Class Struggle: college


Posted at 02:00 PM ET, 06/19/2012

Admissions 101: What are the new hidden gems for summer college visits?

Ten years ago, I created a list of 100 colleges that deserve bigger reputations. It proved popular, but now it’s time for an update.

By Jay Mathews  |  02:00 PM ET, 06/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Jay Mathews' list of 100 colleges that are better than you think, Mathews invites readers to suggest new hidden gem colleges, a guide for families doing summer college visits, in 2003 Elon, Earlham and Clark topped the list

Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 02/07/2012

Admissions 101: Smart and lazy ways to pick a college major

Why did you pick a major? And would your method work for today's students?

By Jay Mathews  |  11:45 AM ET, 02/07/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  higher education, college majors

Posted at 08:00 PM ET, 11/28/2010

If your child resists the college search

A frustrated parent brought an unnerving problem to my Admissions 101 discussion group on washingtonpost.com. The student (many of us in the group immediately assumed it was a boy) had gotten into a well-respected public university in his state and, the parent said, “adamantly refused to go on college visits or apply to any schools other than” his one and only choice.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:00 PM ET, 11/28/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  Admissions 101 discussions group, be patient, child resists college search, he can always transfer. Barack Obama, student will apply to only one college

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 11/05/2010

Wanted: Unsung high schools with strong college course programs

Other columnists spend the dark winter months reconnecting with their loved ones before a cozy fire or a richly laden holiday feast. I use that time to fill a spreadsheet with the names of high schools and their ratios of college-level tests to graduating seniors.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 11/05/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  America's Best High Schools, Challenge Index, list moves to washingtonpost.com, list will include local college exams for the first time, new list for 2011

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 10/10/2010

New film shows folly of Ivy envy

This time of year, with high school seniors slogging through one college application after another, and parents jittery about their children’s futures, I often write columns explaining why it doesn’t matter where they go to school. The invariable reaction from many readers, and some of my friends, is that I went to Harvard, so what do I know about their problem?

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 10/10/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  Mark Zuckerberg, Aaron Sorkin,, Zac Bissonnette, it doesn't matter where you go to college, little studying in college

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 10/03/2010

KIPP leaders unworried by test score drop

Fifth grade scores dropped this year at the KIPP DC charter schools. Some people wondered if the Knowledge Is Power Program’s long record of raising D.C. student achievement was in jeopardy. The woman who created KIPP DC seems unworried. She has already made a change that may drive some average scores even lower next year.

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 10/03/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  KIPP DC, KIPP DC: College Prep in its second year, KIPP culture change, KIPP fifth grade scores go down, Knowledge Is Power Program, Susan Schaeffler, for first time KIPP adds fourth grade to middle school

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 09/24/2010

How to make teacher salaries look better

McKinsey & Company, the giant management consulting firm, has taken a deep, detailed look at teacher compensation and concluded that teachers are making significantly more than most of us, particularly our most academically successful college students, think they are.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 09/24/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Closing the talent gap,, McKinsey study shows college student underestimate how much teachers make, how to make teacher salaries look better, two average teachers married to each other are in the top 20 percent wealthiest households

Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 09/14/2010

Accuracy wanted on tuition costs

I wish a recent article in our Style section had given readers a clearer indication that the figure cited in the story's first paragraph for college costs -- "up to $200,000 in tuition, room and board" -- was a misleading distortion of what the vast majority of students have to pay.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:20 PM ET, 09/14/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Post story inflates college costs, college costs, college tuition inflation

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 09/02/2010

What your college counselor doesn't know

An insightful new book on the admissions process has convinced me that many hardworking and thoughtful high school counselors have a weak spot that I have overlooked. Both they and I don’t have as deep an understanding of the intricacies of college finance as is needed in this era of huge tuition bills.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 09/02/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  Debt-Free U, High school counselors are weak on financing college, Zac Bissonnette book, tendency to favor expensive private colleges

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 08/20/2010

Best (and most unsettling) college admissions book ever

Bissonnette is 22 now, a senior at the University of Massachusetts. He has written the best and most troubling book ever about the college admissions process, "Debt-Free U: How I Paid for an Outstanding College Education Without Loans, Scholarships, or Mooching Off My Parents."

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 08/20/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  best college admissions book ever, author Zac Bissonnette only 21, new book, still in college, suggests students make better use of state schools, warns against taking out loans

Posted at 12:01 AM ET, 08/16/2010

A's for public universities, F's for privates

At the next gathering of family or friends, or better yet wherever you are doing your drinking, ask why a major organization promoting the improvement of higher education has just given Yale, Northwestern and the University of California at Berkeley F's on its latest college rankings. Then when they turn in your direction tell them the same organization gave A's to Brooklyn College, Kennesaw State and East Tennessee State.

By Jay Mathews  |  12:01 AM ET, 08/16/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  American Council of Trustees and Alumni, Brooklyn College gets an A, Yale given an F on new college list, colleges require few courses, only 77 percent require composition, only five percent require economics

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 07/28/2010

Patrick Welsh is wrong about too many going to college

Morgan and Welsh make the mistake of seeing college as nothing more than a route to certain careers, unnecessary for those who, as Morgan says, “fix our cars and computers and clean up oil spills in Louisiana.” The life-long benefits of four years studying the world, testing one’s interests and communing with other thoughtful young adults seem lost on them. What do they say of other vital life choices that can cost as much as college and still have little connection to future job prospects? Would Morgan or Welsh argue that starting a family, joining a church or buying a home are similarly a waste of time?

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 07/28/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  Eugene Morgan, Patrick Welsh, encouraging people who want to limit challenge for all, they exaggerate the pressure to go to college, they overlook the non-career benefits of college, they say too many students go to college

Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 07/22/2010

Admissions office probes applicants’ scary depths

Psychology is beyond my competence. I took a course in that subject my freshman year of college, but that was because I needed an easy A. So I wondered if I really wanted to write anything at all about an article I found in the spring 2010 issue of the Journal of College Admissions with this unsettling title: “One College’s Journey Into the Unconscious Mind of its Prospective Students: How a New Research Methodology is Helping Us Recruit.”

By Jay Mathews  |  06:00 PM ET, 07/22/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Ashley Memory, Gerald Zaltman of Harvard, Jennifer Kretchmar, Jerry Olson of Penn State, UNC study of 13 male high schoolers, college search desires, importance of a journey, looking deeper inside the applicant's head, personal growth

Posted at 08:00 PM ET, 07/14/2010

Students weren't taught research writing

English professor Kate Simpson said she discovered that 40 percent of her 115 students thought that their high schools had not prepared them for college-level writing. Only 23 percent thought they had those writing skills.

By Jay Mathews  |  08:00 PM ET, 07/14/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  23 percent said some, 40 percent of one professor' freshman class said they had none, Kate Simpson, Lord Fairfax Community College, high schools fail to teach research writing

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 06/30/2010

How NOT to write a college application essay

Let’s dispense quickly with the basics of writing how not to write a college application essay. The first rule is, do not dwell on your good grades, top scores, club presidencies and other triumphs. The essay is supposed to reveal something the college admissions people have not already learned from the rest of your application. If all you do in your essay is talk about what a star you are, you will be rejected, because no one wants to inflict such a bore on an unsuspecting freshman-year roommate.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 06/30/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  be self-deprecating, don't dwell on your strengths, how not to write a college essay

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 06/23/2010

Pretend your college interviewer is grandma's friend

The point of a college interview is to show that you are a good person and that you are polite and interesting and have a sense of humor about yourself and the unnerving admissions process. That means you have to be, as you have been told many times, yourself, which is not so easy in those circumstances.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 06/23/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  express an contrarian political view, handling college interviews, make a joke, pretend the interviewer is a friend of grandma, take risks, think of some questions beforehand

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 06/17/2010

New evidence that SAT hurts blacks

Roy Freedle is 76 now, patient as any research psychologist. He knows that decades often pass before valid ideas take root. When the notion is as radical as his, that the SAT is racially biased, an even longer wait might be expected. But after 23 years the research he has done on the surprising reaction of black students to hard words versus easy words seems to be breaking out of a long period being dismissed as trivial and irrelevant.

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 06/17/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  College Board denies bias, Maria Veronica Santelices, Mark Wilson, Roy Freedle, blacks do better on harder questions, racial bias in the SAT

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 06/09/2010

Look for fun, not facts, on your campus visits

Applying to college is stressful enough without every step in the process requiring a clipboard. The average family visit occurs when we are on vacation, for pity’s sake. Why can’t we treat the day like a pleasant stop at a well-known tourist attraction, full of history and intriguing architecture and maybe even free snacks?

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 06/09/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Living | Tags:  college campus visits, don't bring a clipboard, have fun, save serious fact-finding for April after your student has been accepted

Posted at 10:00 PM ET, 05/23/2010

Why transparency in college admissions is bad

Impose transparency on the holistic system used by selective colleges--a subjective judgment based on several factors--and the result is no less maddening. The admissions office would have to issue statements like "the candidate's extracurricular involvements were not as intense and her teacher recommendations not as impressive as those of candidates we accepted."

By Jay Mathews  |  10:00 PM ET, 05/23/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  Andy Pettis, college admissions transparency is bad, parents upset they don't know why children are rejected, transparency will also upset people. transparency leads to unpopular standardized measures

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 03/31/2010

KIPP visitor's critique, KIPP leader's response

suegjoyce: “Kids at KIPP are drilled and tested over and over again with scores posted in hallway for all to see. ALL scores, good or bad.” Shirey: We do have an interim testing program, and believe strongly in posting data, but this is only a small part of what we do. In addition to regular classwork, we have students engaged in arts activities, science labs, and Socratic seminars. As an example, our high school engineering class recently participated in a large competition. They took second place behind historic Central High in Little Rock, which has a student body about 20 times larger than ours.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 03/31/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  KIPP Delta College Preparatory School, KIPP leader responds, KIPP visitor critiques school, suegjoyce

Posted at 03:34 PM ET, 03/22/2010

Overloaded high schools bring NCAA upsets

"Very academically qualified kids are having to choose the next tier down; Harvard kids going to Tufts, Tufts kids to Dickinson, Dickinson kids to UMBC etc. It stands to reason that's also happening in athletics. It's sheer demographics."

By Jay Mathews  |  03:34 PM ET, 03/22/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  increasing college quality, overloaded high schools explain basketball upsets

Posted at 01:30 PM ET, 03/16/2010

LSAT: the devil's work?

Various people I respect, including my boss, tell me I should be less secretive on this blog about another forum at which I spend time, my Admissions 101 discussion group. We have very lively---some think occasionally too lively---exchanges over issue related to getting into college and other forms of higher education.

By Jay Mathews  |  01:30 PM ET, 03/16/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  Admissions 101, college admissions, raucous admissions discussion group

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 02/16/2010

College ratings to trust

If you are, as the law school applicant in my family has begun to call them, a prestige whore, then I guess the U.S. News & World Report America's Best Colleges rankings are for you. Those lists are based heavily on what colleges think of each other---what is called the reputational score. The higher the rank, the wider the smile on your grandmother's face when you get in. But if you want an introduction to a lesser known, but to my mind more useful, rating of undergraduate institutions, take a close look at the National Survey of Student Engagement.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 02/16/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  George Kuh, Godzilla, National Survey of Student Engagement, U.S. News America's Best Colleges, best college ratings, measuring college value

Posted at 05:30 AM ET, 11/27/2009

Should we inflate Advanced Placement grades?

Erin McVadon Albright, the IB coordinator at Annandale High School in Fairfax County, said the extra grade point for IB was a powerful inducement for one of her most intriguing students. He came from a low-income family that did not even have an Internet connection at home. He wanted to play football, which meant he had to take a government class online over the summer to have time for IB. He was using the computer at the office where his mother was a receptionist, but she was afraid someone would complain. He almost dropped the course until Albright managed to lend him a school laptop which he could take the public library to do his work.

By Jay Mathews  |  05:30 AM ET, 11/27/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  Advanced Placement, College Board, Erin Albright, International Baccalaureate, Jaime Escalante, Jon Gubera, Mike Reno, Rochester school board, Roy Sunada, Trevor Packer, grade weighting

Posted at 03:37 PM ET, 08/25/2009

Admissions 101: To Take or Not to Take AP and IB

Over at Admissions 101, Jay Mathews is discussing the answer to a prickly question: The Question: Is it better for college admissions to take an IB or AP class and receive a C or D or take a standard class...

By Washington Post Editors  |  03:37 PM ET, 08/25/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  AP, IB, college admissions

Posted at 02:04 PM ET, 08/12/2009

Jay on the Web: Pitfalls for Poor Students, Pt. 2

Yesterday, we wrote about Jay Mathews' column this week, which took on the conventional wisdom that talented, but poor, kids are often turned away from college. Jay challenged readers to point to a real life example of this happening and...

By Washington Post Editors  |  02:04 PM ET, 08/12/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Jay on the Web | Tags:  college admissions, underprivileged students

Posted at 01:55 PM ET, 08/11/2009

Admissions 101: College Pitfalls for Poor Students

It's conventional wisdom that talented, but underpriveleged, students are often turned away from college for lack of funds. Jay Mathews tried to dispell that idea in a column this week. He asked for readers to throw out examples of such...

By Washington Post Editors  |  01:55 PM ET, 08/11/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  college admissions, underprivileged students

Posted at 11:35 AM ET, 08/10/2009

Metro Monday: Here's a Wise Investment: Help Students Who Need Money to Finish College

Two weeks ago, I challenged Columbia University professor Andrew Delbanco's claim that "a great many gifted and motivated young people are excluded from college for no other reason than their inability to pay." I had never found a student like...

By Washington Post Editors  |  11:35 AM ET, 08/10/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  college, college admissions, scholarships, school loans

Posted at 01:09 PM ET, 08/04/2009

Admissions 101: Boot the SAT?

Jay Mathews is looking for feedback over at Admissions 101: My latest online column addresses the growing trend of colleges telling many of their applicants they do not have to submit SAT or ACT scores. This is one of the...

By Washington Post Editors  |  01:09 PM ET, 08/04/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  ACT, SAT, college admissions

Posted at 03:02 PM ET, 06/23/2009

Admissions 101: A Class Quandry

Jay posted a true quandry in Admissions 101: Is it better for students to get good grades in easy classes, or mediocre grades in tough ones? Jay is specifically talking about AP and IB classes and how top tier schools...

By Washington Post Editors  |  03:02 PM ET, 06/23/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  AP, IB, college admissions

Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 06/19/2009

The Community College Placement Mess

Newspaper reporters, a group to which I belonged until recently, usually don’t write about old reports, unless of course the documents have been suppressed for years by nefarious government minions. If a reporter tells her editor she has found a...

By Washington Post editors  |  05:00 AM ET, 06/19/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Trends | Tags:  community college

Posted at 05:24 PM ET, 06/09/2009

Admissions 101: Should Colleges Ditch the SAT for AP as the Main Admissions Exam?

A little while back in Admissions 101, Jay asked whether the day of the SAT might be numbered: Matt Gray, spokesman for Bryn Mawr College, just alerted me to their new admissions policy that, I think, anticipates a day when...

By Washington Post Editors  |  05:24 PM ET, 06/09/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  AP, SAT, college admissions

Posted at 12:12 PM ET, 06/02/2009

Admissions 101: Recommend a College for Students With Special Needs

Two years ago, Jay Mathews asked for recommendations on the best schools for students with special needs. No, not just learning disabilities. Jay was looking for everything from the best intramural sports programs to schools that were good at motivating...

By Washington Post Editors  |  12:12 PM ET, 06/02/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  college, intramural sports, special needs

Posted at 12:57 PM ET, 05/26/2009

Scholarship Contests: Easy Money or Scam?

A little while back Jay received a press release for a contest from a group called Upromise that offered a chance for students to win a $10,000 scholarship by submitting a 30-second web video. It turns out these scholarship contests...

By Washington Post Editors  |  12:57 PM ET, 05/26/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Admissions 101 | Tags:  college, scholarships

Posted at 08:44 AM ET, 04/06/2009

You've Been Wait-Listed. Here's What You Do Now.

Are you stuck on a college waiting list? Frustrating, isn't it? You feel disrespected, unlucky. But you are not alone. Some selective schools send more wait-list letters than acceptance letters. This year's economic uncertainties might produce the largest number...

By Washington Post Editors  |  08:44 AM ET, 04/06/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Metro Monday | Tags:  college, waitlist