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Old 02-10-2016, 02:59 PM   #1
JonInMiddleGA
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The Higher Education Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solecismic View Post
Unless you're on scholarship, you're going to be deeply in debt after college.

But, being deeply in the middle of this process right now ourselves, how many people that are going to make it to a degree aren't on at least some degree of scholarship.

I mean, the "list price" for college is absurd. But who the hell is paying list price? I just had this discussion last weekend with a couple of parents & a veteran educator, the standard opening offer these days is equal to roughly half at even most private colleges. That's the typical day one with admission acceptance number that is typical. Granted, rarified air set of students & all that jazz, but those are the kids that are getting into School X. Those are the kids that the school is definitely showing an indication that they want.

The leap from 50 percent (via scholarships and/or various cost waivers) to 60 or 70 percent isn't really that tough either. It's the next level above "the average freshman enrollee" but it's doable for many of those first round kids. Now the final portion, yeah, we're finding that to be where it gets a lot tougher. And the remainder isn't insubstantial, by any means ... but it's still a long way from MSRP too.

I'm probably as inclined toward the "name" school phenomenon as anyone but, realistically, if you aren't getting that sort of offer right off the bat then you may be reaching a tier above your grasp for school choice. To me any offer less than that is a strong sign that you might need to expand your horizons in terms of where to go.
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Old 02-10-2016, 03:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Solecismic View Post
I'm no longer certain this is the case, because Hillary is making a lot of mistakes lately. Plus, she still has to explain how emails made it from the state department's top-secret computer network to her home server without their security markings. While it seems certain Obama will protect her from prosecution, the fallout could be significant.

For some reason, she got it into her head that she had to out-left Sanders. So she's repudiating her husband's presidency - exactly the accomplishments that made independents like him. And now he's on the campaign trail with her. That's confusing.

Meanwhile, free stuff for everyone. Just add it to the tab.

No one really believes she's that far to the left. So young people aren't just embracing Sanders and the free stuff, they're to a point where they actually dislike Hillary because they know she was someone else before the campaign started. It's not just the email server she's lying about.

Sanders has tapped into a very real problem, however. College is more expensive than it was in the past. When my mom went to Cornell, she paid for most of it with a part-time job in the cafeteria. My dad's tuition at Yale was paid for under the GI Bill. Costs increased, and by the time I was a student I had to cobble together a couple of jobs and go in-state. But I got through without debt.

Could that work today? Forget it. Unless you're on scholarship, you're going to be deeply in debt after college. And if you don't have a useful major, you're going to have trouble finding a job anyway.

I completely disagree with Sanders' solution, but this is a problem that anyone under 30 can see a lot more clearly than the rest of us can. If you ask college professors, they'll blame administrative bloat and 100 other things. I think we need university reform just as badly as we need health care reform.

There's always vocational jobs. Or going to a community college on a university-transfer pathway.
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Old 02-10-2016, 03:13 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by wustin View Post
There's always vocational jobs. Or going to a community college on a university-transfer pathway.

That's how European countries with "free" tuition handle this problem. But in the US, people don't accept that solution. Kids would rather be warehoused in majors that don't even qualify them for McDonald's than go to vocational school. The diploma has become more important than the future.
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Old 02-10-2016, 03:24 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by JonInMiddleGA View Post
But, being deeply in the middle of this process right now ourselves, how many people that are going to make it to a degree aren't on at least some degree of scholarship.

I mean, the "list price" for college is absurd. But who the hell is paying list price? I just had this discussion last weekend with a couple of parents & a veteran educator, the standard opening offer these days is equal to roughly half at even most private colleges. That's the typical day one with admission acceptance number that is typical. Granted, rarified air set of students & all that jazz, but those are the kids that are getting into School X. Those are the kids that the school is definitely showing an indication that they want.

The leap from 50 percent (via scholarships and/or various cost waivers) to 60 or 70 percent isn't really that tough either. It's the next level above "the average freshman enrollee" but it's doable for many of those first round kids. Now the final portion, yeah, we're finding that to be where it gets a lot tougher. And the remainder isn't insubstantial, by any means ... but it's still a long way from MSRP too.

I'm probably as inclined toward the "name" school phenomenon as anyone but, realistically, if you aren't getting that sort of offer right off the bat then you may be reaching a tier above your grasp for school choice. To me any offer less than that is a strong sign that you might need to expand your horizons in terms of where to go.

Average discount rates are in the mid-fourties for a lot of schools. We were at 44 the last I heard. That's a big problem, because there isn't much room left to discount.
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Old 02-10-2016, 03:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Solecismic View Post
That's how European countries with "free" tuition handle this problem. But in the US, people don't accept that solution. Kids would rather be warehoused in majors that don't even qualify them for McDonald's than go to vocational school. The diploma has become more important than the future.

Don't blame the students. A lot of them would be fine with vocational or two year degrees if they opened doors the way a four year degree does. They aren't stupid, they understand that the jobs they can get without a four year degree are dwindling every year. Even if that vocational degree works today, when they're unemployed later they won't have options. Many employers use the four year degree as a filter, and equate a vocational degree with a HS diploma.
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Old 02-10-2016, 03:28 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by wustin View Post
There's always vocational jobs. Or going to a community college on a university-transfer pathway.
Even community college is now somewhat ridiculous. I mean, I don't know what your definition of cheap is but if I were to go to the same community college I did years ago it would now cost in the range of 15-20K (Long Beach City College, CA) when you include the various fees. My daughter did JC for one semester just because she planned to leave on a mission and that one semester was around $3500 (that's in Virginia). If that's now the affordable option its pretty crappy.
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Old 02-10-2016, 03:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JPhillips View Post
Many employers use the four year degree as a filter, and equate a vocational degree with a HS diploma.

I'd go so far as to make the argument that the 4 year degree is awfully damned close to what a HS diploma used to be.

Says much about how devalued a HS diploma has become.
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Old 02-10-2016, 03:30 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by JPhillips View Post
Average discount rates are in the mid-fourties for a lot of schools. We were at 44 the last I heard. That's a big problem, because there isn't much room left to discount.

Smells about right to my sniff test, there's enough that are far below that 50% mark for me to imagine the average being driven down in that range.
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Old 02-10-2016, 03:45 PM   #9
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Even community college is now somewhat ridiculous. I mean, I don't know what your definition of cheap is but if I were to go to the same community college I did years ago it would now cost in the range of 15-20K (Long Beach City College, CA) when you include the various fees. My daughter did JC for one semester just because she planned to leave on a mission and that one semester was around $3500 (that's in Virginia). If that's now the affordable option its pretty crappy.

~$2600 for two semesters, I live in the RDU area of North Carolina. I know some people on this board live in Greensboro. I grew up there, tuition for GTCC is around $2000 for two semesters and the institution gives out merit/need based grant depending on the applicant.

This is all of course not considering living expenses (if any), cost of books, transportation, and assuming you don't qualify for pell grants.
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Old 02-10-2016, 03:54 PM   #10
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Edit: New Thread started.


Heh. I actually wouldn't mind breaking this out into its own thread, given that I have a soph who is starting to look at colleges (well, beyond his #1 which was chosen at least a year ago). He's weighing private vs say, honors standing at Maryland then maybe a bigger name grad school.

Granted this was 25 years ago, but when I heard from schools the bottom line was going to be about the same from all of them. For the expensive schools at least half was going to be taken care of from grants. The cheaper schools, less grant money.
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Old 02-10-2016, 04:55 PM   #11
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The cheaper schools, less grant money.

But not as an absolute rule.

Among the smallest amounts given out -- not to our kid, I mean just in general -- we saw was Univ of Miami, and that bitch ain't cheap.

It was among the notable outliers that we came across.

edit to add: One other note that I'll just stick here to avoid adding an additional off-topic post ... the first thing to go in many cases is out-of-state tuition, typically eliminated by waiver. Varies by school of course but with the right SAT/ACT score the waiver is frequently automatic, nothing to apply for or do on your part (past submitting the scores), you just get a nice letter telling you that will be waived if you enroll.
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Old 02-10-2016, 05:05 PM   #12
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I think I'm lucky in that my son is very much into engineering, and lives just a couple of miles from an in-state school that has a decent engineering program.

But the point about the value of a college diploma these days is valid. A year ago, he had the opportunity to skip a grade of math by passing a test. I asked his math teacher what topics he needed to know.

I was sent a link to a web site where 7th grade math in America was outlined in great detail. I spent a couple of days on Khan Academy ensuring that I was refreshed on the basics of each topic. And then I constructed a test (some of it copied from Khan) and printed it out for him.

We went through each question, and it was mostly new concepts for him. He worked away at it, but it got to a point where it was just too much. I figured he wouldn't come close to passing the test, so I told him to take it anyway and not worry if he didn't do well.

He scored 100% on the placement test. He said it was so easy that he only needed half the time. Now he's getting straight As in 8th grade math.

OK, that's great and all, but what it means is that even in Ann Arbor, with its nationally ranked public schools, teachers have to dumb down the standards even to get students somewhat proficient.

So, what do universities have to do? Spend half (or more) of a student's diploma just getting him to where he should have been after high school. Then, if junior decides a liberal arts education is more fun, I just don't see how that college graduate is prepared for anything but a declining service industry.
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Old 02-10-2016, 06:02 PM   #13
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We all have to pay in some way. I got a degree for "free" from the military by going to night-school (thank you greater University of Maryland school system) and still have about $100k in GI Bill (scholarship) funds waiting for me (or my daughter). But I had to give the government about 7 years to accomplish that.

Is that better or worse than not joining the military and just going to school and then getting a great paying job at ~24 and paying off $80k in debt? I think if we equate time/effort to money, it breaks even.
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Old 02-10-2016, 06:24 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JonInMiddleGA View Post
But not as an absolute rule.

Among the smallest amounts given out -- not to our kid, I mean just in general -- we saw was Univ of Miami, and that bitch ain't cheap.

It was among the notable outliers that we came across.

edit to add: One other note that I'll just stick here to avoid adding an additional off-topic post ... the first thing to go in many cases is out-of-state tuition, typically eliminated by waiver. Varies by school of course but with the right SAT/ACT score the waiver is frequently automatic, nothing to apply for or do on your part (past submitting the scores), you just get a nice letter telling you that will be waived if you enroll.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solecismic View Post
I think I'm lucky in that my son is very much into engineering, and lives just a couple of miles from an in-state school that has a decent engineering program.

Mine is interested in aerospace/aeronautical engineering. Maryland has a good program. Michigan has a higher-ranked program and is on his radar. With Purdue and GaTech as other public institutions high on that list, an out-of-state waiver prospect might be pretty nice.

(Though yes, he'd love #1 on that list.)
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Old 02-10-2016, 06:49 PM   #15
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I'd go so far as to make the argument that the 4 year degree is awfully damned close to what a HS diploma used to be.

Says much about how devalued a HS diploma has become.

When I listen to the long-term, tenured professors talk at the state school I work for, I get the impression that even at that, you're overvaluing the HS diploma.

I sat in on an interesting discussion where a bunch of faculty debated the idea of adding a standard "remedial year" to the 4-year graduation track, because they felt like most of the students they were encountering in the last decade or so needed basic reading/writing/math help. Part of that is the explosive growth of international students (i.e., getting them over the language barrier), but most of the profs in that room seemed to feel like public education was just flat falling down on the job in terms of college prep.
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Old 02-10-2016, 07:00 PM   #16
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Incidentally, from my perspective as a university employee, I know that at my school -- among the staff, not the students -- it's a running joke about the dozens (literally) of VP positions that have been created out of thin air in the last 15 years.

I've lost more productivity than I care to even think about because the project that I spent the last year on just fell off the radar because the empire one VP was building just collapsed under the assault of the latest up-and-comer and all of their pet initiatives got derailed.

So when I hear someone talk about finding savings by trimming administrative waste, it resonates with me a bit...even though I'll also simultaneously acknowledge that most university staff are underpaid in relation to market value -- and they'll be the first ones to get trimmed...because God forbid we think about giving up the 3 or 4 competing customer relationship management software contracts because this school wants to use Salesforce, and this one wants to use Hobsons, and the university IT group chose (and deployed) a completely different enterprise solution...
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Old 02-10-2016, 07:10 PM   #17
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Incidentally, from my perspective as a university employee, I know that at my school -- among the staff, not the students -- it's a running joke about the dozens (literally) of VP positions that have been created out of thin air in the last 15 years.

I've lost more productivity than I care to even think about because the project that I spent the last year on just fell off the radar because the empire one VP was building just collapsed under the assault of the latest up-and-comer and all of their pet initiatives got derailed.

So when I hear someone talk about finding savings by trimming administrative waste, it resonates with me a bit...even though I'll also simultaneously acknowledge that most university staff are underpaid in relation to market value -- and they'll be the first ones to get trimmed...because God forbid we think about giving up the 3 or 4 competing customer relationship management software contracts because this school wants to use Salesforce, and this one wants to use Hobsons, and the university IT group chose (and deployed) a completely different enterprise solution...

This sounds like my wife's comments when she comes home from working at the local VA hospital. They've certainly cut back on this quite a bit due to the bad publicity, but it's still happens sometimes.
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Old 02-10-2016, 07:30 PM   #18
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And the University's shouldn't blame secondary public education. While I know it is a popular theme these days, it is the wrong narrative that any educator should be throwing around.

Why not throw the blame where it belongs. That would be the parents. Yeah, but you can't force people to parent, so go after what you can.

But right now our public education system is going down the drain. The combination of terrible parents, low pay, lack of respect and stupid government initiatives is keeping quality people out of the classroom.

And I do understand there are some not great public high schools, you cannot blame all the schools and the teachers for what is happening.

There are bigger issues that no one wants to tackle.

What a demonized profession teaching has become.
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Old 02-10-2016, 07:39 PM   #19
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Missouri has the A+ program in HS. If students complete the program they get free tuition to a Community college. Great program.
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Old 02-10-2016, 07:52 PM   #20
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I was a National Merit Scholarship Finalist (PSATs), scored 1450 on my SATs (back when they were out of 1600), was above a 3.00 GPA, had held a job for three years and did over 100 hours of community service work during my high school career. I went to a prestigious Jesuit, private college preparatory school. I was offered $0 towards my education at a public California University (UC Santa Barbara), and was turned down for numerous grants and financial incentives, with a somewhat extensive college guidance system pointing me in the 'proper' directions. I'm not sure how much it has changed since the late 90's, but I definitely paid full list price for my education.

Now I work for a local utility company at a job that required absolutely zero education to get into. I am by far the furthest educated of my local team, and am probably in the top 5 (not percent) of the 700 person work force at my position in my company. I also earn more money than 90% of my friends. My degree has definitely angled me towards management and given me a huge leg up versus my contemporaries, but looking around the room, I realize that I would have gotten there anyway even with only my high school degree. If I had instead started this job immediately after high school, by my math, I would be about $500,000 richer and 10 years closer to retirement at this moment (I'm 34).

I absolutely loved my college years, and wouldn't trade them for anything, even knowing what I know now and reading the last sentence of the last paragraph again. However, it does make me wonder about the value of a full university degree. It seems that a JC/city college type education while concurrently getting experience in the field (ANY field) is by far the better way to go.
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Old 02-10-2016, 07:53 PM   #21
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I, too, am in the middle of this process (got the first financial aid package in the mail today). Like others, there are a number of things that are valid to complain about but the main one at this moment for me is the absurd policy forcing students to live on-campus - even for local/in-state colleges. Out here in the West (with the Western Undergraduates Exchange), it is not more expensive to go to many out-of-state than any of the in-state universities. Additionally, with private colleges seeming to offer more aid, they are not that much more either.
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Old 02-10-2016, 09:51 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Vince, Pt. II View Post
However, it does make me wonder about the value of a full university degree. It seems that a JC/city college type education while concurrently getting experience in the field (ANY field) is by far the better way to go.

Probably have to figure out market by market job opportunities on that however.
Locally, it's pretty common to see a four year degree required minimum for even clerical/secretarial type jobs. (*for those who've lost track, that's in a college town)
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Old 02-10-2016, 09:56 PM   #23
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I could rant on this topic for hours.

For my initial comments though, I'll note that out West at least, a *lot* more people are going the community college to university route. This has been common in California for quite some time to my understanding, and I've personally seen it in Las Vegas, where CSN's total enrollment dwarfs UNLV's by a factor of multiple times.

And yes, in the freshman English classes I teach, I *do* end up teaching them the shit they should have learned in HS. It was true at UArk, it was true at UNLV, and it's true at CSN (JIMGA has heard me bitch about this umpteen million times).
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Old 02-10-2016, 09:59 PM   #24
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Follow-up - I've come around to the stance in the last several years that if you plan to go on to graduate school, unless you're going Ivy League, where you get your undergrad doesn't matter. It's better to go cheap with a decent program in your field, become a damn rock star of said program, and then go to a school that's prestigious for your field for grad school (again, ideally Ivy League in most cases).
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:02 PM   #25
JonInMiddleGA
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For those who are just starting this process I can't emphasize enough how much paperwork you have in front of you if you want to maximize scholarship opportunities.

Last night was a private scholarship (any school, private organization ... hell, I'll just name 'em: it was the DAR) that ended up requiring the same form in quadruplicate with literally one line changed on each of the application. Then 4x of transcripts, achievements one-sheeter, etc etc etc. All end up at the same address.

Another pro-tip: either you or your student needs to become very adept at "repurposing" essays, i.e. What can be taken from Essay X and re-used for Essay Y. Between admission applications and scholarship applications and specific program applications there have been something in the neighborhood of three dozen essays leaving my house since last summer (and that's probably on the low end). That's a lot of writing, I don't care how old you are. Repurposing & reusables are very helpful.

Stay on top of everything & everybody, all the time. By that I mean watch carefullly for schools to fuck shit up with applications ending up in the wrong place, etc etc. Make sure you actually get confirmations.

The biggest mess thus far was a major university that suffered a technical glitch and took every single scholarship application that one department looked at and locked all other schools/colleges/programs out of. We caught it because my wife noticed he got a feeler from a degree track he had zero interest in ... and then his application no longer appeared in the system. Took three phone calls & much headbanging against the wall before, magically, two days later the school acknowledged the error was widespread & that all applications were being restored to the proper status.

Absent careful (to the point of anal retentiveness) monitoring, no telling when or if the problem would have been caught ... leaving my kid unconsidered for about $30k worth of scholarship money he's in the hunt for.
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:14 PM   #26
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Follow-up - I've come around to the stance in the last several years that if you plan to go on to graduate school, unless you're going Ivy League, where you get your undergrad doesn't matter. It's better to go cheap with a decent program in your field, become a damn rock star of said program, and then go to a school that's prestigious for your field for grad school (again, ideally Ivy League in most cases).

This. Find the program where you can shine.

Unless... you develop a network that you can't at a smaller/less prestigious program.
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:17 PM   #27
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Or, if you are lucky, your HS has a rich alumni whose parents couldn't afford to send her to nursing school and she married rich and set up a full ride scholarship to a nursing candidate from said HS and your daughter wants to go into nursing and her great grandmother is friends with the woman who hands out the scholarship.
And by full ride, I mean tuition, books, room and board.


There is always that route.
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:17 PM   #28
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When I listen to the long-term, tenured professors talk at the state school I work for, I get the impression that even at that, you're overvaluing the HS diploma.

I sat in on an interesting discussion where a bunch of faculty debated the idea of adding a standard "remedial year" to the 4-year graduation track, because they felt like most of the students they were encountering in the last decade or so needed basic reading/writing/math help. Part of that is the explosive growth of international students (i.e., getting them over the language barrier), but most of the profs in that room seemed to feel like public education was just flat falling down on the job in terms of college prep.

Taken from a study conduct by/about the Univ. System of Georgia in 2013
1 in 5 students at colleges/universities in state require remediation
2 in 5 students at "access colleges"
Less than 1/6 of those complete a degree within six years.
Freshman algebra failure rate is 40%
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:19 PM   #29
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Or, if you are lucky, your HS has a rich alumni whose parents couldn't afford to send her to nursing school and she married rich and set up a full ride scholarship to a nursing candidate from said HS and your daughter wants to go into nursing and her great grandmother is friends with the woman who hands out the scholarship.
And by full ride, I mean tuition, books, room and board.
There is always that route.

I cannot possibly recommend that route highly enough

Anyone who believes the fix isn't in on some of the scholarships is absolutely kidding themselves. We've found ourselves, to varying degrees, on both sides of that equation.
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:25 PM   #30
Abe Sargent
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When I listen to the long-term, tenured professors talk at the state school I work for, I get the impression that even at that, you're overvaluing the HS diploma.

I sat in on an interesting discussion where a bunch of faculty debated the idea of adding a standard "remedial year" to the 4-year graduation track, because they felt like most of the students they were encountering in the last decade or so needed basic reading/writing/math help. Part of that is the explosive growth of international students (i.e., getting them over the language barrier), but most of the profs in that room seemed to feel like public education was just flat falling down on the job in terms of college prep.

As someone who has worked in higher ed my whole life that is very, very very true. The current college students know a considerable less, and are less able to do stuff, than any group of students I have worked with since 96 when I began to work with them. It feels at time like I'm a High School admin, not a college one.
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:30 PM   #31
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As someone who has worked in higher ed my whole life that is very, very very true. The current college students know a considerable less, and are less able to do stuff, than any group of students I have worked with since 96 when I began to work with them. It feels at time like I'm a High School admin, not a college one.

Having an exceptionally dim view (based on personal experience) of the state of college freshmen in the mid90s, two curiosities come to mind for me here

1) what does the avg SAT of your incoming freshmen look like now vs then
2) ditto question re: GPAs
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:31 PM   #32
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Yikes. So "tuitions" have doubled since I went to school, which wasn't that long ago.

<-----a lot unsure what the landscape will look like in twelve years when he needs to start paying for kids' college.

<-----is under the impression that if he saves money for that purpose, colleges will just take it and only then start discounting the rest.

<-----thinks in-state UNC tuition still looks like a great deal.

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Old 02-10-2016, 10:38 PM   #33
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Set up a 529 plan. Tax free if used for college. Definitely something to start early. And they have options to add in friends and relatives to add their debit/credit cards to them. If they make a purchase at participating retailers, a % goes to the plan.
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:42 PM   #34
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Yeah, I've long figured that on the second arrow. Don't know if it was true, but my impression was that if I saved X, whatever aid we would have gotten would just be Y-X rather than Y. I had a couple smaller scholarships like that and they did nothing to change my out-of-pocket expenses, they just cut into the grants.

Paperwork and essays - ugh. But, what has to be done has to be done I guess. At least with AP World he's learning how to write.
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:44 PM   #35
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<-----is under the impression that if he saves money for that purpose, colleges will just take it and only then start discounting the rest.

fwiw, by & large the discounts we've gotten were all well in advance of submitting any financial aid forms / status info.

They basically come with acceptances, and any of the early admission applications you've done are settled way before the financial aid deadlines.
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:48 PM   #36
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Oh, quicky thing, more about admissions than finances but seems relevant.

If you're new to the process make sure that you understand the differences between early decision and early action. The former is usually a contractual obligation deal (you get it, you're going) the latter is just getting you ahead of the curve on acceptance.

Schools vary but anywhere from 40% to 60% of their freshmen will be acquired during the early action phase. Meaning if you wait til the regular phase you're competing for potentially fewer spots with more people in the mix.
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Old 02-10-2016, 10:53 PM   #37
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Actually I have been wondering about early decision and how that plays into finances. Can they completely bone you by offering little given the pre-commit?
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Old 02-10-2016, 11:05 PM   #38
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I don't know how you would find out a school is doing this, but strategic financial aid is something to watch out for(or exploit). We have been using this, and the idea is to gradually increase the financial aid offer over time. The kids that commit first get less on average than the kids who commit later. I think it's a terrible way to treat the students that are most committed to the institution.
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Old 02-10-2016, 11:05 PM   #39
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Actually I have been wondering about early decision and how that plays into finances. Can they completely bone you by offering little given the pre-commit?

Outside of my experience, we did not do early decision anywhere for that very concern. My wife, Queen of all things college financial, says everything she's seen from people indicates that it's very school-by-school about that. With an element of "how bad do they want you" thrown in for good measure.

The thing I'd actually caution about early decision is this: kids do change their minds.

Mine has his own preference list from around 8 or 9 years old, only 3 schools ever truly topped that list so he wasn't just playing "be a fireman / be an astronaut / be a race car driver" with it. BUT his top choice changed between the time he could have first done early decision & where he is now.

Everyone concerned better be damned sure -- and I mean sure -- if they're going to go that route.
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Old 02-10-2016, 11:06 PM   #40
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I don't know how you would find out a school is doing this, but strategic financial aid is something to watch out for(or exploit). We have been using this, and the idea is to gradually increase the financial aid offer over time. The kids that commit first get less on average than the kids who commit later. I think it's a terrible way to treat the students that are most committed to the institution.

Same thing applies to at least some post-grad stuff too. I got that in detail from someone in the law school admin at a major university, basically telling us to NEVER take anyone's first offer for that.

edit to add: The discount on acceptance for that program at that school is the bottom offer. Unreplied in 30 days gets an automatic form letter offering $10k more. Unreplied to that in 45 days gets another automatic $10k-$15k increase over that. After THAT is when they'll call and ask "what will it take". The catch is that you're gambling they don't hit quota before that round.
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Old 02-11-2016, 03:02 AM   #41
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I don't see how you can get boned from financial aid for early decision. My classmates who applied in October to big Unis and got accepted received a shit ton of money in the form of grants and work studies. I lived in an area where the household/family income was very much below the city's average. I know most of them chose UNC over many other schools because the financial aid package offered to them covered at least 90-100% of the entire year's tuition. I did early decision and the Uni I wanted to go only offered me half.

If you're white and grew up at least middle-class, you're probably screwed out of government and institutional assistance regardless if your grades are competitive or not. This is where you start applying for scholarships, there's one for just about anything.
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Old 02-11-2016, 06:36 AM   #42
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1) what does the avg SAT of your incoming freshmen look like now vs then
2) ditto question re: GPAs

I'd guess they're similar to the levels of the '90s because a) I believe the SAT has changed several times since the '90s and b) GPAs are essentially subjective and prone to inflation or some sort of regression to the mean.
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Old 02-11-2016, 07:36 AM   #43
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Having an exceptionally dim view (based on personal experience) of the state of college freshmen in the mid90s, two curiosities come to mind for me here

1) what does the avg SAT of your incoming freshmen look like now vs then
2) ditto question re: GPAs

Not Abe...but since part of what I do is prepare reporting on this topic for the Trustees and various other admin units...I can tell you that we have literally set a record at my university every year for the past decade in average SAT scores and GPA for incoming freshmen.

A big part of the GPA boost can be attributed to college prep courses grading out on a 5.0 scale in many high schools (which inflates HS GPA if you take the equivalent of 15 college credit hours in HS, as all of my kids have done). SAT rise is generally attributed to better testing support.

I can put it this way: I was valedictorian of my HS class. I had a legit 4.0 GPA with no college transfer credit. I took the SAT once and scored a 1200, which was good enough to get me into the state college I wanted to attend with a full ride scholarship.

That wouldn't get me into the first round of acceptances under our current model. I'd still get in, but my SAT scores would give them reservations. We're aiming for 1450 as the average on the Math/Verbal.
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Old 02-11-2016, 08:19 AM   #44
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As someone who has worked in higher ed my whole life that is very, very very true. The current college students know a considerable less, and are less able to do stuff, than any group of students I have worked with since 96 when I began to work with them. It feels at time like I'm a High School admin, not a college one.

Maybe you guys are at a bad college

At Tech, our students are pretty darn smart. Now they are entitled as fuck, and many of them probably could not change out a toilet, but they are coming in with some pretty amazing math/science skills with all the technology available. What they are lacking in is creativity, but we try and give them open ended, problem-based learning to fix that. I would not at all say that high schools are not preparing students...maybe the average to below average students, but it's probably always been that way.

As for administrative bloat, yeah, it's there. But the VPs and Deans and such are usually existing faculty and more titles are used to retain them. It does not add much to the salary, and in the sciences we pay most of our salary through grants anyway (I was in the past required to pay almost 90% of my annual salary).
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Old 02-11-2016, 08:23 AM   #45
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Follow-up - I've come around to the stance in the last several years that if you plan to go on to graduate school, unless you're going Ivy League, where you get your undergrad doesn't matter. It's better to go cheap with a decent program in your field, become a damn rock star of said program, and then go to a school that's prestigious for your field for grad school (again, ideally Ivy League in most cases).

Unless of course you are in science and/or math, then disregard this advice I run admissions for a major graduate program and it does absolutely matter where your UG degree comes from.
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Old 02-11-2016, 09:06 AM   #46
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Not Abe...but since part of what I do is prepare reporting on this topic for the Trustees and various other admin units...I can tell you that we have literally set a record at my university every year for the past decade in average SAT scores and GPA for incoming freshmen.

A big part of the GPA boost can be attributed to college prep courses grading out on a 5.0 scale in many high schools (which inflates HS GPA if you take the equivalent of 15 college credit hours in HS, as all of my kids have done). SAT rise is generally attributed to better testing support.

I can put it this way: I was valedictorian of my HS class. I had a legit 4.0 GPA with no college transfer credit. I took the SAT once and scored a 1200, which was good enough to get me into the state college I wanted to attend with a full ride scholarship.

That wouldn't get me into the first round of acceptances under our current model. I'd still get in, but my SAT scores would give them reservations. We're aiming for 1450 as the average on the Math/Verbal.

1450 on average? I've been looking at PSAT scores (for a test which has been redone for the umpteenth time) and that is National Merit range. You're looking for your average student to be NM material? That...doesn't seem to be sustainable for very many colleges.



(And yeah, I moved a bunch of posts again.)
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Old 02-11-2016, 12:10 PM   #47
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Pretty sure I only scored 1070 on math and verbal, my unweighted GPA was probably around ~3.7 (weighted was like 4.4), graduated 3rd in my class, and got accepted late December for my first Uni of choice (Got accepted into the Engineering college too). Though I think a big part of my early acceptance was due to a recommendation letter from an alumni who was my Networking teacher in HS.

I'll stress again, it helps a ton if you are not white (I'm asian). Colleges want to look diverse as well as being academically selective. Two people (They are Nigerian) in my graduating class scored around 1300-1400 each (out of all three subjects) on the SAT and they graduated within the top 10-15%. They were deferred from UNC during early decision but got accepted late Spring and still practically got full rides from financial aid alone.

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Old 02-11-2016, 12:39 PM   #48
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1450 on average? I've been looking at PSAT scores (for a test which has been redone for the umpteenth time) and that is National Merit range. You're looking for your average student to be NM material? That...doesn't seem to be sustainable for very many colleges.

UGA Freshman class this (past) year
SAT-I Middle 50% of Admitted First-Year Students: 1810 - 2060

I think maybe that 1450 is the two part SAT score, we're talking three part scores on these averages.

(at least I think that's what's happening here)

edit to add: Nope, my bad, he said "math/verbal" and I didn't catch it.
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Old 02-11-2016, 12:43 PM   #49
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Not Abe...but since part of what I do is prepare reporting on this topic for the Trustees and various other admin units...I can tell you that we have literally set a record at my university every year for the past decade in average SAT scores and GPA for incoming freshmen.

And this basically gets to the point I was shooting for. They look better & better on paper, feel worse & worse to both educators AND employers.
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Old 02-11-2016, 01:26 PM   #50
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And this basically gets to the point I was shooting for. They look better & better on paper, feel worse & worse to both educators AND employers.

*Control+F 'test prep' - 0 results*

There you have it. The few thousand bucks it takes to get your mediocre kid's SAT scores up 400-500 points is a cheaper and more accessible investment than the old-fashioned way of writing a huge check to a university. Gotta love the free market and income inequality!
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