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    Originally Posted by HowlerKarma
    It's not that I'm being naive about this-- merely nuanced.
    Okay so do we pick the straw-man or the big wholesome teddy bear?

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    Pretending that soft skills don't matter, or aren't reflected well by extracurriculars, is also a problem. I don't expect that those soft skills can ever be effectively measured with standardized testing of any sort-- easy or difficult, for that matter. But they do matter-- both in higher ed, and beyond it.

    EC's are a convenient means of filtering those students who likely possess some measure of desirability on that front-- who are well-rounded and socially mature enough to be good members of a learning community (inherently a social activity), and also to withstand the pressures inherent in an elite learning environment with positive coping methods.


    The problem is that extracurriculars can be gamed so darned effectively with funding and parental assistance.




    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    Originally Posted by Bostonian
    A large fraction of Ivy League graduates go into finance, where employers value a "competitive win-streak". A big reason Harvard and Princeton can find families willing to pay $65K per year is the perceived inside track to finance and consulting jobs. The absence of engineering, accounting, nursing, and other pre-professional majors means that many Ivy league graduates are not qualified to do much else, except go to graduate school or Teach for America. Rich alumni in finance and other fields helped build those 11-figure endowments. And a reason the Ivies recruit athletes is that Wall Street likes them.

    This sounds like schools like Harvard and Princeton are deliberately seeking out people who will end up on Wall St. or in other finance jobs. Which would mean that factors leading to this career path would be more important than anything else and that the colleges aren't interested in academic ability except as it applies to earning enough money to help add another zero to the endowment.

    Originally Posted by HowlerKarma
    I'm not talking about the type of competitiveness that celebrates a big tennis win, or enjoys chess trophies so much as the kind that enjoys the defeat of one's opponents by ANY means necessary. It's not the process, it's the notches on the belt, if you see my point.

    Isn't that the whole point of many jobs in finance?

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    HK, you haven't noticed that Wall St is made up "win at any cost" kind of people? Why they create problems like dot com bubble, mortgage securitization bubble, and going back, I remember when tax shelter documents got rewritten as high yield...

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    Exactly, but then again-- that does sort of take some of the shine off of just what "elite" means in that educational context, then, doesn't it?



    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    Originally Posted by HowlerKarma
    Exactly, but then again-- that does sort of take some of the shine off of just what "elite" means in that educational context, then, doesn't it?

    "Elite" means "rich," obviously. The worth of a human life is measured in dollars and asset values. Hence, Walt Disney was more elite than Albert Einstein.

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    Ah... Thank you, that clarifies things nicely.

    So it is more fair to say that a transparent admissions process in such an elite institution would make yachting and jet-setting international travel "necessary, but insufficient" EC's along the route to admission.

    I'm not seeing how higher difficulty on the SAT helps accomplish those goals.

    I can see how for institutions with other kinds of goals, however, a more difficult/rigorous exam would be useful. I also see, though, how EC's will probably always be of significant value.





    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.
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    Quote
    EC's are a convenient means of filtering those students who likely possess some measure of desirability on that front-- who are well-rounded and socially mature enough to be good members of a learning community (inherently a social activity), and also to withstand the pressures inherent in an elite learning environment with positive coping methods.

    Jeez, I don't know. I'm going to speak up for the loners myself. (I was not actually a loner in HS and managed to check some high-value EC boxes, though not nearly as many as some of my cohorts.) A lot of high school ECs are kind of...not so appealing to a very smart kid with a low level of tolerance for BS. Unless you are at a school which has the resources to have excellent music or arts (and that's your interest), or competitive this and that of very high quality (and you're competitive--I was and am not) or are in an areas with other great opportunities, perhaps you are spending your time drawing or coding or reading or whatever. Those can be positive coping methods, too. I don't think any of this means you are going to be a poorer student than Polly the Yearbook Editor.

    This mode of thinking annoys my inner introvert. We can't all be president of Glee Club.

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    Also, you can be pro-social without being an extrovert or a leader. Lots of gifted people are introverts. This is really important to remember. (Note: both of my kids are extroverts)

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    There are plenty of activities for introverts. My introvert was a top quiz bowl player, on the Robotics team, fenced, collected insects, went to Davidson THINK, created art that won awards, belonged to the creative writing club, and self-studied for the US Biology Olympiad. She got in to every college she applied to, including some top schools with no positions as team captain, editor, etc. When asked about leadership, she was able to talk about leadership by example, and being a quiet leader. Some of those activities were through her school, but some were just on her own. Worked for her... don't worry if your student is an introvert, just help them find activities where an introvert can thrive.

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