Monday, March 03, 2008

Fight Fiercely Harvard!!

By Richard Vedder

I read this morning that Harvard is lowering standards for persons with a peculiar talent --an ability to put a ball through a hoop. They may be even violating NCAA recruiting rules in doing it. Why? They want to win the Ivy League basketball championship. Big whoop --or maybe I should say big hoop.

The desire to win is a basic human instinct. So few places in higher education is there a true "bottom line." Basketball is one of them. Basketball coaches are hired and fired with great regularity, unlike university presidents who can screw up for years, even decades, without the slightest adverse consequences. Yet universities are not about playing with balls, and when great universities like Harvard dilute their academic standards to win, it is rather sad. The Ivy League ideal --no athletic scholarships, treating athletes like students instead of semi-professional pseudo-employees--is one I long have admired.

Does Harvard have the right to do what they are doing? I believe the answer is yes. I think the NCAA is a dubious cartel with excessive powers that needs to be brought down to size. Certainly I don't want Congress interfering. So if Harvard wants to dilute the standards of America's oldest and most prestigious university, they can do so. Let us hope that the accounts our not true and, if they are, that Yale and Princeton maintain standards of academic integrity -- even if it means they are beaten by Harvard in the fun but silly little games that are played with that little ball.


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Cowboy said...

"Higher Ed"

I don't know why, but I got to wondering how big is higher ed?

So I went to the diversity police web site (Association of American Colleges and Universities) and found that in the United States, we have 2,618 colleges and universities - an average of 52 colleges and universities per state!


I didn't believe it, so I went to "The University of Texas at Austin" web site for a listing of
schools by state. Confirmed.


Then I said to myself, "Cowboy, how can tuition grow at such a fast rate with that many schools?"

Answer: "I don't know, but what I do know is this is big business."

With that many colleges and universities, I believe I could deduce a number of things that will happen in the future. But I have the flu and am too sick to think about it right now.

DoDAH said...

Just a comment related to the number of "colleges and universities per state" - what about how long it takes to attain that undergraduate degree?

Not only has cost of attendance gotten completely out of control, but in my own home state of Ohio, the graduation rates within 4 years are reprehensible - State schools average between 17% to just over 50% graduating within 4 years and the private schools, although better, are zipping along between 50 and 80% (stats drawn from The Education Trust).

I have a few theories that address the fact that cost increases are unsustainable at a 6%+ clip (especially coupled with the fact that years spent at school is on the increase):

1) there's going to be a growing acceptance and less stigma about spending the first 2 years at a community college,

or 2) there's going to be some bright administrator who understands that there's a difference in the depth of knowledge/experience/qualification of instructors at Freshman level vs. Senior level courses, and will adopt a tiered tuition structure.

As an advisor to parents in helping them determine how best to pay for college, the biggest and by far GROWING concern, is the cost!

I used to advise parents that the best time to start saving for college is at birth...I originally meant their CHILD's birth, but I'm beginning to think it may be more attainable if they start at their OWN birth for their CHILDREN!

Cowboy said...


You make some excellent points.

I lived in California for a time and it was quite common for students to go to a community college for two years before going to a "four year" college or university. They referred to community college as "Junior College". Maybe it was just a fad of some sort and that was 15+ years ago. I thought it was a great idea.

By the way, I am a former Buckeye and still am at heart.

I love your last paragraph - well said! lol

Cowboy said...

Just another thought. I wonder if the rising tuition costs at colleges and universities discourage students from going to a community college first because the sum total of community college and four year college causes students to cut costs, and thus community college.

Maybe community colleges are paying a price for the out of control tuition costs of 4 year institutions.