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Series | Looking at elite-college admissions, Part 3: The Commodification of Higher Education

  • Colleges and universities have become a marketplace that treats student applicants like consumers. Why?
  • This is the third story in a three-part series looking at elite-college admissions. Links to Parts 1 and 2 are presented below. 
  • Related: The Arrogant Ignorance of the 'Well-Educated'

Alia Wong, the Atlantic 

http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2016/03/CollegeAdmissions1/lead_960.jpg?1459293334Mar 30, 2016 | When the U.S. News & World Report rankings were first published in 1983, they equipped students with what had previously seemed to be top-secret information about colleges and universities. They highlighted the practical role of higher education—something in which students (and their families) were investing to improve their lives. “College is expensive,” said Robert Morse, the chief data strategist for U.S. News, via email. “U.S. News’s mission is to arm students with good data, enabling them to sift through lots of complicated information when deciding which school is the right fit for them.” The rankings allow students to compare schools in an (arguably) apples-to-apples way—allowing students to, according to Morse, “navigate the complex process of choosing the best school for them” and creating “a national move towards greater transparency in the education industry.”

Many educators see the rankings in an entirely different way.

Alia Wong is an associate editor at the Atlantic <http://www.theatlantic.com>, where she oversees the education section.

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Series | Looking at elite-college admissions, Part 2:  Where College Admissions Went Wrong

“Far too many students are learning to do whatever it takes to get ahead—even if that means sacrificing individuality, health, happiness, ethical principles, and behavior.” 

 

Series | Looking at elite-college admissions, Part 1: The Absurdity of College Admissions

How did getting into an elite school become a frenzied, soul-deadening process?

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The Arrogant Ignorance of the 'Well-Educated' Joseph Pearce, Intellectual Takeout

To be “well-educated” is not merely ignorance, it is the arrogance of ignorance.

Universities Are Becoming Billion-Dollar Hedge Funds With Schools Attached

  • It’s not just universities with eating clubs and legacies that are getting into the game. Many public universities are also doing so, in part because state support for education has been cut, but also to compete with richer schools by rapidly increasing their more limited wealth.
  • This story was supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a non-profit supporting journalism, photo and video about economic struggle. 
  • Related: Series | Looking at elite-college admissions, Part 2:  Where College Admissions Went Wrong

Astra Taylor, Nation / Portside

https://portside.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/field/image/harvard_university3-20-2016.jpg?itok=dNeBIEJ- A tour group visits the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. AP Photo / Elise Amendola / The Nation

March 8, 2016 | Have you heard the latest wisecrack about Harvard? People are calling it a hedge fund with a university attached. They have a point—Harvard stands at the troubling intersection between higher education and high finance, with over 15 percent of its massive $38 billion endowment invested in hedge funds. That intersection is getting crowded. Yale’s comparatively modest $26 billion endowment, for example, made hedge fund managers $480 million in 2014, while only $170 million was spent on things like tuition assistance and fellowships for students. “I was going to donate money to Yale. But maybe it makes more sense to mail a check directly to the hedge fund of my choice,” Malcolm Gladwell tweeted last summer, causing a commotion that landed him on NPR. -

What has gotten less attention is how it’s not just universities with eating clubs and legacies that are getting into the game. Many public universities are also doing so, in part because state support for education has been cut, but also to compete with richer schools by rapidly increasing their more limited wealth. Though the exact figure is hard to determine, experts I consulted estimate that over $100 billion of educational endowment money nationwide is invested in hedge funds, costing them approximately $2.5 billion in fees in 2015 alone. The problems with hedge funds managing college endowments are manifold, going well beyond the exorbitant—some would say extortionate—fees they charge for their services. 

Astra Taylor is the director of the documentary films Zizek! and Examined Life. She has written for Monthly Review, Adbusters, Salon, The Baffler, Bomb Magazine, n+1 and other outlets. She is the co-editor of the book Occupy!: Scenes from Occupied America (Verso). 

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http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/2016/03/29/CollegeAdmissions2_1/1920.jpg?1459260223  Vixit / Shutterstock / Paul Spella / The Atlantic 

Series | Looking at elite-college admissions, Part 2:  Where College Admissions Went Wrong, Alia Wong, the Atlantic 

  • “Far too many students are learning to do whatever it takes to get ahead—even if that means sacrificing individuality, health, happiness, ethical principles, and behavior.”“Far too many students are learning to do whatever it takes to get ahead—even if that means sacrificing individuality, health, happiness, ethical 
  • This is the second story in a three-part series looking at elite-college admissions. Read Part 1 here
  • Related: The Arrogant Ignorance of the 'Well-Educated'

Federal Court Affirms Constitutional Rights of Kids in Landmark Climate Case

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  • Federal Court Affirms Constitutional Rights of Kids and Denies Motions of Government and Fossil Fuel Industry in youths' landmark climate change case.
  • Victory in landmark climate case!

Our Children's Trust

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http://ourchildrenstrust.org/sites/default/files/_DSC3359.jpgMeet the Youth Plaintiffs!

Read Youth Plaintiffs' complaint.

Click here for the major pleadings and court orders in the case.

April 8, 2016 | U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal District Court in Eugene, OR, decided in favor of 21 young Plaintiffs, and Dr. James Hansen on behalf of future generations, in their landmark constitutional climate change case brought against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry.

The Court’s ruling is a major victory for the 21 youth Plaintiffs, ages 8-19, from across the U.S. in what Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein call the “most important lawsuit on the planet right now.” These plaintiffs sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty and property, and their right to essential public trust resources, by permitting, encouraging, and otherwise enabling continued exploitation, production, and combustion of fossil fuels.

Our Children's Trust elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate for the benefit of all present and future generations. Through our programs, youth participate in advocacy, public education and civic engagement to ensure the viability of all natural systems in accordance with science.

Full story … 

Series | Looking at elite-college admissions, Part 2: Where College Admissions Went Wrong

  • “Far too many students are learning to do whatever it takes to get ahead—even if that means sacrificing individuality, health, happiness, ethical principles, and behavior.”“Far too many students are learning to do whatever it takes to get ahead—even if that means sacrificing individuality, health, happiness, ethical 
  • This is the second story in a three-part series looking at elite-college admissions. Read Part 1 here <http://evergreenedigest.org/series-looking-elite-college-admissions-part...
  • Related: The Arrogant Ignorance of the 'Well-Educated'

Alia Wong, the Atlantic

http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/2016/03/29/CollegeAdmissions2_1/1920.jpg?1459260223  Vixit / Shutterstock / Paul Spella / the Atlantic

Mar 29, 2016 | In 2011, close to 200 higher-education professionals from selective institutions across the country gathered at the University of Southern California to come up with a plan to reshape college admissions. “The values and behaviors this system signals as important, and its tendency to reward only a narrow band of students,” a report on the meeting concluded, is crippling the mission of education. It’s also undermining “the social, economic, and civic vitality of our nation’s future.” The gathering confirmed the growing consensus—even among those intimately involved in the most notorious aspects of admissions—that the system is in desperate need of reform. The intense competition it fuels undermines students’ well-being; pressures applicants to fine-tune their test-taking skills and inflate their resumes; and distorts the purpose of higher education.

Instead of preparing themselves for college—or more importantly, for life—students spend all of their pre-college years preparing themselves for the moment of admission. “What we want is to have students who want to come and work hard because they can leverage their experience at the university and do something after they leave,” said Wesleyan University President Michael Roth. “One of my predecessors used to say to students, ‘If these turn out to be the best four years of your life, we’ve failed you.’”

Alia Wong is an associate editor at the Atlantic, where she oversees the education section.

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The Arrogant Ignorance of the 'Well-Educated' Joseph Pearce, Intellectual Takeout

To be “well-educated” is not merely ignorance, it is the arrogance of ignorance.

Series | Looking at elite-college admissions, Part 1: The Absurdity of College Admissions

  • How did getting into an elite school become a frenzied, soul-deadening process?
  • This is the first story in a three-part series looking at elite-college admissions.
  • Related: The Arrogant Ignorance of the 'Well-Educated'

Alia Wong, the Atlantic

http://cdn.theatlantic.com/assets/media/img/mt/2016/03/CollegeAdmission3_2/lead_960.jpg?1459057480Andrey_Popovpixelsnap / Jorge Salcedo / Shutterstock / the Atlantic

Mar 28, 2016 | Right about now, anxious high-school seniors around the globe are obsessively checking their mailboxes, awaiting decision letters from the U.S.’s elite colleges. For all but a tiny handful of the hundreds of thousands of teenagers who applied—pouring countless hours into agonizing over forms, editing personal essays, sitting through standardized tests, and nervously monitoring their GPA—those letters won’t bear good news.

Acceptance rates at highly selective colleges have plummeted in recent years. Exclusivity has always been baked into their brand: Only about 3 percent of 18-year-olds in the U.S. go to schools that admit fewer than half their applicants, making the “college-admissions mania,” as the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson once put it, “a crisis for the 3 percent.” Still, it’s a mania to which more and more teens are subjecting themselves, pressuring applicants to pad their resumés and tout superficial experiences and hobbies, convincing them that attending a prestigious school is paramount. And critics say that mania has even spread into and shaped American culture, often distorting kids’ (and parents’) values, perpetuating economic inequality, and perverting the role of higher education in society as a whole.

Alia Wong is an associate editor at the Atlantic, where she oversees the education section.

Full story … 

Related:

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The Arrogant Ignorance of the 'Well-Educated' Joseph Pearce, Intellectual Takeout

To be “well-educated” is not merely ignorance, it is the arrogance of ignorance.

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