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.


Robert Sykes said...

It is likely to be true that a dozen or so elite departments supply most of the science and engineering faculty in this country. My old civil engineering department was dominated by people from Berkeley, MIT, Cal Tech, Purdue, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Stanford et al.

Evelyn Malkus said...

Note that the first Chronicle article is from its archives from 1996.

Iamexpert said...

It's not surprising that 43% of people with IQ's in the top 0.05% (not top half percent) would be in the top 1% in academic credentials, especially when IQ is measured by the very tests that guard access to those credentials. When IQ is measured by non-college admission tests, the correlation between IQ and college prestige drops precipitously, though remains substantial.

But there's always been a substantial correlation between IQ and scholastic accomplishments, all over the world, all through history. It just so happens that in early 21st century America, scholastic accomplishments are measured by college prestige.

gide07 said...

Cause for concern? It's amazing how Americans have been been brainwashed into believing their country is a meritocracy.

In every other developed country 100% of top ability goes to top schools, and the US is behind all of these countries in economic mobility.

gide07 said...

But a lot of this is due to professorships being so oversubscribed. Rather than read through 100 applications, first remove all which don't have PhD from ... let admissions at these schools do the work.

gide07 said...

Formal education has inserted itself between employer and potential employee only recently. This intermediation is expensive, inefficient, and crude. Formal education like healthcare, financial services, etc. is a giant tick sucking the blood out of the real economy. Today employers whine that there aren't any qualified applicants. Never mind that the whiners can't do the work themselves and 30 years ago would have trained smart new hires. When MacNamara was CEO of Ford, the % of Ford's top executives with mere UG degrees was tiny. Now in the US people like MacNamara with ZERO technical competence (BA econ, MBA) run technical companies. This is less true in other countries.

The quality of the high school degree, the UG degree, and the G degree should be determined by more objective test scores. This disintermediation will remove the tick.

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