Asian Air 


Are Ivy Degrees Worth the Sacrifices?
(Updated Tuesday, Apr 1, 2008, 05:01:28 PM)

ending their kids to elite universities is the dream of every Asian American parent. Or so it seems. And there is no shortage of young AA willing to oblige. As of 2000, Asian Americans made up 12-19% of the undergrad enrollments of the top-20 ivies.
     No one questions the prestige associated with ivy degrees. In fact, sneer critics, that's the only thing bought with the extra money. And even that, they add, is wearing thin in a nation in which he cultural center of gravity has shifted to California.
     It's true that investments in high ivy tuitions often don't show up in career earnings when compared with graduates of public universities of comparable student body profiles. But the criticisms run deeper than return on investment. Some Asian Americans who have attended ivy league colleges have come away regretting their decisions for other reasons.
     Foremost is the sense that the ivies are structured for the benefit of legatees, the progeny of blueblooded alumni. Comprising upwards of 40% of some ivies, the legatees are often exempted from stringent admissions standards. The result is that AA students with excellent credentials are the workhorses preserving the institutions' high academic reputations, thereby giving a free ride to undeserving legatees.
     Another common complaint is that the deck is stacked socially against Asian males in a system designed to preserve the princely status quo of the scions of WASP families. A disproportionate number of attractive AA females are admitted by the ivies, some have observed, while far fewer attractive AA males are admitted. This subtle bias, suspect critics, is implemented in the screening interviews used by most ivies.
     Then there's the Eurocentric worldview imposed by the courses. Not to mention the lousy weather, bland food and having to put up with locals hostile toward Asians. Contrast all this against the majority-ease lifestyles enjoyed by the AA in, say, the UC campuses.
     The bragging rights an ivy education affords parents, conclude critics, are far outweighed by the psychic and emotional sacrifices exacted from their kids.
     Does an ivy education provide rewards commensurate with the sacrifices? Or is it a trap for AA with overzealous parents with old-world views?

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what about looks?:

The Asian girls at Cornell are, on the whole, ass. You'll have to forgive me, since I'm from sunny Southern California. The girls at school just don't rate on the scale I'm used to. I've seen one or two pretty ones, but they don't exactly crowd the campus.


Cornell was ranked No. 6 by US News in 1999, the year I matriculated.

again I don't agree with all your points, but I agree with you on one or two things -- that the bottom line is COLD HARD CASH.

The better schools, and especially the better endowed schools, are the real salt shakers and money makers. They move the world.

Money talks, and bulls*** walks. Don't let the door hit your poor ass on the way out. That includes people like me who only get to go to a school like Cornell b/c my parents had the sense to scrounge for every nickel and dollar they could save to set aside a private college fund. And to think that my dad almost invested all that money in the stock market and his business...

kam,I think you're a class act because you're honest. It's refreshing - you call the shots as they come.

Good luck finding a job, if you haven't already graduated. =P You shouldn't have any problem, as I know I won't. One of the fringe benefits of having a marketable degree. Aren't you glad you didn't major in Communications?

ka: you're a Cornellian? It's a small world. It's interesting because I've probably walked right by you in Collegetown or some place many times.
kam Cornellian
   Sunday, January 05, 2003 at 19:37:36 (PST)    []
No grade inflation at Cornell? Some forget that the students at Cornell are of lower caliber than those at Harvard. A lot of people from my high school that ended up at Cornell were very mediocre, even some of the ones in engineering (couldn't break a 700 on the Math section). What I'm trying to say is that the standards are probably the same, except the quality of students is different. Thus the different perceptions.
   Sunday, January 05, 2003 at 16:18:21 (PST)    []
"The article states: "A disproportionate number of attractive AA females are admitted by the ivies, some have observed, while far fewer attractive AA males are admitted. This subtle bias, suspect critics, is implemented in the screening interviews used by most ivies." What in the world do looks have to do with getting in an Ivy League school. In consideration of intelligence, there are not that many people who are attractive and at the same time a genius. I see no appearance bias in that argument. Chances that someone like Britney Spears, who is considered a sex symbol can be a nuclear scientist is slim. This is something that runs through all different races.
what about looks...?
   Friday, January 03, 2003 at 22:07:22 (PST)    []
I currently attend Princeton University, and I find that the classes are a joke here. I also applied to Harvard, but I was rejected. My friend who was accepted into Harvard, chose not to go to Harvard and instead chose Princeton. He is having a lot of trouble with his classes at Princeton. Aren't the admisisons wierd?
   Friday, January 03, 2003 at 15:18:36 (PST)    []
Hey Kam, you know it's funny how you mention that Cornell was consistently in top 10 in those Newsweek? or was it US World report? In anycase, it was consistently ranked around 12-13 when I was there couple years ago.

I think Harvard does have grade-inflation, but then again, Harvard kids are pretty bright generally speaking. As a Cornellian, I think it's really that Harvard has the right philosophy not Cornell. If your major is Art History at Harvard, and you keep up with your work and write decent papers, then perhaps you do deserve an A--even if all your classmates do the same amount of work as you. This is oppose to Cornell where you might be majoring in Chemisty and even when you get 4 hours of sleep each night putting in extra-ordinary amount of work--and still getting a B--because McMurry or Carpenter or whoever is teaching Orgo decides that 15% of the lower tier students are unworthy of studying chemistry.

Heh, as for "Hotelie-bashing" I can only say that they were the truly smart people, as they knew how to have fun and to make $$$ after graduation. "Hotelie-bashers" are just jealous.

In anycase, I write this every year as sort of my annual ritual. It doesnt' matter if you go to Harvard or SUNY Albany if you don't take advantage of what those schools offers you. I can't really say I learned "great things" at Cornell as oppose to if I went to SUNY Stonybrook, but all I can say is that the diverse background of my friends from college has certainly opened up my eyes--and I'm somewhat comfident that a "poorer" school couldn't have provided. Indeed, I made friends who either have rich parents or who themselves have great ambition to be "successful". It's all about networking. My current boss is a Cornell alum too. (and he is VERY rich).

Let's face reality folks. Princeton has so much endowment, you go there practically free--and there are so many rich and powerful princeton alumnis up the kazoo--AND they take care of new graduates--that if you think "school X provides just as good education as Princeton so it doesn't matter which I take" well you'll find that your princeton peers have easier time landing interviews. (i.e. your roommate's oldman might be a director at Exxon)

In the real world, people don't care if your piece of paper says Yale or Long Island University, as long as you are making tons of money or you are childhood friends with Bill Gates.
   Friday, January 03, 2003 at 12:23:47 (PST)    []
our of town news,
first, haha are you a student here yourself? funny you should pick that moniker...
read what i wrote carefully. you notice that I didn't deny that there IS grade inflation at Harvard. There is grade inflation, but, as I said, it's NOT just exclusive to Harvard, and the administration is beginning to put in measures to stop the flow.
Go to this site and read the article to see for youself..

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people rag on Harvard's problems and act like only it among the top schools is flawed. Hello, it is not. Big class sizes? Ask Stanford and MIT. Remote professors? Any Ivy. Grade inflation? ANY top school.
That said, it doesn't mean that I think Harvard is perfect. I hate how the administration is aloof and uncaring of some of the students' true needs, instead only caring about the university's public image. They know that a lot of students want to come here, and they use it to their advantage when they deal with us.
And "our of town news," I can hardly ask my professors when so many of them are aloof themselves and barely have time to answer coursework related questions when they don't refer you to the TF's (grad students).
   Friday, January 03, 2003 at 09:49:42 (PST)    []
I agree with kam, despite my being a Cornellian. The running joke with every freshman class at Cornell is that we're there because we didn't get into Harvard (go to a Cayuga's Waiters A Cappella concert, you'll know what I mean). Despite what others may believe, I hold no grudge. I didn't even apply to Harvard.

Getting back to the issue, I do believe that there is slight grade inflation at Harvard, but they (the administration) would be idiots to not do anything about it. Now, Harvard isn't a place where they nurture idiocy, so I believe kam when he/she says that the curriculum is under review.

On the other hand Cornell, along with probably U Penn and Columbia, is one of the Ivies that has the least grade inflation, if any. As a result, the tough grading in most colleges in Cornell University (with the exception of the International Labor Relations school and the Hotel Administration school) has brought overall performance down, at least in terms of absolute numbers. As a consequence, the US College News has ranked Cornell at around No. 11-12 these past few years. Hence the percetion is growing that Cornell is a "second-rate" Ivy.

But those rankings aren't an exact science. Cornell used to consistently rank in the Top 10, and peaked at number 6 about 3-4 years ago. With increasing grade inflation in other Ivy-League colleges, Cornell slid down the charts, mainly because it maintained its tough curriculum. That was inevitable when the playing field wasn't level.

I'm not saying that certain Ivy League Universities harbor a disproportionate number of lazy students. That's hardly the case. Certainly, most Ivy Leaguers are there for a reason: they study hard and have big ambitions, and Harvard and Cornell are no exceptions.
All I'm saying is that certain schools and students in the Ivy League benefit more from their school "brand names", rather than benefitting from a superior curriculum or education.
kam Cornellian
   Thursday, January 02, 2003 at 18:29:27 (PST)    []
Looking over the med school acceptance rates of Berkeley grads, I noticed that the University of Washington accepted an underrepresented minority who scored a 19 on the MCAT and had a 3.0 GPA. What is up with that?
   Thursday, January 02, 2003 at 15:26:46 (PST)    []

91% of Harvard's class of 2001 graduated "with honors".

In 1946, the figure was 32%.

If you really think there is no grade inflation at Harvard (or other top schools), try polling your professors.
our of town news
   Thursday, January 02, 2003 at 11:06:36 (PST)    []
To The carrot and others,
Look, your and others' view that it's just hard to get into Harvard, and not hard to graduate with a good GPA, is just plain wrong.
Grade inflation at Harvard is overrated, trust me. And if there was any to begin with, it's going away now with the college's curriculum review in progress. Don't you know that all the scrutiny in the media about supposed grade inflation is tremendously worrying to Harvard, which above all else carefully manages its reputation and public image?
Are there some concentrations where it's (relatively) easy to get an A? Sure, in the humanities and in the Core. But that kind of thing is endemic to the whole academic system. Ask anyone in the sciences (not just at Harvard) whether there's grade inflation, and see the response. Then ask anyone in the humanities. Humanities by their very nature are softly (qualitatively) graded, and this lends itself to relatively higher grades.
Regardless, Harvard students work hard. No question. Ask any Harvard student with straight A's if they coast and take it easy, and they'll kick your ass. There's a reason why we have the best grad school admission rates, and why there are always employers looking for Harvard students...we learn a heck of a lot from working hard and from each other.
Harvard has a lot of problems but grade inflation isn't one of them.
   Tuesday, December 31, 2002 at 12:33:27 (PST)    []