EppsNet Archive: College

This Photo of A Guy Tap Dancing in a Pink Floyd Shirt Explains a Lot

20 Mar 2015 /

A Wall Street Journal article on college students, the weak job market and high debt loads is illustrated by this photo of a guy in a Pink Floyd t-shirt taking a tap dancing class.

The crazy thing is that not only are these kids running up debt and killing their job prospects, they don’t even appear to be having a good time doing it . . .

Tap dancing


Big Fishes in Small Ponds

14 Mar 2015 /

Big fish, small pond

A colleague and I are discussing an article about too many kids quitting science because they don’t think they’re smart, in which Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford, says, among other things:

Being a good parent has become synonymous with giving out ability praise. Parents still think this is the greatest gift they can give to their children, and as a child gets more and more insecure, they give more and more of it. And, by the way, a lot of employers and coaches have said, “My employees cannot get through the day without accolades and validation.” Even professional coaches have said they cannot give feedback without these people feeling that they’ve crushed them. We’ve created several generations now of very fragile individuals because they’ve been praised and hyped. And feel that anything but praise is devastating.

My colleague mentions Malcolm Gladwell‘s book David and Goliath, in which Gladwell claims that while the worst STEM students at, say, Harvard may be as smart as the top third at a lower ranked college, the Harvard kids feel stupid and unsuccessful because they compare themselves to their Harvard peers. Gladwell then goes on to recommend attending non-elite institutions — to be a big fish in a small pond — in order not to have your dreams and confidence crushed.

“Why don’t kids just forget about four-year institutions completely and attend their local community college?” I reply. “They can test their mettle against classmates with no academic qualifications whatsoever. That should provide a much-needed confidence boost.”


Many Have Long Known …

14 Dec 2014 /

Many in academia have long known about how the practice of student evaluations of professors is inherently biased against female professors. . . .

 
  1. Group A getting better evaluations than Group B is not evidence of bias.
  2. Asserting that something is true doesn’t mean it’s true.
  3. Asserting that many people know something to be true doesn’t mean it’s true.
  4. Most college students (i.e., the people evaluating professors) are female. What, if anything, does this fact suggest?

I’m in Semi-Solidarity with the Protestors

26 Nov 2014 /

http://www.dailycal.org/2014/11/19/100-individuals-occupy-wheeler-hall-wednesday-night-protest-tuition-hikes/

I support the UC Berkeley students protesting tuition hikes but maybe with a little less conviction than I used to because my kid is a senior and no matter how high tuition goes I won’t be paying it anymore so I hope the boy was in class yesterday and not out causing a disturbance . . .


Teaching Computer Science: No School After Halloween

4 Nov 2014 /
Indonesian scholars

Indonesian students crossing a collapsed bridge to get to school

There was no school yesterday because the Newport-Mesa Unified School District at some time in the past noticed that a lot of kids didn’t show up the day after Halloween, so they decided not to have classes on the day after Halloween. Evidently this applies even if Halloween is on a Friday, followed by two weekend days plus an extra hour on the time change. Kids still need that extra day to get ready for academics again.

Some time ago, I saw a news story about kids in Indonesia who had to cross a river via a rope suspension bridge to get to school. Then the bridge partially collapsed so it looked like the photo on the right. And of course the kids are determined to get an education so they’re all basically climbing their way across the river and back every day.

If the bridge collapsed completely, they’d probably swim across.

Meanwhile, American kids need 3 days off to bounce back after Halloween. I showed the class the photo of the kids crossing the river. “This is why everyone hates us,” I told them.

I don’t understand this policy of “kids don’t want to come to school after Halloween so we’ll just take the day off.” I don’t think kids want to come to school any other day either. It’s inconvenient. You have to get up early, sit at a desk and listen to people talk all day. Let’s just cancel school entirely!

If I were in charge of education, not only would schools be open after Halloween but I’d make sure that we covered a ton of critically important material that day so that anyone who wasn’t there would be hopelessly behind and never catch up. I want to see who the competitors are. You don’t want to show up after Halloween? OK . . . have fun at community college.

Work is the same way . . . on the plus side, it gives your life the illusion of meaning but on the other hand, it really cuts into your day. Get used to it kids . . .


UC Berkeley Roller Hockey

25 Oct 2014 /

Cal hasn’t fielded a roller hockey team since 2011 but the boys (and one girl), including our kid, got a team together this season, rejoined the Western Collegiate Roller Hockey League, and they’re playing their first tournament this weekend, with games against UC Santa Cruz, USC, UC Irvine and UC San Diego.

No scholarships and you pay for your own unis and travel expenses.

GO BEARS!

Cal roller hockey uniforms


L’Affaire Winston

18 Oct 2014 /
Jameis Winston

Florida State said Friday its athletic department compliance staff is reviewing the reported authenticated signatures by Jameis Winston, but has yet to find evidence that the star quarterback accepted payment for the autographs.

ESPN reported Thursday that more than 2,000 authenticated signatures by Winston have been found on the James Spence Authentication website.

A couple of very surprising things about this:

  1. Jameis Winston can write his name. That may be a clue. Before I bought any signed Jameis Winston memorabilia, I’d insist on independent verification of his ability to write his name, lest someone be foisting some counterfeit goods on me. Caveat emptor.
  2. Florida State’s football coach — a grown man named Jimbo — believes (or claims to believe) that Winston signed 2,000 items without being paid for doing it. He signed 2,000 items for free. I wouldn’t sign 2,000 items for free, would you? How long would that take — several hours, right? I’m sure Winston as a college student has homework and classes and other things he should be doing with his time.

National Scholarship Award

13 Aug 2014 /

Alpha Tau Omega

It would be nice if modesty prevented me from mentioning that my kid’s fraternity, the Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) chapter at UC Berkeley, was awarded the National Scholarship Award at the ATO National Congress for having the highest GPA of any ATO chapter in the nation.

“Yeah, and we actually have hard classes,” he said.


The Softball Waivers

24 Jul 2014 /

Our company’s having an in-house softball game tonight, hosted at a field across the street at UC Irvine . . .

Three-Quarter Century Softball Team

Members of the Three-Quarter Century Softball Club: St. Petersburg, Florida (Photo credit: State Library and Archives of Florida)

That’s not our actual team in the picture, the difference being that the players in the picture look like they may have been athletes at one time.

I’m not playing because I have a piano lesson tonight. (Actually, I wouldn’t have played anyway because I can no longer do things like run and see that used to serve me so well on the diamond all those years ago. But the piano lesson is a convenient excuse.)

Everyone who is playing had to sign a waiver provided by UCI. Good move. Company softball games are rife with injuries. I picture a scenario like this:

Dear UCI Parents,

We regret that your students are not able to graduate on time, but as you know, we’ve had to cut back drastically on our course offerings since the infamous softball lawsuit of 2014.


People Who Don’t Want Me to Know Things

12 Jul 2014 /

What I want to know is why there are so many people who don’t want me to know things . . .

Trudeau's book Natural Cures Updated Edition

And that doesn’t even include all the things that people “won’t tell me.”


Killed by Prayer

30 Jun 2014 /

Thumbs down

A woman on Facebook a couple of days ago asked everyone to pray for her seriously ill father. Today, he died. Go figure.

Had he made a miraculous recovery, we would have said that prayer “worked” . . . but what does it mean when you pray for someone to live and he dies?

I had a college professor . . . his exams were graded by a graduate assistant, but students had the option of appealing grades to the professor. That’s not unusual, but most professors will either raise the grade or leave it as is. This guy, however, would either raise the grade, leave it as is or lower it. Risky!

Maybe God operates on the same principle. When you put someone’s fate in his hands, he retains the option of saying “toodle-oo.”


Those Who Think Differently Are Disinvited

17 May 2014 /

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, was scheduled to speak this coming Sunday at Smith College, but she withdrew her name after nearly 500 people signed a petition objecting to the policies of the IMF. Similar outcries foiled speaking engagements by former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice at Rutgers University and human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali at Brandeis University, among several others.

As Nietzsche used to say, “The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”


Random Thoughts on Paying College Athletes

17 May 2014 /

Where is the money going to come from? Most people seem to think that college athletic programs are big money makers. They aren’t. Despite the big revenue dollars associated with two sports — football and men’s basketball — 90 percent of Division I athletic programs, because of the much larger number of non-revenue sports, operate at a loss. They’re subsidized by the general fund of the university. Paying athletes would require additional dollars to be directed away from academic endeavors: hiring and paying professors, funding research, offering financial aid to non-athletes, etc.

 

Title IX requires gender equity. You couldn’t just pay football players and men’s basketball players. Everyone would need to be paid equally in some sense, even in non-revenue sports.

 

How much money are we talking about? Let’s say at a medium to large school, we have 500 to 1,000 student athletes and we’re going to pay all of them a modest stipend of $10,000. That’s a cost of 5 to 10 million dollars a year. Sorry, Mom and Dad, that your kid couldn’t get the classes he or she needed to graduate in four years but when we pink-slipped professors so we could pay the athletes, we had to cut back on the number of available courses.

 

Are college athletes being exploited imposed upon financially? It makes sense to consider athletes in two groups:

  1. Future professional athletes. They have available to them a large group of coaches and support staff whose job is to prepare them athletically and promote them so as to make as much money as possible in highly lucrative occupations. If they don’t get paid right now, they’ll get paid a lot of money very soon.
     
  2. Everyone else (a much bigger group). Everyone else will have to go forth into the world and try to earn a living in some non-athletic pursuit. An athletic scholarship gives them the benefit of a paid-for college education that most of them would not otherwise receive. What is the monetary value of that over the course of a lifetime? Quite a lot.
 

With all the national and local sports networks, playing football or basketball at a Division I school makes you not only a big man on campus, but a local, if not national, celebrity. It’s fun! You get to play games with your buddies, travel around, stay in nice hotels, appear on television. If you’re a good player, people will talk about you on TV, on the radio, on the Internet – constantly – like you’re some kind of an important person. There are worse things that can happen to you in life than being a Division I scholarship athlete.

 

All that being said, if you as a college athlete really feel that you are being taken advantage of and not adequately compensated for the value of your contribution, don’t play. It’s not exploitation if you do it voluntarily.


NYT Misrepresents California’s Affirmative Action Results

23 Apr 2014 /

In reporting on yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to uphold a Michigan ban on the use of racial preferences in admissions to public universities, the New York Times looks at results in other states that have banned racial preferences.

Here’s what the Times says about my state, California, which voted to ban racial preferences in UC admissions in 1998:

Hispanic and black enrollment at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles dropped sharply after voters approved a statewide ban on affirmative action. Those numbers have not recovered, even as the state’s Hispanic population has grown.

That is a misleading analysis for a couple of reasons:

One: Affirmative action was banned at all UC campuses, not just Berkeley and UCLA. Ignoring all the other campuses allows the Times to say that black and Hispanic enrollment “dropped sharply” when there was actually only a 2 percent decline in black and Hispanic enrollment in the University of California system as a whole.

Among other campuses, black and Hispanic enrollment was

* up 22 percent at UC Irvine
* up 18 percent at UC Santa Cruz
* up 65 percent at UC Riverside

There’s been a redistribution of black and Hispanic students, but not a sharp drop in enrollment.

Two: It doesn’t make sense to look at changes in enrollment without also looking at changes in graduation rates.

The number of black and Hispanic students graduating from UC schools

* in four years: up 55 percent
* in four years with a GPA of 3.5 or higher: up 63 percent
* with degrees in science, mathematics and engineering: up nearly 50 percent
* with doctoral degrees: up 20 percent

UCLA and (especially) Berkeley are elite universities. Black and Hispanic students who were admitted based on genetics rather than academic qualifications couldn’t compete at that level and had to drop out.

Who was helped? The dropouts? No. The qualified applicants who were passed over? No. It was a lose-lose scenario.

Now that students are admitted, regardless of race, to schools that they’re academically qualified to attend, graduation rates are much higher.

Always look askance at analysis of college admission policies in the absence of information on graduation rates.


Why Do (Some) Smart Kids Fail?

29 Mar 2014 /
Bored of Education

A woman is telling me about her two sons . . . they’ve grown up to be fine young men, she says. It’s disappointing, of course, that neither of them managed to finish high school but it was really unavoidable because the older boy was much smarter than his peers and so he was always bored and academically unengaged and finally dropped out completely, and the younger boy just imitated whatever the older boy did.

I’ve heard this type of woulda-coulda-shoulda before and I have to admit I’ve never been totally receptive to it: this happened . . . then that happened . . . the kid did such-and-such . . .

It sounds very passive. Parents aren’t supposed to be passive observers. There are intervention points every day. If things aren’t going in the right direction, you do something to take them in a different direction.

Look in any classroom in America . . . you’ll see kids with a range of abilities. Are you telling me that all of the smartest kids are destined to fail because they’re smart? That because they’re smart, they have no option but to get bored and check out and fail?

Lots of smart kids do very well in school . . . they get good grades and test scores and they go to good colleges. What is the difference between those kids and the kids who get bored and check out and fail?

Think about it . . .


The Hardest Available Challenge

22 Feb 2014 /

One of my colleagues at work has a son in 6th grade. She’s trying to figure out which math class to put him in for 7th grade.

Yuna Kim

Working backward, we know that “normal” kids take Algebra I in 9th grade, the smarter kids take Algebra I in 8th grade, and the smartest kids take Algebra I in 7th grade. Placement depends on how a kid scores on the math placement test.

My co-worker’s concern is if her kid gets a top score on the placement test and he’s eligible to take Algebra I in 7th grade, does she want him to do that, or to wait till 8th grade?

If he takes Algebra I in 7th grade, that would mean he’d be taking the hardest math classes all through high school. Would it be better from a college admission standpoint to take easier classes and get all A’s, or take the hardest classes and maybe get a B+?

Our kid has already been through the Irvine schools. He’s in college now so I can answer questions like this with the benefit of experience.

“I like to see kids push themselves to take the hardest challenge available,” I said. “Colleges are not impressed with kids who get A’s in easy classes.”

“But what if he takes hard classes and gets a B+?” she asked.

“My advice is, don’t get a B+.”

If your kid takes hard classes in high school and gets B’s in them, he or she may not be able to attend a top university, but it wasn’t their destiny to attend a top university. Your kid is not that kind of a kid.

 

That reminds me . . . Olympic figure skating is on TV this week. Are you watching it? Neither am I, but I’ve heard that some of the skaters actually fall down during their program.

They’re supposed to be the best skaters in the world. Even I could go out there and skate around for a few minutes without falling down. Granted, I couldn’t do any spins or jumps or skate backwards or anything like that.

The point is that to be recognized as the best at something, you can’t just do easy things well. You have to risk doing things that are hard to do. In the skating scenario, it’s not enough to say “I didn’t fall on my ass.” No, you didn’t, but you didn’t even try to do anything hard.

In any endeavor, you won’t impress people of discernment simply by avoiding anything that might give you some difficulty. Step up to the challenge.


The Best-Laid Plans . . .

15 Nov 2013 /
http://laist.com/2013/11/15/man_who_burned_to_death_at_weho_hal.php

As if any more evidence was needed that smoking is bad for your health.

Should I ever happen to kill myself while trying to perform a simple task — I’m trying not to, but if it does happen — please don’t publish a photo of me in a college hoodie.

Au revoir, professor!

UT alum


Banning Racial Preferences in California Helped Everyone

20 Jun 2013 /
University of California

When racial preferences were banned by the voters in California, there were dire predictions that this would mean the virtual disappearance of black and Hispanic students from the University of California system. What in fact happened was a 2% decline in their enrollment in the University of California system as a whole, but an increase in the number of black and Hispanic students graduating, including an increase of 55% in the number graduating in four years and an increase of 63% in the number graduating in four years with a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

Instead of the predicted drastic decline in enrollment in the system as a whole, there was a drastic redistribution of black and Hispanic students within the University of California system. Their enrollment dropped at the two most elite campuses, Berkeley and UCLA — by 42% at the former and 33% at the latter. But their enrollment rose by 22% at the Irvine campus, 18% at the Santa Cruz campus, and 65% at the University of California at Riverside. After this redistribution, the number of black and Hispanic students who graduated with degrees in science, mathematics, and engineering “rose by nearly 50 percent,” according to Sander and Taylor. The number of doctorates earned by black and Hispanic students in the system rose by about 20%.

In short, the problems created by the mismatching brought on by affirmative action gave way to significant improvements in the academic performances of black and Hispanic students in the University of California system after those preferences were banned.


An LSU Football Fan Reacts to the Cam Cameron Hiring

28 May 2013 /
Cam Cameron

Cam Cameron

The Louisiana State University Board of Supervisors Wednesday approved newly hired LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s three-year contract but not without faculty members voicing concerns. According to the terms, Cameron will receive $600,000 for the 2013 season, followed by $1.3 million and $1.5 million in the last two years of his contract.

NOLA.com

LSU has faculty?!

Donald McKinney, director of wind ensembles and conducting and associate professor in the school of music, said he was “disheartened” in LSU’s handling of the future. He said the morale has been low and hopes LSU would change to retain faculty. McKinney, who’s a newer faculty member, said he’s heading to another university at the end of the semester. . . .

Nathan Crick, an associate professor in communication studies, echoed similar sentiments. Crick said he was sold false goods and now “it’s time to return them.” The professor said he’s leaving LSU for Texas A&M.

GOOD RIDDANCE, YOU PUSSIES! Your departure frees up more money for football!

Newly appointed LSU President King Alexander said he isn’t surprised of the issues in Louisiana because they are strikingly similar to California. Alexander is currently the president at California State University Long Beach but will take the lead at LSU beginning July 1.

King Alexander!? Well, President of LSU is quite a stepdown from King of Macedonia. He must be a big football fan.

Wait — what? Cal State Long Beach?! That place is a shithole. I guess it’s hard to find a guy who’d consider LSU an academic advancement.

God-DAMN I can’t wait for football season!


Excerpts From President Obama’s Commencement Address at Morehouse College

19 May 2013 /

My whole life, I’ve tried to be for Michelle and my girls what my father wasn’t for my mother and me. I want to break that cycle — where a father’s not at home, where a father’s not helping to raise that son and daughter. I want to be a better father, a better husband, a better man. . . .

Growing up, I made quite a few [bad choices] myself. Sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. I had a tendency to make excuses for me not doing the right thing.

We’ve got no time for excuses.

In today’s hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world, with millions of young people from China and India and Brazil, many of whom started with a whole lot less than all of you did, all of them entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned. Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination.

Moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured — and if they overcame them, you can overcome them, too.

Morehouse College is a historically black, all-male college in Atlanta.

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