Archive for the ‘Graduation’ Category

Service of Everybody Gets a Trophy: College & University Academic Honors Galore

Monday, July 16th, 2018


Not short of recognition in my professional life, in college I was a dorm officer and on the college student council but I wasn’t much when it came to academic honors. [I made Dean’s List one semester, a shock to me most of all.] I’m impressed with my Phi Beta Kappa friends and with anyone who graduated with academic honors.


I was not happy to read Melissa Korn’s Wall Street Journal article, “You Graduated Cum Laude? So Did Everyone Else.”

Korn wrote: “Nearly half of students who graduated from Lehigh University, Princeton University and the University of Southern California this year did so with cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude honors, or their equivalents. At Harvard and Johns Hopkins, more got the designations than didn’t.” Over 50 percent of Middlebury’s graduates and at Wellesley, 41 percent were so honored, up from 1/3 in the past 10 years.

Korn quoted former Duke professor Stuart Rojstaczer: “A 4.0 does signal something significant, that that student is good. A 3.7, however, doesn’t. That’s just a run-of-the-mill student at any of these schools.” Rojstaczer has focused on grade inflation for years according to Korn.

“Most elite schools cap the share of the graduating class that can receive academic honors. But the caps vary widely, from 25% at Columbia University to up to 60% at Harvard,” she wrote.

Excerpts from the article:

  • “Harvard’s number hit 91% in 2001, as highlighted at the time in a Boston Globe article about generous honors policies. Soon after, the school revised its selection process.
  • “Academic researchers say that uptick is a sign of grade inflation, not of smarter students.
  • “A handful of schools, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have tried to rein in the awards.
  • “Derrick Bolton, dean of admissions for Stanford University’s Knight-Hennessy Scholars graduate program, said application readers may glance at honors designations, but don’t dwell on them.” The program that accepted 50 and rejected 3,451 students, “looks more for candidates who challenge themselves academically, even if that means a B grade along the way.”

To be eligible for academic recognition the GPAs required by the colleges and universities in the article started at 3.5 and 3.6. At Tufts, which wouldn’t share with the Journal the percentage of students awarded academic honors, you needed a 3.2 in engineering.

Harvey Mudd College

If someone is paying yearly almost $70,000–$52,666 tuition and $17,051 room and board–at Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, Calif., they might expect an award, don’t you think? Harvey Mudd was the first in a list of the 50 most expensive colleges and universities in Business Insider published in February 2017.  The publication credited “Trends in College Pricing” as its source. Brown was the least expensive charging $64,566 for tuition and room and board. I went to Boston University, number 38, now at $65,110 per year, whereas Yale, number 47, where my husband graduated, cost $64,650.

Do colleges and universities think that they are doing students a favor by lowering the bar in handing out academic honors by the pound? Are they being smart? Is the likely chance a student or child will be so honored a selling point to attract candidates?


Service of Pay to Play

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Pay to play

The High Low picked up a story from the Bradenton Herald about the parents and students of Manatee High School. The former received an offer to sign up for 15 prime seats to watch graduation at a cost of $200 and the latter were asked for $20 each to attend. The principal of the Florida high school, Don Sauer, said that such fees and opportunities are common in the area and that they are to help offset the $12,000 cost of the ceremony.

high school graduationIn the Bradenton Herald Meghin Delaney reported that the 10 rows of prime seats sold out in four hours and that seating is free at the rest of Hawkins Stadium on a first come, first served basis. There are 500 graduating students and typically 5,000 to 6,000 guests, wrote Delaney. This year the district is not chipping in $3,434 it usually does.


As enticements to high-paying renters, known as market-rate tenants, some New York City apartments enjoy playrooms, rooftop gardens and gyms that are not open to rent-stabilized tenants in the same building. Ronda Kaysen covered the situation, and the resulting kafuffle by lower-paying tenants, in “What’s Next, A Bouncer?”

nyc rooftop gardenWhile Kaysen said there were no stats as to how prevalent this practice is, legislators are trying to stop it. Developers mix the two price levels because of tax benefits. I wonder why someone paying $1,321–the median cost for a rent stabilized apartment according to Kaysen–would object to someone paying $2,696 for the same apartment getting a few perks? Does it cost $1,300/month to join a gym?

If someone pays $400-$700 for an orchestra seat at a theatre, sports event or concert, should those whose tickets cost $200 expect the best seats too?  What are your thoughts about pay to play in a public high school, an apartment house or other setting?

 Best seat in the house

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