Open college classes to everyone

Posted by: Bostonian

Open college classes to everyone - 01/04/21 06:33 AM

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.
Posted by: cricket3

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/04/21 01:51 PM

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.
Posted by: Kai

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/04/21 04:55 PM

Originally Posted By: Bostonian
This should change.

If it changes, the "value" of a Harvard education will also change.
Posted by: mithawk

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/04/21 06:10 PM

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).
Posted by: Wren

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/05/21 04:30 AM

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.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/05/21 06:25 AM

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.
Posted by: Wren

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/05/21 01:51 PM

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.
Posted by: Wren

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/07/21 03:58 AM

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.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/14/21 07:37 PM

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.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/14/21 08:00 PM

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.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/15/21 01:22 PM

...and, like Wagyu, not necessarily with any objective standards for certifying this branding...
Posted by: aeh

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/15/21 01:37 PM

Your thoughtful analysis is closely related to why our DC attends a small regional public uni--the programs of value to DC are either actually higher-ranked than their equivalents at most of the first- and second-tier privates within the preferred region, or are certified by national professional organizations, with a strong track record of graduate acceptances at the range of institutions that would interest DC at the next stage of education. Opportunities for intellectual and professional growth and development have been comparable, or even higher than in some larger institutions. For example, DC has been spending part of intersession writing the abstract for a poster presentation at the marquee academic conference in the more technical of DC's majors, resulting from research conducted last summer (under slightly involved public health restrictions!) in close association with three faculty members. I don't know that these opportunities are significantly less than those available at name brand unis.
Posted by: aeh

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/15/21 01:43 PM

mithawk, your son's reason for selecting his uni is a substantive one, and an example of thoughtful choices regarding college. (BTW, good for him that he put himself in a position to have such high-quality choices!)
Posted by: Wren

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/16/21 04:46 AM

Originally Posted By: aeh
Your thoughtful analysis is closely related to why our DC attends a small regional public uni--the programs of value to DC are either actually higher-ranked than their equivalents at most of the first- and second-tier privates within the preferred region, or are certified by national professional organizations, with a strong track record of graduate acceptances at the range of institutions that would interest DC at the next stage of education. Opportunities for intellectual and professional growth and development have been comparable, or even higher than in some larger institutions. For example, DC has been spending part of intersession writing the abstract for a poster presentation at the marquee academic conference in the more technical of DC's majors, resulting from research conducted last summer (under slightly involved public health restrictions!) in close association with three faculty members. I don't know that these opportunities are significantly less than those available at name brand unis.


This is critical to any school. How much opportunity is there for research as an undergrad. I think that this is something students should research before applying. DD had a conversation with a young woman, undergrad Harvard, PhD Stanford in DD's field of interest. She told DD to send emails first week to the profs that she wanted to do research with. They would get her involved because that is how Harvard worked. And she said if she found a program in Madagascar (for example), Harvard would pay to send her there. These are important. I was wondering why this one boy left the sailing team. His Linkedin shows an amazing amount of research he has done at Harvard. Doesn't have time for sailing. Not just about the classes, it is the opportunity for extracurricular academics that make the difference, in my opinion. So you can get classes online or at any decent school but what can you get outside of that? aeh's post is example of what was available at the nearby public school.

Posted by: aquinas

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/16/21 03:36 PM

As an adult, I am able to supplement my professional pursuits with leisure interests outside my workplace. Most quality programs are nested in larger research communities of practice or incubator networks outside the university proper. I suspect university students share similar capabilities.

Again - part of the scope creep in the university offering re: cultural insularity. At some point, students cease to be “X school graduates”, and are just [insert profession], relying on the merits of their skills and experience. (And, dare I say it, initiative to seek out like minds in the larger community; less of a “what can I get” mentality than a “what can I contribute” one.)

And lest anyone protest that elite extracurriculars happen only at elite universities...no. In my direct circle are Olympic medalists in swimming and rowing, world ranked ultra marathoners and triathletes, professional hockey players, Olympic fencers, and World Cup sailing winners. None attended elite universities to make or maintain these connections - the seeds were planted long before. They chose the programs that best nurtured their intellectual interests, some elite, others not, subject to their developmental maturity and family circumstances at the time.

The older I get, the more firmly I believe that there is no one yardstick for success, or script for attaining any of its manifestations. At the end of the day, universities are universities, and country clubs are country clubs. There is a lot of value to be had by learning in depth at the appropriate phase in one’s development, and benefit to society of expanding access through online courses so that more people can achieve their full potential.


Posted by: aquinas

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/16/21 03:38 PM

Originally Posted By: aeh
...and, like Wagyu, not necessarily with any objective standards for certifying this branding...


Exactly, aeh.

Kudos to your DC, and thanks for your kind nod. smile
Posted by: Wren

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/17/21 04:19 AM

Originally Posted By: aquinas


less of a “what can I get” mentality than a “what can I contribute” one.)



I am confused by your post. I was not talking about sporting extracurriculars. I was talking about academic extracurriculars. The opportunity to do research with profs. Like aeh mentioned her son contributed on some paper. I do not think that if you are focused on becoming a world class athlete you should consider a top academic school. It would be hard. there are 2 brothers I know that are trying to manage engineeering while training for the Olympics. It is very hard.

And of your quote, I disagree. It is totally annoying when some kid right out of school is focused on what they can contribute. Their big ideas. I think they should learn about the workplace, how the team works, and then be a part of it. Being the low peg, usually they are told how to contribute, not the other way around. That can change if they start their own business, but then the marketplace will dictate how they can contribute. I think that is why people many people complain about a lack of funding for the arts. They want to contribute their art but the marketplace isn't buying.
Posted by: mithawk

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/17/21 02:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Bostonian
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.

This is true, and as a result, a growing number of schools have increased the quality of their student body, rankings, and selectivity. Even 10 years ago, a place like Georgia Tech was considered a backup for people that couldn't get into more selective schools. Now it is one of the most selective tech schools around, and its graduates have fantastic job prospects.

I also want to comment on the part of "could do the work" at places like Harvard and Yale (my nephew attended Yale). It is shockingly easy to graduate from these two places if someone wants to take easy classes. The hard part is getting in, not getting out.

To illustrate how easy Harvard can be, an Economics major at Harvard only needs to take a single introductory calculus class (Math 1a). My son helped his roommates with that class, and he considers it easier than high school AP Calculus BC. Econ majors could push themselves further if they wanted to, both in terms of more math courses or more difficult math courses, but there is no requirement at all to do so.

In contrast, UChicago expects its Econ majors to be comfortable with multivariable calculus and linear algebra to be able to pass their Econ courses. And we hear that Princeton, Columbia, and Cornell also have rigorous education requirements.

I could write pages and pages about why Harvard makes it so easy to graduate, but in summary I think that the admissions office selects students who they believe will make a significant future impact, and further believes that for perhaps most of them, it won't be due to academics. Think of someone like David Hogg, who is currently a sophomore at Harvard.

And after you take into account special cases like David Hogg, and all the institutional goals that Harvard has with regards to admitting ALDC (Athletes, Legacy, big Donors, and Children of Faculty) and URM (Under represented minority), I estimate that no more than 30% of Harvard's class is admitted due to pure merit. This means that there are a lot of academically talented students that go elsewhere.

I am not defending this practice (as I said, I could write about this at length), but just explaining it. Many other selective colleges have a similar approach.
Posted by: mithawk

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/17/21 02:56 PM

Originally Posted By: aquinas
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.

Thank you. It feels like a wasted freshman year in terms of him getting to know his classmates.

But I actually feel worse for the high school seniors graduating this year. The entire college admission process must be a nightmare this year.
Posted by: Wren

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/18/21 04:30 AM

I agree that all standards have risen because it has gotten so competitive. And U of Chicago would be a much better choice for finance or economics than Harvard. Or the undergraduate business program at MIT which is supposedly the most competitive program to get into in the whole US. I do not know what makes it so great, but it is the premier choice for many. And whatever economics undergrad you take, you will have to go towards a PhD, where math will be required, since there are probably a million economics grads each year. What jobs are out there? DD had a conversation with some prof at Northeastern that builds marine robotics. He said you don't need comp sci for robotics anymore since they just buy a neural net package and stick it in. It would be great to get a top down view and see how the pathways are changing careers, options, opportunties. I remember my first job at Merrill Lynch as an analyst and I had a computer in my office. I used Word and excel, savings each program on a floppy that went to the word processing room so they could cut and paste into a report. Literally, cut (with scissors) and paste (with glue) and photocopy. Quant work used be economists. Now math and physics grads.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/18/21 08:45 AM

Originally Posted By: Wren
Originally Posted By: aquinas


less of a “what can I get” mentality than a “what can I contribute” one.)



I am confused by your post. I was not talking about sporting extracurriculars. I was talking about academic extracurriculars. The opportunity to do research with profs. Like aeh mentioned her son contributed on some paper. I do not think that if you are focused on becoming a world class athlete you should consider a top academic school. It would be hard. there are 2 brothers I know that are trying to manage engineeering while training for the Olympics. It is very hard.

And of your quote, I disagree. It is totally annoying when some kid right out of school is focused on what they can contribute. Their big ideas. I think they should learn about the workplace, how the team works, and then be a part of it. Being the low peg, usually they are told how to contribute, not the other way around. That can change if they start their own business, but then the marketplace will dictate how they can contribute. I think that is why people many people complain about a lack of funding for the arts. They want to contribute their art but the marketplace isn't buying.


Contribute here = behaviour oriented to the good of the other, rather than the self.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/18/21 08:50 AM

Originally Posted By: mithawk
Originally Posted By: aquinas
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.

Thank you. It feels like a wasted freshman year in terms of him getting to know his classmates.

But I actually feel worse for the high school seniors graduating this year. The entire college admission process must be a nightmare this year.


No kidding. I think it’s been a rough time for anyone at a transition point in their studies. What is your son’s program doing to build out relationships?

(And yes, Harvard undergrad Econ is quite soft, for the reasons you alluded to. Every school has its strengths; I think Harvard designed its undergrad to feed into the Kennedy School along political economy lines. Most quant econ programs cover through to the first year Harvard graduate sequence in core micro/macro/econometrics by 3rd year undergrad. Maybe reassure your son, from this economist, that not all economists are so disappointing in quant! They probably have impressive strengths in other areas. smile )
Posted by: Wren

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/18/21 09:42 AM

I just have a problem with economic theory. I think we have tipped the point where we have overpopulation, depleting resources and climate change. I saw a doc on some statistician saying the world could support 11 billion because as people rose to middle class, etc etc, some stupid arguments. The oceans are depleted. (Yet people believe that there will always be fish to eat) There is huge oversupply of working class people wanting jobs where they are rapidly being replaced by machines and other efficiencies. (Yet politicians promise union manufacturing jobs, with benefits are returning) And an aging populaton requiring social supports. No one seems to be adapting an economic theory for these modern constraints. No one wants to face the constraints. Just a trade based on hope. Hope things will change. Hope that you win the lottery. Yet, every day, we continue along the same path. Year after year.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/18/21 11:52 AM

It’s certainly a complex issue. The more people studying the subject (online?) the better.
Posted by: Wren

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/19/21 05:28 AM

I would like to make analogy between our education discussion and the digressed economic theory. We talk about quality of education and competition to get into elite schools, programs. I discussed economic theory where we have overpopulation and resources. There is a big push now for meal worm proteins. Good protein source, easy to cultivate, less harmful to the environment. Someone is going to have to decide who gets to eat beef and who gets to eat mealworms. It may not be someone, it may be price and demand. And with income disparity, the ones with low household income may be stuck eating mealworms, not that they cannot enjoy and eat the beef. Just not available for them. It sounds cruel. But there is always stuff people want, desire. Quality education is available in many institutions, but there will always be some that people want more. And I am glad I am vegetarian.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/19/21 12:12 PM

So in your analogy, Wren, beef consumption is to preferred education what mealworm consumption is to less preferred education. You get what you get, and you don’t get upset, to paraphrase my DS’ former kindergarten teacher. But being a self-avowed vegetarian you would, by extension, eschew both. For what? As it stands, your analogy encapsulates the universe of options in your two-protein world.

I will speak plainly, Wren. Price is a real barrier to access for a substantial portion of the western world, not to mention emerging economies. It’s not a question of “beef vs mealworms”, but “anything or nothing.” You and I are privileged to live in Canada, a country whose provinces have recognized post secondary education as a public good. (You may recall from intro economics that public goods are those for which significant externalities exist. That is, the value does not accrue solely to the direct consumer.) As it stands, most post secondary programming is heavily subsidized by the taxpayer to promote equity of access for all qualified students. Moreover, our federal and provincial governments offer generous financial support to defray costs of PSE further, and preferential loans. And I have not even delved into non-monetary costs of educational access, which often eclipse pecuniary concerns.

Here’s the meat, so to speak. Education is not a mere commodity. It is the foundation upon which opportunity is built and potential is realized. It is directly, causally related to a host of personal and societal developmental factors, health indicators, and quality of life. Expanding some contingent of post-secondary classes to an online channel is one lever available.

Perhaps you are, like me, proudly Canadian, and you are focusing only on our domestic context (which, albeit quite imperfect, is still very good).

But if you are suggesting that a market priced equilibrium in which a significant portion of the qualified population cannot access post-secondary education is inevitable, or even desirable (or only under financial duress), I would urge you to revisit your conclusions. This is not a question of want vs need. It is akin to “choosing” starvation or malnourishment for those with less money than we have.

I’m not okay with that from an ethical standpoint, and you shouldn’t be, either.
Posted by: mithawk

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/20/21 08:02 AM

I wanted to step back a bit and discuss the reasons that people attend college and relate that back to Bostonian's original point and other comments in this thread.

1. Learning: Students attend college to learn. Sometimes it is general learning through a liberal arts education, and other times it is more career focused like with engineering.
2. Credentialing: Students attend college to earn a degree, as this is very often a requirement for employment.
3. Prestige effects: Many students choose colleges based upon the prestige effects which make them more employable. Note that this is slightly different from selecting a college for the prestige aura it gives the students, although many consider that as well.
4. Networking opportunities: This relates to the effectiveness of the alumni network. This can be separate from prestige effects in that some places like Texas A&M have extremely helpful alumni despite not being among the most selective colleges.

On the flip side, as has already been pointed out, colleges look for students that will make an impact at college while attending, make an impact in the world after they graduate, and and ideally donate generously to the college.

So getting back to Bostonian's original point, some places like MIT have decided that the Learning part is not something that they need to protect, and they started OpenCourseWare almost 20 years ago and if Wikipedia is correct, over 2400 courses are online. I think this works for most classes except special cases like Math 55.

But I also contend that's really not what people clamoring for free college want. At a minimum they also want Credentialing. But not all credentialing is the same. For example it is easy to get admitted to Harvard, take classes taught by Harvard professors and eventually earn a degree. The caveat is that this is Harvard Extension School, not Harvard College.

And of course Harvard Extension School doesn't have the prestige effects or networking opportunities of Harvard College or its peers.

To further crucify Wren's analogy, I contend that MIT Courseware is like the free veggies: high quality and good for you, and fortunately free. Harvard Extension and its equivalents are the mealworms, and Harvard College and its peers are Japanese Waygu.
Posted by: Wren

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/20/21 05:26 PM

First, I took engineering. Since I ended up on Wall St. without a business degree, I had to make economics up as I wrote about it. I did go to university in Canada, but left Canada at 23 to live the next 30 years of my life in NYC.

I really like the MIT courseware being the free veggies.

I like that Canada offers a quality education at the university level without a huge cost. Like they offer decent healthcare as right. But basic doesn't get you much. We were friendly with the head of lung transplant at a major medical institution in the states. Not sure where they got the lungs, but the patients tended to be very rich people from all over the world. I am not sure I would get a lung transplant in my basic health care in Ontario. When I worked on Wall st, my health insurance covered acupuncture and all kinds of stuff my crazy natural MD decided I needed. Not in Ontario.

So I would say, how do you get into the next level? How competitive is it getting if you want medical school or law school or a PhD in biometrics? It has to be getting more and more competitive. Just like the crazy admission process for undergrad programs now. I am on the free email list for some college consulting firms. They send out articles. There is more about graduate programs. People are hiring these expensive consultants for graduate programs. It must be getting very competitive now at that level. Will our kids have to have a whole CV of undergrad research done with profs along with their grades as they apply for a PhD?
If that is the trend, how does our view of prospective institutions look then?
Posted by: cricket3

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 01/21/21 06:58 AM

Originally Posted By: Wren
So I would say, how do you get into the next level? How competitive is it getting if you want medical school or law school or a PhD in biometrics? It has to be getting more and more competitive. Just like the crazy admission process for undergrad programs now. I am on the free email list for some college consulting firms. They send out articles. There is more about graduate programs. People are hiring these expensive consultants for graduate programs. It must be getting very competitive now at that level. Will our kids have to have a whole CV of undergrad research done with profs along with their grades as they apply for a PhD?
If that is the trend, how does our view of prospective institutions look then?


Obviously it depends on the goal, but I would say that in some fields and situations, yes, this is where things are heading. For my older kid, having the personal connections in classes was key to connecting with profs doing research that dovetailed with her interests, though clearly there are many different paths to that end. She is lucky to be involved in a couple different lab groups now, and aside from the research, the benefits extend to personal connections in the field, as well as regular lab group meetings where they as a group work on learning specific skills ,such as a particular computer program or statistical analyses. Sort of like your free veggies analogy; these things could be learned in a specific class, but DD has found that there will never be enough time or space for all the classes and skills she’s interested in and would like to learn, so filling those needs informally this way has been great...as well as a taste of how the grown-up out of school world might work. And these types of skills are all things she believes will be helpful in grad school, obviously in her work, but also in the application process itself.

Her friends that are applying to med school are similarly focused on gaining research experience and lab work, though her sense is that the specifics of what they are doing, and with whom, are less important to them. They are more interested in checking off the experience as a qualification, not on where it might lead. Which doesn’t mean it’s less competitive for them, it’s just in a very different way (at least that’s DDs sense as a non- pre-med). Both groups are more focused on grades than I remember anyone being, but that is much more an issue for premeds, at least in her circle of experience. (And I have to admit to being rather uninterested in grades, so perhaps i was just out of step even in my day).
Posted by: Quantum2003

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 02/08/21 03:56 PM

Perhaps good enough under the circumstances but not actually good enough. DS took a couple of courses at a top-20 school last year and one of these courses had to convert to online mid-semester due to covid... let's just say that the quality and vigor substantially declined.
Posted by: Bostonian

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 03/01/21 06:48 AM

According to this new NBER working paper, students value remote classes only 4% less than in-person ones, which supports my call to "open college classes to everyone". College transcripts can indicate which classes were taken in person or remotely, and for which terms a student lived on campus. Employers can decide how much those factors matter.

Estimating Students' Valuation for College Experiences
Esteban M. Aucejo, Jacob F. French, and Basit Zafar #28511

Abstract:
The college experience involves much more than credit hours and degrees. Students likely derive utility from in-person instruction and on-campus social activities. Quantitative measures of the value of these individual components have been hard to come by. Leveraging the COVID-19 shock, we elicit students’ intended likelihood of enrolling in higher education under different costs and possible states of the world. These states, which would have been unimaginable in the absence of the pandemic, vary in terms of class formats and restrictions to campus social life. We show how such data can be used to recover college student’s willingness-to-pay (WTP) for college-related activities in the absence of COVID-19, without parametric assumptions on the underlying heterogeneity in WTP. We find that the WTP for in-person instruction (relative to a remote format) represents around 4.2% of the average annual net cost of attending university, while the WTP for on-campus social activities is 8.1% of the average annual net costs. We also find large heterogeneity in WTP, which varies systematically across socioeconomic groups. Our analysis shows that economically-disadvantaged students derive substantially lower value from university social life, but this is primarily due to time and resource constraints.
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 03/01/21 08:09 AM

A really interesting read!

I would love to see this model re-run with some covariates around class format (at a minimum, a variable capturing % of classes taken in lab and seminar formats).

Interestingly (per quote below), it seems that offering college classes online could be beneficial in terms of access for lower income students. However, I'd caution that the low WTP of lower income students for social activities may be due to a crowding out effect if the reason they participate less in social activities is due to a need to work to finance their studies.

Originally Posted By: pp.18 article
The subsequent rows of Table 4 show that even within subgroup there is substantial heterogeneity, with
the difference between the 10th and 90th percentiles of the individual-specific WTPs being more than $3,000 for almost every demographic group. The 90th percentiles are sizable: second-generation and higher-income students at this percentile are willing to pay nearly $3,500 for each of the two amenities (social life and in-person instruction). First-generation and lower-income students at the 90th percentile are willing to
pay approximately $2,000 for these amenities. There is even a meaningful share of students with negative willingness-to-pay for both in-person and on-campus social activities, leaving the median across most groups around $0.


What's promising is that information shows what tuition discounts for lower income students would be required to close the gap in access to social opportunities. This also shows the value of social connection and suggests that universities would do well to explore what aspects of on-campus socialization generate the most network value for students in the marketplace. It would be a unique selling point to distinguish programs, especially mid-market ones.

If I were a university competing for top students, I'd want to quantify expected impacts of participating in the school's social network on mental health, physical health, quality-adjusted social connection, employment prospects, earning potential, and success in program of study. Even with simple self-report scales, I think that would be a powerful value proposition.

Caveat: There's inevitably collinearity between student WTP for social activities and the monetary value of good social skills in the market (i.e. being inherently social and participating in social activities that create future career opportunities are not statistically independent) . But ratings could be normalized by student scores on 5-factor personality inventories.

I'm now laughing to myself imagining a PR campaign: "Come to University X: where introverts can succeed with minimal forced socialization!"

Originally Posted By: pp.21 article
As previously mentioned, the value of campus social life may, in part, be due to the formation of social networks which provide advantages on the job market or insulate members from bad shocks. We find evidence
of this in our survey; students with higher social WTP expect to make more money at age 35, with a $1 per year increase in WTP associated with an average increase of $0.81 in expected annual earnings


Cool share, Bostonian. You'd best get on the phone with your local congressperson!
Posted by: Wren

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 03/01/21 01:36 PM

It is very interesting. Wouldn't there be a correlation between extroverts and WTP for social stuff and expectations of expected annual earnings?

What about the programs that the university underwrites? Like if you find a program in South Africa that aligns with your studies, Harvard pays for it. The whole thing, airfare, program, etc. What is the WTP for that kind of stuff?
Posted by: aeh

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 03/01/21 01:55 PM

I think I know some people who would find the University of Introverts an attractive sell...
Posted by: aquinas

Re: Open college classes to everyone - 03/01/21 02:40 PM

100% agreed on the WTP, wren. That’s what I was getting at in the caveat.

And yes, it would be fascinating to see a marginal value for the outbound programs!