When it does matter where you go to college – yet another viewpoint…

As is the case every time this year around “acceptance letter month,” everyone has an opinion on where to go to college. Or where not to go. Or if to go at all. All I can say is, no one really knows the reasons why some wealthy kids don’t get into HYP (harvard, yale, princeton) or why “poor” kids do not get in either. Is it based on race, grade, gender, wealth, or connections? In my opinion, there is a school for EVERYONE, but it takes time, desire, and understanding to find it. It may not be in the U.S. but rather in Europe, Asia, Canada, or Down Under. Although I do appreciate most opinions voiced by the experts, in the end, we are far from understanding education as it is now, and even further from where it is going.
-Andreas Kristinus
President, EduGate LLC
March 23 at 1:33 PM

My post last week on a new book by New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be,” generated hundreds of comments here and on Facebook. Many people agreed with Bruni, telling their own stories of attending less-selective colleges and turning out just fine. But lots of others mentioned the very real recruiting practices of a handful of blue-chip companies, especially on Wall Street and among consulting companies, that only look at graduates of elite schools.Bruni’s book largely focuses on students who made choices between selective colleges and slightly less selective colleges or brand-name public flagship campuses. The difference between going to Penn State, for example, instead of Carnegie Mellon, or Indiana University instead of the University of Michigan.

Those are the choices most high-school seniors are making at this time of year. They applied to a bunch of colleges that are probably similar in many ways. They are all small, private liberal-arts colleges; or they are all large, public universities; or maybe all close to home or in a specific region. Rarely do students apply to both Yale University and Radford University, for example.

In most cases, as readers pointed out, students mostly make the college experience what it turns out to be in the long run of life. There are plenty of failures at Harvard just as there are plenty of successes at Shenandoah University.

But in some cases, where you go to college does matter. When the primary measure of a degree’s value is actually graduating, then getting the right match between a prospective student and a school is what matters most. In making that match, colleges are the more important player.

It’s called “undermatching.” That’s what happens when smart students, usually low-income, could succeed at an elite college but never apply to one or go to one. The idea has received plenty of attention from researchers in recent years, and even the White House, where officials see it as way to boost the college graduation rates of low-income students. (Some also question the idea).

One of the leading proponents of this theory is William Bowen, an economist and former president of Princeton. In a 2009 book called “Crossing the Finish Line,” Bowen and his coauthors found that the harder-to-get-into colleges that they studied had higher graduation rates for all types of students, even those the admissions office might have worried about admitting in the first place.

There are all sorts of reasons why students pick less-selective colleges. They might want to stay close to home or go to the least-expensive college (this is particularly true of poorer students). Or maybe they are worried they won’t be able to keep up with their classmates.

Bowen and the other researchers studied a rich set of subjects: 60,000 seniors who attended more than 300 high schools in North Carolina in 1999. Not only did they have access to wide-ranging demographic data on those students, but they were able to link them to their college experiences. Of the 60,000, they determined about 6,200 students were eligible, based on grade-point averages and SAT scores, to attend the best college they could have. They found that four in 10 of those students chose not to attend one of those schools, either because they didn’t apply or didn’t enroll.

What is interesting about their findings is exactly who decided not to go to the best college they could have: Just 27 percent of students from the wealthiest households undermatched, but 59 percent of those from the poorest households did. Among those students whose parents did not go to college, 64 percent of them went to the less-selective college.

These are students who could have been admitted to a school like Ohio State (where about 78 percent of students graduate in six years), but instead they went to schools like Youngstown State (37 percent) or the University of Akron (35 percent).

Bowen told me that there might be a good reason for why students pick against their own self interests. The criteria for picking a college often conflict with one another. In his mind, there needs to be a good reason for deliberately choosing not to attend the best college you can get into. Too often the reason students make these questionable choices is a “combination of inertia, lack of information, lack of forward planning for college, and lack of encouragement.” Sometimes students rebuff the best college because they are getting a free ride somewhere else.

The bottom line is this: You should be sure to check out the graduation rates of a college you’re considering, and take particular note of the graduation rates for students like you (for example, they differ between men and women, and even by major). If the real value of college is in actually graduating, then Bowen’s research shows that it really does matter where you go to school.

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Forget Harvard and Stanford. It really doesn’t matter where you go to college… Hmmm… I agree…

I have been thinking about this for quite some time now – does it really matter to the majority of students where they go to college…? Or is it the parents (as is the case with China) who want to garner the glory of their oh-so-successful child..? Let’s face it, there are way too many parents running around these days, wearing sweatshirts with the logo of their child’s school… Or is it the student who will succeed and be become happy in his/her job, who picked the school THAT IS RIGHT FOR HIM/HER..? We seem to get sucked into the “ratings war” and “connections” psycho thriller, thinking, without an ivy league education, there is no future… And yet, there are literally hundreds of good schools in the USA AND in Europe, that have a long track record of laying the foundation for some rather important and successful men and women… Yes, competition remains fierce and many will fail (China, Japan, South Korea) but only because they set their sights too high… We must educate students and parents alike that, yes, an education is super important these days, but there are solid, strong, and affordable choices left untapped – the only thing it takes is to look upon them in a humble fashion…
-Andreas Kristinus
President EduGate
March 16

In the coming weeks, college acceptances will start rolling in for a select group of high-school seniors vying to get into the three dozen or so most-selective colleges and universities in the country. Most seniors planning to go to college this fall already have been accepted somewhere, either because they applied early or they chose less-selective schools that notify applicants almost immediately of their decision.

But for those waiting to hear from Harvard, Stanford, Williams, and other elite schools, this time of year is one of high anxiety. By May we’ll hear yet again from those campuses bragging about how they set records for the number of applications they received this year and how few students they accepted — likely about one out of every 10 applicants.

For all the attention showered on these elite college and universities, however, they enroll fewer than 6 percent of U.S. college students. To put it another way, Stanford received approximately 40,000 applications last year when about 3.4 million students graduated from high school across the U.S.

The competition for getting into elite colleges seems to be getting more intense, leaving frustrated students, parents, and counselors to wonder: Does it really matter where you go to college?

It doesn’t, according to Frank Bruni. The New York Times columnist is author of a new book coming out on Tuesday, “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be.

The book is a quick read for stressed-out students and their parents. In it he has plenty of examples and lengthy stories of Americans of all ages and from all walks of life who have found success without degrees from brand-name universities. Bruni points out, for instance, that among the American-born chief executives of the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500, just about 30 went to an Ivy League school or equally selective college. (Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, graduated from my alma mater, Ithaca College, and unlike many other top executives never got an MBA).

Bruni told me last week that he decided to write the book because of the constant chatter among his friends who have kids in high school and among his nieces and nephews “all whipped up in a frenzy” over where to go to college.

“I was watching this and comparing it to my own life and the successful people I know,” he said. “I wondered if there was anything in their résumés, a uniform attendance at a few select schools, and I didn’t see it. It wasn’t the case. It was a patchwork of educational pedigrees.”

You wouldn’t know that from conversations at cocktail parties or college nights, particularly in competitive suburban and urban areas, such as Washington, D.C. and New York. There, the talk is all about how to get into the “right college.” I asked Bruni how you change that culture to persuade more of those students and their families to consider a broader array of schools.

In his opinion, the obsessive focus on elite schools begins with parents, some of whom he said are rightly concerned about launching their kids into a much more competitive world and want to give them every advantage. “I understand that motive,” he told me, “but some parents are simply trying to flatter themselves.”

In turn, guidance counselors take their cues from parents and are often evaluated, especially at private high schools, by how many of their students go to elite colleges.

Perhaps the shift away from the admissions frenzy needs to begin with employers who have long used admission to an elite school as a signal of a top job candidate. In the book, Bruni interviews a few employers and venture capitalists and also shows where recruiters say they find their best employees.

Many recruiters tell him they are much more focused on the experience of a candidate than where they went to school. And as Bruni points out when the Wall Street Journal asked recruiters the best universities for their entry-level hires, the top five were Penn State, Texas A&M, the University of Illinois, Purdue, and Arizona State. They are all brand-name schools, but they’re also public universities and hardly elite.

Bruni worries about the unintended consequences of putting so much pressure on teenagers to get admitted to a selective school. Last year, Bruni taught a course at Princeton and saw firsthand how many students view life as a series of challenges, a set of hoops to jump through, and getting into Princeton was one of them.

“A significant number of students had put so much energy into getting in, and then getting ready for the next competition, the job,” he said, “that they didn’t save their best energy and best selves for tilling the four-year experience for what it’s worth.”

A college alone doesn’t make a successful graduate. Sure, top college provides a peer network that greatly helps both while students are on campus and afterwards as alumni. But someone with grit and ambition can succeed at many different types of schools.

The reality is that if those students Bruni taught at Princeton didn’t go there, it’s likely they would have gone to another fairly selective school anyway. So they’ll do just fine. Few students who get rejected by Princeton end up at Northern Michigan University.

That’s where Howard Schultz went to college, and today he is CEO of Starbucks.

For many parents and kids, it’s ‘Harvard, Harvard, Harvard!’

EduGate faces this dilemma on a daily basis… parents simply do not understand that there are over 4,000 colleges in the USA and that Havard is most definitely NOT the best school for their child… it seems that educating the parents is more important than educating the students… albeit, both are blinded by the reputation that precedes Harvard and unfortunately they miss the big picture… on any given day in beijing, i find more students at a starbucks desiring to go to harvard than of students actually getting accepted… yet, i strongly believe this attitude will change in a few years and parents will be open to let their child decide on their own which uni to attend…

for all those students that are looking to find the right school for them, edugate offers summer english learning programs (for credit) extension programs, and assistance with conditional/direct admission and gateway (no TOEFL or SAT required)…

http://www.edugate.us

They are among the top schools in the Ivy League. Yale University took one student.

Yale and Princeton University accepted two other students, a brother and sister.

Other than getting into some of the most sought after universities in the United States, what the three had in common was that their parents are Chinese, all had done extensive prep work to get into their dream college, and all three rejected those universities for the school they really wanted – Harvard University.

“Chinese parents only know Harvard, Harvard, Harvard,” said the owner of a small, private tutoring service that helps children from low-income Chinese families prepare for various college standardized tests, like the SATs and the SAT subject tests. “Parents come to me and say, ‘Our child must get into Harvard. They must get into Harvard, we don’t want them to go anywhere else,” said the owner, who declined to be named.

She has been working with high school students for nearly a decade, hiring teachers to help classes of 15 to 20 students prepare for the SAT exams. Most of the students that attend the SAT classes in Brooklyn began preparing as early as their freshman year of high school.

“Particularly for the Chinese who come to the United States, it’s only Harvard. It’s as if there are no good schools other than Harvard,” she said. “I tell these parents, there are so many good schools in the US, but they don’t even know schools like Dartmouth or Vanderbilt. Obsessing over Harvard is almost a Chinese tradition now.”

Some trace that obsession back to 2000 when Harvard University and Liu Yiting became household names across China after Liu’s parents published a book chronicling how their parenting style led to their daughter’s admission to Harvard. “Harvard Girl” sold millions of copies in China and detailed Liu’s disciplined upbringing and how she became one of the first Chinese undergraduates to attend Harvard on a full scholarship.

The book led to many copycat titles, with different parents trying their hand at detailing their own parenting styles and how it led to their childrens’ admissions to other prestigious higher education institutions.

Bev Taylor, the founder of college counseling service The Ivy Coach, works with parents and their children to get them into the schools of their choice. She helped the family whose daughter and son were accepted by Yale and Princeton.

“They weren’t done. They wanted Harvard. Why it was Harvard? I don’t know. What’s wrong with Princeton, what’s wrong with Yale? And why would you go through that? What’s so different?” she said. “A lot of it is bragging rights so mommy and daddy can say they have one kid at Harvard and one kid at Princeton, instead of saying they have two kids at Princeton.”

Taylor said that about 85 percent of her clients are Chinese and Indian. They pay $995 an hour for Ivy Coach’s services, which range from helping with personal essays to reviewing applications to see where students can improve them and make them stand out.

Billie Wei, who almost finishes up with her first year at Harvard, went to Ivy Prep, one of the most well-known Chinese cram schools in New York.

As for her turning down Yale, “she just couldn’t let go of the reputation of Harvard,” said her father, who said going to the school was her decision.

There are 722 students from China studying across all of Harvard’s colleges, more than 300 of whom go to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, with the rest in undergraduate and other graduate programs.

“The number of students from China studying across Harvard University has increased significantly in recent decades,” said Jeff Neal, director of communications at Harvard.

The number of students from China attending Harvard has increased threefold since the mid-1990s, according to the school.

Harvard doesn’t break down applicants by country, but Neal said that the number of applicants from China to the undergraduate program has also grown during that time period, “though at a much slower rate”.

amyhe@chinadailyusa.com

Public vs Private University – picking the school that is right for “you.”

I am a strong supporter and proponent of the public school system. Growing up in Germany, there was no other choice. When I came to America I was first introduced to private education when I attended boarding school. Then, for undergraduate and graduate school I went to private university at Saint Louis University and Webster University.

Why did I not go to a public university?

My reasons were clear – my grandfather used to be the head of the political science department at SLU, and Webster University had four satellite campuses all over the world. This was the a no-brainer. I spent one semester in Vienna and finished school in Saint Louis.

Chinese applicants, however, have a lot of choice and flexibility when it comes to picking the right school – the school that is right for them. America boasts a myriad of excellent universities and colleges (an explanation between the two is forthcoming in another post very soon). Say what you want about our current economic situation and looming sequester, we still have the best higher education system in the world.

There are differences and similarities between public and private universities.

One of the differences is price. Private universities are more expensive and are getting more pricy every year. On average, tuition at private universities increases about 3-4% per year. This does not mean that public universities are not increasing their tuition. They are, but, they start out to be cheaper to begin with. Tuition at Harvard (considered, by US News and World Report’s College Ranking, to be the best university in the country) is about $40,000. Compare that to UC Berkeley (considered the #1 public university in the country) at $11,700 for in-state tuition ($34,000 out of state) one begins to wonder what the attraction is to private universities.

Which brings me to the other difference – prestige or better said “perceived prestige.” I remember on two occasions where a student was accepted into the University of Chicago but the parents decided against it, holding out for their child to be accepted at Harvard. Why? Very simple – recognition and prestige. University of Chicago, a private university, ranked #4 in the country, and, in my opinion, the best overall university in America, is not well known in China. Yet, the education rivals that of the HYP’s – Harvard, Yale, Princeton.

The same holds true for the rest of the best, in what public education has to offer. All of the following — University of Virginia, University of Michigan, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, University of California, Davis, and many more, lack the name recognition in China. The degrees they offer plus the support students receive throughout their education, equals or betters that of the best private schools.

So, is it price vs prestige then? Do we perceive cheaper to be not as good? Expensive to be better? What about name recognition? Do we think that a school with better name recognition recruits better and graduates smarter students? Or did Presidents Obama, a long list of internationally renowned politicians, celebrities, nobel laureates, economists, former Presidents of Northern Ireland and Pakistan, the co-founder of Apple, the executive chairman of Google, just accelerate at the school that was best for them?

Which is my last point – the education is the same. The price and name recognition is not. At EduGate, we try to match each student with the school that is best of them. And, that quite often happens NOT to be the HYP’s of world, but rather the schools who offer excellent programs at a lesser cost and or recognizable name.