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Tuesday, March 24. 2009
While searching info about Kenyon (it was Paul Newman's alma mater, along with EL Doctorow, Robert Lowell, William Rehnquist - and Rutherford B. Hayes), I stumbled upon an op-ed written for the NYT by Kenyon's Director of Admissions: To All the Girls I've Rejected.
It's about how colleges are dealing with the disproportionate numbers of female applicants they have been seeing over recent years, and why they feel forced to raise their admissions standards for them. It's Gender Discrimination!
Photo: Kenyon College
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Maybe the colleges should start training men in useful trades to attract them. A B.S. in Carpentry, Plumbing, or Electrical work might attract more men. It would certainly be more lucrative for their graduates than my History BA and get some men in the school along with the ladies.
My wife went to Wheaton College in Illinois where more women sought admission than men, ergo standards for women were more stringent. Same story, different school.
Reading this made me think of my son and going through this process 5 years ago, Kenyon like so many other private colleges in Ohio are very selective, at the time I didn't realize just how selective. Football was the key ingrediant for us, allowing my son to attend a college where the ratio of professors to students was 12 to 1. To this day I'm grateful for our good fortune. He graduated with a degree in biology.........the life of sports has come to an end, but that biology degree will last a life time and open many doors! I'm a very proud parent!
The two pillars in the photo are the gateway to the very pretty main campus. The one on the right is dedicated to a Civil Engineer. Unseen to the left is a strikingly beautiful 19th century Episcopal church, once a diocesan seat. It's on the National Historic Building Register. If you visit Kenyon, you should go into the church. Nowadays, it's shared with the local Catholic Church, which uses it for Saturday evening masses for the Catholics on campus.
The student body at Kenyon is largely upper class and upper middle class. I suspect that networking the next generation of our rulers is Kenyon's real business, although they do get a good education, too.
Oh dear: We just finished 20 years of fast tracking a "preferred" population through the education system (women/minorities). Now, we have to live with their poor skills, poor knowledge in their roles of managers. Jobs that they were put into without the experience necessary, but with the support of a powerful network. Pray to God, we don't have to put up with any more of these "chosen" lunatics destroying our lives---because, it was "their turn"!
Side note: If you have been trying to connect your converter box on your old tv set and for more than a week have been involved in numerous worthless phone calls, you will know that America has already become a third world country! I would like to hear about other's experiences with this government legislated/mandated change over.
Jumping through hoops. They all have my sympathy.
From my high school of four decades ago, a girl a year ahead of me was a Straight-A student, took all the AP classes possible, was in a number of clubs including Debate, was a Merit Finalist, had a part-time job, and ended up rejected by various of the Seven Sisters and/or Ivy League schools.
Though admitted to Duke, she went to Kansas, as had her parents, and four years later was admitted to the public university medical school in her home state. Not getting into the "good school" made no difference in her life. She was bright and worked hard, and that was the difference in her success- not the school she attended.
All this college admissions stuff is a horrid waste of time and effort, and needlessly shatters the self esteem of many who buy into the "good school" BS. You will get out of college what you put into it, and there are very few students that will exhaust the intellectual resources of the college they attend. High school students would be much better off asking themselves about their high school years: what do I like doing? What do I not like doing? What comes easy for me ? What is difficult for me? What do I find it easy to work hard at? What do I have to pull teeth to work hard at? What do I care about? What am I indifferent about?
Having some idea of what these answers are will assist a high school senior in choosing a satisfying career path much more than getting into a "good school."
Some schools may be a better fit for some students than others, such as schools that offer freshmen seminar classes instead of huge lecture halls. Or, if you want to be a nuclear physicist, there is no point in applying to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. So, some investigation of various colleges may be worth it. But all in all, it occupies a disproportionate amount of time.
I could not agree more.
However, you will never remove ambition, competitiveness, and vanity from the human soul.
Sorry Gringo and BD: You do NOT get the same education from one school as you do another. Though it is possible to pay an extremely liberal small, private university way too much money for what you get (bumper sticker 101,201,301, 401). You will not get the same level of science, math, writing, or even medicine from a small state land grant institution as you will from MIT, Harvard,Stanford, Cal (Berkeley), University of PA, etc. I am sorry folks--but, it just is not on the shelf, and thus cannot be delivered. Higher pay acquires best lecturers, etc. NOW, what happens after they get tenure--that is another story. But, starting the junior year--it does make a difference. I strongly support a local two year college if a student has not been accepted at first choices. It reduces the overall cost of a four year degree, and if may (depending on the local competition from the local four year schools) offer an approximately equal quality. HOWEVER, I am of the firm opinion that a very strong factor in choosing schools, both for faculty and for students is what I call the "pretty factor". If a school is at the base of big beautiful ski mountains, or sits in a sublime ocean setting--these schools may attract more for less salary. They certainly do attract more students--as they do more mafia families. EVERYONE loves pretty places--the schools there often slide by.
Faculty wife: I stand by what I said. A bright high school student is much better off doing a good self-assessment than buying into the "I'm a POS if I don't get into .." nonsense, and the implication that where one is carries more importance than what one does.
Yes, different levels of colleges will demand different levels of work. At the same time, my understanding is that it is much harder to flunk out of the Ivy League than it is to get admitted to it. It is as easy to get admitted to Impersonal State U as it is to flunk out of it. I imagine that a science or engineering student at Impersonal State U is worked harder than a Multi-Culti student- or some such major- at an Ivy League school. There are no simple answers.
If a bright student is at a school that isn’t completely taxing him, he can transfer out, or apply to a higher tier when it comes to graduate school. My father got his BA from the local teacher's college. It apparently didn't hurt him that much, as his research later made the cover of Science. What counts is what you put into it, not where you are nor where you came from.
Your statement about higher salaries attracting better lecturers doesn’t hold water: Publish or Perish. ¿Sabés? Higher salaries attract “better” researchers, who are not necessarily better teachers. I put “better” for researchers in quotes, because I doubt the world would lose anything if the works of the MLA, for example, were to go up in smoke. I know someone who had a Nobel Prize winner for a prof in grad school: an abysmal teacher, I was informed. You will find good and not so good teachers at all tiers. At least that has been my experience.
Regarding where we go to school : it all comes out in the wash. We perform later in life, or we don’t. Most of us are not as bright, not as superior as we may initially think we are. If a bright high school student hasn’t learned that yet, it is time to learn it, even if it means one is not admitted to Kenyon.
If you and I had access to all faculty records/salaries in any 10 schoools of our choosing--5 Ivy League and 5 state land grant from smaller states--let's say: MS, AR, AK, KY, NM I would not have to have this verbal contest with you. You can access some of this salary information from The Chronicle of Higher Education data base. There they break down school salaries into tiers. These tiers are based on the academic width/depth of the university. Does the school offer Doctoral programs--if so, how successful have they been at acquiring NSF Research funding? I, like yourself, and everyone else whoever sat in a tiered classroom, have had very, very boring lecturers. We have also had incredibly incompetent teacher's assistants trying to polish their delivery skills in undergraduate classrooms. That is not what we are trying to get a good picture on. You and I are trying to understand what it is that assures students they will have "GREAT" teachers. There is no assurance of that--but, according to the many other rants on the MF website--motivation to improve the quality of one's life is the primary motivating factor on Wall Street, or in the business boardroom. You build a better widget--they will come. Why then is it not accurate to also state: pay them a bigger salary and you will have the freedom to choose the better lecturer? You folks are speaking out of both sides when you refuse to acknowledge that a higher salaried position in a school with a "reputation" does not obtain better teachers. Sorry, to burst your bubble.
Why then is it not accurate to also state: pay them a bigger salary and you will have the freedom to choose the better lecturer?
As I previously stated: what is being chosen is not the better lecturer/teacher, but the better researcher. The better researcher is not necessarily the better teacher, especially when concerns about research dominate. Research is king in tenure decisions- not teaching. A great researcher but indifferent teacher will always be chosen over a great teacher but indifferent researcher. Once in tenure, the pattern will most likely continue: emphasis on research, indifference towards teaching. Indifferent teaching can also be masked by giving easy grades, which will improve student evaluations.
"You folks are speaking out of both sides when you refuse to acknowledge that a higher salaried position in a school with a "reputation" does not obtain better teachers. Sorry, to burst your bubble."
How then do you account for the teacher who changes lives in a small Alabama high school? Inspires them to reach beyond?
Knowledge is knowledge. Money does not create knowledge and money does not create a good teacher. Trying to equate the two is walking up a one-way street. As for reputation, making your own reputation is the goal - not wallowing in some institute's reputation hoping it will do for you what you need to do yourself.
Want a great lecture? Rent it from the library for free.
Gringo: I agree with you about the place that research occupies in the university decision making process with regard to "tenure". I agree that if you have not brought in research monies from outside then you are not likely to get tenure. You are right about that being an important piece of the big name schools. It also helps in Backwater University. But, if you are not able or willing to demonstrate at least for the first seven years that you can also teach your subject you will not even get hired.
Second item: it makes no sense to compare apples and oranges i.e., high school teachers and college teachers.
You and I--most of us have benefitted from truly good and dedicated educators in the classroom. But, to say that Impersonal U attracts the same high level of accomplished and dedicated individuals for a far smaller wage and prestige is just not accurate.
With regard to what a student gets out of a university, or college, experience you are also right about that: it is up to the individual student to focus and acquire as much as possible.
Finally, with regard to the focus that parents and high schools are placing on the younger kids--it is deplorable. I personally know faculty and administrators, who are teaching to the test, as well as giving their favorite students an understanding of the techniques that are necessary to enter the Big U. The corruption starts low and ends high--or is it the other way around?
We have a fair of amount of agreement. Perhaps not all, but a fair amount.
"it makes no sense to compare apples and oranges i.e., high school teachers and college teachers."
Would you mind detailing the difference aside from the Ph.D. between high school teachers and college teachers?
As well, would you mind detailing "Backwater University" and "Impersonal U" with any of the Ivy Leagues and distinguish the differences?
Are we to understand that only the truly intelligent can be Ivy League teachers? And how does one calculate that intelligence?
"But, to say that Impersonal U attracts the same high level of accomplished and dedicated individuals for a far smaller wage and prestige is just not accurate. "
And to say it doesn't is just not accurate. You make a rather broad assertion that only the 'best' teachers want to teach at the Ivy Leagues.
I've taught high school, college, community college, and at a private, Ivy League boys prep school. I'm not an apple, an orange nor any kind of fruit. I'm a teacher. My job is to teach those who come to learn the knowledge I have. Simple.