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Equity in College Admissions

Dave_BerryDave_Berry CC Admissions Expert 511 replies3089 threads CC Admissions Expert
"The Wall Street Journal calls the University of California System’s recent decision to eliminate the SAT and ACT in admissions 'a historic blow to excellence in higher education,' and declares that the regents have 'put racial politics above merit.'

The reader comments are even harsher. 'What next?' writes one reader. 'Will Olympic time trials be replaced by coaches’ recommendations, essays, and interviews?'
Now that most highly selective schools have abandoned the SAT and ACT, at least temporarily, we need to ask: How can they admit students fairly – and withstand legal scrutiny – in the absence of a standardized test.

A recent article in EdSurge, and co-published with Slate, reports that the technology sector is offering institutions admissions algorithms that will help them predict college success – and avoid discrimination lawsuits.

Even before the shift away from college entrance exams, colleges and universities had already embraced data-driven enrollment management and financial aid allocation, a subject explored by Cathy O’Neil in her influential study of Weapons of Math Destruction. Algorithms offered a seemingly objective and scientific way to balance competing institutional interests: In maximizing tuition revenue, and ensuring ethnic, racial, and socio-economic diversity and gender balance, while sustaining or raising the institution’s U.S. News and World rankings." ...

https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/higher-ed-gamma/equity-college-admissions-0
11 replies
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Replies to: Equity in College Admissions

  • SisternightSisternight 123 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Part of the underlying problem is that access to top schools and the credentials they confer have become more and more inaccessible because both cost and selectivity have skyrocketed. This scarcity of access and the sense that higher education is a zero sum game make some people oppose efforts to broaden access. The problem of access has been created by the system of higher education and only they can change it.
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 2069 replies25 threads Senior Member
    Part of the underlying problem is that access to top schools and the credentials they confer have become more and more inaccessible because both cost and selectivity have skyrocketed.
    Not sure if this is a correct statement.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2763 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Part of the underlying problem is that access to top schools and the credentials they confer have become more and more inaccessible because both cost and selectivity have skyrocketed. This scarcity of access and the sense that higher education is a zero sum game make some people oppose efforts to broaden access. The problem of access has been created by the system of higher education and only they can change it.


    No, what has happened is that the perception of some colleges as being objectively "the top" colleges has spread much wider, and therefore every high school senior feels that, unless they are accepted to a T-20 college, their life is over.

    Access to "top schools", especially the private ones, is a luxury item, and many people can no longer tell the difference between "need" and "want". The big problem is that the majority of the public colleges have become unaffordable, because the federal and state governments no longer fund them enough. Of course the reason that they no longer fund colleges, is because the state governments have cut taxes.

    So every person who has voted for state government candidates because those candidates promised to reduce taxes and to reduce the size of the government is who is responsible for the prices of public colleges.

    So long as the large majority of the people refuse to accept increases in taxes to fund higher education, they should stop complaining about the prices of higher education.

    Yes, college is more expensive, partly because of administrative bloat, but also because people demand more from colleges. Again, everybody wants better dorms for their kids, a modern gym, state-of-the-art labs and equipment, student support, career advising, etc. Back when colleges were 1/2 of the price they are today, they had nothing of those.

    Basically, people want expensive colleges at half of the price of cheap colleges.

    You either pay with your taxes, or you pay with tuition. You either accept a college with few facilities and services, or you pay for those extra facilities and services.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 2235 replies18 threads Senior Member
    @mwolf Not everyone wants the things you mention, at all! I think the bloat you mention in admin is the major part of the increase, coupled with extreme expenditures on things that are unrelated to education, like a 100million+ 24 hour gym or specialized items which very few use. And which, btw, were non-existent at the best colleges just a few decades ago (Ivy in fact).

    Actually colleges have always had gyms, career advising and student support. But they did not have a lot of useless titles which they do now. And more people actually taught. Now colleges are filled with "thought leaders" and people who mainly do research. Not all but that is costly. There have been many articles written about the layer of people working at colleges who don't educate. Anyone. Ever. This is expensive.

    Public colleges are a public good and are worthy of funding. Yet, do you think it's reasonable for taxpayers to pay for many items which are not tied to education? Nope. So therefore the price of state colleges rise quickly (putting kids in debt). This means that someone who wants a great education without frills has no options. They either go with the excess and excess price or they go to a community college. Not a good set of choices, IMO.
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  • TigerInWinterTigerInWinter 120 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Actually colleges have always had gyms, career advising and student support. But they did not have a lot of useless titles which they do now. And more people actually taught. Now colleges are filled with "thought leaders" and people who mainly do research. Not all but that is costly. There have been many articles written about the layer of people working at colleges who don't educate. Anyone. Ever. This is expensive.

    Even if one accepts your premise that universities are filled with "useless" administrators, I doubt the cost of these positions is the major driver of the increase in the cost of higher education.

    As an exercise, consider that Harvard's operating budget is more than $5 billion. If Harvard employs 400 "useless" administrators and the average costs of their salaries and benefits is $120,000 per person, the total cost of those administrators accounts for less than 1% of Harvard's budget.

    Obviously this is a hypothetical example. If someone has actual real-world data on this issue, I'm all ears.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 24962 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Well those 400 'useless administrators' cost more than their $120k salaries - benefits, office space, meetings, etc. Many of the administrators are required by federal laws - title IX, disability services, report writers. As we've all learned this week, most universities have international student offices to issue the I-20 invitations, to do the filings with ICE, to make sure there is compliance.

    There are a lot of country club facilities but the college are competing for students against others in their tiers, like Ohio State may try to attract students thinking about Pitt or Penn State so put in a million dollar pool or suite style dorms. There are still plenty of schools that have traditional dorms, no frill meal plans, and art studios in the basement of the theater building. Usually the tuition reflects that. My D#1 went to such a school and her R&B was $5000/yr less than her sister's who lived in a suite style freshman village and had an unlimited meal plan. I really felt the schools were quite similar in their offerings but the cheaper school did a MUCH better job in administration.
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  • Rivet2000Rivet2000 1631 replies3 threads Senior Member

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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 2235 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Here's the first article I found.
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinesimon/2017/09/05/bureaucrats-and-buildings-the-case-for-why-college-is-so-expensive/#4f298ed9456a
    From the article:
    By the 2014-2015 school year, total instructional costs had climbed to $148 billion, while the same grouping of administrative expenses had risen to $122.3 billion.
    ( Even I'm blown over by that number, I would have guessed the useless staff was about 25%)

    It's extremely unlikely the administrative costs are that low at any school as cited above. And spiraling costs of schools trying to compete for students means an endless array of expenditures. It's one thing if you are willing and able to pay for the 100million dollar gym, quite another if you are graduating with 100K in debt for those "expenditures" Sadly, if it was a la carte, people who wanted those things could pay for them. But many would not allow that others should make their own choices. They believe it should be a buffet where everyone pays, even if only some folks want the caviar. It's a large reason why costs are so expensive and won't come down until people agree that classes are the most important things.

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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83821 replies743 threads Senior Member
    It's a large reason why costs are so expensive and won't come down until people agree that classes are the most important things.

    Many people of these forums seem to have a much larger list of criteria for choosing a college beyond affordable cost for suitable academics. Indeed, these two criteria often seem like they are not the two most important criteria for many people on these forums. So there may be significant competition between colleges to offer more luxury class student experiences.

    Of course, some added items (or legal requirements in some cases) may be individually inexpensive, but collectively could add up to significant expense beyond the college's core mission of academic instruction and certification through granting degrees on completion of programs of study.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 2235 replies18 threads Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus Agree 1,000%.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2763 replies14 threads Senior Member
    It isn't that I disagree regarding reducing administrative bloat, btw. College administrations have become their own entities which think that they are the college, and that the faculty work for them. In fact, the opposite is true - the faculty are the college, and students are one of the two purposes of the college. The administrators are there to make sure that these two missions get accomplished.

    Faculty work for the public, and the administrators should support the faculty and the students.

    However, once the administrators started thinking of themselves as the center of the university, they started upping their salaries, and created an entire new set of jobs of administrators for the administrators.

    It is clear that the amount of money that colleges spend on faculty salaries is not increasing, as tenured positions are being replaced with underpaid adjuncts, who not only get paid less per hour, but also usually do not receive any benefits.

    However, I do stand by my claim that the services that parents and students want are far more extensive that what there used to be available at colleges.

    Here's the first article I found.
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinesimon/2017/09/05/bureaucrats-and-buildings-the-case-for-why-college-is-so-expensive/#4f298ed9456a
    From the article:
    By the 2014-2015 school year, total instructional costs had climbed to $148 billion, while the same grouping of administrative expenses had risen to $122.3 billion.
    ( Even I'm blown over by that number, I would have guessed the useless staff was about 25%)

    When you consider how much administration is actually needed, $122.3 billion is about 25% useless staff and unearned bonuses for the higher administration. There is also a bad distribution of the resources - while departmental faculty are wasting their time photocopying finals, the second vice president for architectural quality will have two secretaries.

    However, despite these amounts, we are talking about 3%-6% of the part of the institutional budget for the instruction part of the college's mission. Instructional costs do not include academic support (which is usually twice as much), student aid, student services, upkeep of facilities, etc, all which come from tuition. So administrative bloat will account for about 4%, maybe 5%, of the tuition bill. However, 75% of the tuition bill is what students are paying more than their parents (in today dollars, 1970s tuition would be about 25% of what it is today), so administrative bloat only accounts for about 5% of that increase, at most.

    The largest chunk of increase is the loss of state funding. After that, it likely depends on the college. For some, it is spending on the bells and whistles which I mentioned above, while for others is is things like state-of-the-art teaching facilities, like labs, IT, etc, which, arguably are required if we want to train students really well.

    Administrative bloat is likely the last on the list, though 5% is nothing to sneeze at either.

    It's a large reason why costs are so expensive and won't come down until people agree that classes are the most important things.

    It's a very American thing - "the college experience". You can see a lot of it here, with many people arguing about the "quality of the experience", with a lot of that not being academics.

    Again, if people were willing to pay the taxes to support a state education system with all of the bells and whistles, it would work.

    OOS tuition would still need to be high, though, since asking the residents of a state to have their taxes subsidize kids from families who can afford to pay taxes, but are not, is an issue.

    Alternatively, support could come at the federal level.
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