-{I’m cutting my Linkluster posts from 10 links to 5. Since I’m going to be moving, I want smaller posts more frequently rather than fewer posts with more links/content}-

The government is itching to tackle our broadband gap with a whopping 40% failing to have it. It wasn’t long ago when broadband availability was something you had to inquire about before renting a place. I actually asked about it this time around, but it was a pointless question. Even in way-out Callie, Arapaho, broadband is assumed. Only 3.6% of those polled cite lack of availability as their reason for not having it. I have to wonder if they’re just assuming. On the other hand, maybe a portion of the other 36.4% don’t actually have it available and never checked because they weren’t interested.

Alyssa Rosenberg thinks that American TV should become more like British with short, settled story arcs and all that jazz. It’s something that I’ve commented on once or twice on the subject here. I want to write a(nother) post on the subject, but not sure if I’m going to have time. Basically: American seasons may be too long, but British are too short. Sometimes a story arc is good, but sometime single episodes are good, too. With one glaring problem, I think that we actually do okay on this side of the Atlantic.

You can absolutely bet this is going to be a post at some point, but allegedly TV may not be contributing to obesity so much as commercials are.

Should we put some Americans on track to finish school two years earlier? The idea certainly appeals to me, though I am oddly ambivalent to this proposal. It seems geared more towards replacing the last two year of high school with community college. I am smitten with the idea of high school graduation being a target rather than a process.

Should we put all Americans on track to finish college sooner? I’ve got mixed feelings about this one, too. We definitely have a problem with college in this country as we do with high school. But I think rather than a matter of volume or duration, we have a problem of allocation. We may not be the only ones.


Category: Newsroom

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

10 Responses to Linkluster III

  1. web says:

    In sequence:
    – “Broadband” is hard to define. I, for instance, would be woefully annoyed with a “standard” 1.5-mbit DSL connection that is considered “broadband” for many areas.

    – As for American TV… I would enjoy the idea of short, settled story arcs. I would enjoy the idea of shows with a set time limit where you know they are ending, rather than so many that either (a) fail to find an audience because of the inertia of crapfests like Friends that have already jumped the shark or (b) turn out jumping the shark 2-3 seasons in, but then languish for years (Heroes anyone?)

    – A lot of fattening, bad-for-you food is promoted via commercials. On the other hand, “garbage in, garbage out.” Most people don’t exercise while watching TV, and increased TV-watching time is definitely “competing” for leisure time against more active possibilities.

    – As for the last two… first we need to fix the system so that a “high school diploma” no longer means that kids got a 7th-8th grade education and got socially promoted the rest of the way through. A local radio host who’s got his head on backwards was shouting about a statistic this morning about how more kids “drop out” (e.g. don’t finish) college than drop out of college, and how he (as a member of state legislature) was going to “punish” colleges for kids dropping out or taking 6-7 years to graduate. So really, he wants to punish colleges for the fact that they are receiving a whole lot of unqualified kids who then fail out of remedial ed?

  2. trumwill says:

    Regarding TV, apparently commercials are a much bigger deal than previously supposed. In fact, the study found that pure TV watching (without commercials) was not a predictor of obesity. I think when we were growing up in might have been more of one as without a TV we had to go outside and play. Now there are 100,000 entertainment options that involve getting no exercise.

    On the last one, I think it’s more complicated than simply high schools failing to prepare kids or kids that should never be going to college going to college. Lower-range, expensive schools that accept underqualified kids are generally rewarded for doing so. The university gets paid while the kids are taking the cheapest courses and then they fail out before taking the more expensive classes. At some point, I do feel that the kids with little or no hope of graduating are being taken advantage of.

  3. web says:

    Will,

    you forget the number of students many colleges have no choice but to accept thanks to certain “equal-access” rules.

    If you’re in the top certain percent from Shithole High (realistically, say, the X-Y% range of a high school with a graduating class of 3000 or more kids), and still have the equivalent of only a 7th- or 8th-grade education, well, sorry, but you need remedial work before you should be accepted to a college. Instead, the kids are shipped straight off to Flagship U, where they get right to work failing out.

  4. trumwill says:

    When the colleges have equal access laws to point to, I’m willing to give them a pass. Flagship universities and otherwise top-tier colleges failing people is not unexpected. I turn a bit more of a skeptical eye when directional or open-enrollment universities are doing the same. Big State University is one thing, but North By Northwest State U is another.

  5. web says:

    “I turn a bit more of a skeptical eye when directional or open-enrollment universities are doing the same.”

    Community Colleges failing people (or just having them drop out), especially when the CC is marginally a “learn what you were supposed to learn in high school” affair, may not be all that surprising. Yes they’re more laid-back and less strict, but in general the US has not gotten yet to the point where people believe they have a “right” to a college degree like people think they have a “right” to a social-promotion HS diploma or a “right” to a drivers’ license despite having failed drivers’ ed and the drivers’ tests enough times to certify them as an absolute menace behind the wheel.

    In general (though not entirely) there are 4 ways to “drop out” of college:

    1 – Fail out because you don’t apply yourself.
    2 – Fail out because you’re in over your head.
    3 – Simply stop going due to “outside” influences that are largely your own fault/decision (full-time job, knocked up girl, got girl knocked up, decided college “wasn’t for you” etc).
    4 – Stop going due to “outside” influences beyond your control (extreme bed-rest illnesses like mono, as happened to two highschool friends of mine) and don’t go back.

    The #4 is hard for anyone to predict/stop. The #3, well, I suppose it could happen anywhere, but it is “more likely” to happen to someone of lower income and intelligence, and thus probably more likely to happen to the “open enrollment” colleges unless equal-access laws are a part.

    For #1 and #2, I would say that the equal-access laws should help the flagship-type universities, except that I know too many people who were from Shithole High where being “in the top X percent” means you are barely above being a mentally retarded screwup.

    In some respects, this free ebook has relevance.

  6. trumwill says:

    I’m not talking about Community Colleges, either. Those schools are designed to be for those with nowhere else to go. Besides which, they’re made as cheap as humanly possible. Using CC as a filter for who is college-ready and who is not is much better than using a full-price university.

    Rather, I’m talking about everywhere in between the super-cheap community colleges and high profile flagship universities. They’re not to blame for the excess college students, but they’re certainly doing their part. Their financial incentives reward them for enrolling students that they can later fail out.

    Community colleges are specifically for those that have nowhere else to go and more importantly they’re made as cheap as humanly possible, so I’m not talking about them, either. By “open enrollment university” I was referring more to schools like STU-East.

  7. web says:

    Ah. I do see the picture you’re looking at, Will.

    It sucks that “Flagship” and “near-Flagship” universities (STU, Given State’s Main U, etc) are forced to take in students who will probably fail out. What annoys me more is that we are accused of “encouraging” the enrollment of as many freshmen as possible, especially when we have actually seen a decline in freshman quality as a direct result of “equal access” percentage-based laws that force us to ignore the usual criteria (testing and analysis-wise) for picking which freshmen we want to accept.

  8. trumwill says:

    Less than a quarter of Sotech’s students are EA admits, so it’s not quite as big a deal there. U of Delosa has a much bigger problem in that regard. And the general admission requirements for non-EA admits are a little lax. I used to think that this was a good thing (egalitarianism and all), though I’m more on board with the recent movements by the university’s administration to trade out the university’s growth for higher admission requirements.

    I think that more universities need to move in that direction. Sotech is further ahead than Delosa Western and some of the regional schools in the state. Of course, the more selective Sotech gets, the more EA becomes a concern.

    I think EA laws aim at a worthy goal to address the problem of bright kids that come from poor schools*. It also has problems, which you point out**. If I were king, I would probably peg ACT/SAT requirements for direct admissions and for those that fall short of that, guaranteeing them admission if they can prove themselves at the community college level (say a 3.0 GPA on 30 hours of non-remedial, non-elective coursework).

    * – I’ve mentioned a girl named Tracey Roberts on a couple of occasions. She went to a really crummy high school, but was a smart girl. There needs to be a place for people like her (though she went to Delosa Western and didn’t take advantage of her EA status).

    ** – I should also point out that I got burned by EA law. I applied for admission to the University of Delosa and was granted only deferred admission (basically, wait a semester until enough people fail out and they can make room for me). My GPA and SAT scores would have put me in the upper half of those admitted… but though my GPA and SAT scores were higher than Tracey’s, she could have gone there directly. I wouldn’t have gone to DU anyway, but it still kind of irks.

  9. web says:

    If I were king, I would probably peg ACT/SAT requirements for direct admissions and for those that fall short of that, guaranteeing them admission if they can prove themselves at the community college level (say a 3.0 GPA on 30 hours of non-remedial, non-elective coursework).

    That is not a bad thought. It approves of outright merit while allowing for students to get “back on track”, and makes sure that the front-run U’s don’t get saddled with so many remedial-ed flunks.

    I used to think that this was a good thing (egalitarianism and all), though I’m more on board with the recent movements by the university’s administration to trade out the university’s growth for higher admission requirements.

    One of the oddities for SoTech at the moment is that we’re seeking Flagship status of our own. One of the “requirements” for flagship status is a certain grad-to-undergrad student ratio. The previous administrations thought that if they could retain enough undergrads to go into grad school, they would make the ratio. The current idea, based on DU and similar “feeder school” mentalities, is that SoTech is going to cap their undergrad admissions at a “safe margin” for the ratio starting next fall, and then for students who don’t get in, recommend taking a few courses at Colosse Community, STU-East, Delosa Christian, or other local “feeder” colleges and trying to transfer in a couple years later.

    On the one hand, it seems like a cheap method to me (artificially massaging the numbers, lying with statistics). On the other, they pretty much have laid out an airtight case that this is what DU and many other “Flagship” colleges do to maintain the aforementioned ratio (DU, for instance, feeding from UD-x, directional U, etc).

  10. trumwill says:

    The funny thing is that Sotech has some great graduate programs. A lot of people with good academic credentials going back to school to get an MBA or a JD while living in Colosse. In fact, our undergrad/grad student ratio is 25%, which is actually pretty high. Not as high as DU, but higher than any of the other universities in the state and higher than the flagship universities of half of our neighboring states.

    Another problem I’ve read with our quest for co-flagship status with DU is exactly what we’re talking about. Sotech lets a lot of students in and a lot wash out (sometimes because of academics, often because of money) and that was one of the reasons for restricting enrollment. Sotech gets dinged twice on college ranking systems, once for not being remarkably selective and then again for failing to graduate people.

    It’s one of the reasons that it’s good that we have STU-East (“Stewey”). They can take more and more of the students that used to go to Sotech and we can be more selective. Now, Stewey has its own problems (it’s the epitome of what we’re talking about, non-selective and non-graduating), but it works for Sotech for right now (brand confusion aside… another story we won’t get into here).

    Anyway, back to the original point, if it takes an effort to massage the numbers to get reductions in undergrad enrollment, it’s still a good result (I think – I’m still thinking this through).

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