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The nation's top colleges are turning our kids into zombies.

It's hardly breaking news, but more and more people are questioning the race to the Ivy League that in some cases begins as early as preschool. And in addition to perpetuating the increasingly-rigid class structure in the US, the Ivy League colleges are inadvertently creating and admitting students who have no idea how to really take advantage of the resources available to them. So writes William Deresiewicz in his article, "Don't Send Your Kid to the Ivy League" from the New Republic:
So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error. Once, a student at Pomona told me that she’d love to have a chance to think about the things she’s studying, only she doesn’t have the time. I asked her if she had ever considered not trying to get an A in every class. She looked at me as if I had made an indecent suggestion.
See also Deresiewicz's earlier article, "The Disadvantages of an Elite Education" from American Scholar, previously discussed on the blue.
posted by math on Jul 23, 2014 - 138 comments

NYC's push to change elite high school admissions

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for changing the admissions criteria of NYC's elite high schools, arguing that relying solely on a single exam (the SHSAT) "creates a “rich-get-richer” dynamic that benefits the wealthy, who can afford expensive test prep. However, the reality is just the opposite. It’s not affluent whites, but rather the city’s burgeoning population of Asian-American immigrants — a group that, despite its successes, remains disproportionately poor and working-class — whose children have aced the exam in overwhelming numbers." [more inside]
posted by gemutlichkeit on Jul 20, 2014 - 73 comments

Women's Work

Over Easy - "Elite education may impoverish and indebt young women and do little to get them a job, but at least it makes their eggs valuable."
Reproductive Medical Associates of New York, a fertility clinic associated with Mount Sinai Hospital, maintains separate websites for egg donors and egg buyers. The home page of the donors’ site features a large stock photograph of a young woman holding schoolbooks. Behind crossed arms the pretty brunette model is clutching what looks like but is not a copy of Lauren Berlant’s Cruel Optimism, along with a white three-ring binder. She wears a zippered velor jacket in the same shade of blue as the graphic that emerges from behind her head in an oversize font: Become an Egg Donor
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 8, 2014 - 71 comments

It is the first self-taught and the longest-course I have ever taken

Long Island teenager Kwasi Enin made headlines this week for having the honor of being accepted at all eight Ivy League colleges, as well as Duke, Stony Brook University, SUNY Geneseo and Binghamton University. This is the essay he credits with a big part of his success.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Apr 2, 2014 - 149 comments

not just used to assess how well Harvard first-years carried themselves

"Posing For Posture"
"Posture photos," as they were then called, were taken of every incoming student at many prestigious colleges in the first half of the 20th century, as a part of the registration process. George L. Hersey '51, now a professor of art history at Yale, says, "I was told to show up at the swimming pool, I took my swim test and posed. We were expected to show up and do this." Students acquiesced in the days of single-sex colleges because nudity was a normal part of the college experience, Knight says. "We never wore bathing suits in the swimming pools, it was considered more hygienic that way," he says. "The House [swimming] races were in the nude." And so posture photos were snapped and collected--and saved for later research which was intended to link physique to temperament. This practice--led nationwide by a Harvard researcher--remained widespread through the 1950s and 60s.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 7, 2013 - 41 comments

Your resume was thrown out in the first 10 seconds

Sociologist Lauren Rivera of Northwestern spent two years researching the way elite financial and law firms really select their new hires. The original paper is behind a sciencedirect paywall, but Bryan Caplan has a nice write-up about the results. You're much better off with a degree from a tippy-top school than just any Ivy -- but they don't actually care about what you learned there. Your grades don't matter that much as long as they're not bad. Climbing a famous mountain or making a varsity team, especially if you're nationally competitive, would be wise. And oh yeah -- they do care what you got on your SATs. More reax from the Chronicle of Higher Ed and physicist Steve Hsu.
posted by escabeche on Nov 20, 2011 - 152 comments

I'm going 'cause I want to come back here

Between 1967 and 1973, a program called The Foundation Years brought fifteen young African-American men from Chicago's West Side to Dartmouth College. The students were gang members, most of them Vice Lords.
posted by catlet on Aug 26, 2011 - 19 comments

J-School Confidential

An oldie, but a goodie: Michael Lewis goes to Columbia's School of Journalism to see what such schools actually do to prepare their students.
posted by reenum on Dec 28, 2010 - 16 comments

The Black Ivy

Inspired by photographer T. Hayashida's book Take Ivy, a collection of images of (largely white) Ivy-league students of the 1960s, style bloggers Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs of Street Etiquette reimagine the book as The Black Ivy, where the race lines are flipped and the dapper dial is cranked up to 11.
posted by emilyd22222 on Sep 19, 2010 - 21 comments

The Lady Vanishes

"No one guessed the truth, which was simpler, and therefore stranger, than their wildest theories: that the scared young woman so hotly pursued by South Carolina police, the Secret Service, federal marshals and even the U.S. Army was actually on a bizarre and misguided journey of self-discovery." Rolling Stone reports on the strange case of Esther Reed: The Girl Who Conned The Ivy League. (via Metachat)
posted by The Whelk on Jan 17, 2010 - 46 comments

What's the problem with Yale?

William Deresiewicz examines the pitfalls of an Ivy League education Apparently, the Ivies prepare you for... mediocrity.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jun 18, 2008 - 188 comments

Old Boys, Old News

MeFi's celebration of the Ivy League continues with "The Facebook of Wall Street's Future," a New York Times map of social and professional connections in the tradition of They Rule (previously on Metafilter here, here , here and here). [more inside]
posted by GrammarMoses on Jan 14, 2008 - 25 comments

The case of the Ivy League posture photos

ONE AFTERNOON IN THE LATE 1970's, deep in the labyrinthine interior of a massive Gothic tower in New Haven, an unsuspecting employee of Yale University opened a long-locked room in the Payne Whitney Gymnasium and stumbled upon something shocking and disturbing.

Shocking, because what he found was an enormous cache of nude photographs, thousands and thousands of photographs of young men in front, side and rear poses. Disturbing, because on closer inspection the photos looked like the record of a bizarre body-piercing ritual: sticking out from the spine of each and every body was a row of sharp metal pins. The case of the Ivy League posture photos.
posted by alphanerd on Jul 13, 2004 - 34 comments

I wonder if they serve Tiger Penis Soup...

Princeton University Eating Clubs A walk down Princeton's Prospect Avenue leads visitors to illustrious clubs like The Tiger Inn and Colonial Club. Ramen be damned!
posted by keli on Nov 8, 2003 - 19 comments

please talk to my agent

The Ivy League pop stars! Gossipy article reveals how universities throughout the USA are frantically fighting each other in order to attract celebrity professors. Niall Ferguson, Deirdre (born Donald) McCloskey and Saul Bellow ("teaching load: one course a year") are some examples. Considering these people are already engaged in their own love affair with the public eye (book tours, book deals, media events etc), are they the best choice from the academic point of view? Do traditional universities really have to resort to namedropping? And just between us, anybody out there ever had or currently has classes with bigwigs that turned out to be really fascinating or really disappointing? first link via those elitists from aldaily
posted by 111 on Jul 14, 2003 - 36 comments

Darthmouth Swimming

Budget cuts threatening your college athletic team? No problem. Raise $210,000 on eBay.
posted by SandeepKrishnamurthy on Dec 4, 2002 - 7 comments

Scramble bands.

Scramble bands. The Ivy League (as well as other U.S. universities, typically with bad football teams) have a notorious tradition of marching bands that don't march. Columbia's band recently got in hot water (again) for a swipe at the Catholic church during a Fordham game. Did you play in the marching band at your college? More importantly, did you play a real instrument? Me, I blew bubbles and played the squeegee mop at Columbia.
posted by mkultra on Oct 7, 2002 - 28 comments

Princeton admissions officers broke into Yale's admissions system

Princeton admissions officers broke into Yale's admissions system using prospective students' birth dates and Social Security numbers. They "viewed Yale admissions decisions" of 11 students; Princeton's dean of admissions says "[i]t was really an innocent way for us to check out the security." The FBI is "assessing the information to see if there is a federal violation."
posted by realityblurred on Jul 25, 2002 - 27 comments

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