Totebag families, given household income and assets. Merit aid is more feasible, but you have to either be willing to go to lower tier colleges or be very high performing. For the Alabama merit aid, I think you have to score 700+ in both the English and math sections of the SAT (old SAT–not sure what the new #s are) in addition to having a minimum GPA.

  115. Houston, are you using ‘bama as an example of an HSS that people like those on this blog are aiming for?

  116. I’m using Bama as an example of merit scholarships having a high bar for academic performance. I don’t think Bama is a HSS, just based on the admissions numbers. If you look at the football program though… : )

  117. Merit aid is more feasible, but you have to either be willing to go to lower tier colleges or be very high performing.

    Don’t you have to be both?

  118. Houston, are you using ‘bama as an example of an HSS that people like those on this blog are aiming for?

    I’d say it’s where a kid that has a shot at a HSS would have to go to get a decent amount of merit aid.

  119. Houston: We are a number of years behind you, but I would love to hear more from you about about how your DS selected the schools, how he narrowed down the choices, etc.

    I have learned over the years ‘listening’ to those on this blog that are 4-6 years ahead of me how valuable it is to pay attention to what’s coming next.

  120. Woot woot! Schedule change. My DS was placed in a reading class this year that made him want to bang his face on the desk. On conference night, his teacher told me that he is way above the other kids’ ability levels and was bad for the climate in her class. She wanted him out of there and thought he belonged in an honors class but was not permitted to say so. I went straight to the guidance office. They moved him yesterday. He was so excited about it last night, he couldn’t sit still. It’s been ages since I’ve seen him that happy about anything

  121. “I’d say it’s where a kid that has a shot at a HSS would have to go to get a decent amount of merit aid.”

    I don’t know about this. My DD was offered merit aid at almost every school she was accepted to. UC and Vanderbilt being the two exceptions. Vandebilt was the only HSS she was accepted to. She went to an out of state flagship, with an aid package that lowered the price below our in state flagship.

  122. I may have mentioned this before, but my dad sponsors a scholarship for the local community college in one of their trade programs. The qualifier is that you had to have been a C student in HS. So many “average” students from lower class families struggle to even afford community college.

  123. “Merit aid is more feasible, but you have to either be willing to go to lower tier colleges or be very high performing.”

    “Don’t you have to be both?”

    No to “both”. It mostly depends on how selective the college can be. DS got something in the mail from St. Bonaventure (Olean, NY — truly middle of nowhere, ask Kerri) showing their matrix of Grade/Test Score discounts. The max was $20k x 4 yr = $80k. But something like a 2.7 and an 1130 SAT gets $16k/yr. If Bonaventure has a program your kid likes, s/he wants a college of ~1500kids, in the middle of nowhere there you go!

  124. Congrats to Saac!

    Lark: I started off in sophomore year talking about the difference between getting into a HSS and a less competitive school. I said that if you want to go to a HSS, we will support you, but here are the hoops you need to jump through in terms of activities, academics, internships, etc. He decided that he didn’t want to jump through those hoops and we started focusing on non-Ivies.

    I then asked DS to list what was important to him in terms of a college (large, small, rural, city, sports). However, his final list ended up being all over the map.

    I asked him to then put together a list of colleges that he thought would be interesting. I added to the list, based on research on College Confidential, which has been very helpful. Interestingly, college visits did not influence the list (add companies or take companies off the list), at least for us.

  125. My son’s high school has 0 NMSF out of 39 grads, which at NMSF rate of 0.5% is what you would you would expect. The high school I attended announced that 9% of their senior class was NMSF this year. In some ways I think that speaks to the families it attracts though, as much as to anything the school does. But the names I recognize as children of my classmates are definitely there because it’s Catholic.

  126. We are helping a young extended family member in the college search. SAT around 1450 and #1 in class. Her older brothers were not in her league and her parents went to a school like MM’s so they so not understand competitive school admissions. They think she has amazing scores and top of her class so should be able to get in anywhere. They want her at our university but her numbers are not competitive and her XC do not see her apart. Family income low enough that she qualifies for Questbridge but she is white so it won’t help her for admission to our school. If she could get in, she would get a free ride. She wants to go to med school so needs college to be as close to free as possible but isn’t looking at schools more than a few hours’ drive from home. Perfect choice would be a school that buys good students but it is hard to explain this to families who aren’t as strategic as Totebaggers. For example, they visited Duke, which is a reach and UNC which would probably not give her a free ride but skipped Wake Forest which might have been a great option. One of the older brothers got a vocational degree from a second tier OOS school, but didn’t want to live in that state, which is where the graduates of that program find jobs, so moved back home where he wanted to live and has a min wage job. I don’t get it but this approach is what leads to all of those articles about college graduates with heavy student loans living in their parents’ basements.

  127. Cordelia – I can just see your kid’s NYTimes wedding announcement ;-)

    Cordelia Jr. a kid of Mr and Mrs Cordelia and the first NMSF in Bear Creek High School the very first in the school’s living memory was united in marriage with…

  128. Cordelia – I don’t remember if you’ve shared, but wondering what kind of state you are in. You are rural? You have a big city driving up the NMSF cutoff in your state?

    I went to high school in a rural western state. We had 10-12 NMSF per year, in a class of 500. There were no academically superior options for high school than my public school.

  129. “My kids’ high school has not had a NMSF in living memory.”

    My kid’s school had one in a class of about 500 seniors this year. I’m trying to focus on the demographics of the school and not be upset by that.

    Idk if my HS knew was NMS is. I’m only half joking on that. They knew far in advance that I’d be an exchange student my junior year, but didn’t recommend I take the PSAT. When my SAT scores came in, the principle mentioned them to my mom & said something like “we didn’t know she was smart!”

  130. Ada, I’m in the big west coast state, in a rural area. Yes, the big cities drive up the cutoffs. As it happens, I was NMSF back in the old days. If my high school knew what that meant, they gave no indication. I had no idea. I only took the PSAT, because I had friend whose parents told her to sign up for it and told her to tell me.

  131. Schools with academic admissions criteria typically have more NMSF kids as a % of their population. You see a big difference here in schools that can pick and choose high performing kids as their students and schools that take everyone in their neighborhood.

    Our school does a good job in preparing kids for PSAT/SAT, but for us, a prep class really helped as well.

  132. “We all agree, I assume, that the school has almost no impact on the number of NMSF, right?”

    I haven’t seen any announcement of the NMSF for our state yet, but over at least the last 20+ years, two schools typically produce most of the state’s NMSF (e.g., in the 60 to 80% range). Last year, all the public schools in the state combined to produce 12.

  133. We all agree, I assume, that the school has almost no impact on the number of NMSF, right?

    No we don’t. A school that consistently ignores or denigrates the kids who have potential to be NMSF will have a lower number of NMSF than one that nurtures those kids.

  134. NMSF cutoffs for this year posted here: http://www.compassprep.com/national-merit-semifinalist-cutoffs/.

    Lists of actual NMSF are hit or miss by state or region; apparently NMSC puts out those lists as press releases, and some news agencies publish that info, and others don’t; some only highlight local NMSF.

    Only 2 states (and DC) had higher cutoffs than Cordelia’s, which has a large number of tiger parents.

    BTW, if you’re trying to make historical comparisons, keep in mind this year’s cutoffs are based on a totally revamped test, but the methodology for determining the cutoffs remained the same, so it’s still about the top 16k eligible kids.

  135. 4/4 means teaching 4 courses each semester. It is written that way because at some schools, it varies – some schools do a 3/2, for example. Generally, a 4/4 load means you are spending most of your time on teaching, Keep in mind that faculty usually, besides strictly teaching oriented tasks, do a lot of “service” – we do a lot of the outreach to industry, set up talks from outside speakers, make overall curriculum decisions, do the godforsaken assessment crap, do equipment planning, etc, etc. We have a grad program, so faculty have to review all the applicants which takes forever. So non teaching time isn’t just research. The 5/5 load mentioned earlier is common at community colleges where faculty generally do very little besides teach – they usually don’t spend as much time doing department administration and decision making, for example. .

  136. In addition to what Cordelia says, some schools prep the kids for the PSAT.

    The College Board’s decision to begin penalize not guessing (spun, innacurately IMO, as eliminating the (nonexistent) guessing penalty) also increased the importance of test prep.

    Also, with the SAT, and I assume the PSAT, moving toward alignment with the common core, those tests are increasingly measures of what was learned, and decreasingly measures of aptitude.

  137. Sorry Mooshi, I’m not getting it. What do the numerator and denominator represent? Is the numerator the number of courses taught in the 1st semester, and the denominator the number of courses taught in the second semester?

    If so, then would I be correct in assuming that at colleges with 3/2 loads, there are approximately the same amount of profs/instructors/adjuncts with 2/3 loads?

    How about schools on the quarter system? Would their loads be something like 4/4/4 or 3/3/3?

  138. “I think this is the biggest reason for the “I saved and paid for my kids’ college, and my spendthrift neighbor got aid, I’m being penalized for saving” attitude — sure, it does happen to a degree, but I think from the outside, you have no idea how much of that aid is in loans.”

    At most HSS, all aid given is in grants, not loans.

    And it’s not just the spendthrift neighbor who could be getting aid (although my guess is that the spendthrifts who don’t save for their kids’ college educations are also not likely to be the ones whose kids get into HSS), it’s also the kids of single parents and the kids with SAHP; i.e., there are many lifestyle choices that affect need-based aid, any of which could lead to perceptions of unfairness or punishing responsible behavior.

  139. A direct quote from my FB, related to academic bloat:
    That what their office does: they literally asses each department’s self-assessment, complete with with abbreviated and color coded grades for all our assessment measures, including “acceptable”, “needs improvement”, “need more info,” etc… I shit you not.

  140. Finn, it isn’t a fraction. The slash just separates the two numbers. Each number is the number of courses per semester. The bigger number is usually written first, regardless of whether you teach more in first or second. And yes, quarter system school go just as you indicated.

    Now could you please explain to me that policy on guessing you were talking about?

  141. Houston, Alabama also gives generous merit aid, without the SAT or GPA qualifiers, to NMF (tuition for 10 semesters!!). Of course, a confirming SAT score (threshold still unannounced) is required to more from NMSF to NMF.

    The NMSF package does include a 3.5 GPA (doesn’t say weighted or unweighted) requirement.

    http://scholarships.ua.edu/nationalscholars/

    This is in addition to the generous merit aid packages to which I believe you referred, which give varying amounts depending on test scores and a minimum 3.5 GPA, all of which I believe are noncompetitive, as well as some very generous competitive merit aid packages.

    In one of the CC groups I read, there are a lot of parents whose kids had PSAT scores near or above the cutoffs, and Bama is probably the overall highest rated of the schools offering generous merit aid. Campus visit reports have been quite complimentary. I think their main rival in terms of generosity is UK (as in KY).

  142. “The College Board’s decision to begin penalize not guessing (spun, innacurately IMO, as eliminating the (nonexistent) guessing penalty) also increased the importance of test prep.”
    is the policy I’m asking about.

  143. SM, the current SAT and PSAT multiple-choice sections just awards a certain number of points for each correct answer. Questions not answered correctly, whether or not an answer was attempted, do not affect the score. In the College Board’s spin, there is no penalty for guessing. I look at it as a penalty for not guessing.

    In the old SAT (through January of this year) and the old PSAT (through 2014), there was a point subtraction for wrong answers. E.g., if there were five answers presented, a correct answer would be worth 4 points, but a wrong answer would result in a subtraction of 1 point. The values for right and wrong answers were set to be perfectly guessing-agnostic; the expected value for a question would be exactly zero whether the question was answered by a random guess, or not answered at all.

    IMO, the single most important thing to get out of a current PSAT or SAT prep class is to know not to leave any question unanswered. Test takers not knowing this are at a relative disadvantage, and it is not relevant to what the test is trying to measure.

  144. Thanks Finn! I knew it would be something along those lines. Appreciate you straightening me out. I remember when I taught Kaplan they wanted me to explain those kinds of policies and I hated it.
    Now I get to decide if I pass that info on to the saacster. He has fast processing speeds, so could finish the whole thing anyway (I always did) and has been guilty of “Christmas treeing” an assessment in the past. Both of those say no, don’t tell hm to guess. But, otoh, he may have learned something about the importance of standardized tests, after more than a month in that reading class, and if isn’t done he may need that advice.

  145. SM, the issue of whether or not to guess is irrelevant for the kids who are smart and fast enough to answer every question correctly, or to at least be able to make guesses that are not totally random.

  146. SM, I suggest you let him know.

    We’ve discussed here before how for bright kids, the junior year PSAT/NMSQT may be the single most important test they take, at least until their grad school admissions test. At their level, the PSAT almost becomes a pass/fail test, and passing (meeting or exceeding the NMSF cutoff) leads to a multitude of financial aid options.

    And unlike the SAT or ACT, there are no do-overs for the PSAT/NMSQT.

    So for you parents of current juniors:

    https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt-psat-10/practice

    http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/high_school_and_beyond/2016/08/kaplan_edges_into_free_PSAT_prep_market.html

    IMO, it’s not too early for freshman and sophomores to start prepping.

  147. 1450/1600 on the new SAT concords to something less than that for the Math and Reading of the old SAT. The new SAT and PSAT has less granularity on the top end.

  148. Thanks for the PSAT info, Finn. I almost missed the sign up deadline this week but DS’s guidance counselor reminded him. {hangs head in shame}

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