Our collective obsession with elite students and institutions means public conversations about college are increasingly irrelevant to the lives of many of the actual students.
One of the perks of the job.
xxxx, get your shit together. Getting a good job, working long hours, keeping your skills relevant, navigating the politics of an organization, finding a live/work balance…these are all really hard, xxxx. In contrast, respecting institutions, having manners, demonstrating a level of humility…these are all (relatively) easy. Get the easy stuff right xxxx. In and of themselves they will not make you successful. However, not possessing them will hold you back and you will not achieve your potential.
This is straight out of the Marcus Aurelius playbook. One of my favorite passages from Meditations comes in Book 5:
Display those virtues which are wholly in your own power–integrity, dignity, hard work, self-denial, contentment, frugality, kindness, independence, simplicity, discretion, magnanimity. Do you not see how many virtues you can already display without any excuse of lack of talent or aptitude? And yet you are still content to lag behind.
How corrupt are Ivy League admissions?
It’s really long and really, really awesome. Definitely worth the time.
Very interesting perspective. I like this bit on lectures and attention spans:
Online education can also break the artificial lecture length of 50–90 minutes. Many teaching experts say that adult attention span is 10–15 minutes in a lecture, with many suggesting that attention span has declined in the Internet era. A good professor can refocus the attention of motivated students over longer periods. Nevertheless, it is clear that the standard lecture length has not been determined by optimal learning time but by the high fixed costs of traveling to school. Lower the fixed costs and lectures will evolve to a more natural level, probably between 5–20 minutes of length—perhaps not coincidentally the natural length of a lecture is probably not that different from the length of a typical popular music track or television segment.
Clean-up from a Coca-Cola spill on campus. Hazards of Emory student life.
Suppose you wanted to go live at a luxury resort for four years. You’d expect that to cost, wouldn’t you? (No one is going to write an editorial raging about how if you wanted to live at Club Med it would cost you at least $50,000 a year – probably more.) So why are people surprised that it costs a lot – really a lot – to send a kid to college for four years? College is the sort of thing that seems like it should cost a lot: beautiful buildings on nice land, nice gym, nice green spaces, expensive equipment, large staff that have to be well-paid because they provide expert services. If you want to be puzzled about something, figure out how and why it was ever cheap, not why it costs now.
Tenured academics has worked a great scam. They’ve managed to monetize peoples’ affection for regional football teams, and their desire for a work credential, and then somehow diverted that money into paying academics to work on whatever they want, for the rest of their lives, without any oversight by the football fans or the employers.
In addition to enjoying this nice little zinger, definitely read her 12 hypotheses about the college system in the wake of distance-learning disruption. Good stuff.
Oh you have a dream? You should pay a lot of money for that dream and maybe at the end of a lot of debt you’ll be better at that dream.
At some point you have to learn all you can and then forget everything that you learned in order to actually start making music.
I think a lot of people, if they’re not careful, can err on the side of the quantifiable and approach it like an athlete. Run that little bit faster, do that little bit more and think you’re being more successful. But the truth is that a lot of times it’s not necessarily about merely being the best athlete, it’s about attempting a new sport.
This is a fascinating funny/sad inside look at for-profit education. [$]
The first chapter of our textbook, Your College Experience, was entitled “Exploring Your Purpose for Attending College,” and that’s where we would begin. It seemed strange to me that a credit-bearing college course should be dedicated to telling students why they should go to college, but the entire first-year sequence turns out to be an almost surreal riff on the socialization process of higher education, where secondary characteristics of college graduates become the actual subjects of the courses.
Certainly, I understood why students who had worked so hard and done so well would want to go to schools like Harvard and Princeton, but many places seem to be prestigious simply because student fads and crazes have made them hard to get into. Brazenly capitalizing on the whims and passions of teenagers seems a questionable practice for institutions dedicated, in part, to the well-being of young people.
From my experience, three demographic groups seek out my services: the English-as-second-language student; the hopelessly deficient student; and the lazy rich kid.
DP: Finally, if you could give one bit of advice to NC State students, what would it be?
ZG: There is more to life than college. Use your time in college and grow. There are some people who are still playing beer pong in their late 20s. Do not do that.
The world is much larger than you can imagine right now. Which means, you are much larger than you can imagine.
I simply want to celebrate the fact that right near your home, year in and year out, a community college is quietly — and with very little financial encouragement — saving lives and minds. I can’t think of a more efficient, hopeful or egalitarian machine, with the possible exception of the bicycle.
Division of Labour: Higher education in the 21st Century in a single picture. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing… (via)
Rankings of 19 predictors of work performance. At the top of the list are “general mental ability” (as in IQ and related measures) and “work sample tests” (e.g., Can you type?).
I agree with Arnold Kling: “I love it that ‘years of education’ just barely beats out handwriting analysis.” Age is the worst predictor.
“How do you remember Amherst? What are the experiences—in and out of the classroom—that shape those memories? Similarly, what aspects of your Amherst education served you best? And what are the things about Amherst that, in hindsight, disappoint you?”
“I don’t know that many would remember me at all… I was cripplingly shy at Amherst. I wasn’t in a fraternity and didn’t go to parties and didn’t have much to do with the life of the College. I had a few very close friends and that was it. I studied all the time. I mean literally all the time…
So ‘the things about Amherst that, in hindsight, disappoint [me]’ are things not about Amherst but about who I was when I was there. I let almost no one know me, and I lost the chance to know and learn from most of my peers. It took years after I’d graduated from Amherst to realize that people were actually far more complicated and interesting than books, that almost everyone else suffered the same secret fears and inadequacies as I, and that feeling alone and inferior was actually the great valent bond between us all. I wish I’d been smart enough to understand that when I was an adolescent.”
— David Foster Wallace interviewed by Amherst magazine