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View Diary: To (All) The Millions of High School Seniors with Sour Grapes, Especially Ms. Weiss… (141 comments)

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  •  There is a widely accepted mistaken notion (22+ / 0-)

    that there is a place for every talented student in the country at an elite college.  There are not.  If one were to add up the number of freshman slots available at the 50 top colleges and universities, make that 100 or 200 top colleges if you like, there are not enough slots for everyone with good grades, high SAT's and extracurricular activities. There is rationing. The rationing may be fair or unfair, but there has been and will continue to be rationing.  Some people will just have to get used to the idea that for whatever reason they will be going to Mid-State U and not MIT. And for the most part those who go to Mid-State U will do just fine in life, in fact they may learn a valuable fact of life earlier than those who go to MIT.

    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. Harry Truman

    by ratcityreprobate on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:50:52 AM PDT

    •  Really? (13+ / 0-)

      The top 100 colleges must bring in an entering freshman class totaling about somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 students (assuming you believe the large flagship public unis like Michigan, Wisconsin-Madison, and Illinois-Urbana are in the top 100 -- those three alone accommodate 20,000 or so first-year students.

      according to the college board, there were about 1.7 million test-takers each year. thus, about 170,000 will be in the top 10% of the SAT composite score. Ms. Weiss' SAT score, if legitimate, puts her in the top 3%, or about 50,000 students total. sure, the entering class at yale or harvard is small compared to that. but the top 100? i doubt it. with her grades and her extracurriculars, Ms. Weiss by any reasonable quantification of academic capability and achievement, must be close to, if not in, the top 1%. No, that still isn't enough to guarantee her a slot in her first choice. Nothing is good enough to do that. But a slot in a top-flight school? Somewhere in the Ivy League? Sure.

      In fact, at this point the primary obstacle to a top-quality student hoping to attend a high-profile university, including a flagship state uni, is not that they are filled with underprivileged affirmative action cases, but that they are too expensive for the talented children of the ordinary middle class. this is the great victory of the 5% over the 50% -- by supporting the billionaires' puppets like Walker, they have been able to stop paying taxes to support the state unis. the result -- their somewhat less-talented children get to attend those unis, because they don't have to compete with the more-talented children of the hoi polloi. go onto the campuses of any of the great land grant unis, and look around -- look at the amenities, and the palatial business schools, and the cook-to-order cafeterias -- and you will see that these institutions are returning to what they used to be: the parking place where the kids of the upper-middle class will spend a few years, network, and prepare to take up their birthright of a comfortable slot in the wellpaid professions.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 10:45:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Trying to do the math here (9+ / 0-)

        Great points.  This is a big, big country, and the total number of very bright people in each age group are high.  Using the number of SAT test takers probably understates the number of very bright people.  

        Another way to approach this is to start with the 2010 census figure for 18-24 year olds: about 30,672,000.  Divide that by 7, and you get roughly 4,382,000 18 year olds in the US in 2010.  

        Assume the same number for 2013.  If you want to look at the top 10% of intelligence in that group, you are looking at 438,200 people; the top 1% number about 43,820.  If you want to define the top 3% as very bright, that would be about 131,460.

        On top of that, factor in the very bright foreign students who get some of the places in each class in each elite university.

        It's easy to see why admissions officers at places like Yale and Harvard say they could fill up three or four classes from their annual pool of applicants, with no decrease in quality.

        It's also obvious that the overwhelming majority of very bright 18 year-olds do not apply to the Ivy league schools that Suzy Weiss wrote about.  If they did, the application numbers at those universities would be many times higher than they are now.

        It seems to me that the only rational response to these numbers - whether one is admitted to a so-called elite university or not -- should a large dose of humility, gratitude for the opportunities that one gets, and realization that admission to university is not an achievement in itself but the beginning of a larger challenge.  

        •  there aren't 20,000 fiirst year students.... (0+ / 0-)

          at Wisconsin, Michigan or Illinois.  They have enrollments that are around 45K with about 20-25K coming from grad students.  So maybe the first year class is admitting 10K but not expecting them all to attend or last to graduation.  And big state schools do give preference to state residents in admission.  And that preference is spread around the state- as University of Virginia how many come from Northern VA?

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 03:17:38 PM PDT

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          •  sorry if i was unclear, the 20K referred to those (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ColoTim

            3 unis combined.

            interestingly, there are twice as many seniors as frosh at some of these schools -- the increment is due to the kids who can't afford to attend while working on their general ed requirements.

            as to in-state vs out-of-state, the word on the street, at any rate, is that many of the state schools are preferentially taking out-of-state students, who are more profitable. might be an urban legend, i don't know, but it doesn't have any bearing on my assertion, which is that the children of the middle class are being priced out of the flagship unis by the children of the upper middle class. although you might be surprised to see how many kids from New York and the Chicago burbs attend UW-Madison, I'm speaking less about them than about the kids of the gladsacks in Waukesha -- the ones who aren't good enough to attend the elite schools of choice (typically in these parts, Notre Dame ...).

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 03:47:05 PM PDT

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            •  The MI legislature passed a law (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ColoTim

              mandating how many instate students U of M had to admit because it seems they were taking too many out of state students for the tuition increase.

              •  Love it. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VA Breeze

                You must take this percentage of in-state students, but we're going to cut your funding so you can't make up the balance by taking more out-of-state students (because we're p-o'd that you negotiated union contracts).

                I feel sorry for my University.  Probably going to have to contribute some money to help make up what Republicans are short-changing the school for.

        •  what about the movie stars and the olympians.... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wintergreen8694, ER Doc, caul, ColoTim

          who get into Yale or Stanford or Harvard?  Didn't Tiger Woods get in on a golf scholarship to Stanford?  Natalie Portmann went to Harvard and Jodie Foster went to Yale as famous young actresses.  Honestly, complaining about the advantages that anyone gets over you, poor little smart girl, won't impress these folks.  Maybe top 3% academically just isn't that impressive when they can take other amazing skills into consideration.  

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 03:29:13 PM PDT

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          •  of course they won't be impressed. (17+ / 0-)

            but then, they already rejected her, so it doesn't really matter whether they're impressed or not. i don't think she's hoping they'll change their minds. she's just ticked off because she's realized that nothing she did was was going to get her into the school she wanted to attend -- she could have worked half as hard, had twice as much fun, done almost as well, and still gotten in to any number of her other choices.

            what's really at play here is a republican suddenly realizing that she's been sold a lie: if you work real hard, your dreams will come true, because all of those other losers whose dreams aren't coming true just didn't work as hard as you are willing to work. except, she hasn't yet realized that the reason is because harvard can only accommodate 1500 new students each year, regardless of how hard the top 3000 kids in the country work. so she blames affirmative action or whatever, when the reality is that no matter how much she put into it, in the end she was rolling the dice.

            with enough introspection, it might occur to her that this is the ultimate condemnation of competitive capitalism. there are always going to be losers, the system demands and enforces this result, regardless of the overall virtue of the population.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 03:55:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  it's a similar situation to unemployment (7+ / 0-)

              Given the structural changes in our economy, it's a pretty good bet that most of the 10% or so unemployed in the US wouldn't have jobs no matter what---the jobs themselves are disappearing.  So even if everyone in the USA had a Harvard MBA, ten percent of us would still be unemployed.

              The old "Horatio Alger" mythology has ALWAYS been pure bullshit. It feeds on our lottery mentality--the hope that even though the odds are tremendously long, we MIGHT win anyway. And we never do.  (shrug)

              •  Indeed, I was specifically thinking of (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                GreenMother, emal, JBL55, ColoTim, ebohlman

                unemployment when I wrote my comment.

                Unremitting competition -- to be judged relative to others, rather than on one's own merits -- is the weapon the bosses use against the rest of us to keep us frightened, stressed out, and at the grindstone, instead of living worthwhile lives.

                To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                by UntimelyRippd on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 05:36:38 AM PDT

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              •  Anyone who's read Horatio Alger will recognize (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ebohlman, orestes1963

                the truth in this comment. I haven't...but I did read Sennett & Cobb's The Hidden Injuries of Class many years ago, in which they pointed out the key fact that the poor boy (always a boy o'course) never "makes good" on his own.

                What happens is that the p.b.'s industriousness & moral worth is fortuitously brought to the attention of a Scrooge McDuck who, impressed by the lad's sterling qualities, makes a conscious choice to take him under his wing ;) & smooth for him the flight path to his own personal Money Bin.

                S&C also point out that life imitates art (if you can call HA stories "art") in that (1) Socioeconomic classes exist in the US, (2) boundaries between them are far more rigid than even those who admit their existence will grant, (3) the probability of an individual rising well above his SEC is small & highly dependent on sheer luck, but (4) the possibility allows TPTB to point to a few well-known examples & say to those still stuck in the lower depths, "See, anyone can make it in America, so what's wrong with you that you didn't??", thereby (5) throwing the responsibility for success or failure (& the concomitant arrogance or guilt) back onto individuals rather than questioning the social order that sets them up for socioeconomic failure.

                I would extend this analysis to note that the guilt of "not having made it" combines with the general insecurity of existence to (6) generate feelings of inadequacy leading to neurosis, which (7) consumerist society conveniently persuades them to assuage by buying stuff, thereby further enriching the 0.1% relative to the 99.9%, &/or dissolving themselves in movements or religions that provide a frequently-bogus sense of belonging while supporting the Algeroid mythos that keeps the system in place.

                But maybe that's just me.

                BALTIMORE RAVENS--SUPER BOWL XLVII CHAMPIONS! WOOO-HOOO!

                by Uncle Cosmo on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:26:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe she'll also learn (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              UntimelyRippd, emal, JBL55, ColoTim

              Who you know is more important than what you've done. Case in point - George w bush.

              Welcome to the real world.

              Freedom isn't free. So quit whining and pay your taxes.

              by walk2live on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 12:20:45 AM PDT

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            •  Boom. (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              GreenMother, emal, JBL55, ColoTim, ebohlman

              Hard work entitles you to two things in this world:  Jack and shit.  

              Hard work is (almost always) necessary for success, but it is not sufficient. You need talent, gumption, and some luck as well as hard work.

              Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

              by nominalize on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 05:55:07 AM PDT

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              •  generally speaking, luck is more important (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                alice kleeman, ebohlman, orestes1963

                than any of the others.

                our fields are full of men and women and for that matter children who work much, much harder than almost everyone else in the country, and few of them are ever likely to enjoy even reasonable physical comfort, nevermind anything approaching security -- entirely because their parents were who they were.

                To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                by UntimelyRippd on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:37:06 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  But they have a huge leg up (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ebohlman

                Well, there are a lot of talented people with gumption who are lazy. So hard work definitely gives you a leg up on them! Lots of people like Weiss think they can get by in life on account of their shining personality and a sense of entitlement. And school is one of those places where hard work pays off in the form of higher greats and greater understanding. She could have used some of that. She came from a family with money and connections and was taught a far amount of "gumption." Turns out it wasn't enough to get her in to the college of her choice!

            •  Sorry, but the times have changed (0+ / 0-)

              Pedigree has become tantamount once again.  When I went to school, it wasn't nearly as strong a force as it is today because at the time (1981) education was still being opened up to more and more of the middle class- and there were state and federal grants to help pay for your higher education.  In an increasingly small and competitive workplace, the school you attended can determine which doors will be open to you to a greater extent.  The belief that you can make your own destiny regardless of background or pedigree is increasingly becoming a fiction.

      •  You are correct that finances are the biggest (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        emal, JBL55

        obstacle for todays college applicants.  My comment was based on the belief that there are many tens of thousands of poor students that don't take the SAT, in some states ACT is more prevalent, but most don't take it because they believe there is no point.  I didn't try to calculate the total numbers of slots so you may be correct though I doubt it.  

        Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. Harry Truman

        by ratcityreprobate on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 04:57:51 PM PDT

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    •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, orestes1963

      but at the same time, for those who go to "Mid-state U" it is fair to feel resentment.

      Right now there is no transparency. When that highschool senior gets that rejection letter from Harvard it would be great if they could know why and have a justifiable explanation of the decision.

      Right now they get back a letter "sorry buddy better luck next time"

      Again you could consider this a "life lesson"

      But for government sponsored, life altering decisions, where the student applicants are PAYING customers a "Better luck next time" letter could be tantamount to consumer fraud.

      and by all means is not a respectable solution from an institution of higher learning.  

    •  life lessons (0+ / 0-)

      And for the most part those who go to Mid-State U will do just fine in life, in fact they may learn a valuable fact of life earlier than those who go to MIT.

      This is a very odd statement. If it were true, then all of the Mid State U graduates would be smarter, more hardworking, and more successful than all of the MIT graduates. And yet, on average, I'm pretty sure that isn't the case. They will do "just fine", but the MIT graduates will probably do "better." (on average, of course)

      And for the most part, lots of people who went to an "elite" got rejected elsewhere they really wanted to go-- eg, people at Columbia and UPenn had a reputation back in the 90s for people full of embittered people who got rejected from Harvard and Yale.

      At the end of the day, I've heard it said that, "Your hardest problem is your hardest problem." In our sour-grapes thinking, we do like to think that the benefit of being a "salt of the earth, jes' folks, 'normal' person" is that it "confers a lot of Important Life Lessons™ that other people won't get, but that's not really true. Life lessons come in all places, generally as long as you're struggling and always trying to push your limits.

    •  Tiers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ratcityreprobate, ebohlman

      If one were to add up the number of freshman slots available at the 50 top colleges and universities, make that 100 or 200 top colleges if you like, there are not enough slots for everyone with good grades, high SAT's and extracurricular activities.

      I might also add that once you get outside of the top 50-100 colleges or so, admissions is effectively uncompetitive as long as your high school transcript indicates you are capable of handling the work.

      There's a narrow top tier in which everything is very competitive for even the most highly qualified and talented students, and then everything below that is dependent on whether you are a competent high school student who is capable of presenting himself as interested in attending that college. At that point the differentiating factor is more about geography, financial feasibility, and personal preference.

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