Submitted by Paul Fain on October 15, 2013 - 3:00am
Newly-released data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center tracks how 2.3 million high school graduates fared in transitioning to college over a three-year period. The report from the nonprofit Clearinghouse sets benchmarks for the college-going rates of public high school graduates, with specific categories for low-income, high-minority and urban high schools.
The Horace Mann School, an elite private high school in New York City, informed parents that an anonymous person has written to colleges with the goal of damaging the admissions chances of one of the school's students, New York Magazine reported. The school has contacted the admissions offices that received the material to try to undo the damage. A letter sent by Canh Oxelson, director of college counseling, to parents said: "In 20 years of college admissions, I have never witnessed anything so disrespectful.... For a student to have worked so hard for so many years, only to see those efforts jeopardized by an act of sabotage, is absolutely unconscionable."
Some law school deans thought recent communication from U.S. News & World report indicated that the magazine's rankings were about to ignore the recommendations of the American Bar Association. It turns out that U.S. News is preserving that option, but hasn't decided what to do. At issue is one of the recommendations of a special ABA panel that last month proposed numerous changes in legal education. One of the focuses of the ABA panel was the widespread criticism that law school is too expensive and that, at many law schools, spending that forces up tuition rates may not be improving the student experience. The panel specifically cited the impact of U.S. News including spending (expenditures per student) in its methodology. "This encourages law schools to increase expenditures for purpose of affecting ranking, without reference to impact on value delivered or educational outcomes, and thus promotes continued increase in the price of law school education." The panel urged U.S. News to stop including the measure in its methodology.
As a result, some law deans were disturbed to get this year's information request from U.S. News, with the same expenditure questions as in years past. One unnamed dean wrote on the blog Brian Leiter's Law School Reports: "While the decision to rank schools according to how much they spend has always been corrosive, perverse, and misleading, it is particularly disturbing to see U.S. News continue to do so in light of the above and in light of the urgent need for law schools to hold down costs and limit expenditures in order to minimize student debt."
Robert Morse, who directs the rankings at U.S. News, via e-mail confirmed that the questions were being asked but he said it was inaccurate to say that the information will be used in the next rankings. But he said that the rankings operation "has not made a determination at this time if there will be any change in the upcoming best law schools ranking methodology."
The "Pay It Forward" concept -- in which students would not pay tuition to attend public colleges, but would pay a share of their salaries after graduation -- has attracted considerable attention in recent months. But a coalition of education groups issued a statement Friday opposing the idea. The group's analysis says that such plans would increase the cost of higher education, do nothing about the "state disinvestment" in higher education and create the wrong incentives for public colleges. For example, the groups say that public colleges would have an incentive to build up programs likely to attract students who will earn the most money after graduation, which may not be the most important programs for a state or its higher education system. "We are heartened that state lawmakers are taking the student debt crisis seriously and are seeking solutions. However, these solutions need to actively attack, not obscure, the root cause of rising student costs and debt -- declining state investment in high quality public higher education. Pay It Forward moves us in the wrong direction," the statement concludes.
The groups that signed were: American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Association of University Professors, AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, Colorado Student Power Alliance, Education Trust, Jobs With Justice, National Education Association, Student Labor Action Project (and University of Oregon Student Labor Action Project) and the Institute for College Access and Success.
High school students typically complain about all the college marketing materials they receive from colleges they have never heard of, but many are flattered when a big-name institution shows interest. But social media are picking up on an unusual complaint about the University of Chicago: that it's bombarding some potential applicants (even those unlikely to be admitted) with mail. A series of posts on College Confidential talk about applicants getting two or three mailings a week from Chicago. Wrote one parent: "There is no way my daughter has the stats to be accepted there, but we have gotten a ridiculous amount of mail from them as well. I find it bordering on offensive; clearly they are just trying to increase the number of applicants." Said another: "My son gets several mailers a week from U Chicago. It's become a joke at our house!"
Via e-mail, James Nondorf, vice president and dean of admissions and financial aid at Chicago, said via e-mail that the university tries "very hard to make sure we are striking the right tone and timing with our messages, and that we are engaging the appropriate students." He said that the university reviews search parameters every year, and that there were no major changes this year, except for increased efforts to reach talented low-income and first generation students.-But he said that Chicago plans to post the following note on College Confidential: "In our materials, we aim to try and communicate a bit more of the UChicago experience to students (or parents) who may find themselves a good fit for our programs for a variety of reasons, but may not be able to visit campus or learn more about the college from friends or classmates. Students often find their way to our mailing list by indicating their interest in receiving materials from colleges either on our website or when they take a standardized test. While we'd be sad to see you go, anyone who is not interested in continuing to receive materials from UChicago is encouraged to unsubscribe from our mail by clicking here: [unsubscribe link]). We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience, and we wish you the best of luck in the college admissions process and hope you find a wonderful future college home."
The Council of Independent Colleges has launched a new online campaign on the value of liberal arts colleges. The website features data, testimonials from educators and alumni, and information on the careers and lives of graduates of the colleges.