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The mess that is elite college admissions, explained by a former dean

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Replies to: The mess that is elite college admissions, explained by a former dean

  • saillakeeriesaillakeerie 2474 replies0 threads Senior Member
    Just because you might not have encountered geographical variants does not mean that others cannot and have not.

    Whatever sample size you may have doesn't support your statement that we tend to absorb the dominant perspective of our state. And adding stories from others on this site does help either. In terms of a slice of Americana, this site isn't it.

    @sue22 I suspect that people in religious circles in Massachusetts, family/friends who are religious, etc may well assume others are in bible groups. And you can meet a lot of people in the south who aren't religious at all (much less assuming everyone is in a bible study group). Just depends on who you meet.
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  • epiphanyepiphany 8405 replies170 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    Whatever sample size you may have doesn't support your statement that we tend to absorb the dominant perspective of our state. And adding stories from others on this site does help either. In terms of a slice of Americana, this site isn't it.
    And your allegation that there is no such thing as significant differences among the States in the Union lacks both a sample size and any meaningful support. I'll go with the colleges on this one, not you. People who have lived long enough and traveled far enough within this country --even without visiting all 50-- would agree with the viewpoint of the elite colleges, who have observed these differences, whether or not you believe differences can be proven. It's a matter of experience, and I agree with the experience of the college admissions committees who make similar observations, not to mention the alumni of colleges composed of highly geographically diverse students. It takes perceptiveness and sensitivity to notice significant variety, and to learn some commonalities about people from different locations.

    Have a nice day.
    edited May 2019
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  • epiphanyepiphany 8405 replies170 threads Senior Member
    @socaldad2002
    Or if you are "bored" with this thread, you can go visit some of the other thousands of threads that are on CC. Frankly, there are a lot of new members and non-members who are recent visitors and/or contributors to this site who enjoy hearing differing opinions, even if stated in different ways, multiple times. I know personally, it has made me think twice about long-held opinions and beliefs about college admissions that I have had in the past.

    Lastly, it's rude to try to shut down a thread because YOU think it should be shut down. There are moderators for that....
    Thank you. I certainly agree.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82717 replies738 threads Senior Member
    Regarding diversity in schools, even students who live at home and commute to local colleges after doing so for K-12 (as most traditional college students do, since going away to residential college is often an unaffordable luxury) will often find increasing diversity as they get to higher levels of school. That is because higher level schools serve larger local areas than lower level schools.

    I.e. the middle and high school may draw students from several elementary schools, the community college may draw students from many high schools (plus nontraditional students), and the local state university may draw students from many high schools and community colleges in the area.

    Of course, the increase in diversity may not be as great for some students as for others, and may not be as great as going away to a college with a national draw, but it is not like there is no increase in diversity for most students.

    But note that going to college is heavily determined by parental money, so that may limit the increase in SES diversity that students from high SES backgrounds encounter, especially if they go away to a residential college.
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  • saillakeeriesaillakeerie 2474 replies0 threads Senior Member
    @epiphany Have colleges stated that we tend to absorb the dominant perspective of our state? I have only seen you make that statement. Accepting kids from all 50 states or even most of them isn't making that statement.

    A more accurate statement would be we tend to absorb the perspective of our parents. One, there is much to who we are that is genetically inherited. Two, we spend the most time during our formative years with our parents. Different parents are different. Even in the same state.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2877 replies5 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    "colleges composed of highly geographically diverse students."

    They're not really that geographically diverse, as ucbalumnus pointed out, since there's not much income diversity, it's basically wealthy students from one state meeting wealthy students from another meeting wealthy international kids. And these colleges take one student from many states and countries, just to say they have 50 states and a whole bunch of countries.

    One kid from Wyoming (in a class of 2000 or 10,000) is not going to change anyone's perspective unless he or she happens to be in a Calculus study group at Stanford with kids from CA, NJ and MA and says, hey, in Wyoming we were told dividing by zero is ok.

    That all being said, most kids, want to stay close to home and not seek the diverse utopia talked about on cc. Staying close is one of the reason kids choose a college, not going far for diverse viewpoints. Affordability is the number one reason kids choose a college, of course, and I'm not even sure there's a close second.
    edited May 2019
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  • SuperSenior19SuperSenior19 183 replies9 threads Junior Member
    There's definitely a certain "je ne sais quoi" added when there's diversity on campus, including geographic diversity, but I'm still not convinced it's just a simple matter of having people from many states (although it is easier to quantify). I get that different states have different views, sure, but I still would say that a rural area in Illinois would have more in common with a rural area in Missouri than with suburban Chicago. And I don't think anyone would say that New York City isn't diverse, for instance, even though it only occupies a small part of just one state.

    Really, most students go to college to find people who are like them in some way -- out-of-the-box quirky kids look for out-of-the-box quirky schools, wealthy intellectual types are drawn to elite colleges, fun-loving kids go to party schools, etc. I don't think that any kids from New England are going to the South to "meet people with different points of view," for example (probably because they want a more liberal environment, though most wouldn't say it as directly). But those differences are broader than state-level, even though they tend to be closely tied to geography.

    As previous posters have said, the excitement and exoticism plays a big part too, and of course the money and the perceived prestige....but I'm not so sure it's worth it if it costs a lot more. Money beats ideals for most people -- you could extoll the benefits of a year backpacking across Europe and I'm sure it would be true, but that's a luxury, not an educational necessity.
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  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger 3074 replies164 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    There is a difference between some groups of states, such as Alabama/Tennessee/Utah vs the NE. I doubt many people from the NE want to go to school in Alabama/Tennessee/Utah to learn new perspectives. They want to go to college where most people share their beliefs and are like them in the ways that matter.
    edited May 2019
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  • roethlisburgerroethlisburger 3074 replies164 threads Senior Member
    @MWolf

    For Vanderbilt, the breakdown is New England: 4.4% and Middle States: 13.5%. Adding those together, you get 17.9%. Unfortunately, I can't find any more fine grained data. I don't consider Pennsylvania similar to NY or NJ, although they all get grouped together as middle states.

    https://www.vanderbilt.edu/about/facts/#student
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  • DeepBlue86DeepBlue86 1059 replies7 threads Senior Member
    Surely any large state school or prestigious private university that draws from around the country is going to surround you with large numbers of people who have had very different life experiences from you, of different races from all sorts of places and a range of economic circumstances from full-pay to full-ride. Many recruitable-level athletes, kids with special talents, etc. Probably a lot more racially/ethnically diverse, and in different ways, than your hometown or high school. There are likely to be a plurality of in-region kids, so by that measure it won’t reflect the diversity of the country as a whole, but most people will still feel like they’ve traveled to a different planet.

    Of course, you can gravitate toward people with similar backgrounds who may end up as your closest friends there, but it’s pretty hard to recreate and live within the same bubble you came from, I think, and you’re going to learn a lot from everyone else just by interacting with them over four years.
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  • Trixy34Trixy34 1183 replies6 threads Senior Member
    Yeah, I lived 22 years of my life in NY state and 21 in PA. They are nothing alike!
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  • MWolfMWolf 2385 replies14 threads Senior Member
    @privatebanker The problem with that vision has always been that the people who had that vision seem to think that the shared colleges experience will bring students together. Maybe that would be true if it were physically challenging, like basic training in the military, and they weren't allowed to segregate based on origin, etc. However, what happens is that you are dropping kids into an unfamiliar situation, and they automatically gravitate towards the most familiar things. This includes social groups.

    It's not only racial and ethnic groups. The White New York kids are not going to be hanging out with the White kids from Georgia, and kids from the Chicago suburbs will end up hanging out with other kids from Chicago suburbs, or perhaps other Midwestern suburban areas. Minority kids may cross geographic divides because of numbers.

    When there are a large group of kids from the same foreign country they will likely create tighter, more isolated groups, because of language issues.

    The reason that this won't change is that to change it would require removing almost all of the students from their comfort zone, and that is something that colleges are extremely reluctant to do. How many parents will avoid enrolling their kids, if they thought that they would be forced to spend most of their time with kids who are different than the ones with whom they grew up? Despite the repeated claims by many people, most parents do not actually send their kids to college to expose them to other cultures and opinions to any serious extent.

    I'm not sure about foreign students, since exposure to other cultures is one of the reasons they send kids abroad to college in the first place.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6623 replies143 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    @MWolf Great insight. It is quite to be expected but contrary to what I hoped it would be for my D.

    You are 100 percent right about the geographic groupings to a large part too. At my d’s school it seems to be strongest from the NYC and Long Island contingent. And she does seem to believe wealthy students flock together. Perhaps it’s just there are so many of them, it’s hard not too.
    edited May 2019
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  • gonzaga35gonzaga35 36 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited May 2019
    @Trixy34 I think it is how you define NY. For most people in NYC and I know a few, they don't even know that NY goes beyond Albany. I lived in Buffalo for 10 years have worked in Western NY, Buffalo and the Southern tier for many years and am from and now once again live in PA about 10 miles from the NY border. The rural regions have very little difference to them just as Buffalo and Erie have little difference.
    edited May 2019
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  • Trixy34Trixy34 1183 replies6 threads Senior Member
    @gonzaga35 - I don't want to throw the thread off track. I grew up in rural upstate NY. Now I live in suburban Philadelphia. Yes, two very different scenarios. But even beyond that - there's so much difference in how the states operate. I find PA incredibly frustrating in a lot of ways. And so many things puzzle me - things that just seem normal to people here but that a New Yorker (no matter what their background) would never imagine in a million years.
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  • privatebankerprivatebanker 6623 replies143 threads Senior Member
    @Trixy34 that’s a post I would love to read. I need to read. Lol. Tell us please.
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  • Trixy34Trixy34 1183 replies6 threads Senior Member
    edited May 2019
    Lol. Well, maybe this is just my area, but there are no shoulders on the roads - anywhere. My son thought I was a nut for complaining about this, until we started visiting colleges in upstate NY and he got to drive and then he realized how nice it was to not have trees, bikes and runners jumping out at you at every turn. Lol.

    Don't even get me started on the condition of the roads in the winter. Mostly, road crews take a "wait and see" approach. And where a state road meets a county road, well, the snow just gets left in the intersection, I guess it isn't anyone's job to clear the intersection. Every single time there is a storm, there is a pileup on the PA turnpike. Every. single. time.

    Nobody seems to feel the need to clear the power lines of overgrowth, so every time there is a storm, trees and branches come down and the power goes out. I can't tell you how many times I've lost all the food in my fridge. Meanwhile, my parents went through a 500 year flood in NY a while back. They had 4 1/2 feet of water in their house. Bridges and roads were washed out all over the county. They lost power for 30 minutes - because the power lines are kept clear.

    Here in PA there is busing for 1/2 day kindergartners, but only one way.

    Kids dying in Philadelphia city schools because there is no school nurse on duty to administer epi-pens.

    My biggest pet peeve is the highly regressive tax system. We have a low state income tax, but it's a 3% flax tax with little to no exemptions and it hits even people who are basically living in poverty. (If you earn $33 a year, you must file and pay that $1 in income tax) Nobody seems to think this is at all unfair or a complete waste of resources (for example, say my kid earns $100 a year - we have to file and pay $3 in income tax and then the state sends coupons for next year's quarterly estimated payments) The completely useless legislature won't touch the income tax, so they just nickel and dime everyone with sales and use taxes, property taxes, highway tolls, lottery sales, etc. Inheritance tax is very high and there is little to no exemption.

    It used to be that the seniors in our school district graduated before school was over for the year. I could never wrap my brain around that one.

    I'm sure there are others that aren't coming to me right now, but there just seems to be much more of a wild wild west, every man for himself kind of feeling here in PA.

    Oh yeah - if you've ever driven through PA, you may have noticed there doesn't seem to be an agency in charge of cleaning up roadkill. Same for dangerous animals. If you have a rabid raccoon in your yard, don't bother calling animal control. They won't come.
    edited May 2019
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  • RockySoilRockySoil 208 replies2 threads Junior Member
    The tension between "Expanding your horizons" and "Finding the best fit" is not easy to figure out.
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