Advantages for sale to the most advantaged?
October 15, 2007 8:05 AM   Subscribe

I Can Get Your Kid into an Ivy. A look at the practices of college admission consultant Michele Hernandez, who boasts a 95% acceptance rate for fees of up to $40, 000.
posted by reformedjerk (108 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
I heard bribing's easier... and cheaper.
posted by romanb at 8:14 AM on October 15, 2007


"That will be like Ralph Lauren's Purple Label," Hernandez says. "It won't be for everybody."

It's now evidently all about branding, which is pretty depressing. I know that if I were 17 years old now I wouldn't get into the college I got into in 1984. (And I didn't have $40,000 or even $4 to spend on a college coach -- had they existed back then.)
posted by blucevalo at 8:18 AM on October 15, 2007


And yet many students think affirmative action is obviously wrong. (Somehow I doubt that it's a coincidence that kids who argue against affirmative action are white and from wealthy families.)
posted by oddman at 8:19 AM on October 15, 2007


I can chuck your kid into poison ivy for nothing.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:21 AM on October 15, 2007 [15 favorites]


I Can Get Your Kid into an Ivy, but I can't make him think.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:21 AM on October 15, 2007


And then these semi-competent self-entitled brats get to run our lives.
posted by carter at 8:21 AM on October 15, 2007


I can chuck your kid into poison ivy for nothing.

Oh come on kuujjuarapik, you'll definitely get something out of it.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:22 AM on October 15, 2007


If you can afford $40k for a 'consulting fee,' you're probably Ivy bound anyway. Besides, the girls are hotter and the football's better at Big 10 schools anyway.
posted by jonmc at 8:23 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Families pay Hernandez as much as they do because she promises not just substitute parenting but parenting in the extreme. She selects classes for students, reviews their homework, and prods them to make an impression on teachers. She checks on the students' grades, scores, rankings. She tells parents when to hire tutors and then makes sure the kids do the extra work. She vets their vacation schedules. She plans their summers.

...and there's the rub. Any family who brought in a micro-managing Type-A corporate coach to take over their lives could find their kid in an Ivy. What's the skill there?

It's all that substitute parenting that's so pricey.
posted by pineapple at 8:24 AM on October 15, 2007


So the moral of the first story is that for $18,000 you can make yourself look like NOT a stereotypical rich kid. Fascinating.
posted by naoko at 8:26 AM on October 15, 2007


If I ever run a business I'll ask prospective employees to disclose whether they used a "consultant" like this guy to get into college.
posted by danb at 8:26 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


I can get an IV into your kid.
posted by sklero at 8:28 AM on October 15, 2007


I think this is finally what Reagan was talking about with the whole "trickle-down" thing. Rich, yet moronic under achievers scrambling to hold on to their sense of entitlement paying top dollar to intelligent lesser-class entrepeneurs. Success!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:28 AM on October 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


I was just thinking that in newly acquisitive Ireland this might be a good business to start. But our college entrance are dicatated by exam results rather than resumes, for 99% of courses, so I'll have to think up another sideline. At 17 I don't think I would have survived this myself. Did anyone read the recent NY Times magazine article about kids in Bronxville going through this process? Their resumes were more impressive than friends I have who are well travelled and earn big six figures. Poor kids.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2007


It's almost like money rules the world.
posted by dead_ at 8:32 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


So this is how Bush got into Yale?
posted by edgeways at 8:35 AM on October 15, 2007


Haverford isn't an Ivy League School, and it's not worth it, imo.

Ben was accepted to Dartmouth. He graduated in May with a degree in religious studies and is now working as a paralegal at a law firm outside of Boston.

You don't need a Dartmouth degree to be a paralegal. Higher education is one of the biggest scams going these days. It would make more sense to have standalone fraternities and sororities for this kind of wankery.

As stupid as some of these kids are, I bet that they'd be just as good workers without college (I'm excluding the training schools, i.e. medicine, law, auto mechanics, etc.). And isn't that why kids supposedly go to college. To get a high-paying job?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:37 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Did anyone read the recent NY Times magazine article about kids in Bronxville going through this process?

Finally, the Emory application was sealed and ready to go, as was another application for an arts cash prize for talented students. It was 3 in the morning. “O.K.,” her mother said. “Now let’s get to work on your Halloween costume.”

There was a costume competition at school the next day. Maria went as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. She won a prize.


I don't think that college applications are this girl's big time problem.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:38 AM on October 15, 2007


It's not like the colleges are playing fair themselves. See Malcolm Gladwell's article on Getting In.
posted by parudox at 8:41 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


So this is how Bush got into Yale?

No, no, he got into Yale because his dad was Rep. George H. W. Bush (R - 8th Texas). He got into Harvard because his dad was Director George H. W. Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency. Or was it because his daddy was Chairman George H. W. Bush or the Republican National Committee, eh, what's the difference anyway?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:42 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Besides, the girls are hotter

Lies. Nothing is hotter than debauching the daughter of really rich parents. It gratifies both the libido and the class rage impulse simultaneously.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:43 AM on October 15, 2007 [27 favorites]


"...Could I have done it myself? Maybe. Could I have gone somewhere else and been happy? Yes."

And that's the whole point. If your family has the money to hire someone like this, you don't need it. In fact, as mrgrimm notes, you probably don't need to go to college at all. The rest of us lazy, moderately-smart schlubs go to Ivies as a replacement for the rich daddies (and their connections) that we don't have.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:45 AM on October 15, 2007


I wonder how much it would cost to get my ass into an Ivy business school.
posted by smackwich at 8:49 AM on October 15, 2007


That's nothing. I can get your kid into The Ivy.

But only if you're paying and I can order whatever I want.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:51 AM on October 15, 2007


And yet many students think affirmative action is obviously wrong.

It's wrong, but it's not a horrible wrong. This admissions coaching stuff is about as bad.
posted by oaf at 8:52 AM on October 15, 2007


So this is how Bush got into Yale?

Bush paid nothing. However, the country as a whole will be paying for many years.
posted by luser at 8:54 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does it say in the article whether her 5% failure rate is due to her students hanging themselves in the closet by their shoelaces? Because I would have.
posted by hermitosis at 8:56 AM on October 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


the football's better at Big 10 schools anyway.

Not this year!
posted by drezdn at 8:57 AM on October 15, 2007


This article has inspired me to hang out a shingle as a post-acceptance counselor. Once these kids make it into those high-class schools, they're going to need someone else to act as a substitute Daddy. People who have abdicated responsibility for choosing classes, extracurriculars, sports, etc. to a hired stranger won't be prepared to handle the independent decision-making facing them as undergraduates.

So if there are any rich parents reading this thread, you should know that I am the answer to your child's collegiate issues. I will pick their classes and majors -- nothing too difficult, but nothing that law schools would laugh at, either. I will browbeat their wimpy professors when your little angels' efforts don't receive the proper grades. I will be there at the dorms with pepper spray, a baseball bat and a fresh change of clothing to make sure that they make it to those morning classes. And for an extra fee, I'm happy to provide (clearing throat) term paper assistance.

My rates are very reasonable. E-mail is in profile. I look forward to hearing from you.
posted by jason's_planet at 8:59 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


ies. Nothing is hotter than debauching the daughter of really rich parents. It gratifies both the libido and the class rage impulse simultaneously.

Heh. I once debauched the hell out of this girl* who's daddy was not only rich, but made his money as a 'fundraiser for Christian Colleges.' Felt good on so many levels.

*She was also horrible to service employees (even though she was one at the time) which is the ultimate gauge of how good a person you are. Years later, she called me and in the space of five minutes explicitly recounted our [ahem] escapades, then asked me if I owned any Black Sabbath records and said that was an easy way for 'Satan to sneak into my mind when I wasn't looking.' She's a parent now.
posted by jonmc at 8:59 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Not this year!

Oh? Goddamn polls. [NOT S.E.C.-IST]
posted by Pollomacho at 8:59 AM on October 15, 2007


And then these semi-competent self-entitled brats get to run our lives.

Rich, yet moronic under achievers scrambling to hold on to their sense of entitlement paying top dollar to intelligent lesser-class entrepeneurs.


Geez, people, stereotype much? Yeah, I would have liked to have the advantages these kids have too. But that doesn't mean they are all stupid and self-entitled. Hell, for all we know, some of them want to live normal lives but can't escape their parents' pressure to "succeed."
posted by brain_drain at 9:20 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Rich, yet moronic under achievers scrambling to hold on to their sense of entitlement paying top dollar to intelligent lesser-class entrepeneurs.

some of them want to live normal lives but can't escape their parents' pressure to "succeed."

At least in my case, my statement could be applied equally to such parents and was really intended to brand them as the stupid and self-entitled ones. Rather than raising kids that are capable of getting into these schools through due dilligence and acheivement with years of good parenting, they go for a quick fix and throw money at the problems.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:27 AM on October 15, 2007


Geez, people, stereotype much?

Real-life experience, unfortunately, including having middle managers' Ivy School undergrad gpas thrown around in meetings as evidence that they really know what they're doing.
posted by carter at 9:32 AM on October 15, 2007


Rousing victories for Ohio State over Youngstown State, Akron, and Kent State so far this year! Upcoming: Kenyon College, Dayton Dunbar High, the Wright State women's varsity softball team, and the University of Cincinnati's Kappa Sig intramural team.
posted by Kwine at 9:35 AM on October 15, 2007


Hell, for all we know, some of them want to live normal lives but can't escape their parents' pressure to "succeed."

And if there are any daughters of rich parents reading, I can provide the perfect way to strike back at those over-involved, controlling busybodies. And when you get tired of my lower-class debauchery, my rates for breaking off the engagement are extremely unreasonable, thereby providing Daddy with a kick in his bank balance he'll whine about for generations to come.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:36 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


The FPP is potentially misleading - for those who haven't RTFA, the 95% acceptance rate is for student's first choice of college, not 95% acceptance to Ivy League schools. Part of what Hernandez does is apparently to help students be realistic about what school's they're likely to get into.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:38 AM on October 15, 2007


(also, I used to work at a Newsstand in New Haven, right near the Yale campus. Most days it seemed like the boola-boolas and the normal urban flotsam people were having a contest to see who could drive me crazy first. An 'college guide' issue of a major newsweekly came out ranking Yale at #1 and for a week, I couldn't go five minutes without some Yalie coming in to buy a copy. Drove me batshit.)
posted by jonmc at 9:38 AM on October 15, 2007


> Lies. Nothing is hotter than debauching the daughter of really rich parents. It gratifies both the libido and
> the class rage impulse simultaneously.

Peter, in Peoples' Republic of Massachusetts daughters of really rich debauch you.
posted by jfuller at 9:49 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


The hell of it is, this bullshit overkill is going to quickly trickle-down to the rest of the colleges. Anywhere a middle-man can insert themselves and rake-in the bucks, they will.

And all it will take are a few schools responding favorably to their pre-packaged "goods", and it will become de-facto necessary to pay for these services, just to get your kid into a state school. Thus, making college even more expensive and, potentially, putting just out-of-reach for a few more kids.

God, I hate marketing.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:51 AM on October 15, 2007


You know what I could really use? A consultant to help me select a college admissions coach. There are so many coaches, with different styles -- how do I know which is right for my child?

And also, a consultant to help select the consultant.
posted by luser at 10:03 AM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is much more cost effective and personal than your typical college admission counselor at a Connecticut boarding school. I mean, kid's parents aren't paying $25,000 a year for the Prussian-style education, right?

The privileged are getting better a keeping their kids in power. This is just putting it on the market instead of swaddling it in blanket of meritocracy. It is a lot more intellectually honest than claiming that college prep academies produce "more qualified" students.

I'm more disappointed that the finishing school accent has all but gone. At least the smarmy rich kid from "Mad Men" had that annoying intonation.
posted by geoff. at 10:11 AM on October 15, 2007


That was a major downer.
posted by serazin at 10:13 AM on October 15, 2007


College can also be a time of enrichment independent of expected financial gain. Knowledge, cultural exposure, common social experience, and independent work in a broad spectrum are all reasons that the independently wealthy went to university before there was anything of real utility expected of them. I think that we have departments in classics and other such non-applied fields for reasons like this.

Rich parents want to make sure that their kids meet people of the same social class and maybe work out some of the stupid by spending time with smart peers and excellent mentors. This older function of university it butting up against the modern producing-useful-people idea and requiring them to work around barriers.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:17 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


An 'college guide' issue of a major newsweekly came out ranking Yale at #1 and for a week, I couldn't go five minutes without some Yalie coming in to buy a copy. Drove me batshit.

Well, at least there's not much chance of that happening in the next several years.

It is a lot more intellectually honest than claiming that college prep academies produce "more qualified" students.

You're kidding yourself about the quality of American public schools.
posted by oaf at 10:29 AM on October 15, 2007


Lies. Nothing is hotter than debauching the daughter of really rich parents. It gratifies both the libido and the class rage impulse simultaneously.

Except maybe debauching their sons at which point you also get heterocentrism rage impulse as well.
posted by heeeraldo at 10:30 AM on October 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


College can also be a time of enrichment independent of expected financial gain.

Of course, but the parents that set expectations for their kids that require $40,000 spin doctors to achieve aren't looking for their kids to meet goals of personal enrichment beyond the financial ones.

Knowledge, cultural exposure, common social experience, and independent work in a broad spectrum are all reasons that the independently wealthy went to university before there was anything of real utility expected of them.

You left off that they were also not-first born or male in the feudalist system of primogenature. That is the true older function of the university. Then we started looking up to them smart folk, whats got educated down there at the state U. We had classics departments because they were the cutting-edge sciences of the mid 14th century, we still have them for the people that are looking for education and enrichment, not the ones that choose a school because it will get them into the right grad program that will get them into the right clerkship or internship that will get them into the right Firm or hospital. That's why they teach those pre-med prerequisites in big lecture halls and the classes on 2nd century Roman bathroom humor in the professor's office (though that would be one kick-ass course).
posted by Pollomacho at 10:35 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


It is a lot more intellectually honest than claiming that college prep academies produce "more qualified" students.

You're kidding yourself about the quality of American public schools.


Oh?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:38 AM on October 15, 2007


Yale could use an international airport, Mr Burns.
posted by Totally Zanzibarin' Ya at 10:40 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh?

Yes. There are many shitty private schools out there, but few public schools anywhere near as good as the best private ones.
posted by oaf at 10:45 AM on October 15, 2007


Somehow I doubt that it's a coincidence that kids who argue against affirmative action are white and from wealthy families.

The fact that affirmative action is supported by the wrong people doesn't automatically make it a good idea. I would be more receptive to affirmative action based on financial status, although many schools have indirectly implemented this already through generous financial aid programs, but race-based quotas are an idiotic idea.

As for the expensive counselors, it's simply a natural consequence of the fact that top schools can no longer officially discriminate to the extent they could 50 or 100 years ago. The wealthy have always enjoyed an unfair advantage (and will continue to do so with or without affirmative action).

Thorzdad has pointed out the only thing that's potentially troubling about it, although I think it likely that, if the effect trickles down to more schools, the strategies used by the counselors will become common knowledge. This will largely eliminate the advantage, except for a tiny edge that only the wealthy will continue to pay for.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:48 AM on October 15, 2007


Except maybe debauching their sons at which point you also get heterocentrism rage impulse as well.

Nah, it's expected of the sons. That's why their parents pay for a traditional public school education. There's a reason why acting as the servant of an older boy is traditionally called 'fagging' in the British public school system. It's the first step in a life-long course in emotional flexibility and learning to subsume desire to economic advantage.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:55 AM on October 15, 2007


Yes. There are many shitty private schools out there, but few public schools anywhere near as good as the best private ones.

Um, oaf, you have to read at least the synopsis of the report linked to get the point rahter than just the title. It's not about a few shitty private schools and good public schools, it's about students in general fairing just as well regardless of which they attend. Here's a quote:

Taken as a whole, these findings suggest that students who attend private high schools receive neither immediate academic advantages nor longer-term advantages in attending college, finding satisfaction in the job market, or participating in civic life.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:02 AM on October 15, 2007


Well, the report does contain an important proviso that SAT scores vary significantly between public and private schools, which gives private school students a leg up in terms of college admissions. On the merits, public school students may be just as qualified, but as a practical matter private school is a more reliable path to good colleges.
posted by brain_drain at 11:12 AM on October 15, 2007


oaf, you have to read at least the synopsis of the report linked to get the point rahter than just the title

I did, but that study still doesn't claim (or even imply) that attending a public school offers the same advantages as attending the non-shitty private schools. My point stands.
posted by oaf at 11:21 AM on October 15, 2007


Especially now that public schools have to teach to a test in order to receive funding, instead of teaching anything of actual value.
posted by oaf at 11:22 AM on October 15, 2007


I did, but that study still doesn't claim (or even imply) that attending a public school offers the same advantages as attending the non-shitty private schools. My point stands.

No, you are right, what it claims and implies is that there actually are no advantages, other than in the case of Holy Order operated Catholic schools and the SAT score bonuses that seem to be enjoyed by the private school students, and percieved advantage of private schools is a mistake in causation. What the study shows is that it is not the schools that give the advantage but the students themselves and their parents. Can private schools draw from a higher acheiving set of students? Yes, but that does not mean that the school is causing the set to achieve higher. Can a private school draw from a set of students who's parents can afford to provide them with more educational materials and experiences? Yes, but that does not mean the the school is causing the set to achieve higher.

What does give and advantage acording to the study is parents giving a shit about the education of their kids and having the means to provide educational materials and experience.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:40 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yes. There are many shitty private schools out there, but few public schools anywhere near as good as the best private ones.
posted by oaf at 1:45 PM on October 15


Here's a chart from the Wall Street Journal listing the public and private high schools that sent the most students (relative to high school class size) to 10 elite universities, including the seven Ivys. As you can see, the public schools fared at least as well as the private schools, if not better. Not all public schools are created equal.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:45 AM on October 15, 2007


So this is how Bush got into Yale?

Bush was a legacy, like Flounder in Animal House. We elected Flounder. Twice.
(Or "elected," whatever.)
posted by kirkaracha at 11:46 AM on October 15, 2007


At the elite colleges - dim white kids: Researchers with access to closely guarded college admissions data have found that, on the whole, about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America's highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their institutions' minimum admissions standards.
posted by Staggering Jack at 11:53 AM on October 15, 2007


We elected Flounder. Twice.

Flounder was a likeable schmuck. Bush seems more like Niedermeyer or Marmalard to me.
posted by jonmc at 12:07 PM on October 15, 2007


I read an article from the financial section of my cellphone. The question posed to the author was, is it worth it to spend the big bucks on a high-end education? Everyone assumes the answer is yes (because of higher wages than high school grads), but he went into some detail and came to the conclusion that, overall, it's only about 10 percent better over your lifespan than just going straight to work from high school. But that also means that because it's so close, for a fair number of people it actually *won't* be worth it. The reasons it's that close: 1) instead of spending four years (or more) working, pushing onward in a career, and earning money, you're racking up huge debt; 2) even when ultimately you finally do begin to make ginormous wages, you pay higher taxes, and you get less out of what you pay into social security when you retire; 3) you spend the first several years (or more) just paying off the debt you accrued going to a prestigious college whereas the high school grad may very well be living in his own home by then and financially secure.

Part of the reason for this is that the cost of higher education (especially in private schools) has inflated dramatically since 1980. If gasoline had increased in cost proportionately to the increases in higher education, gas would cost more than $9 per gallon now. If milk had increased proportionately, milk would now cost $15 per gallon.

When you realize that you aren't really buying education, but rather documentation of education, and all it gets you on average is a 10 percent increase in lifetime earnings over a simple high-school graduate, well, that makes it quite a gamble. If you blow $250k at Harvard, then decide you want to be in a completely different field, you're basically screwed; it's probably gonna take you decades to repay that.
posted by jamstigator at 12:12 PM on October 15, 2007


The question posed to the author was, is it worth it to spend the big bucks on a high-end education?

After all, the benefits of higher education are solely financial.
posted by heeeraldo at 12:18 PM on October 15, 2007


Yes, but that does not mean the the school is causing the set to achieve higher.

This is true for the set of private schools in general. You can't claim it's true for Andover.

Here's a chart

I don't see a chart, but something tells me it's going to be one of those charts that doesn't really tell you anything (like that Newsweek ranking of schools by the sheer number of AP tests they gave, regardless of average scores or anything).
posted by oaf at 12:18 PM on October 15, 2007


oddman: "And yet many students think affirmative action is obviously wrong."

Oh, christ. Did you actually go to college? For your information, black and brown people can actually think. I know you probably wonder sometimes, but I assure you, it's true. It's incredible. In fact, plenty of them are just as smart and smarter than white people.

The fact is, if university entrance requirements and costs made sense and were open to all, I think you'd be surprised at how many black and brown people would succeed. But you'd have to really believe that they're capable of thinking, and I know that's tough for you.

The major problem is that many universities don't have cost structures that make any sense for people who aren't wealthy. It's a problem I've dealt with, as a lower-middle-class white kid who went to schools that cost a bundle more than I could afford, got a philosophy degree and a political science degree. I've got $90,000 in student loan debt. And I went to tiny schools and was lucky enough to squeak by getting in; none of these huge name-brand schools.

If poor people could go to college based on aptitude and their potential, rather than their bank accounts, you'd find a hell of a lot more minority people being able to get there. But I have a feeling you'll have more luck dismantling every single Ivy-League school and handing the parts to other universities.
posted by koeselitz at 12:28 PM on October 15, 2007


When you realize that you aren't really buying education, but rather documentation of education, and all it gets you on average is a 10 percent increase in lifetime earnings over a simple high-school graduate, well, that makes it quite a gamble. If you blow $250k at Harvard, then decide you want to be in a completely different field, you're basically screwed; it's probably gonna take you decades to repay that.

If you think Harvard graduates make only 10% more than people who haven't gone past high school, then there's a certain structure in New York that we might be able to make a deal on. I'll even cut the price because it doesn't have any subway lines on it.
posted by oaf at 12:29 PM on October 15, 2007


God this is depressing. But it gives me some business ideas.

How about we just divvy up every advantage that a nominally meritocratic society has. Every last fucking one. And sell it off to the highest bidder.

Face transplants from the poor to the rich? OK! No rag-wearer should be allowed to be pretty.

Paupers runs a little too fast for the blue bloods? Put some barbiturates in the water of poor neighborhoods. That'll slow the undeserving hobos down.

Annoying little urchin kids getting in to college who aren't rich? Sabotage the school systems from which they came: no way they're going to get in without an edumacation.*

Better yet, why not just replace all those other 3-dimensional human, nuanced qualities with one figure.

Just have a LED implanted on everyones forehead with how much cash they have. The higher the number, the better. Acess to everything based on that.

I'll be manufacturing these units shortly.

---

*Oh, wait, we did that one already.
posted by lalochezia at 12:33 PM on October 15, 2007


You don't go to Harvard for the "great education." You go there to make the social connections that will assist you in reaching the top. Success is as much about people as it is book larnin'...depending on the field, arguably more.
posted by zorro astor at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2007


Crap, sorry. Here is the Wall Street Journal chart I mentioned above.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:44 PM on October 15, 2007


So, yeah, that WSJ chart shows that the schools with the insanely high yields are almost exclusively private (three whole public schools managed to do better than Andover). Also, I wonder which Ivy they left out.
posted by oaf at 12:50 PM on October 15, 2007


There are many shitty private schools out there, but few public schools anywhere near as good as the best private ones.

Yes, that is true. There are also few private schools near as good as the best private ones, and few private schools near as good as the best public ones. That's why they are called "the best."
posted by escabeche at 12:53 PM on October 15, 2007


In general, though, you're going to find that if you discount the magnet public schools, the advantage goes to the private schools, as long as you're not enrolling in the Jesus School of Religious Indoctrination and by the Way Evolution Is Just a Myth. There is something in not being forced to spend most of your class time teaching to a standardized test.
posted by oaf at 1:11 PM on October 15, 2007


Who cares about the yields? Look at the number of students sent by the public schools, which have the Jeff Spiccolli idiots swelling their class sizes. Stuyvesant in NY sent more students to the top schools than Bush's alma mater.

Please read the chart again.

It's not a numbers game - you have to do the work. But this chart shows that the elite university acknowledge that the best public schools are as good as the best private schools.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:17 PM on October 15, 2007


*passes Pastabagel a slice of pizza*

Shh, the teachers talking about Cuba...
posted by jonmc at 1:19 PM on October 15, 2007


Stuyvesant in NY sent more students to the top schools than Bush's alma mater.

That's as relevant as saying that school A gave twice as many AP exams as school B, so it has a more challenging curriculum. The proportion is what's important (and also the scores, if you're talking about AP exams), not the raw number.
posted by oaf at 1:35 PM on October 15, 2007


Yes, but that does not mean the the school is causing the set to achieve higher.

This is true for the set of private schools in general. You can't claim it's true for Andover.


Especially for a school like Andover that has a more exclusive admissions policy. Cause and effect are separate. Only smart kids get into School X therefore if only smart kids come out of School X is it the school's doing or the fact that they only select from the top students? The study shows that it is the latter.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:01 PM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Stuyvesant is strong by proportion too, oaf. It's a very special place. And frankly, elite colleges are eager for students from the Bronx, or rural Montana, for that matter.

Basically, the problem is that we have too many really wealthy, really privileged, really entitled college-aged students in the US. It's a seller's market for schools and consultants, for sure. And an inflationary educational economy.

A decade of teaching at an Ivy here. And I have begun to wonder why even students from these hyper-elite school backgrounds so often simply cannot write a decent short essay. Yeah, there are still the bright ones, the driven ones, the real intellectuals -- more than ever. But the general population of elite kids I teach is not nearly at the level of the people I went to school with (at another Ivy) 20 years ago.

America has become too much about the appearance of education for the purposes of accumulating cultural capital, and not enough about actual learning. That's why we have to import so many engineers and scientists.
posted by spitbull at 2:49 PM on October 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


But the general population of elite kids I teach is not nearly at the level of the people I went to school with (at another Ivy) 20 years ago.

There's nostalgia/wishful thinking getting in your way.
posted by oaf at 3:03 PM on October 15, 2007


But the general population of elite kids I teach is not nearly at the level of the people I went to school with (at another Ivy) 20 years ago.

I know! Same thing with music. It's so much worse today than it used to be. Also, people are less polite, children are less respectful, and politicians are less honest. I am confident things were better back in the day -- because that's how I remember them!

To put it less snarkily, don't you think your perspective as a professor with the benefit of 20 years of experience might be just a wee bit different than your perspective as a young student?
posted by brain_drain at 3:07 PM on October 15, 2007


In general, though, you're going to find that if you discount the magnet public schools, the advantage goes to the private schools

Thats an underhanded way of making an argument. Why would you discount the magnet public schools? Thats like saying "If you take off all the best players from your team, then my team will trounce yours..." Well...yeah...

I'm not sure that much of your initial argument, oaf, is left standing. As Pastabagel said above "But this chart shows that the elite university acknowledge that the best public schools are as good as the best private schools." Do you disagree with that? And why exactly? Not all public schools are Stuyvesant. But then not all private schools are Andover either.
posted by vacapinta at 3:41 PM on October 15, 2007


“America has become too much about the appearance of education for the purposes of accumulating cultural capital, and not enough about actual learning.”

Well said.

Money shot:
“We had to make it seem like he didn't want to be around so many rich kids.”

Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems”.
‘Tis not alone my wealthy cloak, good Mammon,
Nor customary suits of solemn gold,
Nor nasal suspiration of forced accent,
No, nor the fruitful wallet in the pocket,
Nor the haughty havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of unearned privilege,
That can denote me truly. These indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play.
But I have that within which passes show;
These but the trappings and the suits of Pluto.


“She was also horrible to service employees (even though she was one at the time) which is the ultimate gauge of how good a person you are.”

Wow. I expect to be cannonized soon. St. Smedleyman, patron saint of 30% and “please.”

(In college one of my suitemates was black. Gorgeous girl I dated asked (later, after meeting him) me how I could “live next door to that” and use the same toilet. Her dad was wealthy and big in the Klan (apparently, I didn’t meet the guy). Yeah... didn’t work out. Got no joy out of that. Never been big on grudgefucks. Although I did leave her out in the middle of nowhere (immediately) after she said that. ‘Get the fuck out of my car bitch’ I think I said, or words to that effect. I was young so I didn’t have the mindfulness to come up with a “White Hunter Black Heart” sort of “Madam, I have dined with some of the ugliest goddamn bitches in my time...” sorta thing. Found out about the Klan stuff later. Someone trying to scare me I s’pose. Either way, sorry I ever got anywhere near her.)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:46 PM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thats like saying "If you take off all the best players from your team, then my team will trounce yours..." Well...yeah...

Where your team is akin to the Yankees, because, really, you're relying on an ability private schools can't possibly have when you can skim the brightest students from every school in a large region like TJHSST does.

"But this chart shows that the elite university acknowledge that the best public schools are as good as the best private schools."

Yes, the cream of the cream of the cream of public schools is just about as good as the cream of the cream of the cream of private schools. Once you head away from the pinnacle, the public schools drop off a lot faster. At least, that's what the chart shows. (Andover gets 30% into the "good" schools according to the chart's criteria. Three public schools did better than 15%, which is half of that. If I counted properly, thirty-one private schools that aren't Andover did the same thing.)
posted by oaf at 3:54 PM on October 15, 2007


Bet that woman can't get anyone into USAFA.
posted by konolia at 4:40 PM on October 15, 2007


I think this is excellent, and I hope this trend continues. Hooray for Ms. Hernandez, I say. To be accepted at these schools, I hope the costs eventually exceed 1 million dollars in consulting fees alone. I hope one year of tuition is three million dollars. This way, the wealthy can have all the education they want and perhaps then the rest of us will finally start demanding the public schools get the funding they have needed for so long.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:59 PM on October 15, 2007


We need to force feed these high schoolers shovels full of good acid starting yesterday.
posted by The Straightener at 6:56 PM on October 15, 2007


in Peoples' Republic of Massachusetts daughters of really rich debauch you.

Well, then, screw California...
posted by namespan at 6:59 PM on October 15, 2007


I personally know people doing similar work here in Seoul who make over $15,000 per month.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:34 PM on October 15, 2007


Bet that woman can't get anyone into USAFA.

*shudders* Who would want to go there?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:20 PM on October 15, 2007


*shudders* Who would want to go there?

Someone who would like to graduate with a guaranteed job, a top of the line education and no student loans to repay.

My son will be graduating this May with an English major and philosophy minor, with the eventual goal of advanced degrees in philosophy.

Did I mention they are also paid a stipend monthly?
posted by konolia at 5:19 AM on October 16, 2007


Bet that woman can't get anyone into USAFA

For that you don't need a middle-man, you just shovel the cash directly at your congress-thing. Make sure that you leave a note saying that you're pentecostal and annoying about it.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:17 AM on October 16, 2007


Bet that woman can't get anyone into USAFA.

True. But programs designed to create officers are going to differ from programs designed to create law students and wall street traders.

Hernandez has perfected a very specific song-and-dance routine for her kids, one that's aimed at American liberal arts finishing schools. I doubt that it works very well with the service academies or, for that matter, the engineering schools. I wonder how many people she's been able to get into Cal Poly or one of the Indian Institutes of Technology.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:54 AM on October 16, 2007


It seems that our culture is conducive to "how can I get there fastest" attitude. In high school, take AP classes and participate in extra-curricular activities because they think it boosts their chances to get into college. In college, students worry about GPA so they can get better jobs, or into better law schools. The pursuit of learning is secondary to the result of grading...I don't like the attitude or trend.
posted by jcentor at 8:39 AM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Bet that woman can't get anyone into USAFA

Don't see why not. Except, she doesn't say that she'll get anyone into anywhere. What she says is that 95% get into their first choice after she's through with them -- a lot of what she does seems to be shaping those first choices to be realistic.

In any case, it's not like admission to a service academy can't be gamed. Gaming the admissions side is no different than any other school, except she'd tell people to work out. Gaming the nomination is a matter of either doing crap that appeals to the academy, the district nominating committee, or the MC, or having a favor owed by the MC.

Someone who would like to graduate with a guaranteed job

...at a second lieutenant's pay. Essentially any college graduate can find work that pays that well. For example, by waiting tables or working in Border's.

a top of the line education

It's okay, especially if you do engineering. The downside to an academy education is the faculty. Most of them are career officers who were sent off for a quick MA somewhere, often someplace decidedly undistinguished or semi-correspondence schools like Troy State, and who will only be there for a few years. I know a guy who's there, and apparently an awful lot of the military instructors devote most of their energy towards getting back into their "real" careers in 4 years.

and no student loans to repay.

OTOH, you miss out on five or more years of work experience in the real world, and five years of employer-assisted saving for retirement at the best time to start saving.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:57 AM on October 16, 2007


So should I keep paying for private school or stash the tuition money away for a high priced consulltant? What's the better route?
posted by pearlybob at 10:33 AM on October 16, 2007


you just shovel the cash directly at your congress-thing

As if. My kid got more than one nomination and one of them was from Edwards. Which if you know my politics is absurdly hilarious. Mind you, you then still have to get an appointment, which is decided upon by Academy people. (We're not a military family so we had no pull there either.)

For a kid who WANTS to be a philosophy professor and write scholarly books eventually, and who WANTS to teach at the Academy one day, well, he's golden.
posted by konolia at 10:46 AM on October 16, 2007


Oh, and where can I get a job waiting tables that pays what a second lieutenant gets?
posted by konolia at 10:47 AM on October 16, 2007


Ah, it has jacked up. No longer synonymous with "poverty."

I'm sure your kid is just ever so smart and that you love him very much. But, really, the idea that admissions to the academies are impossible to game is silly on its face, and the implicit comparison to "normal" schools is vaguely offensive.

The admissions system is set up specifically to make gaming it easier for well-connected kids, though thankfully most MCs don't use it that explicitly. You'd want to do different things to get into a service academy than you would Haverford or Santa Cruz, but it's still eminently game-able.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:44 AM on October 16, 2007


semi-correspondence schools like Troy State

tisk-tisk ROU, it's Troy University now!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:50 AM on October 16, 2007


If you want to game just about ANY school, including a service academy, simply be a very, very good football prospect.
posted by konolia at 12:20 PM on October 16, 2007


where can I get a job waiting tables that pays what a second lieutenant gets?

San Francisco? I'd bet many waiters here pull in more than $30/hr. They probably don't get $60K/year b/c of schedules, but it's not bad.

What's a second lieutenant (in what?) and what does it pay?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:53 PM on October 16, 2007


Okay, okay, my statement about who would want to go to USAFA is rather tongue in cheek since I'm over on the other side of the country at USNA. So, my attacking them is not meant to be too serious.

However, I do find the climate and academic culture here superior to USAFA's. One of the reasons the Naval Academy is unique is due to it's faculty program: since it's inception (taking out small periods of time) it's always been half/half civilian/military. The military (those usually with masters degrees) are there to provide on how the skills integrate into the fleet and the job world. The civilians (with PhD) provide the expertise, renown, and corporate memory needed to run a good school of higher learning. Though I love the civilian faculty quite a great deal, it was a series of two English department officers that caused me to major in English. The officers in the English Department tend to be. . . self-selecting. I would not be upset about joining their number some day.

As for which colleges officers get their masters (and sometimes doctorate with) I've found plenty in my department (most actually) that go to some great local colleges like University of Maryland and St. Johns along with many other well respected in and around DC and Baltimore. The engineering side of things has a good crop too. In fact, as an engineering school we're always top ranked in our engineering departments. However, we're also a top twenty liberal arts undergrad college.

Of course you can game admission; any college can be gamed. However, this isn't a bad thing. A college gets the student body it demands, not just in who it selects but who it maintains. A large part about this place is not getting in but choosing to stay. As such, our small student body tends to be somewhat selective. Sure there are rich kid entries, but they tend to leave if they don't like it. A son of a certain presidential candidate is in my company. He's an okay student and midshipman. He certainly doesn't get any breaks from the faculty or staff here.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:46 PM on October 16, 2007


What's a second lieutenant (in what?) and what does it pay?

A second lieutenant in the Air Force is the first officer rank. In the Navy we call them ensigns (but we graduate 20% of our class as 2ndLts in the Marine Corps). They make about $45,000 their first year out. However this doesn't take into effect that some of their money is tax free (food and shelter allotments aren't taxed) and that they receive special bonus money for their community, like pilots, being at sea, or driving a reactor. All in total, new officers make about $50,000. After about six years in, you make around $75,000 if not more. Especially submarine lieutenants tend to make in excess of $100,000.

Not to say that you can't make more, but I'm pretty good with that coming out of college as an English major and being able to eat.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 4:59 PM on October 16, 2007


konolia: I'm not saying that YOUR kid (who I know nothing about) doesn't deserve to be Air Marshall/Philosopher King, just that the type of person who wants to spend $40k on college admissions advice isn't going to have trouble getting into the service academies either. You seem to acknowledge that there are many points along the way for politics to play its role.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:23 PM on October 16, 2007


As for which colleges officers get their masters (and sometimes doctorate with) I've found plenty in my department (most actually) that go to some great local colleges like University of Maryland and St. Johns

Sure. And others don't.

The academies are fine undergraduate schools in most respects, and very good engineering schools. They're just not the OMG BEST EV-ARR BOW BEFORE MYYYY BOOOOOY. Part of why is the rotating military faculty and the simple fact that they're military first and faculty second. Which is fine when they're teaching directly military topics, but can be less fine when they're teaching normal-academic courses. USMA and USNA deal with this better than USAFA.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:21 PM on October 16, 2007


ROU, do you have AIM? I would love to converse about this issue. I think you have some perspectives I would like to understand.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:44 PM on October 16, 2007


ROU, do you have AIM?

No. email in profile; I'll try to remember to check it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:59 PM on October 16, 2007


USAFA has plenty of civilian professors, btw.
posted by konolia at 5:46 AM on October 17, 2007


About a quarter, and as near as I can tell the number of more-or-less permanent military faculty are only two per department.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:01 AM on October 17, 2007


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