The eye of the needle, again

by John Quiggin on April 14, 2019

The US college admissions scandal is rolling on, seemingly endlessly. There’s been a lot of discussion of moral decay, hypocrisy and more. But no one seems to have mentioned the central point. The number of places in the Ivy League and similar schools
has remained almost unchanged for decades, even as the demand for those places has been swelled by a wide range of factors, most notably by the growth in all forms of inequality, which is mediated in part by unequal access to education. Parents who want their children to maintain their position in the scale, or climb upwards, need to facilitate that access if they can.

There’s no fair way of allocating that limited set of places*, and, even if there were, the existing system is full of arbitrary roadblocks to some and loopholes for others. The standard way of allocating scarce goods in a market system is through willingness to pay, and that plays a big role in the process. But since an open market isn’t an option, willingness to pay isn’t enough on its own, and can’t be tied to directly to the admission decision. What you want, as this story says of Harvard is “well-off, multi-generational Harvard families [who] pay higher tuition and give more money” (ideally over a long period). Unsurprisingly, parents with money, but without the required social access have sought more direct methods of buying a way in for their children.

Catching and prosecuting a few parents isn’t going to change this, and neither is any reform of the admissions system. The problem can only be resolved by reducing inequality in society as a whole, and particularly, by increasing access to high quality post-school education. I have no clear idea how this goal should be pursued in the US, given the stratification entrenched in the system. Given the numbers involved, there’s a strong case for focusing on free access and more funding for community colleges, ideally with a transition path to four-year institutions. But I don’t understand the system well enough to know whether this would work. Regardless, the US case provides a warning for countries like Australia, where the leading universities (the so-called “Group of 8”) are keen to put more distance between themselves and the rest.

  • An system based solely on test scores, such as the SAT, would not be as obviously arbitrary as the current one. But it would clearly favor those with the resources to get test prep tutoring and so on. The Japanese example is not encouraging, at least from a distance.

{ 88 comments }

1

Matt 04.14.19 at 11:27 am

The problem can only be resolved by reducing inequality in society as a whole, and particularly, by increasing access to high quality post-school education.

I’m in favor of reducing inequality and in increasing access to high quality post-secondary education, but there’s something odd about tying this to this particular scandal. That’s because there is _lots_ of “high quality post-secondary education” in the US, but less (but still lots!) “high prestige” education. I mean, there is no way in the world that USC, as good of a school as it is, is more of a “high quality education” than UC San Diego, or Michigan, or UT Austin, or many, many more schools. But, the particular actions take were about “prestige”, not about quality of education. (USC has high prestige in the entertainment world in California, which is why the particular people involved in that case were paying bribes to get their vapid daughter in there. They had no concern about the “quality of education”, of course.) And even though many state universities, even the flag-ship ones, are under significant economic stress, and getting less and less direct support from the state (just like Australian universities, as I know all too well), they still _generally_ tend to provide a “high quality post-secondary education”. So, there are lots of problems with inequality, and there are lots of problems with access to higher education in the US, but I think it’s going to be an up-hill battle to make this particular scandal, as bad and vulgar as it is, do the work you want here – the issues are different than the ones suggested.

2

Rapier 04.14.19 at 12:07 pm

The whole point of a fixed set of elite universities with fixed enrollments is scarcity. The actual functional difference in education between elite schools and others which admit ‘better’ students has nothing to do their potential for producing quantitatively better scholars or scientists businessmen or lawyers. The entire advantage conferred by the elite schools pertains to the deference given their graduates, entwined with the confidence they get from being accepted as elite. Elite universities are a cultural and social phenomena.

Certainly the faculties of elite schools are more accomplished academically but even that is a far less a quantitative judgment than a cultural one where the faculty mostly mirrors the attitudes and beliefs of the elites.

Wisdom is in no better supply at Harvard than Western Kentucky University despite the former’s faculty and students having higher SAT and IQ scores. The lives of the respective graduates of the two institutions are determined more by the cultures view of their worth and the students own belief in their own worth.

In a properly conservative society people know their place. The sons and daughters of the rich and famous belong at Harvard.

3

ccc 04.14.19 at 12:15 pm

Fairer: Strict quotas. Allocate 10% of Harvard spots to candidates from socio-economic bottom decile, and so on. Individuals test score compete with intra decile peers. (Or percentile, or whatever resolution is practical.)

4

John McGowan 04.14.19 at 12:38 pm

The problem, as Matt suggests, is a prestige hierarchy that is mostly disconnected from the quality of education on offer. But the panic about getting your child into one of the best schools can be, indirectly, tied to growing inequality. To wit: the realization that the gap between winners and losers is growing–and that the cost of being a loser is much higher than it was when the middle class was being emptied out. Add to that fact the debt burden that comes with going to college and the obsession with getting a “return on investment” for college attendance makes sense. The prestige schools offer the best ROI (at least people believe they do) because they get you networked into the right set.

5

nastywoman 04.14.19 at 1:04 pm

”But no one seems to have mentioned the central point”.

But Matt@1 did:
”the particular actions take were about “prestige”, not about quality of education”.

and anybody who knows a little bit about the lovely University of Spoiled Children (USC) would probably like to add – ”prestige” – is perhaps the wrong word? – let’s call it ”Vitamin C” -(C=connection) as nobody get’s ahead in my homeland without ”Vitamin C” – even if this stereotype isn’t true in many cases – but ”the people” believe it – and that’s why I (ME) never ever will become really rich or/and famous – BE-cause I didn’t go to USC – like my mother – my grandfather and my great-grandmother…

6

Orange Watch 04.14.19 at 1:11 pm

Rapier @2
Wisdom is in no better supply at Harvard than Western Kentucky University despite the former’s faculty and students having higher SAT and IQ scores.

Not wholly true. Selective institutions tend to have smaller class sizes and more access to facility. Less selective schools are more likely to lean more heavily on precariously overworked adjuncts and grad students, as well as pumping up class sizes so they can lean on fewer of those.

There are ofc also prestigious programs at various schools where the level of education reaally is better because of specialization, resources, research funding, etc. but that’s not the sort of prestige under discussion here.

7

navarro 04.14.19 at 2:05 pm

Another approach similar to #3 above would be to have a strict quota based on the normal curve for family wealth so that there would be around 0.15% of the openings set aside for those students who come from a family with a wealth that is more than 3 standard deviations below the mean wealth for the country as a whole, 2.35% of the openings would be set aside for those coming from families with a wealth between 2 and 3 standard deviations below mean wealth, 13.5% of openings set aside for those coming from families with a wealth between 1 and 2 standard deviations below the mean, 34% of the openings set aside for those between mean wealth and 1 standard deviation below mean wealth, and i’m sure most of the readership here can extend the pattern to the set-aside of 0.15% of the openings for those who come from families with wealth greater than 3 standard deviations from the mean.

Using the example of Harvard which accepts around 2000 new students annually, this would result in setting aside 3 spots each for those in the highest and lowest economic situation, 47 spots for each of the next band of wealth, and a total 1360 spots set aside for those within a radius of 1 standard deviation from the mean wealth.

Upon reflection, this would probably not increase the diversity greatly but it would reduce the number of spots being given to those students from families with great wealth. It would be fun to hear conservatives whining about the results of applying that bell curve they seem to be so fond of sometimes.

8

dilbert dogbert 04.14.19 at 2:11 pm

People want their children to go to the Ivies for the contacts not the education. A degree from one of the University of California schools will get you the education needed as well as some of the contacts. My late wife spent a year at UC Berkeley before we married and then finished at San Jose State. She said the quality of instruction was equal but the level of competition was much higher at Berkeley.
“The University of California opened its doors in 1869 with just 10 faculty members and 38 students. Today, the UC system includes more than 238,000 students and more than 190,000 faculty and staff, with more than 1.7 million alumni living and working around the world.”

9

faustusnotes 04.14.19 at 2:15 pm

A large part of the growth in inequality must be simply down to population growth and the long-term influence of legacy admissions: so long as population is growing and the number of places at elite universities doesn’t change, pressure to get into them will grow. If you want to have elite universities (or any kind of ranking of educational institutions) then there is no solution to this except to reduce the importance of a university education. But in societies like the US and the UK where equality of opportunity (the “ladder” of opportunity, etc.) is the main ideal for reducing inequality, this won’t work. And in any case equality of opportunity will never fix inequality, since society needs someone to clean the toilets and in countries like the US and the UK the people who clean the toilets aren’t paid a living wage.

I don’t understand what you mean by “the Japanese example isn’t encouraging”. Japanese universities don’t use SAT scores, or anything like it, but have university-specific examination processes. I don’t think there is much corruption in university admissions and, having proctored admission exams at the University of Tokyo, I can confidently say that while they’re difficult they’re not impossible for good students to pass without tutoring. Furthermore, Japan is facing the exact opposite problem that the US faces – with declining student numbers every year many universities are heading towards bankruptcy and university admission is getting easier, while at the same time membership of an elite university is not required to live a good life here.

China has a system of provincial-level admission exams for its top universities, I think, so for example Tsinghua gets a fixed number of admissions from each province. I think also tuition is low and dormitories are low cost. If a university like Harvard introduced that system it would become a much less unequal institution overnight. It’s also worth remembering that the endowments of some of these American universities are so huge that they could run a massive program of low-income and minority admissions, properly administered, and squeeze the rich people out. They just don’t want to.

Every problem in the USA’s education system is simply a reflection of the larger political choices Americans have made for years to build a society based on racism and inequality.

10

Omega Centauri 04.14.19 at 2:24 pm

Matt and Rapier hit it on the head. High quality ed can be obtained at many places, but high status, and being connected to the best human network by having gone to school with the elite are whats being sold here. And its value is maintained by its scarcity. The quality of education one actually gets depends more upon the students talent and work ethic, then what school she attends. These kids who get in through bribery are not likely getting a great education -but are presumably getting a big boost in reputation and networking.

ccc: That sounds like the situation in Indian higher ed where quotas are (are were in the recent past) set by caste. The positions available to the higher castes aren’t proportional to the academic achievement of their kids, so many go overseas in order to obtain the highest quality education.

11

Birdie 04.14.19 at 3:15 pm

By the time the kids are college age, the field is well spread out. The way to improve the general education level is to make high school meaningful so that community colleges “for everyone” don’t have to do remedial basics. That will be easier to do given adequate primary schools with reasonable class sizes and resources. Also, getting the kids decently socialized in pre-school will help, as will universal prenatal care.

But sure, free Uni for everybody.

12

Anarcissie 04.14.19 at 3:41 pm

It seems obvious that the configuration of important state institutions, such as the education industry, will resemble the configuration of the state in which they are embedded. I think constructing artificial or simulated equalities will probably not work, as the recent bribery cases show — there is always a way to manipulate or circumvent them to the advantage of the advantaged.

When there is a scarcity of scarcity, it must be created so that those who benefit from scarcity can continue to continue.

13

Jim Harrison 04.14.19 at 4:06 pm

I have a naive question. What’s actually changed? Elite schools have long been places where well-off, well-connected people sent their kids to confirm their status, but they were also centers of high-powered research and serious learning. There was a tension between the two roles of such institutions, but the scholarship students and the legacies could coexist without interfering with each other very much and some of the rich kids had qualifications and ambitions beyond being rich. Are things different now? Is the quest for prestige crowding out everything else in our musical chairs world of winners and losers? Does anybody want to learn anything or do they just want to get into Harvard?

14

Joy M 04.14.19 at 5:59 pm

A significant issue for Australian universities also especially as they increasingly become big businesses wanting to attract overseas students seeking to enrol in an institution with an international status. Many a country kid will attest that their university experience has been a transforming factor in all aspects of their life not just job wise and particularly if they gained entrance to Australia’s best. We need to ensure they can still achieve this dream and not be treated as second class because of the limitations sometimes encountered in rural schools.

15

steven t johnson 04.14.19 at 6:16 pm

KISS program for elite education: Shut down the supposedly elite schools; stop pretending credentials are necessary and being massive recruitment from supposed non-elites.

The problem of course is that this is the sort of thing that is condemned universally as Cultural Revolution.

The irony about that is the real Cultural Revolution was supposed to be nothing but a scam, where some elites were attacking other elites with pretend charges that supposedly favored the masses. That it was all rigged prosecutions of non-crimes for narrow political gain. This is ironic because so far as I can see this whole investigation is largely about targeting liberal Hollywood, or at least liberal Hollywood celebrities who are not properly deferential to Trump. (Why should they? He was one of them which is exactly why they will never be impressed.) Ditto the attacks on Harvey Weinstein, and the hopes that Jeffrey Epstein will somehow take down Clinton. Trump really does want to change politics so that elite losers go to jail.

16

John Quiggin 04.14.19 at 6:55 pm

Matt @1 As was discussed in the linked thread from 2010, the problem isn’t limited to the Ivies. The flagship state schools you mention haven’t expanded either (the last big growth period ended in the 1970s), and few new ones have been created. They’ve also reduced the proportion of in-state students, to make room for full-fee interstate and international students. So, the low-cost high-quality alternative to the private elite schools is less available than it used to be.

17

nastywoman 04.14.19 at 9:01 pm

– and a ”tiny” correction of @15 –
”He (Trump) was one of them”

He (Von Clownstick) was NEVER EVER ”one of them” –
and he NEVER EVER will be or become ”one of them” –
and there is this theory that’s why he ran for US Presidency –
Von Clownstick really thought – that by becoming the so called US President he would become ”one of them” – and now all of his illusions are just in his silly head…

18

nastywoman 04.14.19 at 9:16 pm

– and furthermore about the idea that ”the Clintons” are ”one of them” -(liberal Hollywood celebrities)

How funny?

Probably as funny as the idea that USC is some kind of home for ”liberal Hollywood celebrities”.
USC is ”the Living Room” for the children of Californias Conservatives – and the children of ”liberal Hollywood celebrities” have always tried – with a lot of dough – to join ”them”… with the reported… ”effect”.

19

marcel proust 04.14.19 at 10:23 pm

It is not just connections. One thing that at least some of the elite prestigious institutions do is socialize the kids in specific ways. A STEM professor of my acquaintance, now in his mid-30s, told me that looking back on his time at Yale he is struck by how much of what went on both in and outside the classroom was grooming for leadership in politics, business and whatever else is important for running the country. His sense is that this was stronger at Yale than many of the other Ivies, although it seems to be true to varying degree at most of them as well as both peer institutions and smaller schools like Williams and Amherst.

A second function of these institutions is to allow their students a very sheltered place to grow up, where they can make certain kinds of dumb mistakes that are typical of the young without long term consequences. This is something that I think would be valuable for all, not just the elite: young men, if not so much young women, are properly notorious for their poor judgment. It would be good if they can be placed for a few years in an environment, the equivalent of a padded cell, where the greatest cost of poor judgment is shame and embarrassment. OTOH, Brett Kavanaugh is a good argument against this feature.

20

engels 04.14.19 at 10:26 pm

Catching and prosecuting a few parents isn’t going to change this, and neither is any reform of the admissions system.

Abolish selection. Or limit it to determining whether candidates are capable of completing the course of study (possibly combined with lotteries if places must be limited).

21

william u. 04.14.19 at 10:28 pm

I went to a state flagship for my undergraduate engineering degree and an elite school for my doctorate. As a kid from provincial middle-class suburbia, my idea of “rich” was what I saw there: doctor, lawyer, etc., i.e., a professional with a six figure salary. Yes, of course, I knew about the celebrity rich, whether athletes or Warren Buffett, but the idea was abstract: you saw them on TV, they wouldn’t otherwise obtrude into your life, and you certainly wouldn’t rub shoulders with them. The social worlds of the 0.01% and even the 1% were invisible to me. I knew nothing of their thinking, mores, habitus, etc.

The state flagship did little to change this: I remember a few international students from the UAE and such places with sports cars and luxury apartments, but it was easy to write them off as anomalous. (This wasn’t Virginia or Berkeley, by the way; maybe top-tier flagships are different.) The domestic students were largely drawn from the middle class and upper middle class.

It was only after coming to the elite school that I came into contact with the ultra-rich: students whose families owned pieds-a-terre in Manhattan and central Paris; the son of a famous Google executive; etc. To their credit, many of these students were pursuing difficult STEM PhDs. Even great wealth cannot smooth over all of the challenges of a PhD, and I got the sense that much of this class has a certain respect for the degree, as one might have for summiting K2. This mix also included a sort of “academic nobility” — the sons and daughters of famous professors who were groomed for academic careers from infancy.

This new environment was eye-opening.

I suspect that one reason why NYC and other coastal cities are more open to social democratic politics than Middle America is because the middle and working classes actually see the rich and their advantages.

22

engels 04.14.19 at 10:31 pm

Or if that’s too radical, abolish legacy admissions and college athletics (USian pathologies that look ludicrous to the rest of world) plus tuition fees and private secondary education (abominations everywhere).

23

Matt 04.14.19 at 11:26 pm

John at 16 – yes, I know – our disagreement is a bit different, in that I think there are many, many more schools that offer “high quality” educations than the very top ones. I think you’re mistaking prestige for quality here, if you think only the best brand-names ones offer “high quality education”.
(A different problem is that even for less band name schools, cost is going up quickly, but the fact that it’s going up quickly even in non brand-name schools suggests that the problem is a bit different than what’s suggested in the post, I think.)

I should add that I _don’t_ think that the education offered at all universities is equally as good. Having studied at both Boise State and Penn, it’s easy to see that if you were equally smart and motivated, you could get a _better_ education at Penn, because of more highly motivated and smart peers, more professors who are at the top of their game, and just more opportunities. But, nonetheless, it’s still possible to get a pretty good education at Boise State, and it’s certainly possible to get a high-quality education at, say, SUNY Binghamton.

Nastywoman at 5 – USC has, over-all, greatly improved its quality over the years, but in particular, my understanding (as an outsider) is that it has long been and still is a place for making connections and getting established in the California entertainment world, and that is why it was a target for bribes in this case.

24

LFC 04.15.19 at 12:28 am

Wrote a comment and lost it, so I’ll just say that I agree with Matt @23. There are many places, some of them little known outside of people who make it their business to know these things, where one can get a high-quality education if that (as opposed merely to a so-called brand-name degree) is what one wants. Sad to see some parents so concerned with prestige as opposed to finding a college or university that will be right for the particular person.

25

Donald A. Coffin 04.15.19 at 12:50 am

I’ve been arguing for a while (and pretty publicly-for example, here:
https://signsofchaos.blogspot.com/2017/01/more-universitiy-campuses.html)
that more-or-less standard economic theory would argue that in cases of rapidly rising (and hence excess demand), we would expect the price of the service to rise (“elite” schools, and others, have certainly raised their prices) and for producers to expand capacity (which elite schools, and other, have not done). I can see no reason that Harvard or Yale or…could not successfully open new campuses in enticing locations, maintaining their current tuition levels, and expanding their student populations.

26

Andrew Miller 04.15.19 at 1:09 am

I have often wondered about a world where it is illegal to require job candidates to have an undergraduate degree, or to ask them what degree they have, or for candidates to self-disclose that they have one. In other words, make it such that a university degree can’t be used as a weak signal of ability, and that employers are obliged to seek other signals.

Probably impossible to implement, given liberties of speech, contract, etc. But it would help, as I think most of the pathologies associated with inequal access to higher education stem from its role as gatekeeper to good, upwardly-mobile jobs. Remove that role, and so much good follows, for young people most of all.

27

J-D 04.15.19 at 1:43 am

faustusnotes

If you want to have elite universities (or any kind of ranking of educational institutions) …

What reason would anybody have to want those things, apart from ‘to support and maintain my privilege’?

I don’t understand what you mean by “the Japanese example isn’t encouraging”.

Obviously I can’t say for sure what John Quiggin meant, but it’s likely he has seen or heard in the Australian media reports similar to those which I remember seeing or hearing. My recollection (although it’s a long time since my own personal experience with them) is that those reports suggest that Japanese children and adolescents experience intensive competitive pressure to achieve the academic results necessary to gain admission to the most prestigious universities (because that’s perceived as key to future career success), that attendance at the most desirable schools is perceived as providing an important advantage in pursuing those desired academic results (which is what makes those schools the most desirable), and that the effects have progressively cascaded through the system to the point where even very young children (and their parents) are affected by competitive pressure to achieve the necessary results to secure admission to the most desirable pre-schools/kindergartens.

I also observe that similar or related criticisms are mentioned in the Wikipedia article on education in Japan, citing US media reports. Given your comment, you might question the accuracy of the Australian and US media reports, and you might be right to do so, but if I’ve been exposed to them it’s likely John Quiggin has as well.

Jim Harrison

Does anybody want to learn anything or do they just want to get into Harvard?

It could be misleading to pose the question in a simplified binary form: it’s more instructive to think in terms of the different strength, importance, and impact of different motives.

What’s actually changed? Elite schools have long been places where well-off, well-connected people sent their kids to confirm their status, but they were also centers of high-powered research and serious learning. There was a tension between the two roles of such institutions, but the scholarship students and the legacies could coexist without interfering with each other very much and some of the rich kids had qualifications and ambitions beyond being rich. Are things different now? Is the quest for prestige crowding out everything else in our musical chairs world of winners and losers?

Does ‘Yes’ seem an unlikely or inadequate answer to your question? Do you doubt what John McGowan wrote above about how …

… the panic about getting your child into one of the best schools can be, indirectly, tied to growing inequality. To wit: the realization that the gap between winners and losers is growing–and that the cost of being a loser is much higher than it was when the middle class was being emptied out.

steven t johnson

Trump really does want to change politics so that elite losers go to jail.

My understanding of what you’re referring to here is hazy at best, but whatever you’re referring to I feel confident that no part of Trump’s program is likely to reduce social inequality.

marcel proust

His sense is that this was stronger at Yale than many of the other Ivies, although it seems to be true to varying degree at most of them as well as both peer institutions and smaller schools like Williams and Amherst.

It was my understanding that even within the Ivy League there was a hierarchy of prestige: kudos to anybody who recognises the context of this dialogue:

– … I think Carly went to Yale.
– Brown.
– Still.

(It’s clear from context, and from delivery, that what ‘Still’ means is ‘Still impressive, even if not as impressive’.)

A second function of these institutions is to allow their students a very sheltered place to grow up, where they can make certain kinds of dumb mistakes that are typical of the young without long term consequences. This is something that I think would be valuable for all, not just the elite: young men, if not so much young women, are properly notorious for their poor judgment. It would be good if they can be placed for a few years in an environment, the equivalent of a padded cell, where the greatest cost of poor judgment is shame and embarrassment. OTOH, Brett Kavanaugh is a good argument against this feature.

I imagine some people might argue that it would have been better if Brett Kavanaugh had been subjected to a greater degree of shame and embarrassment, and that part of the problem may be that he wasn’t. One of the things about poorly judged actions is that they can have a negative effect on other people, not just on yourself, and there’s a problem with situations where it’s one person’s judgement that’s most responsible for negative effects, but another person who not only experiences most of those negative effects but is also subjected to the greater degree of shame and embarrassment.

I think I’ve read that the normal maturation of the brain, and particularly of the parts involved in impulse control, isn’t complete until the mid-twenties. I don’t recall reading that there’s a gender difference, although it would be consistent with other experience if the reports were based on studies of males and it hadn’t occurred to anybody that there might a gender difference and that females should also be included in the studies.

28

Sam Tobin-Hochstadt 04.15.19 at 1:45 am

John @ 16: the claim about non-expansion of state schools is not correct. For example, my institution, Indiana University, has about 50% more students than it did in 1970 and Indiana has created a whole new Research II university (IUPUI) starting in 1969, with now 30k students. Even if we date from 1975, it’s 25,000 more students today. In a different state, the UC system has gone from 175k students to 280k students over the past 20 years.

It’s certainly true that (a) most prestigious private schools have not expanded nearly as much and (b) flagship state universities have not expanded as fast as the undergraduate population nor as fast as they did in the baby-boom era. But state universities are expanding substantially almost everywhere.

29

Patrick 04.15.19 at 3:25 am

The other half of pointing out that much of the value of going to Harvard is the networking is realizing that without legacy admissions much of the value is lost. Harvard is selling access to networking with the children of the wealthy.

30

Tabasco 04.15.19 at 3:54 am

– … I think Carly went to Yale.
– Brown.
– Still.

Could have been worse. Could have been Cornell.

I am told, reliably, that at sporting contests between Cornell and other other Ivies the Cornell students and fans are taunted by fans of the other Ivy who chant, “Cornell is a state school”.

31

J-D 04.15.19 at 4:13 am

Donald A. Coffin

If the thing that is actually happening is not the thing that is predicted by standard economic theory, doesn’t that suggest something is wrong with standard economic theory? ‘What is it that’s wrong with standard economic theory?’ would be the question.

32

nastywoman 04.15.19 at 4:59 am

@23
”but in particular, my understanding (as an outsider) is that it has long been and still is a place for making connections and getting established in the California entertainment world, and that is why it was a target for bribes in this case”.

That’s what I’m saying – as ”the California entertainment world” always tried very hard to get out of ”entertainment” – and into the LA -(Country and California) Clubs – where the USC crowd was/is hanging out.
So Frank Sinatra tried it a few times and was rejected – while Ronald Reagan finally made it by becoming a member of the LACC.

And that’s the wonderful silly way society doesn’t work anymore in LALALAND where NOW a lot of creativity and talent coming from UCLA -(the Not-So-Private-One) often trumps the University of Spoiled Children with the likes of a ”Spielberg” – and only some silly ”entertainment-second-raters” believe that they (still) have to bribe somebody to get their daughters into USC in order NOT to get them a ”higher education” – but to be able to hang with all these other USC Alumnices who still run the city ”non-entertainment-wise”.

33

John Quiggin 04.15.19 at 5:07 am

Sam @28 We seem to be in agreement on the key point which is that state flagships haven’t expanded as fast as the undergraduate population, and that the big expansion has been at the lower tier state unis and community colleges (also, until recently, for-profit scams like U of Phoenix)

34

nastywoman 04.15.19 at 5:30 am

– which could remind US all that in conclusion the some idea of a ”higher education” might be highly overrated?

As why would anybody pay so much dough for an education which makes him – or her lose all contact with ”the people”?

And what nonsense are these ”Private Universities” anyway?

Education IS FREE – and if you have to pay for it – it’s NOT worth IT!

Capisce?

35

faustusnotes 04.15.19 at 5:45 am

J-D (and maybe also Engels et al?), about the need for “elite” universities. It is unlikely that even under a system of equitable student access elite universities won’t form – so long as there is some level of competitive access to funding or other aspects of academic success, top academics will gather in specific universities, others will accrete around them, etc. The government is going to need somewhere to dump its funding for flagship projects, and it’s likely that the best students will want to go to those universities. It’s not possible for every university to be involved in a super-collider or a telescope project, or to have a wind tunnel, and naturally some universities will become elite in consequence of this. The issue is whether “elite” means “best at what they do” or “the place where rich people go.”

Even in a system of free education, with perfect equity of access and a completely equitable system of high school education, elite universities can exist. The difference will be that under an equitable system even poor kids from uneducated families can get into those universities if they are good; getting into one will help you be best at what you want to do, but won’t necessarily guarantee you any other power or privilege; and not getting into such a university won’t destroy your wellbeing and future prospects. I think we can strive for something like this and undo a lot of social ills without reducing the quality of education or research.

36

Dipper 04.15.19 at 7:53 am

No-one has mentioned France yet. The Grande Ecoles seemed to combine open access based on merit through public examinations with a high standard of education. Although in my area it may be that the large number of highly skilled French people was not down to the openness and excellence of the French education system but down to the influence of just one person – Nicole el Karoui

37

nastywoman 04.15.19 at 8:20 am

@
”I am told, reliably, that at sporting contests between Cornell and other other Ivies the Cornell students and fans are taunted by fans of the other Ivy who chant, “Cornell is a state school”.

There will be a time where the ultimate ”prestige” will come from having studied at a ”European State School” – FOR FREE – and you will hear a very envious:

”What an international gal”!
-(or guy) – while being introduced to some USC dudes who think Monaco is a different ”State” than Monte Carlo.

38

nastywoman 04.15.19 at 8:33 am

– and I always wondered what USC students learn at their… school – if every USC student I ever knew had a really hard time with geography –
Even my great-grandmother had to learn from a 8 year old girl how to find her -(the girls) – city of birth on a map?

So why would anybody go to a University -(and even pay money for it) – if she or he afterwards can’t even read the worlds map?

And the concept of NOT needing to learn anything useless for making dough is understandable – but why would anybody call a University which seems to teach such a concept ”good” or ”Elite”?

39

roger gathmann 04.15.19 at 9:00 am

I think there is more economic oddity to the scandal than is met in John’s post. Economists seem, on the whole, to agree: human beings are incorrigibly lazy pigs, who need the stick of starvation and the incentive of money to get them out of the stye. Yet here we have children who would really never have to work for a thing their whole life long: due to stabbing to death the “death tax”, and making it easier and easier for the rich to sluice money to their progeny, I think the question is: why do the parents bother? Especially as the symbolic capital of “knowing something” – that ur-humanities garbage – has deflated to adjunct salary levels of value, while everything you need to know you can find in self-help books, youtube videos and reading the memoirs of the great CEOS.
Maybe it is a generational thing. I was particularly impressed by the daughter who instagrammed that she really wasn’t into, well, learning things, and who had monetized her entire life at USC by becoming, oh what was the word? influencer. An influencer! I mean, this is not a pig in a stye, but a young woman brimming with entrepreneurial what have you, a real “maker” in the Romney sense of the word.
So the real mystery is: why does anybody bother with the Ivy Leagues? Save for the tee shirts. And I think hardnosed UCHICAGO economists would agree: the sooner these Ivy Leagues get into more productive business, such as totally selling the tee shirts, the better. Of course, there is the tax free issue to think about – Harvard does have that 18 billion dollar tax free endowment, and all the real estate. But I imagine a clever lawyer could come up with some way to keep the laughable non-profit label viable.

40

nastywoman 04.15.19 at 11:40 am

@
”So the real mystery is: why does anybody bother with the Ivy Leagues”?

BE-cause every Mother wants an Ivy League Son in Law – as when you look at Aunt Becky – don’t you just hear her whisper:
”They -(The ”Trojans”) make GREAT ”Marriage Material” – and most of the Cheerleader might get through two or three hubby’s in life -(and some male ”Trojans” even through more Cheerleaders) -there is this important need for enough Ivy Leaguers… supply?

41

nastywoman 04.15.19 at 11:53 am

and this is utmost… ”relevant”

”An influencer! I mean, this is not a pig in a stye, but a young woman brimming with entrepreneurial what have you, a real “maker” in the Romney sense of the word”.

You -(”Non-Influencers) just don’t seem to realise what a tough world is out there – in LALALAND.
The pressure is sooo immense that some basic higher education is not enough – as one might have – additional – to learn -(at least in three languages) – ”the art of cheesemaking” in order to get accepted by such a tough crowd…

42

LFC 04.15.19 at 12:24 pm

JQ seems to think the system is composed only of Ivies, state flagships, other state schools, and community colleges. This is an extremely incomplete picture. There are hundreds if not thousands of smallish liberal arts colleges. There are also many private universities that don’t fall into the categories that he seems to be treating as exhaustive.

Patrick @23 incorrectly conflates so-called legacy admission with admission of the wealthy. These intersect at points, but they are not the same. One could abolish any legacy thumb-on-the-scale and still wind up with an undergrad class skewed toward the higher ends of the income-and-wealth distribution. The latter doesn’t depend on the former. Moreover, Harvard, the particular institution Patrick mentions, is “selling” various things, but access to networking with the children of the wealthy is not a major “selling point.” Of the thousands of applicants to Harvard and other “elite” schools, how many have a desire to “network with the children of the wealthy” as a conscious or unconscious motive? Maybe five or ten percent, if that, would be my guess.

43

Trader Joe 04.15.19 at 2:38 pm

Perhaps even more cynically – in the circles the parents in this scandal operate in there is really no interest in an education whatsoever. In such circles children are a status symbol onto themselves. Having them get into elite institutions just embellishes this further. A few might actually be gifted or talented, but that isn’t the point either since few of them were ever taught to learn, only to network.

“Yes I have awesome children in addition to my awesome job and awesome wealth and amazing vacations and my perfect nanny and just so style sense”

“Why of course they got into USC. Why wouldn’t they – their scores were awesome and well – we can afford full tuition and I’m sure they’ll be looking for a donation, maybe to the crew team. Did I mention we were in Paris for half term last week? Only 8 hours in the G6”

“Oh she hasn’t picked a major yet, she still has a year or so till graduation. But she’s head of the sorority rush this year, of course. She and her ‘little sister’ are going to Mauritius at break – her family has a place there, I think her Dad owns a production company – they did Roma – its something about immigrants. We were going to go but the Yacht race at the club is late this year and no-one misses the spring social.

44

Salazar 04.15.19 at 3:18 pm

It’s also possible that more and more schools are seen as providing “high-quality” education in a way they weren’t a generation ago, even if they don’t have the prestige previous comments referenced. One reason would have to be the pricing out of middle-class families from the traditional “elite” universities; another would be efforts by schools – usually, but not always, public – to improve their own academic reputations.

Back in the mid-80s, there used to be a joke about a large-ish East Coast flagship university that went:

Q: What’s the requirement for admission?
A: Breathing.

Now, said school is widely considered a solid and serious academic institution. I also believe the system has expanded in the past 30 years, though I can’t find specific numbers.

45

Adam Hammond 04.15.19 at 3:27 pm

I have a proposal that will work. 1) Legally define ‘elite’ colleges as those where more than 10% of admits are legacy. 2) Bar graduates from elite colleges from being employed by (or paid in any way, including grants) by the federal government.

We want actually smart and educated people working for us, not the children of oligarchs. If you aspire to vast wealth, then by all means go to Harvard. If you aspire to political power or good old public service, then consider one of the many other options. Might solve some of the business/regulator revolving door as well.

If you are feeling doubtful, feeling like we might be missing out on great people, you are experiencing exactly the societal bias at the root of the problem. We are missing out on great people right now!

46

L2P 04.15.19 at 4:23 pm

” Given the numbers involved, there’s a strong case for focusing on free access and more funding for community colleges, ideally with a transition path to four-year institutions. “

How will that do anything to stop inequality at elite institutions? It’s great at getting kids into colleges, but not into elite colleges.

California, for instance, already has incredibly low costs for community colleges (about $1k, and if you’re poor it’s free), and easy transfers into the UC system. But only two UCs at best are elite (UCLA and CAL, both nowhere near as prestigious as HYS), and only a few thousand are going from a CC to Cal or UCLA.

There’s something like a million kids in California’s public colleges. Getting another 2,000 into UCLA isn’t doing squat. You’d have to make everyone re-enroll as juniors or drastically expand the student body for juniors (possible, but I see little desire for something like that; people want certainty).

And even then, you’re talking about getting something like 10,000 instead of 2,000 kids into UCLA. Out of a million. It’s a drop in the bucket. Using colleges to attack inequality is pointless.

47

Yan 04.15.19 at 5:47 pm

A modest proposal:
https://www.currentaffairs.org/2018/03/admit-everybody

“Everyone who shows themselves capable of doing the work required of a Harvard undergrad is marked “qualified” for Harvard and allowed to apply. There are a limited number of places, of course, but those places will be filled by selecting a random group of students from among all of those marked “qualified.”

We know that college admissions are a crapshoot. But let’s just make them an actual crapshoot, so that nobody would be deluded into thinking that merit was involved, beyond the merit of basic literacy and numeracy.”

48

LFC 04.15.19 at 8:49 pm

@Adam Hammond

A legacy advantage means that if X has a degree from Y, then X’s child applying to Y gets a mark, so to speak, in his or her favor. It does not guarantee the admission of that child; rather, it places a thumb on the scale, whose weight may but does not necessarily result in admission. So if you’re the child of an alumnus (or alumna), you have an advantage but your admission is not a sure thing: that’s what the legacy preference means. It can benefit the children of the rich, certainly, but also the children of non-rich people who happen to have attended the institution in question. So, to repeat, a higher percentage of alumni children get in but by no means all of them who apply do. (The percentages at different places are probably not readily available.)

I’m not defending a legacy advantage and would be happy to see it abolished; but it is worth understanding how it works, which some people in this thread don’t seem to understand, and also worth noting that it is only one of a number of factors that make for unfairness/inequality (in admissions), and probably not the most important one.

49

Collin Street 04.15.19 at 8:50 pm

An system based solely on test scores, such as the SAT, would not be as obviously arbitrary as the current one. But it would clearly favor those with the resources to get test prep tutoring and so on. The Japanese example is not encouraging, at least from a distance.

You could derate test scores by the money spent to achieve them. Admissions selection is a two-part question:
a: given the student’s current knowledge can the student successfully complete the course as it’s structured,
b: among the students who answer “yes” to question a, which will attain the greatest benefit from the course as structured?

“how much have they learned per dollar spent thus far” is a good proxy for “how much will they learn through the course”.

[actually a is two parts, “can they start” and “can they keep up”… ]

50

Sam Tobin-Hochstadt 04.15.19 at 9:14 pm

John, over that time frame, the population of Indiana is up about 25%, or a very comparable amount to the growth in places at flagship state universities (Purdue has grown only about 10%, which is unfortunate). Which brings up the real question — should the response to mass attendance at higher education be mostly expansion of existing elite institutions, or mostly creation of new institutions? One model is the past expansion — mostly that involved creating new institutions: first state universities and then new ones in the expansion of the 60s and 70s. Another model is the creation of mass high school education, which again was accomplished by creating new schools, not expanding elite private schools that pre-dated mass schooling.

Another way of thinking about it is to to ask if the “flagship” model is bad, because that model implies that we can’t expand it to include everyone. Certainly it isn’t required — Germany and Canadian universities are much more equal than American ones.

This is separate from the question of whether elite private schools should expand, which seems clear.

51

LFC 04.15.19 at 9:27 pm

After writing the above comment on legacy admissions, I read the WBUR news story from last fall linked by JQ in the OP. Contrary to what I said about figures being altogether unavailable, we do have the figures on legacy admissions in recent years at Harvard because the lawsuit alleging discrimination by Harvard against Asian-Americans has resulted in the disclosure of those figures.

Some of the key paragraphs from the WBUR piece seem to be:

Peter Arcidiacono, a Duke economist, was retained to analyze the data by Students For Fair Admissions (SFFA), the group that is suing Harvard. His 188-page report includes the finding that applicants with at least one parent who graduated from Harvard or Radcliffe were accepted at a rate of nearly 34 percent. That’s more than five times higher than the rate for non-legacies over the same six-year period: just 5.9 percent….

School officials say the legacy gap can’t be entirely attributed to deliberate weighting on the part of the school. An analysis conducted by Harvard’s own Office of Institutional Research found that “legacy” status conferred a 40-percentage point advantage of being accepted, but mainly for students already in the most desirable 20 or 30 percent of the applicant pool.

So we know that at Harvard (in that six-year period, anyway), the legacy preference conferred a substantial advantage esp. for those who had already survived some initial cuts (though according to the analysis by the plaintiff’s expert Arcidiacono, roughly two-thirds of legacy applicants were still rejected), but we don’t know the figures for other schools that use the legacy preference. Harvard in the wake of this lawsuit by SFFA (however the suit turns out) should consider getting rid of the legacy preference completely. Would be interesting to see what effect that would have on the things the administration claims to care about here (alumni “loyalty”, giving, etc.) — maybe not that much, I’d guess.

52

John Quiggin 04.15.19 at 10:18 pm

@50 There’s also the route of upgrading existing institutions, which I think was what happened in Indiana. It may be the best way to go for state systems where the flagship is already large, and the resources for a wholly new institution are unlikely to become available.

Either way, the big point is the need for more places in high-quality education. Given the skill-biased nature of technological progress, merely keeping pace with population growth is insufficient to prevent a growing gap between graduates of high-quality institutions and non-graduates. That in turn creates incentives for gaming the system as we have seen.

53

J-D 04.15.19 at 10:25 pm

faustusnotes
Given that my earlier question was: ‘What reason would anybody have to want elite universities (or any kind of ranking of educational institutions) ?’

It is unlikely that even under a system of equitable student access elite universities won’t form – so long as there is some level of competitive access to funding or other aspects of academic success, …

What reason would anybody have to want competitive access to academic success?

The government is going to need somewhere to dump its funding for flagship projects, and it’s likely that the best students will want to go to those universities. It’s not possible for every university to be involved in a super-collider or a telescope project, or to have a wind tunnel, …

The Large Hadron Collider and the Square Kilometre Array aren’t owned or hosted by universities. There are many research laboratories, museums, botanical gardens, libraries, research collections, zoological gardens, archives, aquariums, and so on, which are owned or hosted by universities; but there are also many which aren’t. What reason would there be for wanting them to be preferentially assigned to universities?

Even in a system of free education, with perfect equity of access and a completely equitable system of high school education, elite universities can exist.

My question wasn’t about whether it’s possible for them to exist but about what reasons people would have for wanting them to exist.

54

Orange Watch 04.15.19 at 11:24 pm

The worst part of the US system as far as actual education goes is not the inequality in post-secondary ed, it’s the inequality up through secondary ed. If you have many employers relying on requiring an undergrad degree to ensure a basic level of competence, making it easier to get an undergrad degree isn’t really helping the underlying issue. The credential of a HS diploma should be more homogenized than it is, and frankly if we want “community college for all” where that may just mean everyone has caught up to where we hoped the HS grads should have been, we’re treating symptoms while ignoring the actual problem. Nationalize public schooling and impose uniform standards, with a significant possibility to fail if the student doesn’t meet those standards. Dipper mentioned French higher ed, but having something like the Bac (in its most venerable form) would make a HS diploma worth more to the point where “CC for all” might well lose a lot of its appeal.

55

SamChevre 04.16.19 at 1:07 am

the big point is the need for more places in high-quality education.

I doubt this thesis. I attended a completely unselective college as a freshman, transferred to a very selective college, and have met a significant number of people since who studied at Ivy League and equivalent schools, and at somewhat selective schools.

There was a visible difference in quality between my two institutions, but it wasn’t mostly in things money buys. Yes, the buildings were older, there were chalkboards instead of whiteboards–but the really important difference was in the students, not in the professors or the buildings. But it seems, from anecdata, that once you get some level of selectivity, the student capability/interest doesn’t vary that much either.

What the Ivy League schools offer is something other than a good education; they offer a global credential and a huge leg up in the global greased-pole-climbing contest. If you want to work at a big 3 management consultancy, or on Wall Street, or as a lawyer at a firm that represents governments (Skadden Arps, Sullivan and Cromwell, etc) or as a federal judge, or as a professor, or in any other position where being a credentialed cosmopolitan is critical–the Ivy League is a ticket in, and there are only so many tickets.

Expanding access to high-quality education is a good thing–but I’m not sure that you can expand access to the top of the pyramid of status.

56

faustusnotes 04.16.19 at 1:18 am

LFC makes a good point at 42:

One could abolish any legacy thumb-on-the-scale and still wind up with an undergrad class skewed toward the higher ends of the income-and-wealth distribution.

I came from a state school to the most “prestigious” public university in my (Aussie) state, at a time when fees were very low and poor students like me were supported by the government, with additional state rental subsidies, and my uni was stacked to the rafters with rich idiots. A good friend of mine (not an idiot, though his taste in friends was obviously dodgy) came from a rich academic family and went to the top state school, which of course was in a wealthy area, and got into the university with very good marks. Even the state school students were generally, like him, from wealthy families who had bought houses in a good school suburb. I had another friend from a very poor area who was genuinely, like me, there despite his school and not because of it; but we were rare.

The real way to fix inequality in admissions at uni is not just to improve access to universities, but to boost funding and quality in state schools so that it’s not possible for the rich to game the system at any stage. Then you’ll really see them lose their shit.

57

Jerry Vinokurov 04.16.19 at 3:00 am

I agree with the premise of the OP, namely, that no change to the admissions system will solve the underlying inequalities. And yet, I think it may still be valuable to change the admissions system. For example, either the “admit everyone” approach as suggested by the Nathan Robinson piece linked above, or some kind of lottery admission where an applicant’s name goes into a hat if they have cleared some baseline of test scores and grades, are both obviously superior to the current mix of phrenology and favoritism that constitutes the admissions game at elite schools. Both would of course have to be accompanied by a vast expansion in the number of actual available slots; that could probably be done by putting the screws to Harvard et al’s federal funding.

Of course that’s just dreaming, so while I’m at it, I’ll put my solution on the table which is to nationalize every last one of these places and expand them by fiat. It has about as much chance of happening as any reform.

58

ccc 04.16.19 at 5:12 am

Omega Centauri @10: I don’t see it is a problem, compared to the current situation, if the higher caste in the US felt they had to send their offspring on overseas education if said offspring can’t intra decile compete for the percentage of Harvard slots proportionally given to their class. Do you?

59

Conall Boyle 04.16.19 at 8:12 am

There’s no fair way of allocating that limited set of places*

Oh yes there is! It’s called the Lottery. Of course places (seats in the US) should be allocated by Merit, but that’s not the same as choosing those with the highest SAT score.

For the Ivy-League colleges vastly more applicants will have SAT scores high enough to thrive on the course than the number of places available. Merely choosing the highest scorers is not meritocracy, rather elitism (and an admission tutor’s lazy option).

Instead you could follow the tried and tested Dutch Medical School weighted lottery system. All those scoring in the top 10% were entitled to be entered in a lottery, with the very highest scorers having the highest chance of winning a place. I say ‘were’, because after more than 30 years of proven successful use, the Dutch abandoned it, caving in to parental pressure.

Choosing by lottery is an inherently fair process (although there must be strict rules about who is allowed to enter). A lottery cleanses the allocation procedure of all human influence even our own unwitting prejudices. You can read more about this on my website, or even read my book about it Lotteries for Education.

60

Z 04.16.19 at 8:31 am

As is frequently the case, it seems I’m much more cynical than the average commenter or the OP.

To me, it seems clear that 30 to 40 years of entrenched educative and financial inequalities have yielded a situation in which 1) the losers live in hell 2) the winners have a very faint idea of what hell entails (except that it is hell) so (incredibly to me) are satisfied that what they have is open to all and fell on them because of their own talent and moral superiority and 3) the winners have accumulated such a cumulative advantage that they have the means to subvert to their benefit any process of selection, and have a strong inventive to do so.

Dipper above for instance mentions the ur-example of a system of concourse admission based strictly on performance in strictly monitored contests (the French Grandes Écoles), and that system had something to say for itself in the 70s and 80s, but the destruction by inequality of the French secondary education system means that by now, my wife and I can all but guarantee my sons a spot on pretty much any of them if they feel so inclined whereas even the most talented daughter of a blue collar worker in rural France will be hopelessly behind at age 12 (countries with very low natality and very high educative potential like Germany or Japan are admittedly in a different dynamic, though the University of Tokyo admission scandal dwarfs any story of celebrities bribing a row-boat coach).

In that situation, measures that increase the likelihood that élite children enter élite institutions and (even more tellingly) that non-élite children are kept out of élite institutions (the simplest of which being to keep enrollment low) should not be seen as bugs, but as decisive features. As I keep pointing out, my social peers and myself personally have a vested interest in the destruction of a public system of education which gives everyone a fair chance to reach the top. Should we then be surprised to see the politicians we (as a group) elect organize the destruction of such a system?

Since education cannot be redistributed in the strict sense of the term, the solution is as indicated by John McGowan: cap whatever benefits may be accrued from getting an élite title (the easiest way to do so would probably to tax wealth and cap salaries through taxation) and raise substantially the living standards of the lowest half. But we should not kid ourselves: the greatest losers of that kind of policies will be us, and (not coincidentally) we are also the greatest obstacles against them.

61

nastywoman 04.16.19 at 11:13 am

@60
”To me, it seems clear that 30 to 40 years of entrenched educative and financial inequalities have yielded a situation in which 1) the losers live in hell 2) the winners have a very faint idea of what hell entails”

Now that’s not true – as all of my US relatives – who still can send their kids to the Ivy’s know very well – that there are these Cousins who are currently learning French and/or German and Italian – BE-cause they will have to move to Europe – in order to be able to afford an ”acceptable” education for their – in one case 3 – in the other case four kids.

They -(our Cousins with the 3 and 4 kids – all not yet in University-Age) – have realised very well that – even with a pretty good income -(of over 200 000 dollars per year) they can’t afford to give their children an U-education which leads to acceptable jobs – as we all know how terrible the US job market really is – with a myriad of low paying services jobs and then – all of these great and well paying jobs which are – more or less exclusively reserved for all the ”alumnites” of the Universities of spoiled children.

Or in other words:
”The 30 to 40 years of entrenched educative and financial inequalities” have most of Americans completely priced out of the ”GREAT” American-Dream-Picture and –

HELLO!

WE can’t fix that ”structural problem” with a higher supply of ”unpayable” Higher University Places.

Or in other words –
as we probably all are aware that most Americans can’t afford to live in their ”homeland” –
we probably now should realise that WE have a far too expensive education system which is only second to our far, faaar too expensive Health Care System.

And so there will be only one -(or two?) solutions:
Offer any type of education FOR FREE – and Health Care for a price families are able to pay – or my Cousins ”really” will have to move to Europe in a few years.

AND as my Cousins are REALLY GREAT – that will be a YUUUGE loss for THE homeland.

Capisce?

62

nastywoman 04.16.19 at 11:24 am

– on the other hand –
and about ”hell” – by leaving ”TEH homeland” – my Cousins suddenly could find themselves in ”heaven” –
(at least in comparison to the ”hellish economical struggle” they currently have to fight with ”so many children”) – as do you guys know that you can take ALL of this children into an Italian restaurant in Stresa -(where we celebrated last week) – while the Italien restaurant in Santa Monica (CA) – they used to go to – offered them (jokingly!) a deep discount – if some of the children would stay at home –
(with a pricey Nanny)
– so much about life in LALALAND and perhaps more (payable) places for childcare and ”Kindergarten” instead of – more places for ”Higher Education”?

63

nastywoman 04.16.19 at 11:45 am

– and about@60
”But we should not kid ourselves: the greatest losers of that kind of policies will be us, and (not coincidentally) we are also the greatest obstacles against them”.

There is this GREAT idea about:
WE are sitting ALL in the same boat – and as simplistically silly this idea might be…?
Everybody who beliefs in this idea -(and the amount of people seems to be… growing?) –
is NOT an ”obstacle” anymore… like – they like policies which make them ”ultimately winning – short term losers”.

64

engels 04.16.19 at 11:50 am

Harvard in the wake of this lawsuit by SFFA (however the suit turns out) should consider getting rid of the legacy preference completely.

But it’s one of things of that makes it so special! (Along with John Rawls…)

65

Adam Hammond 04.16.19 at 12:18 pm

@ LFC

Well explained. I am somewhat involved in admissions at a prestigious U that uses such a system. My point is that a college can be defined as ‘elite’ or maybe ‘elite-serving’ if more than 10% of each class gets an admissions legacy bump.

People with bachelor’s degrees from elite-serving institutions should be barred from receiving employment (or remuneration for work) from the federal government.

problem solved.

66

Omega Centauri 04.16.19 at 1:33 pm

ccc:
My background is STEM, and here I strongly think the selection game is not a zero-sum game for society, optimizing the social results means getting the best talent into the best schools, and that talent is not equally distributed among classes. So there is a tension between the goals of class equality of opportunity and the optimization of human “progress”. Now a by product of the overseas education at least for countries with lessor opportunities for high performing grads (India, China, Nigeria etc). is that these countries suffer from a severe brain drain, and on a country level the most advanced economies benefit from being the world’s brain sink. So I think it may slow down the convergence of economic levels across the world.

And yes, having had great tutors at a young age confers an advantage not just in the gaming of the selection process, but in the acquisition of good thinking habits at an early age. This pays lifetime dividends, and society can choose to benefit from these dividends, or to squander them by dilution. Now I’m not at all convinced that for the areas where these elite institutions confer the greatest advantage (networking contacts), that it isn’t a zero-sum game in which case the tradeoffs between equality of opportunity and quality may not exist or be minimal.

67

nastywoman 04.17.19 at 5:48 am

@
”And yes, having had great tutors at a young age confers an advantage not just in the gaming of the selection process, but in the acquisition of good thinking habits at an early age”.

And yes – having great tutors as the possible youngest age are in great demand in the US – BE-cause –

”this pays lifetime dividends, and society can choose to benefit from these dividends… as long as some of these tutors come up with the good thinking habit to advice the kids to focus on their… ”talents” – and there is no need to focus on dividends and finance if there is – for example – a talent for ”engineering” – which later on can benefit society even more…?

So why does everybody in my homeland (still) want to become somebody with a Law degree from Harvard in order to become an Investment Banker?

68

engels 04.17.19 at 11:08 am

there is a tension between the goals of class equality of opportunity and the optimization of human “progress”

Curious if you have idea what kind of jobs a lot of Ivy League/Oxbridge grads end up doing…

69

Bernard 04.17.19 at 1:39 pm

SamChevre @ 55 makes an important point:

What the Ivy League schools offer is something other than a good education; they offer a global credential and a huge leg up in the global greased-pole-climbing contest. If you want to work at a big 3 management consultancy, or on Wall Street, or as a lawyer at a firm that represents governments (Skadden Arps, Sullivan and Cromwell, etc) or as a federal judge, or as a professor, or in any other position where being a credentialed cosmopolitan is critical–the Ivy League is a ticket in, and there are only so many tickets.

A big advantage for students at these schools is that they have already been filtered by the admissions process for suitability for these roles, so those who recruit focus heavily on the elite universities.

I wonder about something else. SamChevre mentions professors. Do any of the commenters here participate in decisions about admission to graduate programs? If so, it would be interesting to hear whether, all else aside, students from elite schools enjoy an advantage, either by virtue of their “brand” or possibly recommendations from better-known faculty.

70

TM 04.17.19 at 3:35 pm

FN 35: “It is unlikely that even under a system of equitable student access elite universities won’t form”

I studied in Germany in the 1990s. At that time, the concept of an elite university was unknown in Germany (things have changed somewhat in the meantime but they are still worlds apart from the US). There were almost no private universities (and you are unlikely to have ever heard of any of them); all relevant institutions were and still are state run and nonselective. This was politically decided in the 1960s. In principle, you only need to pass the Abitur (comparable to the International Baccalaureate, involving exams administered at state level) and you are entitled to attend any public uni you choose. The principle has been somewhat hollowed out over the years (especially students of medicine are selected according to their exam grades) but in many programs it still holds. When I enrolled at my university (chosen lazily based on geography), I completed a few forms, handed a certified copy of my diploma to the registrar, and paid a fee of I think 25 Deutschmarks. I didn’t “apply”, I demanded access to education. Imagine that, Americans! No college admissions maze, no prep school, no self-promotion essay, no anxious waiting for that letter; also no college fund. Imagine how liberating such a system would be for American middle class parents and children.

Nowadays you can read about rankings and “excellence” initiatives and such even in Germany. I don’t know how much this really impacts the reality of students. Back in the 90s, there simply was no concept of comparing universities by status or prestige. The assumption was that you’d get about the same education everywhere. Higher education is two-tiered, the lower tier are the more technical universities called Fachhochschulen, but within each tier there are no marked differences. It would be unusual for anybody to point out “I have a PhD from Heidelberg”, as opposed to a PhD in biology. When politicians are discussed, it is unlikely that their Alma Mater would be remarked on, as would happen in the US. Even the concept of an Alma Mater is foreign to the German mentality. It simply doesn’t matter much where somebody completed their studies.

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TM 04.17.19 at 8:58 pm

Z @60: that comment is remarkable in two ways, which however are I think fairly typical of Z’s style.

First, the negative hyperbole: “30 to 40 years of entrenched educative and financial inequalities have yielded a situation in which 1) the losers live in hell ” – really one has to wonder how hellish life must have become in France. Is that really a valid way to describe social reality? Connected is an implies nostalgia for some golden age. It is clear that Z implies not just a high level of misery but an *increasing* level of misery in France, caused by the educatic inequalities of the last 30 to 40 years. It is possible that the educative system was somewhat more egalitarian in the 1970s but how is it compared to the 1960s and before? I bet in must of the developed world, by any measure, higher education was far more an elite privilege before 1970, when it really was restricted to a tiny fraction of the population, than it is nowadays when about half the population have access to it.

The second characteristic is Z’s insistence that it is his own social group, the educated middle class, who are to blame for all these “hellish” social tendencies. In other contexts he has referred to the “educated and wealthy elite” (or similar), as if education and wealth were coextensive social characteristics. That is nonsense. Plenty of the “educated” survive in precarious economic conditions, as adjunct instructors and such. The fact that they have excellent educations doesn’t in the least imply that they are wealthy let alone powerful let alone responsible for, and or profiteers of, rising economic inequality. Z’s brand of self-incrimination may soothe the bad conscience that middle class people tend to entertain but it’s not good political analysis. And it helps strengthen the anti-intellectual resentment of the far right, whose plutocratic benefactors have a better grasp of their class condition.

72

J-D 04.18.19 at 12:22 am

Omega Centauri

My background is STEM, and here I strongly think the selection game is not a zero-sum game for society, optimizing the social results means getting the best talent into the best schools, and that talent is not equally distributed among classes. So there is a tension between the goals of class equality of opportunity and the optimization of human “progress”.

That’s a proposition which requires more justification than you have supplied for it.

The benefits of education would be maximised (as opposed to optimised) if every individual received as much education as that individual could benefit from, so there are could be gains to be made from improving the education of any individuals, not just the most talented. Assuming the problem is one of optimising within resource constraints, it’s not immediately obvious that the greatest marginal return will always come from investing each marginal unit of resources in the most talented individual, not even if we modify that to the most talented individual out of those whose education can still benefit from increased investment of resources.

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faustusnotes 04.18.19 at 3:17 am

TM, I think maybe my education access was similar, except that I had to first complete an examination and get a score (between 0 and 100), with a minimum of approximately 55 to get into a basic university course and higher points required for more exclusive courses. The required score was set by the ratio of places available to applicants, so for example you needed 89 (in my year) to get into medicine because there were more applicants than places, but 59 to get into science. Also once in university you needed a higher score to get into computer science because there was a limited number of places.

I think it’s important to maintain these educational barriers. I don’t think everyone is suited to university and screening at admission seems like a good idea. Especially for resource-intensive disciplines (as computer science was when I entered uni!), where maybe not every uni has the facilities or the skilled staff, or in disciplines like physics that are actually really difficult and it’s bad for everyone to just let anyone enter them without some kind of screening process.

The key to me is that this screening process somehow be independent of wealth, and completion of the degree shouldn’t be essential for basic participation in society, as is the case now in those western countries that think the ponzi scheme of “upward mobility” is the solution to inequality.

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nastywoman 04.18.19 at 4:27 am

@70
”Imagine that, Americans! No college admissions maze, no prep school, no self-promotion essay, no anxious waiting for that letter; also no college fund. Imagine how liberating such a system would be for American middle class parents and children”.

only to a certain extent – as the American middle class ”somehow” seems to be used to their ”rat race” to such an extend that anytime one mentions something about FREE U-education in ”Urp” – some University of Spoiled Children Alumni might cut in with:

”WE – US – still have the GREATEST Universities in the world” – and the only way – for somebody who has studied at a ”State University” in Germany too – to hold her – or his – on their own – seems to behaving even more ”spoiled” and ”arrogant” – by telling that –

”YES I had the choice between some US Ivies – but after touring German ”Excellence Universities” like Heidelberg and Konstanz there was no choice anymore BE-cause – why in the world would anybody pay over 50 000 Bucks per year in order not to find Heidelberg on a Map?
-(just joking)
BUT anywhoo – now as Germany has ”Excellence Universities” too -(google it) – and why do so many so called advanced democracies trying to copy the ”Arrogant Anglo-Saxons Elite Education”? – BE-cause –
as @69 mentioned:
”A big advantage for students at these schools is that they have already been filtered by the admissions process for suitability for these -(”International Leaders”) – roles”.

And the funny thing about ”France” -(and Z’s view) – Everybody who ever joined ”Erasmus” – knows that (some) of our Frenchfriends have it really hard NOT to play the part of the worst spoiled brats – with their ”Grand Ecoles”…
and if y’all once would have witnessed – how a group from HEC (Jouy-en-Josas) made hilariously fun of a bunch of Harvard-dudes in a Paris Bar – would get the picture that FRANCE IS STILL FRANCE -(a contraire what FF Von Clownstick thinks) – that nothing –
NADA – not even our lovely Brits – is able to beat any alumni of a ”Grand Ecole” in being ”totally absolument elitist”.

Comprend? –
And if you guys think: Who the f… cares –
Well – ”we the people” care…

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nastywoman 04.18.19 at 4:43 am

– and take this CR:

”HEC Paris considers on-campus community and associative life to be one of the cornerstones of education. In many ways, it is an extension of the classroom experience. It encourages students to develop a sense of responsibility, as well as nurturing bold and creative minds.
There are as many clubs and associations as there are nationalities on the HEC campus, well over 100. The diversity and vibrancy of its clubs are truly astonishing.

A typical week of extra-curricular activities for a student can look something like this:

Monday: Debate on gender issues, co-organized by law professors and PhD students. Or, an evening devoted to African agriculture, organized by the African/West Indian students’ association.
Tuesday: Meeting organized by MBA students between refugees, student mentors and employers – part of a 12-week HEC course for integration.
Wednesday: Plenary session with a former French Prime Minister, organized by Grande Ecole program students.
Thursday: National Fight Club tournament for male and female students, organized by HEC Fight Club.
Friday: Energy Day closed by the launch of an eBook on solar energy by an MSc student.
Saturday: Conference on well-being and business, co-organized by MSc students and the Society & Organizations Center.
Sunday: The national Jump HEC Horse Show, organized by the students’ equestrian club”

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TM 04.18.19 at 12:31 pm

FN 73, I was writing a long response that got lost due to some wrong mouseclick. Scheisse.

The gist was that the German system, despite some undeniable drawbacks (e. g. the early tracking of education careers, much criticized by progressive education experts), has drastically limited the “rat race” factor compared to the US and similar systems. It is true that many students find out only after trying whether they are suited for uni or not. But that is true in the US as well, despite all the selection brouhaha. And there is nothing wrong with young people trying something and finding it isn’t the right path, as long as they find out quickly, are not bankrupted by the experience, and have other options available to them. I studied Math. There was no way for us students to imagine beforehand what that course program would be like, and even many who had earned good or even excellent grades in school reconsidered their choice. (German students specialize much earlier than Americans, otoh their Gymnasium education is very broad and equivalent to about two years of US college; this is another important difference).

As you say, University isn’t for everyone. Choices about education should be, as you say, independent of class and based on intrinsic interest and ability, not on social prestige or earning potential. When young people opt for college because they fear that without a degree, they will be reduced to flipping burgers and stuck in poverty, that is the real scandal and it cannot be remedied by tinkering with the selection system, nor by pressing everybody into higher ed whether they have a use for it or not. What is needed is social reforms that reduce inequality, provide decent jobs for people of all educational backgrounds, and offer educational options and access to all who wish to learn, each according to their needs and interests. And it is important to recognize non-academic as well as academic education as equally valuable and dignified. The German “dual” education system, though far from perfect, has a much better track record in that respect.

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faustusnotes 04.18.19 at 1:09 pm

TM, I think the aussie system has become much more of a rat race now than it used to be, but the rat race is equally afflicting academia and non-academia, and the reason is at its core the problem you identify in your second paragraph: that people are in deep trouble if they don’t “succeed”. In academia this means enormous pressure to publish and get grants, the end of tenure etc. In ordinary life it means that if you don’t get some edge you get screwed. Now I’m in Japan and I see much less of this, because academia is designed to be fairer (although it still has many many problems, none of which are necessarily less serious), and because simultaneously the rest of society is designed to enable people on ordinary salaries to live a full life. These things go to hell together, not separately.

I think it’s cute that at the same time people are commenting on this thread, Corey Robin has a post about a famous historian who studied slavery using his position of power at an elite university to attack an attempt to unionize and make the system more equal. The university in question being the university that produced Kavanaugh. The elite universities of the US and the UK are a poison on their societies. Oxford PPE has produced pretty much every leader who screwed Britain in the last 20 years. Elite universities as they are currently conceived are not making the world better…

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Z 04.18.19 at 11:11 pm

@TM really one has to wonder how hellish life must have become in France

The condescending tone is a bit grating, and would invite a suggestion to go live 6 weeks in La Grande Borne, Denain, Maubeuge or Agde and report about the experience (and if none of the names ring a bell, doesn’t that mean that some basic research would help about what you are wondering about?), but anyway, the point is not absolute conditions, especially relative to 60 years ago, the point is that then, people could hope that their children would have a better lives than their own, and this hope has ceased to be true for the bottom half in terms of education about when I was born.

I bet in must of the developed world, by any measure, higher education was far more an elite privilege before 1970, when it really was restricted to a tiny fraction of the population, than it is nowadays when about half the population have access to it.

In 1970, higher education was very rare, but rapidly expanding, people in the bottom half of the society in terms of education and wealth could hope to live a very decent life without it, and could reasonably hope that their children would live an even more decent life and have even more access to higher education. None of these hopes are realistic today. Damn, the OP is entitled the eye of the needle, does that suggest something to you?

The second characteristic is Z’s insistence that it is his own social group, the educated middle class, who are to blame for all these “hellish” social tendencies. In other contexts he has referred to the “educated and wealthy elite” (or similar), as if education and wealth were coextensive social characteristics. That is nonsense.

I agree fully: that is nonsense. Where to start? First, you attributed to me a social class (the educated middle class) and in doing so managed to insult me twice: I would very much appreciate it if you would refrain from referring to my personal circumstances (about which you know nothing) in the future (if you have trouble seeing where this is coming from, I will just point out that I am very far from the middle class in term of education and quite far from it in terms of wealth in the revere direction, so thank you for alerting me to the logical possibility that educated but not wealthy people exist, but a mirror managed to do so every day of the last 15 years). Second, you managed to convince yourself that I hold a thesis that is more or less the opposite of what I believe: I harp on the fact that it is not wealth (or wealth alone) that has to be considered, because a crucial line of domination is along the educative dimension, so the existence of relatively poor educated people, rather than being a challenge to my analysis, is at its very core. And since this apparently needs to be spelled out to you, the form of domination I allude to is the capability to reproduce the legitimizing titles of higher education, which means in concrete terms that a child born in 2000s of parents having both prestigious higher education diploma is all but guaranteed to get one, a child born with neither parents in this category, is all but guaranteed not to get one (in the context of a post which, again, was entitled the eye of the needle, it should come without saying that countries with high educative potential and very low natality are to be considered differently in this analysis).

The fact that they have excellent educations doesn’t in the least imply that they are wealthy let alone powerful let alone responsible for, and or profiteers of, rising economic inequality.

Once again you managed to put an economic before inequality while I consider it my task on this blog to reiterate that the relevant dimension is at least equally educative. So let me restate, correctly: “The fact that they have excellent educations doesn’t in the least imply that they are wealthy in terms of educative capital let alone powerful in terms the field of education let alone responsible for, and or profiteers of, rising educative inequality” And here it seems to me the lady doth protest too much. Not in the least? Excellent educations are just not in the least correlated with power in the field of education? Highly educated people have just no impact on the way education is organized? Children of highly educated people just happen by sheer chance to go to the (increasingly often private) islets of excellency in a crumbling system and are lucky enough to choose just the right curriculum that opens the right gates in one of the most unequal educative system of the developed world (as measured by PISA)? And because all this excellent education has no social impact whatsoever (not in the least, even), we surely observe that children of parents with at most a high-school diploma (blue-collar workers, lower staff members, or chronically unemployed) which represent about half of French children also make up just about half of the students in the ultra-élite Grandes Écoles, where they can follow the courses of Nicole El Karoui along the few children of teachers, researchers, engineers, economists, doctors, lawyers, programmers and financial analysts that have managed to get there as well despite their parents having absolutely no power to help them reach this position and having no influence whatsoever on the process by their votes, residential strategies and educative investments.

And it helps strengthen the anti-intellectual resentment of the far right, whose plutocratic benefactors have a better grasp of their class condition.

Ah yes, that is the rub right? Maybe indeed there are just slightly fewer that 50% of children from the bottom 50% in terms of education on the padded benches of the financial math course at École polytechnique, but that’s because plutocratic far right anti-intellectual populists are ruining everything for everybody, and indeed if only they did not exist (say if they never had more than a marginal share of political power and had been soundly defeated by a young, progressist centrist 18 months ago), surely the aforementioned teachers, researchers, engineers, doctors, lawyers, programmers and financial analysts would absolutely stop exercising their anyway non-existing powers to help ensure that is their kids that pass though the eye of the needle, and everybody could have a poney and horse-riding lessons on the HEC campus (but my self-incrimination for being rich would not be soothed, so I’d be mad).

Seriously…

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nastywoman 04.19.19 at 6:56 am

@
”Seriously…”

Not so… ”seriously” it’s really difficult to understand Z –

As what is IT -(or he)?

Is he:
”that by now, my wife and I can all but guarantee my sons a spot on pretty much any of them” (the French Grandes Écoles)
BUT
”But we should not kid ourselves: the greatest losers of that kind of policies will be us, and (not coincidentally) we are also the greatest obstacles against them”.
AND THEN:
”First, you attributed to me a social class (the educated middle class) and in doing so managed to insult me twice”
BUT
”As I keep pointing out, my social peers and myself personally have a vested interest in the destruction of a public system of education which gives everyone a fair chance to reach the top”.

And I thought this eye of a needle thingy was mainly for comparing our different educational systems –
(as we have commenters here from all around the world) –
and then we’re ALL – hopefully coming to the conclusion – that –
Actually the French or German – or in general the Social Democratic European systems are far – far more… let’s say ”people-friendly”-
(and much much more ”reasonable” – NOT only price-wise) –
than the Anglo-Saxon Ones – and that’s what WE –
(the European Commenters – and interestingly also the Japan based Ones are saying) –
and that’s what (perhaps) TM really meant to say?? –
AND damn it –
Z always spoils OUR party?!

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nastywoman 04.19.19 at 7:55 am

– and Z –
you GOT to understand that in a certain way you represent ”La Belle France” -(and all what it entails) here.

And as I mentioned my (American) Cousins -(with their lovely children) – we toured certain areas in France and Italy last week – and as I also mentioned how they have been priced out of any chance to have their children ”well educated” in their homeland – there is this discussion going on where they should move to –
France or Italy –
(as Germany is far too ”cold” for some – in any way) –
and one these Cousins – the head of a US Charter School was really getting into ”French” as she couldn’t believe what a great eduction her kids could get in France -(for ”Nada” as her husband said) – and then she reads what you wrote -(as I made the mistake to pint her to this discussion) and now she is thinking much more about Italy.

And as we know Italy a bit – and as these ”moving-things’# are always a kind of ”package deal” and you HAVE to love ”improvisation” and she doesn’t like. ”improvisation” THAT much –

Couldn’t you suggest – that with all of it’s flaws – and compared to the US – France (STILL) offers ”a heck of a deal” – educational-wise?

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Z 04.19.19 at 12:10 pm

nastywoman, that is really not so hard: my wife and I are at the very top of the hierarchy of educative achievements and capital, very far from the top (and even quite not at the middle) in terms of financial wealth. Like anyone else rich in a certain type of capital, we have a disproportionate ability to transmit that capital to our children if we wish to do so. It is people like us on the educative dimension which are the main problem for a reform of the educative system in a more egalitarian way. Those who are like us in the educative dimension but are in addition powerful in the economic dimension (not at the very top, just in the top 15% or so) are evidently more powerful than us so they have more impact and so are more harmful (when they act according to their narrow self-interests), but it remains that their interests and choices in the field of education tend to be more congruent to ours than to people in the same wealth bracket but low in the educative dimension (that latter category being the modal Trump voter), just like their interests and choices in the field of monetary economy evidently tend to be more congruent to their peers in that respect than to mine.

That is really transparent: all I’m saying is that people at the top of a hierarchy tend not to particularly like redistributive policies in that hierarchy, and tend to oppose such redistributive policies with the special authority that their high position allows. That’s something people apparently understand well when the hierarchy in question is measured in terms of money, but when the hierarchy is measured in terms of education, the point suddenly appears quite obscure. And in a sadly predictable way, advocating redistributive policies along this hierarchy elicits the usual spectrum of rhetorical answers which starts with the outright denial of the existence of a hierarchy in that case, then moves on to say that maybe there is a hierarchy but it is all for the best and the greater good and anyway those at the top really deserve to be there because of their talent and merit, then moves on to say that OK, there is a hierarchy and the losers are not having such a great time but trying to change things will make everyone worse to finally the admission that there is a hierarchy, that things are bad, that maybe change for the best is possible, that you know maybe just maybe super-millionaires could chill just a bit about the size of their yachts couples of PhD graduates could chill just a bit about having their child enter the absolute best class in a 50 miles radius but please don’t say that out loud and certainly don’t do anything about it because that is enabling the far-right – so more or less the exact mirror image of the standard reactionary right line when it comes to economic inequalities.

I expect better of us.

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Z 04.19.19 at 12:20 pm

nastywoman Actually the French or German […] are far – far more… let’s say ”people-friendly” […] than the Anglo-Saxon Ones […] and that’s what (perhaps) TM really meant to say?? –AND damn it – Z always spoils OUR party?!

Yes, you have me figured out: I’m definitely there to spoil the party. Because if you sincerely believe that the French educative system is “people-friendly”, then I have special poney-riding lessons at Sainte-Geneviève that might interest you.

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engels 04.19.19 at 3:17 pm

And it helps strengthen the anti-intellectual resentment of the far right

Ah yes the good ole Clintonite (/Gorite) ‘you’re either with us or against us’ (why not go the whole way and say ‘objectively pro-Trump’?)

a child born in 2000s of parents having both prestigious higher education diploma is all but guaranteed to get one, a child born with neither parents in this category, is all but guaranteed not to get one

I’m generally sympathetic to Z‘s Bourdieusian weltanschaung but this seriously downplays the fungibility of different forms of capital.

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ccc 04.19.19 at 5:30 pm

Omega Centauri @66:

“I strongly think the selection game is not a zero-sum game for society”

What is your argument for thinking morally that the combined effect from
1. (assuming for argument’s sake) faster STEM progress* with the current system of social class education hoarding
and
2. the added inequality (plain bad and in many ways instrumentally bad) from the same system
is net positive rather than negative?

Keep in mind that some big problems we currently face are related to inequality and dealing with them effectively will also involve reducing inequality.

*On some specification. I assume you’d want to exclude from your definition of STEM “progress” a lot of possible technologies such as deadlier weapons, deeper tracking and advertizing systems, Addict-ier opiod schemes, hate-ier social media interaction platforms, … Some such dark technologies might be more profitable, and therefore more likely to be created and used, in a society that is more unequal, including more educationally unequal.

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nastywoman 04.19.19 at 8:22 pm

@Z 81

– that’s a lot of words for saying that you seem to think that the French -(or ”German or Social Democratic European” -) education system is less “people-friendly” than the US one – while it actually isn’t.

And that’s a fact and the point – as in this century we are really live in this ”interconnected world” where ”the people” -(of the US) need to know – desperately that if they can’t afford to live -(and or study) – in their homeland anymore – that there are much better alternatives – for example… in France?

And I understand – if -(like some Germans) – you wouldn’t want all of these (spoiled) Americans use your (”Grande and Excellence”) free education system – but… but…?

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nastywoman 04.19.19 at 8:43 pm

– and @Z
– I know, I know that my argument about NOT wanting any ”Amis” -(or ”Chinese” or any ”Others”) – flooding the ”For-Free European Universities – might sound a bit absurd – BUT in Germany it already has started to an extent that there was this discussion started that in the future these ”fureigners” should pay –
How ironic – right? – in these times where everywhere there is this discussion about ”fureigners” -(or refugees – or ”others”) – have the audacity to use some ”social perks” which only should be reserved for us – US – US –
(and ”real Americans” and ”Brits”) –
and otherwise I completely agree that ”super-millionaires could chill just a bit about the size of their yachts AS couples of PhD graduates could chill just a bit about having their child enter the absolute best class in a 50 miles radius”.

Let them learn to make cheese -(as my parents let me) – and learn Italian…

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nastywoman 04.19.19 at 9:03 pm

– and did I make a…
a mistake by mentioning that AFTER –

”Debate on gender issues –
an evening devoted to African agriculture,
Meetings organized by MBA students between refugees, student mentors and employers – as part of a 12-week HEC course for integration –
a Plenary session with a former French Prime Minister,
a National Fight Club tournament for male and female students –
Energy Day closed by the launch of an eBook on solar energy
a Conference on well-being and business – on ”Sunday” – just on Sunday there also might be poney-riding lessons offered by a ”Grand” -(noticed the use of English?) – Ecole?

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nastywoman 04.19.19 at 10:04 pm

– and finally the quote:

”It is people like us on the educative dimension which are the main problem for a reform of the educative system in a more egalitarian way”.

– has me kind of worried – as if it is true – also for all of these other ”people like us on the educative dimension of CT”… ?

Well – Guys? –
Prof. Quiggin – etc. etc. – are people like you the main problem for a reform of the educative system in a more egalitarian way”?

Or is it just – each time I ever talked to a Prof. – who was ”used” to the Anglo-American system of ”You need to pay for your education” – they even didn’t want to discuss any system where ALL education is FREE –
(aka: ”taken care of by the government”)

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