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    #247884 - 01/04/21 06:33 AM Open college classes to everyone
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2612
    Loc: MA
    I think most college instruction in the U.S. is now online. My eldest child, studying computer engineering at a large public university, had 3 out of 4 classes online last semester and will have all 5 online in the coming one.

    Colleges have determined that Zoom classes are good enough to warrant academic credit. If so, high school students should be allowed to enroll in college classes they are prepared for, and the credits they earn should count towards a college degree.

    The most prestigious U.S. colleges reject most of the applicants who are qualified to do the work. They have resisted expanding their enrollment due to limited dormitory and classroom space (and to maximize prestige based on scarcity). Harvard's Math 55 is a famously difficult course for ambitious math majors. Currently, whether you can take the class for credit depends on getting into Harvard, which in turn depends not just on grades and test scores but on your ability at a sport, on whether your parents are big donors, on your race, and other non-academic criteria. This should change.


    Edited by Bostonian (01/04/21 06:43 AM)

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    #247888 - 01/04/21 01:51 PM Re: Open college classes to everyone [Re: Bostonian]
    cricket3 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 687
    Wow- just lost my whole response- ugh!

    I wanted to say that while I understand your point, I think you are really not fully acknowledging the differences that exist in online courses. True, there may be many classes that are wholly online and therefore scalable to large populations- these existed pre-COVID and there are probably more options now. But the typical college class that is now held virtually via zoom does not necessarily fit into that category.

    I can only speak from the experiences of my two kids, a college junior and freshman. The junior had all her work online for the fall term, and the freshman had 2 virtual and 2 that were mainly in person, with a lab that was mostly in person. But the largest class size either had was a microbiology class with 20 students- all of their virtual (and live) classes were small and very time/labor intensive, both for the students but also for the faculty. They often had small breakout groups/sessions, sometimes for every class, which the professor attended. There was significant interaction, with the expectation of discussion and direct involvement from everyone. Even the assessments were intensive- out of concerns about cheating, almost all their assessments involved projects, papers, and/or presentations (and this includes science, math, and computational science classes). The kids were able to form relationships with other students and with the professors- my junior actually said she found it easier to “arrive early or stay late” to zoom class to chat with the professor and ask some questions. And they both felt pretty good about the overall experience in the end- not the same as in person, and clearly not as good, but they did have deep, rich learning experiences.

    And bonus, my kids definitely have a awareness and gratitude for the challenges that were involved in teaching this past term. Hopefully that extends to most of their fellow students and helps them follow the guidelines and do the right thing, at least for those fortunate enough to be on campus.

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    #247889 - 01/04/21 04:55 PM Re: Open college classes to everyone [Re: Bostonian]
    Kai Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/17/09
    Posts: 622
    Originally Posted By: Bostonian
    This should change.

    If it changes, the "value" of a Harvard education will also change.

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    #247890 - 01/04/21 06:10 PM Re: Open college classes to everyone [Re: Bostonian]
    mithawk Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/25/11
    Posts: 262
    Originally Posted By: Bostonian
    I think most college instruction in the U.S. is now online. My eldest child, studying computer engineering at a large public university, had 3 out of 4 classes online last semester and will have all 5 online in the coming one.

    Colleges have determined that Zoom classes are good enough to warrant academic credit. If so, high school students should be allowed to enroll in college classes they are prepared for, and the credits they earn should count towards a college degree.

    The most prestigious U.S. colleges reject most of the applicants who are qualified to do the work. They have resisted expanding their enrollment due to limited dormitory and classroom space (and to maximize prestige based on scarcity). Harvard's Math 55 is a famously difficult course for ambitious math majors. Currently, whether you can take the class for credit depends on getting into Harvard, which in turn depends not just on grades and test scores but on your ability at a sport, on whether your parents are big donors, on your race, and other non-academic criteria. This should change.

    Interesting that you mentioned Harvard and Math 55, both of which I know well.

    My child attends Harvard. He was admitted despite not being the least bit athletic, nor a donor, nor a member of any preferred racial or economic group. While I agree with you that college admissions is not "fair", I also know it is possible for unhooked kids such as mine to gain admission to the most elite schools, and I have offered free admissions advice on this forum to anyone who wants it.

    My son was actually admitted to several of Harvard's peers as well, and a major reason he chose Harvard over the others was Math 55. If there is one class that really isn't meant for the general public, it is this one.

    It is hard to overstate how difficult this class is, and I suspect that no more than 100 people nationwide are capable of passing this class. My son wrote four mathematics research papers in high school, including one that was published in an Elsevier peer-reviewed journal, and another which received major recognition prior to publication. Despite this extensive math background, even he needed about 20 hours per week to excel in this class. And he feels that some of the people taking the class really shouldn't be there because they need to be hand-held by the teaching fellows (called TAs everywhere else).

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    #247892 - 01/05/21 04:30 AM Re: Open college classes to everyone [Re: Bostonian]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1650
    An ethnic Chinese boy, from DD's school, got into Harvard EA this year. No sport, no legacy and he had the typical olympiad physics and math team background. He got in.

    A couple of years ago, an AA girl got in. She was American, legacy. But then she got into MIT and Stanford and went to MIT instead. She didn't have a sport. And no legacy to MIT or Stanford.

    Do I expect DD to get a leg up because of legacy and maybe sailing? Yes, but she is also a top scorer, has a unique interest in deep, deep ocean robotics, in touch with professors in the field and is also building apps and launching business. Actually launching business is a big one for Harvard. But she is in a program to learn how to build apps and they have to build the business plan and launch. Something she took on herself. There is more than just sport and legacy to getting in Harvard.

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    #247893 - 01/05/21 06:25 AM Re: Open college classes to everyone [Re: Wren]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2612
    Loc: MA
    Thousand of applicants are admitted to the most prestigious U.S. colleges each year, of course, but many of those schools have hardly increased their class sizes in decades, so as the U.S. population grows, the number of people who could do the work but cannot be admitted also grows.

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    #247894 - 01/05/21 01:51 PM Re: Open college classes to everyone [Re: Bostonian]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1650
    I agree, my kid could do the work at many schools. But I think they want more than just doing the work. A spring Harvard grad, from DD's school. didn't get into whatever grad program she applied to and now is assistant teaching back at DD's school during the hybrid covid teaching method. She is totally lost and thinking about going into high school teaching. She could do the work at Harvard, got in. But they usually want people more driven, more focused because they want certain outcomes. That is my opinion from most Harvard groups (resulting from housing groups). Most are very driven, focused, but there is always the one out of 10 that got out and ended up as a manager at JC Penney. Nothing wrong with that but paying for Harvard education and then doing that usually doesn't correlate. That was a specific example, though the department store chain name was changed.

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    #247900 - 01/07/21 03:58 AM Re: Open college classes to everyone [Re: Bostonian]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1650
    At Brown, 48 percent of early admits are students of color – an 8 percent increase from last year. The applicant pool saw record numbers of first-generation students and low-income students.
    Dartmouth notes that almost 26 percent of accepted students are from low-income household. 36 percent of accepted students are Black, Indigenous, or people of color – a historic high.
    The numbers of admitted students who are Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Asian American have all increased at Georgetown in this early cycle.
    The percentage of first-generation college students admitted to Harvard increased nearly 7 percentage points to 17 percent in this cycle. Admitted students identifying as African American increased 4 percentage points to 16.6 percent.

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    #247909 - 01/14/21 07:37 PM Re: Open college classes to everyone [Re: Bostonian]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2415
    1 - Online channel

    Agreed - there is certainly room to expand access to university course offerings that can be delivered effectively in an online format to capable high school students (or middle school students).

    The same argument can extend to students enrolled in any post-secondary program who are qualified to complete advanced coursework at multiple institutions.

    (And, really, the evidence suggests that open access to lifelong learning is the optimal societal equilibrium for skills. It's cheapest on the public purse, maximizes private sector access to qualified talent, and yields the best social outcomes.)


    2 - The market for post-secondary education is misaligned

    It is my firmly held opinion that the market for post-secondary education is fundamentally mis-aligned. Instead of being brokered at the institution level, it should clear at the program or course-level (depending on market factors). Realistically, most first and second-year level coursework is totally commodifiable and could be delivered through a learning pass-port*/portfolio; and some programs entirely, which would support increased online content. Those rare, truly unique or advanced courses could entertain more selective admissions processes.

    As it stands, we waste unfathomable resources on filler. The post-secondary market is flooded with useless courses, and useless instructors. A more efficient, affordable, accessible, scalable model could cut the fat and double down on the best basic content, to expand coverage of exceptional classes for all who can handle them.

    *Hyphenated to clear SPAM filter.

    Of course, this is my Polyanna-ish, "university is for learning and the greater good" view, which I sincerely hold. Reality ensues.

    3 - What professors / provosts want

    However, this would require the university funding model to flip on its head. I have worked closely with most major university provosts and vice-provosts here in Canada on education systems design, and I can say with certitude that even here - a much more inclusive, collectivist society - there is little appetite among senior university administrators to move in the direction of *actual* inclusion. They don't want to see themselves as intellectual Pez dispensers or *gasp* providing market-led skills development. Such is the comfort of the ivory tower existence, that it will suppress progress to feather its own nest. Cynical, maybe, but that's the paradigm.

    4- What's a fund manager to do?

    Let's be frank - the US majors are all primarily endowment funds, not universities, by function and financing. The incentives they reward in market are, in this order:

    a) Commercialization
    b) Cultural insularity
    c) Reputational reinforcement

    Now, actual knowledge creation and societal value are correlated with those, to some degree. But the illusion that university is for learning and giving back is all but dead in the elite US university market. Students (and many faculty) are branded, like bipedal Wagyu, not necessarily educated or capable of meaningful work.

    How does online course delivery - and opening the matriculant kimono - play into this strategy? Not at all.
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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    #247910 - 01/14/21 08:00 PM Re: Open college classes to everyone [Re: mithawk]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2415
    Kudos to your son, Mithawk! Those are some terrific accomplishments. Sorry he's having to do all this in the middle of a pandemic. I feel for these students.
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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