Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

January 26, 2008

Randolph-Macon College

Filed under: college admissions, college rankings, education, Liberal Arts Colleges — texased @ 10:01 pm
Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » Randolph-Macon College
Randolph-Macon College is a small liberal arts of less than 1,200 students just north of Richmond, Virginia. The college has two programs that I find appealing. It has a First-Year Experience that goes beyond freshman seminars. Undergraduate research appears to be prominent with it’s Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship. And for those who ranking is important, its ranking in US News and World Report suggests that it may be an under-rated or undiscovered education value. It’s ranked 122 over all in its Liberal Arts Colleges list but is 176th in selectivity.

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January 11, 2008

Albion College

Filed under: college admissions, college rankings, education, Liberal Arts Colleges — texased @ 10:34 pm
Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » Albion College
From my basic list of liberal arts colleges

I love Albion’s “Prospective Student” page. It starts with “do you believe that your first 18 years of life can be accurately and completely reflected in one admissions applications?” Well, of course not which is why you should visit Albion. Like most small, liberal arts colleges, it’s faculty gets high marks for quality and interaction. It appears to have some interesting academic programs and has a high percentage of students going to graduate school or med school after graduation.

See the complete post at my new website www.texasedspectator.com.

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January 3, 2008

Who knew that privilege was such a disadvantage?

Filed under: college admissions, education, race — texased @ 4:26 pm
Texas Ed Spectator » Blog Archive » Who knew that privilege was such a disadvantage?
I’ve seen this book, “Acing the College Application,” around and just the little skimming I’ve done standing in the book aisle has convinced me that it’s a superficial treatment of the college application process. This review of Naomi Schaefer Riley’s seems to confirm it.

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November 26, 2007

The College Search: Colby-Sawyer College

Filed under: college admissions, college rankings — texased @ 8:16 pm

Just in case anyone is wondering what I’ve been doing instead of blogging, I’ve started the college search for my sophomore son. Notice, I didn’t say “assisting” him or “guiding” him, I’m the one doing it. He has absolutely no interest at this point.

So why bother? Why not just let him reach the point on his own and start looking himself? One, the way the college application process works now at days means that waiting may also close off opportunities you waited too long to find out about.

Two, after spending a lot of time on a homeschool to college yahoo group and wondering why everyone elses kids seem to care and mine doesn’t, someone pointed out that it seems to be more boys in the “don’t care” category. The group consensus was that boys generally take longer to mature and this is one area in which it shows. (I hope anyway)

Three, if I go from the premise that he’s not really a self-starter, then I had better find a college where he won’t get lost in the crowd.

Four, we aren’t going to qualify for any need aid and while my son isn’t a self-starter, he’s smart enough to qualify for some merit aid somewhere. I just need to figure out somewhere.

So how do you start looking? I’ve read the Colleges that Change Lives and looked at the Princeton Review top 20 lists and it’s a start. But there are over 1500 schools out there and that only scratches the surface.

I’ll tell you my current, evolving method. I start out at http://www.collegeresults.org. I do an institutional search for the following:

Size: 750-2500 (I think he’s going to need to be in a small school where people care if he shows up to class)

Student Related Expenditures per FTE: greater than $15,000. The most spent per student at any state school in Texas is less than $12,000. There are only 25 public schools nationally that spend more than $15,000 per student. There are 290 private schools that do. I figure if I’m going to shell out tuition for a private school, I want to see some of the money spent on the students whether on student organizations, dorms, athletic facilities (the one thing he does care about) or classrooms.

Graduation Rate: Ideally, it should be over 70%. However, I’m currently working with a search between 50% and 70%. This generally lowers the requirements for qualifying for full tuition scholarships at the school. If he can get a scholarship and in their honors program with less than a 1200 SAT, I’ll take the chance.

After I generate my list, I then plug the school in the Princeton Review’s website for more info on it’s acceptance rate, percentage of students living on campus, percentage going to graduate school, and does it have baseball and football (because that’s important to my son, it may not be important to yours).

Then I hit the school’s website to look for information on it’s history department, (if ds can’t be general manager of a pro football team, he wants to be a history professor), scholarships, and honors program.

And that’s how I cam across Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. The fact that it doesn’t have a football team is made up by it’s Honor Scholarship program. 1150 is worth a look.

Wesson Honors and Presidential Scholarships

Wesson Honors Scholarship Students with a 3.5 GPA and 1150 SAT (combined critical reading and math sections)/25 ACT score are eligible for the Wesson Honors Scholarship. This $12,000 scholarship includes direct admission into the Wesson Honors Program. It is renewable annually for four years of study dependent upon good academic standing in the Wesson Honors Program.

I’m not sure about the history department since it’s history department is actually “History, Society and Culture” which they do a nice job of explaining. It doesn’t seem particularly strong in the Civil War but okay in modern European history. On the plus side, it has developed an “Apprentice Historian Project.”

Other notables about the school is it’s co-curricular transcript, Pathway program, and use of portfolios.

I’m not sure I want ds in New Hampshire; I’m not sure he would even want to go. But it’s saved to the Princeton Review profile and on my “watch” list. It seems a promising alternative for someone who is not going to make into UT under the top 10 percent rule.

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May 28, 2007

No change to the top ten percent rule

Filed under: college admissions, Florence Shapiro, Top Ten Percent Rule — texased @ 11:40 am

Excellent!

MySA.com: Metro | State

AUSTIN — In a surprise move, the Texas House shot down a bill Sunday night that would have limited automatic admissions at the University of Texas at Austin for students graduating in the top 10 percent of their class.

A cheer went up in the chamber with the final vote, 75-64, against adopting a compromise bill that would have let public universities cap admissions of high-ranking students at 50 percent.

Now maybe people can start thinking about what Texas can do to improve the quality of all it’s universities.

As for the brain drain argument, drain away. Maybe all of these people who leave the state will choose to live outside of Texas. Then as more graduates of Texas’ top universities look more like Texas as a whole, these graduates will lead the way to improve higher education opportunities for everyone, not just the children of wealthy parents in north Dallas and the Houston suburbs.

May 27, 2007

The best money can buy

Filed under: college admissions, Higher Education, Top Ten Percent Rule — texased @ 3:46 pm

Agreement reached on top 10 percent law | Postcards from the Lege

House and Senate negotiators have reached agreement on changes to a 10-year-old college-admission law.

Under Senate Bill 101, which still needs approval today from the full House and Senate, the University of Texas would no longer be required to accept all applicants who rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class. UT could limit such students to 60 percent of its freshmen from Texas. Such students made up 71 percent in fall 2006.

Agreement reached on top 10 percent law | Postcards from the Lege

UT President William Powers Jr. has spent considerable time testifying at legislative hearings and meeting with lawmakers this year in hopes of obtaining limits on the law. He’s argued that racial and ethnic diversity — a major purpose of the 1997 legislation — could be realized more effectively if UT has greater discretion in deciding whom to admit.

So now UT Austin will go out of it’s way to admit students like those below?

Elite Colleges Open New Door to Low-Income Youths – New York Times

Mr. Jack’s high grades and test scores — a respectable 1200 on the SAT — won him a full scholarship to the University of Florida. But the median score for his Amherst class was 1422, and he would have been excluded had the admissions office not considered his socioeconomic class, and the obstacles he had overcome.

“Tony Jack with his pure intelligence — had he been raised in Greenwich, he would have been a 1500 kid,” said Tom Parker, the dean of admission. “He would have been tutored by Kaplan or Princeton Review. He would have had The New Yorker magazine on the coffee table.”

Hardly likely. While Powers and the UT Alumni Association (I can’t believe they use my dues for this) were out bemoaning the lack of flexibility in selecting students under the top ten percent rule, Sen. Jane Nelson is promising her constituents that money will once again be a deciding factor in UT admissions.

Star-Telegram.com | 05/05/2007 | Senate approves limit on top 10% rule

Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, said the rule hurts students with sterling credentials who graduate from Texas’ mega-high schools, where many students take Advanced Placement classes and boast high SAT scores. At the same time, students from smaller schools with less-competitive curricula make it into UT, said Nelson, adding that voting for the top 10 percent rule in 1996 was one of the worst votes she’s ever cast.

Whatever could I mean by that? After all, she’s talking about credentials, AP courses and high SATs. Such credentials, as Amherst seems to recognize, are more likely when the parents have the money to pay for the prep classes and to buy a house in well-to-do area. So while Powers talks about admitting students like Tony Jack, Nelson and Shapiro and friends make it clear this bill is really about making sure that those who can afford it, get to go to UT.

So much for improving our higher education system for everyone.

May 12, 2007

Where are they going to go?

Filed under: college admissions, Education reform, Higher Education — texased @ 8:52 pm

This is a good idea.

MySA.com: Metro | State

Under UTSA’s proposal, guaranteed admission for top-ranked high school students would expand from the top 10 percent to the top 25 percent.

Below that threshold, students would have to score from 920-1020 on the SAT, up from the current range of 830-970; on the ACT, that range would rise from 17-20 to 19-21.Romo said higher standards are part of a strategy to slow enrollment and manage runaway growth, as well as raise graduation rates and push UTSA toward it goal of becoming a premier research university.

A draft of UTSA’s strategic plan calls for capping enrollment at 35,000 by 2016. Romo estimated that 400 students would be rejected under the new standards.

“You cannot be open admissions and say you have standards,” Romo said, adding that high schools must turn out better students because the university cannot afford remedial education.

“The message we send to high schools is that UTSA will take you, no matter what,” he said.

Of course, in some ways, this just shifts the issues of qualifications and enrollment to community colleges. And given the lack of predictability of transferring course work from community colleges to four year institutions, low graduation rates, and lower profiles, I can’t help but think it’s brushing the problem under the rug so the legislature doesn’t have to deal with it.

What problem? The problem that obviously a significant number of students graduate from Texas colleges believing that they are ready for college but the low graduation rate at many Texas universities suggest otherwise.

Then there is the problem of capping enrollments as a means to controlling growth. Even if our public school system never improves, the number of graduates capable of succeeding in college is going to grow simply from population growth. Where are these people supposed to go?

Our local school district has a bond issue on the ballot to build more more schools to accommodate the 4,000 plus students being added to the district each year. Where are the new universities being built?

This is basically why it’s so hard to get into the Ivy League schools. They probably have ten times the number of people applying than they had 30 years ago and all of them meet the minimum qualifications. However, they haven’t expanded to accommodate ten times the enrollment. Students are being turned away who would have been an automatic admission just 20 years ago.

UTSA will become more selective simply because it can’t keep growing, just like UT Austin and Texas A&M already have. So what happens next, the community colleges, our last door that opens the path to higher education to all, will start turning away students?

July 8, 2006

New Education Markets

An 18 day intensive college admissions program for 11th and 12th graders.

Extreme College Admission Camp for Highly Motivated College Bound Kids by Education Unlimited: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance:

“This program will be controversial to some,” says Education Unlimited Executive Director Matthew Fraser, “but it shouldn’t be. For a tiny fraction of the cost of a private high school education, which could cost $100,000 in the Bay Area, a student can receive many of the college admission advantages that those students receive.” Fraser goes on to say that, “interestingly, while our original CAPC program was designed to fill in the gap for public school kids who haven’t had private school caliber admissions help, we have found that at some of our regular CAPC programs as many as half of the students attend private schools. I believe that families that have carefully assessed the value of education realize how much you can get in terms of results from a program like this and are thus willing to seek out these sorts of opportunities for their kids.”

So the only reason these private school familes go is because they “have carefully assessed the value” and not because they have the cash ($3,975) in the first place?

I wonder how long it will take for this to “trickle” down to state mandated tests? One possible scenario in Texas:

As schools come under increasing pressure to provide education instruction beyond what is on the TAKS for the students who can be easily expected to pass the TAKS each year, they will develop a new system of differentiated (remedial?) classes. All students who have problems passing the TAKS will be assigned to certain classrooms, obviously with the best teachers available-not. Students in the other classes will once again enjoy art, pe, history, and expanded enrichment activities. So to make sure their kids get put into the non-TAKS classes, parents will start sending their kids to intensive tutoring or summer programs offered by private organizations such as those in the article.

While poor schools, or schools with poor parents, spend all their resources to ensure the kids pass the TAKS, schools with wealthier parents will be providing a broader, more complex education. And some people are going to be making a lot of money off it. Talk about the government creating new markets…

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