I felt like an alien at school. Rural communities have a much lower cost of living, but also a much lower income. A rural kid who makes it to a university will almost certainly have to work an almost full-time job just to cover their living expenses, books, tuition, rent...etc. This divide was apparent to me as a student at Virginia Tech. 80% of VT's students come from the wealth DC suburbs. Yet wherever I worked when I was a student, the vast majority of my coworkers were from rural parts of the state. The "NoVa" kids in general didn't have to get jobs at all due to their parent's earning power. For them, rent was a joke. For rural kids, rent for a room is half what their parent's pay on mortgage or rent.
Take this single piece of difference, and then extrapolate it to every other aspect of culture.
"A rural kid who makes it to a university will almost certainly have to work an almost full-time job just to cover their living expenses, books, tuition, rent...etc."
The point of the article is that this is not true and almost no one knows it! If you go to Harvard/Stanford/MIT/etc -- basically any of the Ivy League, top LACs, or a few other elite schools -- and your family makes under, say, $60k/year, your tuition/room/board/books will be absolutely free. All covered by the school. No crippling student loans, no expectation of you working a job while in school (except maybe 10hrs/wk of cushy work-study for spending money). Even if your family is a bit wealthier, it's still the case that for most middle-class families the cost of an Ivy League education works out to less than the cost of the local state school. Very few families know this.
Is there culture shock? Sure, of course. That's part of the point -- for both the poor rural kids and the rich urban kids, and everyone in between. But at schools with the resources to do diversity right (which, sorry to hear, doesn't sound like it includes Virginia Tech), the shock is only cultural, not financial, so the full college experience really is accessible to students from any background.
The culture shock issue was huge, though: half the people in my freshman dorm read the New Yorker (or, more accurately, subscribed to it and prominently displayed it as an affectation), while I hadn't even heard of it. Learning how to ape upper class cultural cues was probably the most valuable thing I got out of college.
I also went there becasue it was the best cost - full boat except the room and food. I really regret it now, because the most valuable thing I found out you get in a bachelors of CS is recruiters visiting the school plus job fairs of big businesses like Google and Amazon that come right to the front door. Small schools have nothing like that, and maybe a few dozen tech companies at most hiring alumni locally.
http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/15473/is-it-possi... even has an example of verbing an adjective in Calvin and Hobbes: http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1993/01/25 (found via http://michaelyingling.com/random/calvin_and_hobbes/)
My financial aid now covers more than tuition (housing/dining plan/etc). I owe more money for my freshman year at a state university than my 3 remaining years combined at an Ivy League school.
I work more because I want to have more web dev on my resume before hitting the real world and also because I like being able to pay for some niceties that my mother wouldn't otherwise be able to afford, not because I need to to stay in school.
You do not know that. You simply do not. The kids/family are operating from a fear reaction. Some years ago there was a study about why more poor people have (pre-video on demand) cable TV than phone. The paper's conclusion was you could predict and budget the cable bill to the penny, other than traditional low yearly increases, but you can never predict next months phone bill, all you need is some 900 number calls or lots of long distance (back when that was expensive) and that means you literally cannot afford to pay the bill this month, hit to credit report, collectors calling, maybe disconnected (so why bother connecting to begin with...). Whoops. Plenty of poor families can survive a stable $25 cable bill every month for basic cable but not a phone bill that might semi-randomly be $10 this month and $125 next month. Therefore out of fear sign up for the devil you know rather than the devil you don't know.
"No crippling student loans" You sure about that? Guarantee that no aid package to any poor kid in the country would contain loans as part of the package? That is definitely not how it used to be. In the old days you'd absolutely have loans as part of the package. If you get a $125K/yr software dev job, $20K of loans is small, but if you are one of the majority who drop out, or get a financially nonviable degree in a field with high new grad unemployment, that kind of loan could destroy you and your family. Much safer to go to state-U.
What you meant to write is something like a $40K/yr family can send a kid to a $60K/yr school and get a completely unknown and utterly unpredictable but probably rather large amount of help which might even approach the total cost of attendance but you'll never know until you sign up and it might vary from year to year and certainly will vary from school to school. Its not unusual for a low income family to have roughly 100% of their income already budgeted and no substantial access to loans, so teasing the family with $57K of "help" at a $60K school is useless if the family can't scrape up $3K extra per year. If they could scrape up $3K/yr they would probably already spend it on health insurance, or maybe car insurance, or food, or dentistry, or ... So assuming there's an infinite pool of available cash is unrealistic. On the other hand if state-U wants $4K but guarantees loan availability, the kid seems infinitely better off going to state-U because the tuition bill can actually be paid (with a loan ... but paid nonetheless)
Harvard actually does give completely free tuition, room & board, and books—not structured as loans—to anyone whose family makes under $65k/year. Expected family contributions (which may come in the form of loans) only kick in above $65k. Admittedly, that's unusual, only possible because Harvard has a gigantic endowment.
They also want a rather remarkable amount of (expensive) paperwork sent to them. Everything about the SAT costs money, $50 for the basic test, $11 to send the scores to a school (seriously, $11? In 2013 it costs $11 to shove some digits somewhere?) although all is peppered with "fee waiver available".
Aside from the cost investment, there is also the time investment problem. As per above if you decide you can't afford it, and they want a fairly large amount of work done to apply, even if even more paperwork could result in it being free, well, why bother?
My brother went to Harvard, partly because their financial aid offer was best, and I recall my father cursing the required forms. He's a lawyer, so ordinary legalese doesn't phase him, but he found those troublesome. Now I imagine a family without a JD in it, or even without a BA in it, trying to fill them out...
Unless your family is paying for multiple children going to college at the same time. Mine was a lower middle class family paying for my older brother and I to go to college (with my younger brother going to college by time I was a senior). My parents combined made more than 60k but not by all that much. Combine this with the fact that Columbia's financial aid pool actually dried up when I entered the school (an alum eventually donated a hefty sum a couple years later but that was after I graduated) and my family ended up not meeting the harsh financial aid requirements. And my case wasn't unique either. My roommate, and eventual best friend, was in the same position but without a younger sibling.
"Even if your family is a bit wealthier, it's still the case that for most middle-class families the cost of an Ivy League education works out to less than the cost of the local state school."
This one isn't true in all states. In NY, if you had the type of grades that would get you into an Ivy, you would get some form of scholarship to most of the local state schools. My cousin (same year and school) wasn't good enough to get into an Ivy but he had good grades. He put his effort into showing a few choice state schools that he was really interested in them. This landed him a partial scholarship (with grade requirements that he easily hit). Combined with how easy commuting is in NY (so no dorm) and his total tuition came out to less than half of what I paid in a single year.
UC Berkeley, for instance, enrolls more low income students than the entire ivy league combined. 44% of UC San Diego undergraduates qualify for Pell grants.
I knew people at UCSD who were trying to major in computer science while working 20+ hours a week at Nordstrom or the Tie Rack at the local mall to pay the rent. There was some financial aid available, but not enough to cover the gap. There are plenty of rich kids at UCSD as well, but there's a big mix.
I understand that when two high seniors in a wealthy school district bump into each other in the hallway and get out their measuring tapes -er- acceptance letters, UCSD isn't considered especially elite. But if we lose a computer science student who got into UCSD because he couldn't keep up with the need to survive financially while passing compilers, vector calculus, physics, and a GE elective, we have lost an elite student.
I'm glad I saw this up close and understood the problems it causes. I actually think that it may be a problem at Ivy League schools that students are so far removed from this problem - they meet fewer low income students, and those they do meet are well funded. Do they meet the student who is struggling with the financial aid application because her father is claiming her as a dependent but isn't actually giving her any financial support? I know two young women in this spot, one who gave up on pre-med at least in part because of tough financial problems.
Going to college with a large number of low income students at a school that is not quite as capable of funding them as an Ivy League opened my eyes to a lot. In particular, I'm galled by the claims of large silicon valley companies that there is an engineer shortage. I'm all for skilled immigration, but how does it strike you that a government and corporate elite bleating about a skills shortage is willing to watch a talented young student get bounced from a compacted CS department while working 30 hours a week at nordstrom? All while state funding is dramatically reduced?
Having been in a situation similar to this, I can say that this sucks. A lot. Thank you for understanding. Most people just look down on and blame people who can't afford school, because they'd prefer to think that they got their own degrees through nothing but hard work, when it's instead partly to highly dependent on what sort of parents you have, these days.
You're going to assume that (1) they are just saying that because Marketers Are Liars, (2) you're not smart enough - those schools are only for smart people, and (3) you can't afford it anyway.
I know someone who didn't know the difference between an Associate's and a PhD when they were in high school, and didn't even really conceptualize the idea that college was a real possibility when they were a teen.
My point is, you have to shift your entire cultural context when talking about the poor and the uneducated: you - anyone who's not deal with them - has to get the narrative context they live in before you can dismiss their non-attendance at the top schools.
They can probably afford to have x% poor kids every year because the rich kids who pay can make up the rest.
If they got masses of applications from bright poor kids every year they would have to be more selective about offering aid.
And just to add another point of data: I did in fact get more grants than the cost of attending, so I profited from attending school without having to work. These policies are very real, and at least to me, they were very transparent and are what made me apply.
I don't think there is any attempt to hide it, either: I think the sad reality is that it's just harder for low income students to compete with upper middle class and wealthy kids who attend the nation's best K-12 schools and whose well-educated parents have pushed them academically as best they know how. Ivy League admissions policies try to correct for some of this, sure, but I'm sure it's extremely tough to balance that with penalizing kids who are well prepared due to their wealth. And these kids are astoundingly well-prepared, as I learned in college.
Why would you be worried about taking out a loan for an Ivy League education? Assuming you don't do something foolish like major in Medieval History, it's one of the safest, strongest investments in yourself you could possibly make, even purely from a financial point of view.
I came out of MIT with something like $40,000 worth of loans, but the M.Eng. that paid for returned (and continues to return) a substantial multiple of that.
It's nice that these elite institutions are now offering an essentially free education for lower middle-class households, but if you feel capable of exploiting the value of such an education, there's rarely a reason not to leverage yourself for it.
Still, though, I absolutely would not have taken out a $200k loan :) that was like 5x my parents' combined income. No way I could stomach that, and I don't understand how others can. I lucked out in studying CS and graduating during a boom so I'm earning quite a lot more than I ever thought was possible, but it was never my goal to be rich, and my state's flagship school was free for me due to merit scholarships.
And, despite following this line of argument, I've been unable to convince my younger sister to apply to Ivy League schools thus far. She's got time left in high school, so it's not final, but she's been balking at the idea of even applying, in part because of the perceived cost, even after I explained the "no loans" stuff to her.
Not making a judgement one way or the other; just interesting that this phenomenon seems to be exempt from politics.
There are a great many things that, done out of personal choice by private citizens are laudable, but done en masse by a government body are offensive to me.
Want to choose a religion as a private citizen? Great. Want to do the same as a government? NFW.
Want to choose to serve in the military?...
Want to make reproductive choices?...
Want to decide your profession?...
Want to decide whom to marry?...
Now, whether it's true that Ivy League student = talented & hard-working and welfare mom = lazy hedonistic mooch is another discussion, but those are the stereotypes that many people operate under.
Now if the kids got huge loans, stuck the dough in stock market funds, defer interest until graduation at which time they cashed in the funds, paid taxes and paid off the interest free loans, and kept a tidy small profit, as my econ professor and his friends did in the 70s/80s, then money could be said to go to the kids. This practice has been pretty much eliminated.
You might think the "writ small" version had more likelihood of being executed competently, but that shouldn't make you against the thing per se.
As others pointed out, wealth redistribution in this case is voluntary.
Does the whim of a private company really get to determine if you get a scholarship or not - and thus profoundly influence your future career? Or are these universities really implicit public institutions?
I don't think Stanford university is purely private in the same way that, say, the Coca-cola company is private.
Its a little difficult to make direct comparisons to Stanford, as Stanford's numbers will include a medical research university while Berkeley and UCSF are considered separate campuses, and Med centers have huge budgets. But the state financial support for UC Berkeley has dropped dramatically (around 12%).
It may be different for the smaller state schools that are not research universities. But if you line it up, private and public universities research universities are more similar than different in their sources of funding (grants, private donations, endowment income, etc). The things people believe distinguish these universities from private ones (tuition, state support) are actually a relatively minor part of the budget.
The article's point is interesting, but looked at through this light, it's basically saying "I did not realize I could enter this lottery."
The parent commenter is pointing out that most kids from rural areas will end up at public state schools which do not have the resources of these elite private schools.
Financial aid helps upward mobility but does not guarantee it. To think otherwise is pretty naive.
The more interesting question is, what kind of financial aid can they expect at your average state university?
You need some kids from "tough backgrounds" and ethnic minorities to convince your sponsors that their financial support is breaking down barriers, but you wouldn't want to spend money traipsing across the country mopping up all the "rough diamonds" to replace the regular upper-middle-class kids that don't need scholarships and are probably more likely to complete the course and leave a lavish endowment afterwards.
Because if it's not, and those bright kids end up being successes, it could very well be in the long-term interest of a profit-making institution to make sure those kids are alumni. Not just for any possible donations, but for maintaining your prestige.
It's a fair assumption to say that bright kids from "tough backgrounds" are less likely to succeed. That's not on an individual level, but on a national level it's certainly true. For most, these are kids who saw their parents work hard and get nowhere. That's a special kind of demotivation that's difficult to shake by the time college rolls around. It's also why there's almost no upward social mobility in the US.
What's your basis for claiming that? It doesn't jibe with available data. See:
The key findings of this study include:
There was considerable income mobility of individuals
in the U.S. economy during the 1996 through 2005 period
as over half of taxpayers moved to a different income
quintile over this period.
Roughly half of taxpayers who began in the bottom
income quintile in 1996 moved
up to a higher income group by 2005.
Among those with the very highest incomes in 1996 – the
top 1/100 of 1 percent –
only 25 percent remained in this group in 2005.
Moreover, the median real income of
these taxpayers declined over this period.
The degree of mobility among income groups is unchanged
from the prior decade (1987 through 1996).
Economic growth resulted in rising incomes for most
taxpayers over the period from 1996 to 2005. Median
incomes of all taxpayers increased by 24 percent after
adjusting for inflation. The real incomes of two-thirds
of all taxpayers increased over this period. In
addition, the median incomes of those initially in the
lower income groups increased more than the median
incomes of those initially in the higher income groups.
For some reason, you cherry picked the one study that looked at all incomes in one of the most prosperous periods in the US. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socio-economic_mobility_in_the... does a good job of summarizing a number of studies that show that the US ranks as one of the least socially mobile countries in the world.
No one is arguing that people make the same amount their entire career. That's not what social mobility is. The fact is, the US has one of the lowest levels of intergenerational social mobility, and that exceptions to the rule are held up as evidence of The American Dream in action. It's not impossible to end up better off than your parents (in relative inflation adjusted terms), but that's the exception, and it's usually due much more to luck than hard work. Millions of americans work hard and end up exactly where their parents were.
The fact is, most people end up in the same socioeconomic class as their parents. There are exceptions to the rule, but upward social mobility happens so infrequently in the US, that it's perfectly reasonable to model that as almost never happening. It's not impossible, it just almost never happens. The bigger problem is that the few counterexamples are used as anecdotal evidence to say "if everyone else would have just tried as hard, they'd be better off too". That's simply not true.
No, that's not what I'm saying at all. But you seem determined to intentionally misinterpret what I'm saying, and this conversation isn't doing anything to benefit me, so I'm bowing out.
Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams
EDIT to add: $25.52 for a Kindle book (Ain't No Makin' It)?! So the people who would be interested in perhaps reading it are screened out from affording it. Insanity.
Yes, but nonprofits still act like businesses with the exception that they don't return money to shareholders. I'm part of a grant writing consulting firm and wrote a blog post inspired by a previous HN post like yours: "Why Nonprofits Are More Like Businesses Than You Realize" (http://blog.seliger.com/2012/09/02/why-nonprofits-are-more-l...) that explains what working with and around nonprofits is like.
Do you think that they would agree with you, or protest loudly that such a thing is ideologically invalid and that you're a horrible person who deserves to be shunned for the rest of your life and possibly longer?
It would be interesting to see if there are any admissions departments on record with statements that map to those philosophies, and any data that shows how those schools endowments fare over time.
This query completely ignores the human issue, which is significant and deserves consideration. But it would be interesting to know.
The tech field is an exception. I talked to 35-40 startups & companies from AngelList and other websites in a 4 months period. Ended up with 4 offers.
As for OPT: Aren't you allowed to work self-employed during that time [2,3]? So as long as you give yourself a job, you are fine?
I'm graduating in May - I cannot self employ myself :). I already accepted a job offer with a startup, and they will be applying for H1-B for me in two consecutive years. If I don't get it, I'll have to leave. Otherwise, I get H1-B for a max of 5 or 6 years I think
Where you're from and income level of your parents doesn't just affect your college experience once you're in college, but also earlier in the process.
I'll provide my anecdote: I grew up in a decent suburb with a decent public school system. However, my high school never produced any Ivy League college students and the counselors and teachers there never presented it as an option. Most kids were only vaguely aware of what the Ivy League even was. It was even a running joke in my year about one student who did apply ("Oh, so and so thinks he's going to go to "Harvard").
Meanwhile, the neighboring school districts, which were slightly more upper-middle class, routinely produced dozens of Ivy League-bound seniors yearly.
The main differences between my district and the neighboring ones was a 10 minute drive and a half century long history of old money in the other neighborhoods.
The point is: Where you are from and your surroundings can greatly impact your knowledge and access to higher levels of education.
-distinguished at the town/county level
-distinguished at the state level
-distinguished at the national level
He told us that we were not competing with each other, but rather that we were competing with "a kid from Glastonbury [CT] who drove to school in a BMW this morning".
The message was clear: if you wanted to get into an ivy, the next four years of school were to be a grand song and dance to get as many state and national level checkmarks as possible.
We were lucky to have heard his message. There were a couple thousand other kids in the school that didn't hear it. How could they know that it worked this way?
Anecdotally, I'm from the latter type of family. Despite my mother's efforts, we still couldn't relocate to a really good area in time for me to go to high school, but we eventually got my brother into a much better public school than I went to.
Sure, we were all told we could be doctors or lawyers or industry titans... But we didn't actually know anybody that WAS those things.
Compared to my kid, who sits next to kids that have dads and moms that are district attorneys, nationally known surgeons, oil company owners, etc...
Kids at his school showed up for kindergarten and all but a few could already read. They spend their afternoons doing "enrichment" activities... Compared to the local public school where a sizable number of kids receive remedial tutoring and show up hungry.