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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

More human capital mongering

See also Elite universities and human capital mongering. The numbers below suggest that the top 30 schools enroll half or more of all students who are in the top, say, half percent of ability as measured by SAT/ACT.
Chronicle: ... In past decades, many of our best students attended state universities close to home, where they often received an excellent education at reasonable cost. Today, such students are likely to be vying for admission to the nation's most elite colleges and universities. Does this widening of the "prestige gap" between elite and lower-tier institutions, this "tracking" of students into educational institutions by their ability, raise matters of public concern? Or are these shifts simply of interest to institutions at or near the top? We think they raise issues of general social importance.

The increased interest of top students in attending the most- prestigious institutions is easily documented. During the 1980s, for example, 59 per cent of the finalists in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search (one of the nation's premier academic contests for high-school students) chose to enroll at one of just seven institutions -- Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale Universities, the California Institute of Technology, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The same seven institutions led the list in the 1970s, but enrolled only 48 per cent of the Westinghouse finalists.

Further, by 1990, about 43 per cent of students scoring above 700 on the verbal section of the Scholastic Assessment Test chose one of the 30 "most competitive" colleges listed in Peterson's Guide to Four-Year Colleges, up from 32 per cent in 1979. And Richard Spies, vice-president for finance at Princeton, has estimated that from 1976 to 1987, the probability increased by about half that a student with a combined S.A.T. score above 1,200 would apply to one of the 33 elite private institutions belonging to the Consortium on Financing Higher Education. This trend in applications has continued into the 1990s. ...
The Chronicle also has a related article about the field of Political Science (see comment thread!):
Chronicle: ... Departments at 11 elite universities provide half of the field's tenured and tenure-track professors, according to an analysis of more than 3,000 professors.
Placement numbers for theoretical physics: Survivor: theoretical physics.

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