Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Getting Into Harvard (or not)

Another article in the NY Times is worth mentioning - this time about the difficulty of getting into Harvard, even if a student is extremely gifted. Though it requires a free online subscription, you can find the article here.

It's interesting to see how the minimum standards to get into Harvard have changed over the years - it's certainly true that it's harder to get into the top schools as each year passes. Take a look at this passage from the article:

"What kind of kid doesn’t get into Harvard? Well, there was the charming boy I interviewed with 1560 SATs. He did cancer research in the summer; played two instruments in three orchestras; and composed his own music. He redid the computer system for his student paper, loved to cook and was writing his own cookbook. One of his specialties was snapper poached in tea and served with noodle cake.

At his age, when I got hungry, I made myself peanut butter and jam on white bread and got into Harvard.

Some take 10 AP courses and get top scores of 5 on all of them.

I took one AP course and scored 3."

It's simply incredible the pressure that students are under nowadays to get into the best undergraduate and graduate programs. About a month ago I read in the Wall Street Journal how last year most of the top colleges and universities rejected record numbers of applicants. But the lesson to learn is that getting "rejected" from Harvard doesn't make someone less special; it just means that person has a chance to go do great things at another school.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Does everyone need a graduate degree?

I always like to go back and read again through the previous month’s papers even though it’s a time consuming habit. When I was doing that this morning I came across an old article in the WSJ (April 19, Page A2) that talks about the lack of well-educated workers in the United States. The first question provides the impetus for the rest of the article and that is: how can the U.S. be short of educated workers?

“The shortage is evident from this fact: Employers are paying the typical four-year college graduate [without graduate school] 75% more than they pay high-school grads. Twenty-five years ago, they were paying 40% more.”

So the value of a college degree is higher than ever – and yet it doesn’t explain why “wages of the average worker with a four-year degree and no graduate work haven't kept up with inflation in recent years; on average, only those with graduate degrees have beat inflation.”

Perhaps we’ve reached an “education plateau” when it comes to rising wages for people with just undergraduate degrees? Adding to the increasing pressures of modern life, it seems that to keep wages ahead of inflation our younger generations are going to see graduate degrees as a must have, instead of something that used to be considered a bonus in the workplace.

Even more disconcerting is the statistic based off the 2000 Census that notes “43% of those between ages 22 and 34 who report any college attendance didn't get any degree; 13% didn't even finish a single year of college” – if a graduate degree is becoming more and more necessary in the workplace, what’s going to happen to those younger generations that do not receive even an undergraduate degree?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Enhanced college security; what about high schools?

Today the Washington Post on p. A18 highlights the recent discussion about college safety that has gotten more people thinking about security measures colleges will be taking. It’s good to see that colleges seem to be sparing no expense when it comes to installing sirens on cameras, simply adding more cameras, safety training, locks, and text-message alert systems. But the thing I’ve been wondering is what are high schools and middle schools doing to protect their students from shooters and the like? Are high schools adding the aforementioned security measures as well? Or are they just training students for how to go into lockdown or protect themselves?

For example, New Jersey legislators are planning to require colleges to submit security plans and CT Governor Rell is calling for a statewide meeting of colleges to discuss security. While these responses will likely help in the future, at least in terms of preparedness, where is the focus on protecting younger students? This will be an interesting issue to follow…

And in other news, this article in the NY Times discusses another way to protect our kids, albeit in a more indirect way than security measures. A report released by the Institute of Medicine recommended junk foods like chips, doughnuts, etc. be banned from elementary, middle, and high schools; Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa) is looking to add those recommendations to a bill that would require the Dep. of Agriculture to ban junk foods from public schools. This makes you wonder how much control the government should have over eating habits and whether there are other ways to tackle the childhood obesity issue.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

$600 Million for Scholarships in Math and Science

You always love to see good news like this on CNN, since this funding really results in a win-win-win situation. It’s a win for students, a win for parents, and a win for teachers.

The sad reality, though, is that even this amount of funding is probably too little. Take into account certain statistics regarding science and math proficiency levels, such as the fact that the National Assessment of Educational Progress found that 29% of students in grades four and eight are scoring at the proficient level or better in science. Even worse, only 18% of twelfth graders were scoring proficient or better in science.

We’re doing what we can at CK Tutors by offering affordable tutoring, but the truth is that it’s going to take millions more from Congress, millions from private donors and corporations, and a lot of collective perseverance to turn our country’s science and math proficiency levels around. However, this is a great step in the right direction.

Oh and check out this article about the second music teacher to receive the National Teacher of the Year award in 57 years.


Billionaires and American Public Schools

It’s not everyday you see billionaires get involved in improving America’s public school education, so naturally when I saw this article in the New York Times I was immediately intrigued.

As it turns out, Bill Gates is now getting involved in the presidential campaigns for the issue of education. The campaign would be called “Strong American Schools” and will be shown in all the key battleground states – I’ll post a link to the project once it’s available.

Eli Broad, another billionaire, is also getting involved in the campaign. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the campaign is that it will not endorse any particular candidates, but will instead focus on non-partisan issues such as more consistent curriculums, longer school days, and improving teacher quality.

It’s amazing more billionaires haven’t taken the time to focus more on the education system in the U.S. With all the other things going on in the world, education issues might be taking a backseat – let’s hope initiatives such as these can bring improving education to the forefront of American politics.

As they say in the article: “If we are talking about efforts in presidential campaigns to promote discussion or debate of an issue, there has been nothing like this. This would be off the charts.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Welcome to the official College Knowledge Blog!

I came across an interesting article on eSchool News talking about their "Best of Education Blog" awards in which they discuss the impact that blogging has on teaching and learning.

At College Knowledge, we agree with their assessment that "blogging is having a transformative effect on education" so we've decided to move forward with our own blog offering free study tips and general education tips while summarizing and informing you of the top education related news stories.

The best way to stay aware of our newest posts is by subscribing via our RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds, which can be found at the bottom of this webpage. This will make it much easier to keep track of the new posts, as we plan to post new material and articles almost everyday. However, you may not want to subscribe to as many blogs as Bill MacKenty (a computer science teacher) does - over 450 in all!

All the best,
Rafael Corrales