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Let the College Price War Begin 85

Anonymous Coward writes "An article posted on describes a new site,, launched in September, which allows parents to bid the amount they wish to spend on one year of their child's collegiate education. Colleges, in return (having paid their $2000 fee), are then matched with these students' GPAs and test scores and can offer them admission, to which families have 30 days to respond ...., eat your heart out."
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Let the College Price War Begin

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  • I heard a radio headline several weeks ago that Priceline was patenting the reverse auction process which they use. Makes me want to patent stupid patenting processes.
  • Seems as though this is a good service for people who have to be price aware when they choose colleges. I guess people who have excellent grades are more likely to get a better deal... But perhaps that's a good thing.

    I prefer the government funded universities of Europe (I have experiences from France and Sweden) where everyone gets a fair shot at getting their university education. They are at least not hindered by the amount of money on their parents' bank accounts.
  • Would someone care to explain how GPAs are calculated for those non-Americans among us? What's a typical/good value? Oh, and the same applies for SATs.
  • I always wonder why you literally have to buy yourself a good education in the United States. Now do not flame me yet, I lived two years in that country and was lucky enough my parents lived in a rich suburb, making the schools rather good (though coming from europe it was easy to get good grades anyway). And I know there is a large scholarship system (larger than in germany) covering those exceptionally bright. But what about those mediocre intelligent, monetary poor people? Do they not at least deserve as good an education as those mediocre intelligent but monetary rich? Is intellectual elitism (as it has displayed it's face quite often on /.) really that strongly embedded or should the end of that pledge that they make you say in school rather be "with liberty, justice and education for all who have money" as I usually thought when I listened to that brainwash.
  • But then again... I'm not familier with this situation since I don't live in the US. But a major factor for me to respond is the simple fact that Europe (to a certain degree) tends to follow some of these ideas which originate in the US. Some can be considered as an improvement but unfortunatly I've also witnessed a perfectly working solution being replaced by something which was totally crap. To make matters worse; the country from which the idea came (US) had allready dropped it.

    Back to college; after reading the article I get this feeling that going to school in the US is all about the money, that and nothing else. And this sort of scares me; if I'm not mistaken (which could very well be) this means, to a certain extend, that if you can't pay to go to a certain college you also do not have the options to follow the study which could be a very important factor for your future job. Instead you'd have to settle with something less which doesn't do much good for morale IMO.

    Whether I got the facts straight or not I still prefer the 'European' (Dutch, since I'm from Holland) system. Social security; a lot of the expenses you have if your childeren goto school are paid by the goverment. First its social security; the parents receive a contribution to the costs their having in raising a child (this also contributes to the costs of education) and if the child is old enough (allways a very vague standard IMO) he/she receives the contribution, allthough things then start to work a bit different; part of the money is for the student to spend on education (which could also mean renting a room if they goto college in a different city) and the 2nd part is a loan which needs to be paid back after you're done with your education.

    Like I said; its different and hard to compare offcourse. I'm sure that there are a few people allready thinking that everything comes for free over here. Well, thats not the case. Social security and all also means paying very much taxes, but IMHO its a very good way in making sure everyone has an option to study and make something of his live. I don't say this system allways works (who likes paying taxes?), but in most cases it does.

  • Yet again I'm so glad I live in Ireland where college education is partially state funded and everyone with ability has a chance.

    I can see this system leading to people who are, to put it politely, thick as two short planks, getting ahead of those who are more deserving simply because of money.

    How are colleges supposed to keep up a high standard of education when morons get in because mammy and daddy just happen to have money?

    And those desperate to get their kids into a particular college will end up paying though the nose (more so than now).

    A very sad state of affairs all said.

  • In general a GPA (Grade Point Average) is done this way:
    C=2 ("average")
    Add letter-grade-values and divide by number of grades.
    Of course the scheme varies wildly. Some universities consider only some grades. Some high schools assign and additional point for "honors" course, etc.

    SAT used to range from 200 to 800 on two sections, math and "verbal". They dumbed down the whole system a few years ago, so I don't know how much has changed.

    Grades are also dumbed down over time, but not formally like the SAT.
  • by Ater ( 87170 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @02:38AM (#1595157)
    Obviously the impact of this program will depend totally on the support of colleges, and frankly I don't expect much. I fail to see what reason a major university would have to pay $2000 (even though it isn't much to them) for a "service" that will potentially reduce their profits from admission tuition. Besides, every school has a financial aid program set up for these exact purposes anyway, meaning the whole project is unnecessary. Also, the statements of the founder of the site make me very very skeptical about any potential of this program.

    "he admits that state schools and private institutions like Princeton and Notre Dame wouldn't necessarily need eCollegebid"

    Well um, weve already eliminated state schools and private colleges, which is like, what 99% of colleges? Seriously though, without any support from major universitys, the program will flop. Maybe a few students will be interested in a small scale, affordable school... but I think the majority of high school kids, especially the high achieving ones the program seeks, would rather want to go to Harvard, Duke, Stanford, or a state school rather than Bumblefuck University or Northwest Southern Central East Rhode Island College. And when the students see that their top choices are not offered on the site, they'll go back to mailing forms in.

    "By the end of the year he hopes to have between 35 and 50 colleges active in the database"

    35 to 50?????? THERE ARE MANY THOUSANDS OF COLLEGES OUT THERE!!!! What good would the program do if it only featured 1% of colleges? I realize the relative youth of the site, but nobody's gonna bother with such a limited choice.
    Moreover, the fact that the founder refuses to list specific names disturbs me. We all know that if, say Yale, or even some random state school, were to take part in the program he would be shamelessly promoting it. "YES, EVEN TOP SCHOOLS LIKE YALE SUPPORT THE ECOLLEGEBID PROGRAM!" Instead, he's just hiding full information to cover up the glaring weakness of the site.

    I'm afraid I have to agree with all the critics. However a novel idea, the site fails to show itself a worthy replacment of current financial aid programs. It's not going to attract any big name colleges, and in turn the limited selection of available schools on the site will completely turn off any prospective users. I'm sure it might help a few kids here and there find some quaint little backwoods college for a cheap price, but eCollegeBid won't make it in the long run.
  • Actually, in America, a person who demonstrates ability in high school and on the SAT has better than a free ride through college, if he maintains that level of performance. But if you don't finish high school because of having to work, kids, etc. then you'll have trouble.

    Last I checked there was only one university in the USA that refused to accept state money; somewhere in Illinois or Ohio, I think. Even those who don't get scholarships can get loans or state grants if they show financial hardship.

    The question is why don't colleges maintain a high standard of education when all they have to do is say, "we don't want you or your money". And I'll not even go on about what college athletics do to the whole thing.
  • This is capitalism... in US everything has a financial value, including education.
  • Yeah but I have to admit: French universities tend to suck. *Maybe* if the system was a bit more capitalistic that would'nt be this way.
  • SAT used to range from 200 to 800 on two sections, math and "verbal". They dumbed down the whole system a few years ago, so I don't know how much has changed.

    Scores still go from 200 to 800 for each section, with 500 being the proverbial Average Student. The dumbing-down you speak of occured becuase the Average Student now would score a 460 or so - so they added a few points to our friend's score (and hence, everyone else's as well), bringing him back to 500.

  • by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @03:11AM (#1595162)
    Let's see. First, it's Mrs. Dole dropping out of the election race for lack of money. Now, it's the ultimate capitalist frenzy machine applied to... College admission. Good thing in theory you can go to college and/or become President of the US with only your willpower and your brains, cause in practice it's gonna take wads of cash too.

    Am I the only one seeing something wrong with this picture? Dare I say amoral? Yes, high tution fees are a fact of life, and anyone thinking you can go to school in the US no matter your parents' income is deluding himself. If you're looking for school gratuity, you have to look to more Left-leaning countries. Canada used to work that way, but it's slowly catching up to the US.

    Anyway: my point is not to slam any nationality (far from it!), or get into a Leftist speech. What I want to point out is this:

    The idea of parents bidding against one another is sick. Some college administrator realised that when you accepted a student, he was paying the same price as everyone else, when he probably could pay more. In other words, his family's wallet wasn't being siphoned for all it's worth.

    It's unfair to say you won't get into a quality college because you lost a bid war. It's unfair to make parents pay maybe ten times the normal entry fee just because they can.

    We're a long way from college gratuity, indeed... But it's no surprise, in a day when colleges seek corporate sponsoring and are constantly cut back on funds, that top colleges would begin placing more importance on money than on GPA's.

    "There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

  • Would someone care to explain how GPAs are calculated for those non-Americans among us? What's a typical/good value? Oh, and the same applies for SATs.

    GPA is calculated as follows:
    anything below a 70 is a 1.9 or lower, which is failing. 2.0 is from 70-79, 3.0 is from 80-89, 4.0 is from 90-100.

    So, my GPA of 2.3 is about a 73 on a conventional grading scale.

    SAT scores go up to 1600, with half coming from the Verbal portion and half from the Math.
    So, my scores of 800 on the Verbal (Perfect) and 650 on the math (Damn trigonometry) are very good, but not the best.

    The other Big Test is the ACT which is on a scale up to 36, my score of a 32 is good enough for governors honors in Georgia, but not quite perfect.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you go to the page [] it asks you for your SSN. Now, since that is not a secure page I do wonder if this is a scam, or if the guy running it just has no clue. You would not find me submitting my SSN like that or even using it for an ID.

    I'd also want to know which colleges are participating before I'd consider using this service. Institutions like Lower Armpit Community College would not entice me. ;-)
  • ...when are we going to start hearing the William Shatner ads?

    "I knew it was going to be big... really big."


  • From this article doesn't appear to be what anyone else got. What I got out of the service was this: you put in what you can afford to spend, and ecollegebid gives you a list of universities that you can afford. Or that are willing to accept what you can afford. I, personally, think this is a great service. Of course, I also think you can get the same information from a good Financial Aid calculator and a copy of the Princeton Review. But then, maybe I'm wrong.

    As to all the foreigners (and, apparently, americans) who don't seem to think anyone can get a university education in this country, I'd like to say, you are wrong. Governmental loans, school scholarships, grants - the funding is there if you want to go to school. And just because you're an A+ student whose parents work at McDonald's, doesn't mean you a) can't go to Yale or Harvard if you *really* want to, or b) are 'settling' if you go to UNC or Michigan State or UCLA. State schools often have better funding for those who can't afford it, and are less expensive to begin with - but they're not second best schools. I work for one of the big-name private universities, but I wouldn't want to go to school here. Yeah, the atmosphere is neat, but even with my tuition discount, I can get by cheaper at one of the other state schools in the area - and get a better education in the field that I'm interested in (which the private school doesn't even really offer to any degree!). So less expensive does not necessarily equate to worse. And I do believe that anyone who is motivated to get an education can find the money to do so.

  • ... Good thing in theory you can go to college and/or become President of the US with only your willpower and your brains, cause in practice it's gonna take wads of cash too.

    Am I the only one seeing something wrong with this picture? Dare I say amoral? Yes, high tution fees are a fact of life, and anyone thinking you can go to school in the US no matter your parents' income is deluding himself. If you're looking for school gratuity, you have to look to more Left-leaning countries. Canada used to work that way, but it's slowly catching up to the US.

    I beg to differ. I go to a very good private school, and I my parents make very little money. Most private schools are very good about financial aid. Granted, I also pull good grades, but scholarships here are need based.

    Sure, there's also a lot of rich kids who only made it in because their parents could afford to pay the full amount, but if allowing them in means that other students like myself will get a chance to go to a good school, then I say let them in.

    Education really should be free for everyone.

  • by RNG ( 35225 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @03:53AM (#1595168)
    I went to college in the US (here []) and my parents paid themselves silly in order to send me there, but I believe that the US college system has certain advantages. You don't have to go to an expensive private school; there are many state schools that are very good and much more affordable. The big difference is though, that the (at least private) universities see themselves as a business, and such strive to provide the best service to their students, an attitude which in many European countries is unthinkable. Also, the fact that a US college has the right to ativeley choose who they accept, is something that we in Europe could learn from. I was surrounded by highly intelligent people in College (after the less motivated ones had flunked out); a very challenging and humblig experience that I truly value.

    If you think private colleges rob you and take your last cent consider this: if you go to take a week of course work at a company (Oracle, IBM, etc), you will pay about $1500 per week. At that rate, even CMU was cheap and I learned more than I ever would though company coursework/education. Also, in my experience, people don't value what they don't pay for. This seems to be corroborated by what I see in the Austrian universites; they are overcrowded, underfunded ... I'm glad I went to college in the US even though it cost my parents a bundle ...

    About this bidding system: I think it will only work out well for extremely gifted students, the kind of student that universities would like to get on their campus. If they see a lot of potential in you, they'll cut you a break (and throw in a nice scholarship), but what if you're not? What incentive do they have to make you a special offer? College tuituion is very public information anyways, I'm not sure how much sense bidding makes in this area. Do you really believe that through this system, there will be radical savings for the students. It's not like MIT will let you attend at $1000 per semester just because that's what you bid ...

  • by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @04:01AM (#1595169) Homepage
    Do they really? Keep in mind that a major criteria IS academic potential, which can reduce your tuition bill to basically $0/year for four years at even an expensive private university.

    Not everybody has to go to a top-tier private university, in the same way that not everybody is equally fit to join MLB as a relief pitcher let alone a starter, and most people really should not be CEOs managing global conglomerates, or international diplomats, or...

    Universities only have a limited number of slots before the system is overwhelmed. Selection should NOT be random...
  • There's already a college-vs-college bidding process, so it's a natural evolutionary step.

    As an example of C-v-C bidding, realize that:

    * Certain (pretty good) universities have *VERY* liberal scholarship offers. At least before '94, Case Western Reserve U. had a such a policy that applied if you're SAT score exceeded 1400 (not that unusual...) and your QPA exceeded something like 3.2 or 3.5. The amount? $12K / year *grant*. I don't know if they still do this.

    That's one of the few uses of an SAT.

    * Certain schools compete with each other for the same students. A student that might be at the top tier at CWRU, say, might also be a candidate quite interesting to Carnegie Mellon; CMU also is interested in snarfing people who might otherwise go to MIT (which, at least at that time, had minimal merit-based aid IIRC).

    The net result is that with an offer in hand from one school, a competing school may consider 'sweetening the pot'.
  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @04:21AM (#1595172) Homepage
    Yes, high tution fees are a fact of life, and anyone thinking you can go to school in the US no matter your parents' income is deluding himself.

    I don't think so.

    At the time when my, my wife's and all of our parents' income was effectively zero, we were perfectly able to go to school. Since I and my wife wanted to go to school in the same city, we ended up with a choice between Columbia and Univ. of Pennsylvania and picked UPenn. Each of us got a package of loans and grants that fully paid for tuition and provided for living expenses. Yes, we ended up with a huge pile of loans, but I consider this fair.

    And for people who argue for free/cheap tuition -- and pray, tell, who do you want to pay for education? Government? All this will mean is that your taxes will go up and the standard of education will go down.

  • I agree with the original poster, that the educationaly system here in the U.S. favors the wealthy. I personally believe that the system goes on to contribute to keeping the classes separate.

    People often refer to scholarships as "leveling the ground" since poor people with acedemic potential can go to college. However, let's take two average people differing only in how rich the family is, not exactly wonderful GPAs or SAT scores, but not bad either. In this case the family that can afford it can send their child to college, the one that can't doesn't get a scholarship and so their child can't go to college.

    Overall this means that given two people of the same acedemic level, the wealthy person is favored. Overall, the educational system favors the exceptional acedemics and the financially sound mediocraty. What happens in actuallity is that poorer smarter/more determined/(insert reason for having higher GPA/SAT) people cannnot go on to college over a richer, less highly scored person.

    Just another cost of living in capitalism.

  • I went to a private school, and am now paying loans out of my ass.

    However, I think the extra money was worth the attention I got at a smaller school. Although it would have been nice to price shop for schools, I pretty much figured out where I wanted to go, and then made the finanial aspect work.

    I am curious, what is the consensus here:

    Private or public colleges?
  • I agree with the original poster. From what I've seen, every year the colleges and universities in this country become more like young-adult daycare centers than intitutes of higher learning. I know that many of you AC's will protest and say, "Not at my school, man!" - I've probably never been to your school. I'm going by what I've seen in the southeastern US over the past 10 years. When I starting college in 1992 (I'm still kindof there. I'm trying to collect the entire set of degrees) the big thing was to major in PolySci and "change the world, man!". Sure, it was stoopid, but at least there was some kind of passion involved. Now I mostly see apathy.
  • Disclaimer: I have no experience of the SAT test and make no claims to knowledge as to how it is used. However, there`s a possibility that it`s being used wrongly.

    Scores still go from 200 to 800 for each section, with 500 being the proverbial Average Student. The dumbing-down you speak of occured becuase the Average Student now would score a 460 or so - so they added a few points to our friend's score (and hence, everyone else's as well), bringing him back to 500.

    Uhm.. what`s the point in that? Surely someone who is doing badly is doing badly, even if everyone around them is also doing badly. So if the SAT was at all decently designed in the first place, there should be no reason to revalue the whole jing-bang just because the average crop was low for a couple of years.

    Of course, the SAT may not have been well-designed. Many tests, including IQ tests, aren`t. Some contain large amounts of cultural reference, which puts people foreign to the culture in question at a disadvantage when all you`re trying to measure is mental potential. Certainly cultural references date after a few years, so a revision of the SAT test may well not have been a `dumbing-down`, but in fact an attempt to make it more relevant. On the other hand, if the SAT test is mainly about showing how much you`ve learnt, then obviously it has to be relevant to the syllabus, and thus, again, would need to be changed now and again to reflect what the children are actually learning.

    However, if all they are doing is using the same test and just re-aligning the scores in order to keep the current average score at 500, then there`s something very wrong in what they`re doing, because you can then only compare a child`s achievement with other children in her year, rather than with children in years past. Which I think is a shame, because it ignores the fact that the acheivement of objectively measurable skills is absolute, not relative.

    I am saying nothing here about how relatively hard or easy children may find it to pick up these skills. The difficulty of the task (and thus the subjective acheivement to the child on performing it) is indeed relative. But that`s not what`s being measured. What`s being measured is the ability of the child to perform a task. And, in a properly designed and calibrated test, the average should remain constant - unless the ability of the children really is changing. And if it is, we need to find out why this is happening, not just recalibrate the test.
  • Looking at nature selection is sometimes random. (Poor strong rich animals happening to build their house in an earthquake area and dying of it). But seriously. Selection should not be random on a human scale, i agree. But (there is always a but :-)) is the wealth of your parents not a random value? What about the problems of measuring intelligence (The proposed IQ has been through several fractions already, emotional, linguistical, mathematical etc.). How do you measure how likely one has success as a CEO or politician?
    The idea in sports where these things can be measured more easily is to give stronger ones a handicap to even out the race at the beginning (golf for example).
    How can a race (for economical or whatever success) be fair when you are allowed to buy yourself a better starting point?
    And to get back to your point, I too think that not every person is fit for positions as CEOs or managers or marathon runners - it still surprises me though why so many CEOs have a long history of failures, yet survive in their game, while a sportsman who never wins a race will never go to the olympics.
    Excuse me for using the old race/life metaphor, but i guess i am just envious of some of these lonely loosers on the top of the mountain... ;-)
  • I spent $50,000 on 2 years of education at a private school. It did nothing for me. I woke up, finally, and dropped out.
    Now I'm making more in a year than what I spent for those 2 years in college...and I'm doing what I love to do.
    College degrees aren't a requirement for geeks. They help, but they don't guarantee you a job. Certification and experience actually help more.
    My advice? If it's too expensive, don't put yourself or your family in debt. Just don't go. Work your ass off, get some experience, and in a couple years it *will* pay off.
  • I'm surprised anyone is comparing this to Priceline. The college admission market is different than, say, the plane ticket market in one critically important way -- a major (maybe THE major) factor on both ends of the admissions transaction is prestige, which leads people to make economically irrational decisions.

    Take the idea of buying a plane ticket through Priceline. In this transaction, all you care about is:

    • Cost
    • Convenience
    Note that these are both easily quantifiable factors. Cost = which ticket is cheaper; convenience = fewest stopovers, shortest flying time. We don't decide to fly, say, USAirways over United because somehow we perceive USAirways passengers as being smarter or more successful than United passengers. We are free to make a rational economic calculation based on the two factors above, and we'll usually take whichever airline comes out best in this calculation.

    Similarly, USAirways doesn't have any interest in attracting the smartest or wealthiest people in America to use its service -- one butt fills a seat as well as another, and the important thing is to make sure 100% of available seats are filled with butts. The only prestige distinction is between Coach and First/Business class seating, but even this is limited -- no major airline caters solely to the well-heeled, with 100% First Class seating and wine and Brie servings instead of Coke and peanuts. They provide a limited amount of 1st class seating to squeeze a bigger margin out of those passengers who can afford to pay for more legroom, not to become the Airline of the Elite.

    College admissions are totally different. Sure, we think about cost, but the most important factor is usually prestige. This is why, if a child of a lower middle-class family is smart/lucky enough to get into Harvard, the parents will go broke (an economically irrational decision) to keep her there -- the value of a Harvard education isn't quantifiable in, say, higher standardized test scores, but rather a shot at social mobility, a chance to take a step up the ladder. Now, the problem is, factors like "prestige" and "social mobility" are incredibly non-quantifiable, which makes it extremely hard to make an economically rational decision. Do you perceive a prestige difference between USAirways and United? Of course not. How about between, say, Harvard and Podunk State?

    This is also in evidence on the other end of the transaction. Colleges, unlike airlines, NEED to attract the best and brightest, to move up in academic rankings, to attract prominent faculty, and to ensure big donations to the endowment fund in the future. So the ones that can't rely on their prestige to attract these kids offer big scholarships to the smartest students ("prestige" applicants), which means that these kids are served well by the current system. Why should they offer themselves through a system that won't offer those prestige schools? They have a shot at going to Harvard -- or going to Podunk State for free!

    What this all adds up to is that eCollegeBid won't work. The "stars" on both ends of the transaction have no reason to play -- the best schools have more applicants than they need, the best students have more offers than they can accept. This means that eCollegeBid will turn into something of an academic ghetto, where low-rated schools (the least attractive to applicants) will compete for low-rated applicants (the least attractive to schools). Overall, "demand collection" ala Priceline is a good idea, but it works best in systems where the product is a commodity -- and a college education is pretty much the definition of a non-commodity item.

    -- Jason Lefkowitz

  • Obviously the impact of this program will depend totally on the support of colleges, and frankly I don't expect much. ...

    "he admits that state schools and private institutions like Princeton and Notre Dame wouldn't necessarily need eCollegebid"

    Seriously though, without any support from major universitys, the program will flop...

    I disagree. It's a shame to make this comparison, but there are some valid similarities between unsold airline seats and excess "capacity" at a college.

    You are correct that schools like Princeton or Notre Dame won't benefit or support this service. They don't need to, if they are rejecting multiples of students for each one they accept. To extend and abuse the comparison to priceline, they are selling first class, "price insensitive" seats.

    Colleges that would likely use this service are more like unsold seats on airlines. Students might not consider applying. Whether because students weren't aware of them, or they appeared to be too expensive, these universities would benefit from having a larger population of applicants. Every student they recruited through this program helps defray their costs. If the recruit displaced a less qualified student, it helps increase their class.

    I hate to see the mentality of fungible goods being applied to the pursuit of learning. I'd like to think college students are not just bodies filling chairs, but helping advance the sum of human knowledge. It's easy to see why colleges might look at this as a tool, though. Education isn't its own end anymore.

    In large part I agree with you. 50 schools isn't a large amount. Many colleges aren't going to consider this, and there is certainly and entrenched system of admissions that probably wouldn't be interested. With more schools dropping a policy of "need-blind" admissions, however, I think this could be a valuable tool. Even with 50 schools, if it helps some students find a match that they wouldn't have considered, or wouldn't have thought that they could afford, it would be useful.

  • The reason education should not be "free" is that the primary, overwhelming beneficiary of the education is the student receiving it. That's simple economics, a classic case where micro works. The beneficiary of a meal should pay for the meal, and the beneficiary of an education should pay for it.

    Now, the egalitarian impulse to make education available to all so that the economic opportunity is available to all reflects not only a valid moral impulse, but a valid economic impulse as well: The expenses of education are completely front-loaded, while the benefits continue to accrue over a lifetime.

    So, there's a simple solution: the government should grant unlimited loans to anyone for any education. Then, withhold the loan repayment from your paycheck just like the social security deduction. It can be a moderate withholding for low income people, providing a natural subsidy for art historians who may never pay it back, and a honkin' big tax on capital gains for the folks who IPO.

    This is another classic from economics, the "lifecycle theory" where you borrow while young, save in middle age, and spend down in maturity to basically evenly spread the same standard of living throughout your life.

  • WEll, as the parent of a freshman. There are scholarships, but if you get a $20,000 a year scholarship, your family will be taking out loans for the other 20 thou, and at least $80,000 in debt.

    One of my son's friend got a very nice scholarship to MIT, but didn't go, because his family was unwilling to sign for loans for the rest.

    The surprising thing is that schools were bidding for students, even before it was on the web. We took the scholarship from RPI to Carnegie Mellon, and CM upped their original bid within 24 hours.
  • Generally, if a CEO fails, he can be booted out by the board (if the company's still intact). It's (probable, if he's famous...) possible he'll get an insanely good severance package, but that's a different flamewar... An important detail, here, is that the stockholders, the owners, have a say in selections and decisions.

    On the other hand, it's almost impossible to guarantee post-secondary universal education without government assistance. Mandating low tuition without grants would leave schools high and dry.

    Among other things,

    * Either tuition becomes price-controlled, set to (low) Gov't levels, in which case schools become more dependent on alumni gifts and research grants, or the Gov't makes up the difference for higher tuitions, in which case schools have less reason to set remotely sane tuition levels.

    * It may exacerbate the strange practice of deliberately taking on debt with large purchases, not paying off a mortgage quite as quickly, and so forth, in order to exaggerate need. It's done today, but would be even more common if need-based aid were universally extended.

    * Students become assured of being able to afford college, providing significantly less effort to strive in high school. Those that do, may find this a short-sighted approach. Merit-based aid suffers.

    * Without actually improving education at the primary and secondary level, one may find a large number of students who normally could use the money but who are still basically unqualified for most universities. *This* is perhaps the most important thing we can do to prepare people for college -- get to 'em young. I'm probably not the first to advocate Mentat-style training, and only half tongue-in-cheek.

    It's not good to send unprepared students to competitive universities.

    * There is a danger that this funding would need to be rationed, leading to things like national qualifying exams that decide where a student should go (such as to a vocational school, or so forth). It's questionable as to whether this is best for students.

    I seem to remember, that at least several years ago, that Germany had a three-track system based on exams. Those that performed well, got taxpayer-funded tuition. Those that did not, were shunted off to other schools. If that's correct, it's pretty dangerous compared to a system where a student on the edge can at least talk to Admissions staff and possibly convince them otherwise.
  • by Rabbins ( 70965 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:29AM (#1595185)
    ok... so do you eliminate private colleges?
    do you make college an entirely publicly funded venture?

    I think that would be a large mistake.

    This is done in Canada with health care. Where do you think the best doctors from Canada go?
    If you answered the U.S. you would be correct.
    Where do the wealthy citizens and government officials from Canada go when they need surgery or skilled treatment?
    If you answered the U.S. again, you would be on a roll.

    Here in the United States, we have some of the beast professors from around the globe (and yes, they come from everywhere for the oportunity to teach in the U.S.), and I will gladly support a system where that is nurtured.
  • by Stonehand ( 71085 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @05:33AM (#1595186) Homepage
    From the eCollegebid FAQ:

    ------------------------------------------------ --
    19.What happens after the first year?

    You may be treated like all other students when it comes to financial aid. That is a question you should ask an offering college and get a written response. To some colleges, it will make sense to continue this arrangement; for others it will not.
    ------------------------------------------------ -

    They really, really, should emphasize that more, especially the bit about getting a written response (on official letterhead and everything, no doubt), rather than making it question #19 on their FAQ.

    I seem to remember members of my school's _College of Fine Arts_ complaining when aid that had been given the first year was not extended to latter years, calling it a "bait-and-switch".
  • While I did enjoy the education I received at a fine private institution, and appreciated the class sizes (largest class I took in 5 years was ~35 people) that allowed for personal professor attention, my $400/mo. student loan payments suck rather bad. I guess you do tend to get what you pay for (anecdotal evidence from friends at state schools tend to back this up), but it still pains me to think what else I could have done with all that money, especially the stuff I'm still paying.
  • I am not convinced by the argument for the
    future of eCollegeBid, because:
    (1) by definition, 'star' students are a small
    minority of the total student population.
    (2) by definition, 'prestige' schools are a small
    minority of the total school population.

    So sure, Harvard doesn't need the service, and
    neither does the kid with a 4.0 GPA. But what
    about the other 95% of students, and the other
    95% of colleges?
  • Any college anywhere has the "right" to choose whom to accept. That's the purpose of an admissions process. However, most universities, and especially private ones, realize that while undergraduates pay the bills, faculty and graduate students make the reputation, and that's where the effort goes. Perhaps you had a good experience as an undergrad at CMU but it's certainly not generalizable.

    I think that eCollegebid is an excellent way of running a clearings process, although perhaps not a primary admissions process.

    Universities in the UK run their clearings process this way: when the second round of admissions is done and all students have committed or declined, they post the program vacancies and invite applications to the remaining spots rather than take students who don't meet their standards or run programs half full.

    You don't bid on tuition in the UK, but for private schools in the US that should definitely be an option; they have the option of subsidizing you or not, just like they would have the option of offering you a scholarship or a bursary if you participated in the primary applications process. If they're already running a program, the incremental cost for additional students is quite small.

    If collegebid became widely adopted, I think that it would definitely fill a niche in the US' private educational program. If you don't like the quality offers you get in the primary process, decline them and attempt to bid up. If you can't afford tuition where you did get in, try to bid down for schools of lesser quality. This freedom isn't presently available, but in a private system perhaps it should be.

  • >, eat your heart out."

    According to what I remember about the story:

    1) The e-college bidding is run by the same person as
    2) The 'interviewed expert' was stating that he saw this site as a way to validate the patent. AKA, see here is someone who paid for the patent. (The college site is paying licencing fees to pricewatch.)
    3) 12 schools were mentioned as participating.
    4) The college spokesperson found the idea of reverese auction rather silly, claiming the pricing model didn't fit how the college experience works.

    If you think the patent idea is bogus, the tone of the interviewer/interviewee was that this patent was a bad one.

    The only heart around here being eaten out is a 2 timing snake that hangs out in the grass.
  • CMU also is interested in snarfing people who might otherwise go to MIT (which, at least at that time, had minimal merit-based aid IIRC).

    Not quite. MIT doesn't have ANY merit-based scholarships (although a few groups on campus may offer their own). If you think about it, merit-based scholarships at a place like MIT don't make sense. All of my scholarships are need-based, which is fine with me since I couldn't afford to come here otherwise. I like my $18,000 grant, thank you very much.

  • by twit ( 60210 ) on Friday October 22, 1999 @06:09AM (#1595193) Homepage
    Do elite colleges matter? Are the worth the money? Consider:

    In 2000 we will most likely have a choice between Harvard (Gore), Yale (Bush), or Princeton (Bradley).

    Of our nine current Supreme Court justices, four attended the same undergraduate college (Stanford). Of the five others, we find graduates of Harvard, Cornell, Chicago, Georgetown, and Holy Cross. Five out of the nine attended a single law school (Harvard); the other law schools are Stanford (2), Yale, Columbia, and Northwestern. (Ginsberg attended Harvard Law for two years, then transferred to Columbia). Not one attended a public university or college, or an obscure private school.

    Of the top four cabinet positions:
    State: Wellesley (Albright)
    Defense: Bowdoin (Cohen)
    Treasury: MIT (Summers, replacing Harvard (Rubin))
    Attorney-General: Cornell (Reno)

    Similar patterns, although not as extreme, can be found in business, the arts, etc. Keep in mind that only about 1-2% of all college graduates attended elite private colleges. Because larger numbers of Americans are attending (mostly public) universities and colleges, the percentage attending elite institutions has probably declined over time, which makes the disproportionate success of elite graduates even more striking.

    (from the LBO-talk mailing list, posted by Kelley Walker)

  • I think that they renormalize every year. That's the point of the test - to produce a ranking of test takers where the top scorers receive an 800, the bottom scorers receive a 200, and the median scorers receive a 500. This calculation is done by means of standard deviation from the mean; an 800 does not mean a perfect score, but it does mean a score in the 99th percentile of all test takers.

    Why they'd change the scores would be because the median student would be because the distribution itself has changed shape. Hypothetically, we have a normal distribution (bell curve) which represents the scores of all test takers, and the apex of the curve is at 500.

    If you had the median student scoring below 500, you'd have a heavy-tailed distribution - the bell curve is warped to one side (in this case, the tail would be heavy to the right) and the model has to be adjusted for that.

    It's basic statistics, and I'm surprised that it's so widely misunderstood.

  • It seems that there are two seperate issues in this post. The first is in regards to the need for money on the campaign trail and the second addresses the topic of colleges bidding for students.

    For the first, it has been put forth that addressing the need for money is the first cut in the political races; basically that if there was indeed enough support for a particular candidate to make a viable run for office, there would be enough contributors to make this possible. If they can't raise the money, they are not either exciting the correct people with their ideas, or not marketing themselves correctly.

    As for the second, my read on this is that it should drop prices, especially for the most desirable students. The concept of "his family's wallet wasn't being siphoned for all it's worth." is called price descrimination, which is a fancy way to say that I can buy a plane ticket to NY for a weekend about $800 less than a business traveler would be able to because of the relative demand differences between our trips. He has to go on the trip, and the potential gain of the trip is deemed to be worth more than the cost, otherwise he wouldn't go. My pleasure trip is not worth $1,000 to me, but it is worth it to go at $200. The airlines got some revenue for a seat they otherwise wouldn't have had to, and I got a trip to NY. Price discrimination allows for more efficent economic systems.

  • Before some jackass points out my little typo (which is a little funny in its own right):

    we have some of the beast professors from around the globe

    We also have some of the best...
  • my $400/mo. student loan payments suck rather bad.

    Right now that loan is just a huge thorn in my side. Sure, I could defer it into oblivion, but I really want to get the damn thing paid (I am also on the accelerated program). But, despite my bitching, I really think it was worth it. I was employed almost immediately after college, and my degree never fails to impress people.

    Also, more on this loan thing... I did not go to a private college because my parents were rich, or because my grades stood far out from the crowd. I went because I wanted to.... that is what was important to me. And I (as well as you) took the loans that would enable me to do it.
  • It seems odd to me that all the responses to this story assume that a bidding process would bring down the price of education.

    Maybe I've just spent too much time in the world of top liberal arts colleges but I certainly don't know any admissions staff saying, "Hmmmm, I've got twenty extra slots to fill maybe I'll pick up some extra students on the cheap."

    What I see happening are those desperate overbearing parents who send their kids to the $2000 SAT prep courses trying to pay a premium. "Yes Jonny's 3.25 falls below this year's GPA cut-off but we are willing to pay a 15% premium on that $30,000 a year!"

    Just one more way for money to control access to education. Kellan

  • The big difference is though, that the (at least private) universities see themselves as a business, and such strive to provide the best service to their students

    I don't think that that's the case. The business of any business is the business of making money. Inherently, this means that students are revenue units. Choose your school wisely. Caveat emptor.

  • Wealthy parents can pay tens of thousands of dollars extra to get their scholastically challenged kid into Harvard. This may tend to work out badly, but at least it would subsidize tuition costs for the rest of the students.
  • One thing that I have noticed amoung my college friends who were from europe is that their high school education is much more in depth than ours, They came to school able to perform well in freshman survey courses without much study. I know this is not always the case but in general it is true. They are taught philosophy and higher math and usually have excellent if somewhat rigid essay writing skills. In essence it seems that a french or german HS education is sort of like a liberal arts degree from an average american college. With this training in how to think (because that is the main purpose of a good liberal arts degree) they can immediatly begin to specialize in college or even go straight from high school into the workforce. Perhaps a system such as this in america would eliminate the need for expensive four year colleges and allow a two year specialization in a field of interest. It certainly seems to me that the current level of an average highschool education in america is watered down and puts too much emphasis on rote test taking skills as opposed to training in how to use your brain. (and the scientific method, I'm shocked by how many people I meet who in their understanding of how the world works are at the level of a medeval peasant.) I know for myself that if I had gone into internet stuff out of highschool I'd be a goddamn millionaire by know instead of in debt. But then again college was a four year vaction for me and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
  • after reading the article I get this feeling that going to school in the US is all about the money, that and nothing else.

    exactly. It's very competitive. You're not just going to college, you're buying a brand name, like you were buying sneakers or cars. I personally don't think that the particular institution has much to do with the quality of the education received. It has to do with how much effort is put into receiving the education. You could go to the best school in the world, but if you did only the bare minimum to get by, then how good was your education? Conversely, you could go to a school of (perceived) lower quality and study your ass off, do all sorts of research projects for your professors and become absolutely brilliant. Sadly, there are some people who would judge you solely by the name of the school on your diploma.

    A lot of effort should be put forth before you even get to college. Unlike most products, you can't really take it for a 'test drive'. Not all learning occurs within the classroom. Can't stand being in class all the time? Try looking at schools with a cooperative education program. Don't like living in the city? (or the middle of nowhere?) That's good to figure out too.

    A lot of the people that I go to school with chose the institution because of the financial aid packages they were awarded. Some got full merit scholarships. Others received need based aid. Most of the ones receiving need based aid got (considerably) less their second year than they did their first, and less still in the third year. Be aware of that. Be prepared to speak up. Be able to present your case for maintaining your level of aid to the the financial aid office (doing well in class certainly doesn't hurt).

    caveat emptor

  • What incentive do they have to make you a special offer?

    I attended a smaller state funded school in Oregon. While there, I was involved in the Student Government and I know a little bit about where their funding comes from.

    The state mandates that each school must meet an enrolement gole. If this goal is not met, then the funding for that school is reduced. While I was in the Student Government, it was a big deal to try and raise the enrolement figures because we really needed the state funding.

    I think that a service like this CAN work. It depends on how desperate the school really is. If they are in dire need to increase enrolement, then they will be letting in people who really don't have any buisness being in college. When they drop out their Sophmore year, then they'll be right back where they started.

  • I think it's telling that he only has about 15 colleges signed up, and is "hoping" to add up to 25 - soon. There are something like 5000 4-year colleges and universities in this country. And the ones that you really need to worry about price are the competive ones - and they aren't going to sign up for some service so that their admissions committee can feel like they're at a cow auction. The only colleges that even could consider this service are the ones that only consider GPA, test score and how much money your parents make. And those you can get into anyway.

    He also doesn't tell you who the colleges are, so you have no idea where you might be going. I think I'd be hard pressed to move to Alaska if that's the best offer...
  • I hate to see the mentality of fungible goods being applied to the pursuit of learning. I'd like to think college students are not just bodies filling chairs, but helping advance the sum of human knowledge. It's easy to see why colleges might look at this as a tool, though. Education isn't its own end anymore.

    This is about "education" being treated as a commodity. Education -- or more precisely the experience of attending college, whether or not that results in an education -- has always been a commodity.

    Frankly, I don't see what's wrong with that. I find it fascinating that people get so upset confronting that reality. People have idealized this nebulous conception of "education" as something pure and unbesmirched by the necessities of real life, such as money. "Education" has become a sacred cow. It has become a vehicle for a fantasy about higher, nobler goals for a deeply cynical society.

    If your neighborhood fiddler can put up his shingle and offer violin lessions for $N/hr, if your neighborhood yogi can charge $M at the door to attend his yoga class, then teaching can be a commodity. If Club Med, and Outward Bound can charge you for their services, then experiences can be a commodity. Attending college is not morally different, whether you consider tuition to be buying you an education or buying you the experience of being at college.

    What is changing here is that instead of colleges setting a price which customers can either pay or not, the customer can haggle. Objections that the (presumed) resultant change in the distribution of college educations will have an undesirable impact on society are at least reasonable. Objections that amount to "colleges should be above the worldliness of commerce" are irrational.

    What has been noticably missing from this discussion so far is the admission that would-be students (and their parents) have always comparison shopped. This is not new. Remeber Overlap []. Yes, the money matters.

  • Yeah, the patent thing is quite frustrating. When I saw Amazon's news [], this morning, my first thought was "Gee. I wish I'd bought some Amazon stock so I could sell it, now." Hrmph. Come to think of it, I suppose I should be boycotting them, now...
  • Disclaimer: I have no experience of the SAT test and make no claims to knowledge as to how it is used. However, there`s a possibility that it`s being used wrongly.

    The possibility? Let me erase all doubt from your mind: the use of the SAT is a scandal.

    In these slightly more enlightened times, the SAT is increasingly widely regarded as a crock. One oft cited statistic is that the only thing of which SAT scores have been shown to be an accurate predictor is parental income.

    Universities (especially the big name private schools) have been playing down the use of SATs for quite some time. State schools evidently still use them.

  • The classic system is: students are assigned letter grades for their performance in classes, A high, D low, and F=Fail. The GPA is an average of all grades using the A=4/F=0 conversion. Someone getting 4.0 is a perfect student.

    However: There is no standarized system, just people pretending there is, so an ever-increasing number of schools have started doing cunning things with their "GPAs".

    For example, my second high school decided that "APs" (Advanced Placement exam prep classes) would count an extra point. A=5/F=1. Thus the highest GPA in the school was a 4.5. This also did wonderous things to my GPA when I transferred to my third high school, and applied to college. It didn't hurt to make the school look good, and it's paying clientel feel they were getting good education for their money.

    Meanwhile, the assignment of grades is completely arbitrary. There is no standardized test. There is a pressure on teachers to map grades to a bell-curve, but they can be as subjective or objectively rigourous as they'd like. (Why, yes, I have taught in a high-school.)

  • The school to which you are referring is Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, MI ( They don't accept any state or federal funds, because that's the only way they can avoid having to disclose student information to the government. There is a large amount of private aid available, though.
  • It's also done in pretty much the rest of the industrialized world.

    On Canada, here's a bit from from the FAIR website: tes-reality.html#canadian-physicians

    If you dig around a bit there they do have Limbaugh's examples of wealthy folks coming down for medical treatment. What excellent healthcare for the rich does the rest of us cakeeaters, including the odd-20% without any insurance at all, is still mystery.
  • Everybody has a fair shot in the US and Canada, too. Really, going to an expensive private college is more of a snob thing than anything else. Only a few private universities (MIT, Stanford, and Caltech) are anything special. Indeed, the majority of private universities are considerably worse than public universities in science and technology related subjects.
  • Two weeks ago on NPR there was an interview with the person running the system and a few college admissions persons. The concensus among the colleges was that no reputable college would subscribe to the service. The person running the reverse auction was unable to name a college more reputable than 'Joe's University of Nuclear Fizix and Lawn Mower Repair' that had expressed interest in signing up.
  • Yay. Now you too can be part of the online meat market.

    College Meat Market: Are you finishing high school? Well, sign up now. Enter your stats (GPA, test scores, etc) and how much your parents can/want to pay and be picked out like a side of meat.

    Innocent Student: What you mean I don't get to put down all of my fantastic attributes like my extra-curricular activities and hobbies?(that make me a well-rounded person)

    College Meat Market: Oh no, no need for all that superfluos information, we'll just pick that hunk of student meat that has enough money and high enough marks/scores.

    Innocent Student: Ok, sounds like the road to higher education.

    Right... hmmm... are you seeing the problem here? What happened to picking out a school based on what you wanted to study? Sure, money has to be an issue, and in the US, standardized test scores are magic numbers, but c'mon, this is your child's education ... you really want to "sell" them on a website to whatever college will accept your "bid"??? Yuck!!!!

  • I'll tell my mom she can stop dressing like Greta The Giver of Spitbaths and attending all those bachelor parties, because she can get me a cheaper college education now!
  • Priceline actually patented its business model over a year ago (August 1998). You can read the details (which are actually quite interesting and amusing) at -- the patent number is #5,794,207.

  • This is almost certainly not true.

    The better colleges with solid academic-reputation have "need-blind" admission policies.
    In other words whether you need financial aid (or how much you need it) *can not* affect your chances of admission.
    In fact for government-funded schools (eg state universities) I believe this is legally required-- they are not allowed to discriminate applicants on the basis of income.

    Private schools on the other hand can do this; in other words they are under no obligation to have need-blind policies in place. All good schools however state they are need-blind, claiming their admission does not take economic factors into account.

    This is particulary true about the "cream of the crop", the schols being bad-mouthed here as elitist: the Ivy league, MIT, Stanford, etc. These schools have huge endowments and constant flood of money from their wealthy alumni to use for their students. (Did you know that for most schools tution covers only half the total expenses? If it werent for the funds from elsewhere the costs would be exorbitantly high in order to break even.)

    One could argue ofcourse that admissions without the aid is useless. But in the majority of cases students who are admitted to these schools also receive the full scholarship they ask for.

    Consider my case: I am not even a US citizen yet I attended an Ivy with near full scholarship.
    That, despite the fact that admission for international students is decidedly *NOT* need-blind. I have seen complete idiots (foreign nationals) pay their way into some of the highly-regarded schools.
    If anything one has to be grateful for the generosity here. You would be hard pressed to find schools in Europe which will accommodate such a diverse student body from all economic backgrounds with the necessary financial aid.

    Going back to the point, yes rich people might have an early start in the admissions race.
    But personal accomplishments (not necessrily academic) will dwarf that difference, making it insignificant and irrelevant.

  • Well said.
    To us Europeans, the US education system (education levels, entrance requirements, etc) looks like a JOKE.
    Only universities make a difference; and since US high schools don't breed enough students to get into them (the univs), there's plenty of room for us; hence all the foreign PhD students.
    Loads of $$$ simply go WASTED on so called 'college' education which really is high school (level) education in our opinion.
    All those US hypocrit politicians talkin 'bout Clinton's cigar play and ethics'n'stuff; what a laugh; they better focus on education, coz not fixin it is what's really undermining the long term power position of the US.
    PS: common high school curriculum in Flanders, Europe: languages & culture (Dutch, French, English, German, Latin and/or Greek), mathematics (lots of it, 4-8 hours a week), physics, chemistry, biology, art, history, geography, ethics (or religion), sports and i'm probably missin a couple more - go figure...
  • In the United States, college education is also partially state funded, and everyone who has demonstrated ability does get a chance.

    And the "morons" with a rich daddy still has to get past the academic qualifications.
  • For those unfamiliar with the SAT methodology, you take several mini-tests of which some contribute
    to your score and others are "experimental" which are used to compare test takers from past and
    future years (they do this so they don't reuse tests which could lead to cheating)

    There have been many theories on why the "average" student would score lower today than in past
    years. The best explanation I've heard so far was that many years ago, only the top "college" bound
    people took the tests and today, more people are attending college in the US so the average was
    bound to fall... people are probably not getting dumber, well at least not 10% dumber... ;-)

    This theory was backed-up by examining the entering scores of many universities noting that
    the average entering scores had not fallen off as much as the average for all test takers.

    There's also quite a bit of noise about cultural bias in the SAT, however, as another person
    already pointed out, the only statistic that has been reliably correlated to SAT scores is parental
    income. I don't know what that says about the test, but it doesn't seem to be a good thing...

    The results of the SAT are used widely by many public universities as as pseudo "entrance" exam
    which makes it no different than the tests used by many universities in europe and other parts of the
    world (the tests taken after high-school)...

    Many public universities in various states around the US are required to accept people who score
    higher than a certain score (usually around 550 where 500 is the median), and that recieve a
    certain grade point average (usually 3.0/4.0), and a certain class ranking (usually upper 30%), and
    who make residence in the state. Other people who do not make these criteria are admitted on other
    criteria or as space allows. This seems like a pretty reasonable way to allocate a scare resource.

    Tuition prices for state universities are quite reasonable as mentioned by other posters and
    within reach of the working class (with either loans or scholarships which are quite plentiful).

    For private universities, there are several types with various admit criterias, but I'm not aware
    of any that strictly admit on SAT scores or GPA alone.
  • The student who uses this service will risk a tremendous loss of privacy. The student will place on the database his grades, SAT scores, and whatever other information the colleges are demanding.

    Anybody with $2000 (Who is to say what company or other entity would set up a "college" as a front?) can retrieve this information without the student's authorization.

    How does the student know that what he places on Ecollegebid will not come back to haunt him, even in the far future?

  • I was suspicious too when one Univeristy offered me 4 years for only, "acouple of pictures - you know what kind - of your hot sister." That's only 20 bucks for the polaroids! What a deal.

    How apathetic siblings are about higher education.

  • I seem to remember, that at least several years ago, that Germany had a three-track system based on exams.
    Those that performed well, got taxpayer-funded tuition. Those that did not, were shunted off to other schools. If
    that's correct, it's pretty dangerous compared to a system where a student on the edge can at least talk to
    Admissions staff and possibly convince them otherwise.

    The three track system you referr to is way before university. There are three levels of schools for children between 11 and 18. Haupt, Real and Gymnasium. Germany being a federal state where education is handled by the individual states many different implementations are existant. Generally you can say that in more conservative areas children are more separated out by performance. In other areas the parents have a big say to what schoold their kids go. Unfortunately we still see something similar as in the States here: poorer people or foreigners have a much higher percentage in the "lower" schools. But there is a big discussion going on how this can be changed and these people be more integrated. After this you have the classical three-track system: Company education mixed with further schooling (Here usually people from Haupt/Real school go), University (Fachhochschule for more practical oriented studies, Hochschule for more theoretical oriented studies) and also the Volksschule for grownups(Erwachsenenbildung). In all these ways of educating the government has alot of influence, mainly through funding. In the end we have a more widespread but at the end points no so excellent or bad education, I like it because the graphs more represent the gaussian curve (normal distribution). And again to your last point. And this is just anedoctal so no real evidence. After my family moved back to germany (1986) all of my sisters had to go back a year, cause the american education just wasn't up to par. I was lucky and got through, being a smart ass. Still I had to go to another school than the one i wanted to go to, cause i lost my latin in the States. Later on I was able to talk the principal into letting me in again, since latin was not mandatory anymore after 11th grade. Germany has grown up, people are not shunted off to other schools, but there are big efforts to pick the people up where they are and teach them how to learn not memorize.
  • Then why have my pre-1995 scores been raised? It's not norming, it's plain dumbing down.
  • I'm pretty sure the SAT was renormalized just the one time.

    But your conjectures as to the reason make sense.


  • Any score which is relative to the body of test takers is normalized every sitting by definition (ie, if you have the average student writing in a sitting getting 500 by definition, then the average student writing in a session will always get 500).

    Reweighting or changing the statistical model, OTOH - that's something else entirely. If I were in the college board's shoes, I'd see it as something regrettable (because a lay audience just won't get it) but totally necessary to protect the integrity of one's rating scale.


The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court