Monday, November 22, 2010

When is Ivy Not Ivy? Or is It?

A lot has been said about the benefits of a college education. Germane to many of those discussions has been the tiering system of colleges and universities. Yes, systems. There are many different systems out there that rank colleges and universities, and they don't all use the same criteria. However, a whole lot of people will agree that the Ivy League schools are at the top of the heap. Ask someone why and they will tell you about the selective admission process, whereby the Ivies skim the cream and admit only the best and the brightest. They will tell you about employers who take graduates of the Ivies before they consider applicants from anywhere else. They will tell you about the stellar professors and the incredible facilities available to students. They will tell you about the academically superior courses that are given. Well yes, they also will talk about the huge tuition costs at these Ivies.

Because the Ivies do not admit all that many students each year, the number of graduates is small by comparison to other, larger universities that graduate students in the multiple thousands. Ergo, employers and graduate schools will "fight" to get these graduates.

Yes, in many ways the Ivies deserve their academic reputations. So, the only way to get that stellar education is to kill yourself throughout your high school years, to sweat bullets to get the highest possible SAT scores? If you aren't in the top 1-3% of your high school graduating class don't even bother to apply? If that stellar Ivy degree is going to mean something--and seemingly it does--then the schools should be mega-selective in admitting students? In short, you get what you pay for when you make it into the Ivies? Or do you?

The information below was fairly accessible online. Read on.

"Believe it or not, there’s a little-known back door to getting a Harvard degree: the Harvard Extension School. Designed as a continuing education program for adults, the Harvard Extension School is a degree-granting program within Harvard University designed to meet the needs of non-traditional students.
All you need to do to become a student at the Harvard Extension School is
pay a course fee and show up. There’s no SAT or ACT requirement, no admissions process, and no up-front bureaucracy. Each class at the extension school costs approximately $1,000, and anyone can sign up. Many courses are offered both in-person and online.
If you’re able to complete 3 Extension School courses with a GPA of at least 3.0, a change from the 2.5 that was in effect until now, you’ll be able to petition for acceptance to the degree program. The
admissions criteria are straightforward: if you meet them, you’re in. Going through the Extension School is trial by fire: if you can prove that you’re up to the challenge by excelling in actual coursework, you’ll be accepted.
The diploma that you receive upon graduation is issued by Harvard University, and there is absolutely no difference in the quality of the courses. The curriculum is the same, the requirements for graduation are the same, and the courses are taught by the same professors. You’ll also have the same perks: a student ID that gives you access to Harvard libraries, museums, and events, as well as access to the Student Employment Office, Career Services, and other Harvard student programs and services.
You’ll also have the same benefits of the Harvard reputation “halo” and network. If you want, you can rent an apartment in Cambridge and hobnob with other Harvard students – after all, you’ll be one. If you don’t want to live in Boston, you can take courses online as long as you complete the 16-hour residency requirement before you graduate, which can be done in a single summer. When you graduate, you’ll be a member of both the Harvard Extension Alumni Association as well as the regular Harvard Alumni Association, which provides access to a vast network of previous graduates.
The total cost of an undergraduate program at the Harvard Extension School is ~$35,000-$40,000. For perspective, the cost of one year of Harvard College’s “normal” bachelors program is $33,696 for academic year 2009-2010. Assuming it takes four years to complete the program, attending the Extension School allows you to get essentially the same degree at ~25% of the retail price. According to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the average tuition for private universities in 2008-2009 was $25,143, and costs are rising dramatically, so this option blows away every other private alternative by offering more benefits for 1/3 of the price.
That’s just considering the undergraduate program – Harvard Extension School also offers Masters and Professional degree programs (including a Management/MBA program), with similar cost/benefit characteristics.
If you’re going to go to college, be a smart student – find a better way to get what you need, and never pay retail."

A Harvard degree taken in the comfort of your own home if you so desire, except for a 16-hour residency requirement. And the diploma you get will read Harvard University with no mention of just how that degree was achieved. If you had read the first sentence of this paragraph with the Harvard name omitted would you be thinking "Ivy League College"? Or might you think "diploma mill"? Kind of makes you wonder if Shakespeare didn't have it right when he said "What's in a name?"

Note: I haven't yet done the research, but it would not surprise me in the least if other of the Ivies have the same or similar programs.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I wonder if the extension school has a tough curve such that only a relatively small percent of students can get the 3.0 GPA, unlike the regular Harvard which, I understand, has a lot of grade inflation in at least some programs ?

Anonymous said...

A degree from the Harvard Extension is an ALB or AA, not an AB. The diplomas clearly identify the degree as an Extension degree. Also, extension courses are not regular Harvard courses.

Gary said...

Not correct Anon. The Extention School is the only one to give an AA at Harvard University but it is not the only degree. You can earn the BA coming in through the Extention School. The Extention school will accept you with an already completed AA from somewhere else or will also except up to 64 transfer credits from another certified institution. And the Extention School also offers MA programs. And the courses and course curriculum are not only the same as the regular Harvard courses of the same name and type, but the University offers about 40% blended courses in which the regular Harvard students and the Extention students are both in the same classroom meeting the same requirements.

Sure, Extention School appears on the diploma, right under Harvard University, and as soon as employers see Harvard University's name on the diploma and transcript they ignore everything else.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:14 - I think you missed the point that if you do well in the extension school, that is a route to getting admitted to the regular university program. BTW- what is an ALB?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:27 - At least in the Boston area, employers know the difference between a Harvard degree and a Harvard Extension School degree. They do not just look at the word "Harvard" and fall to their knees in awe.

Ruth said...

Anon 8:31. Boston is not where the majority of the students going to any of the Harvard programs come from. It's not where the majority of Harvard grads work either. So whether or not they know the difference in the Boston area between the regular Harvard and the Extention school is irrelevant. Outside of Boston the name Harvard is viewed differently. There is a cachet to the name that will get you further no matter which of the programs you attended.

It is Harvard University that is the parent of all the schools within it. Any student attending any of its programs can answer, and answer truthfully, when asked what college or university he or she went to "Harvard University."

Dave said...

It's also worth noting that for the overwhelming majority of college students, if you can get into Harvard, you will pay relatively little.

Harvard has a very generous financial aid program, and the median student debt load on graduation is around $8000. This is far below the national average.

The key, of course, is that you have to get in.

Leahle said...

I did some looking at the Extention School site Dave and it also says that it offers generous financial assistance to those who need it. So that original figure in the posting of $35-40K total tuition for the degree can be even much lower. Let's say you cut it by half to only $20K. A Harvard degree for only $20K?!!! If that's the case why would any halfway decent student go into huge debt at schools like YU or Touro or any of the state and city schools when they could earn a Harvard degree for much less?

And yes Anon the Harvard name speaks very loudly.

Anonymous said...

Leahle you have your answer when you use halfway decent student. You've still got to be bright and willing to work hard in the extention school. You have to meet the grade point average requirements. A lot of the students in the school you mention don't qualify as either bright enough or willing to work hard enough.

For the ones that do though the extention school offers a better degree from a school with more name recognition and approval.

Miami Al said...

I lived in Boston for a number of years, the Harvard Extension school advertised extensively on the subway. It was basically a feel good way for Harvard to give back to the community.

A BA from Harvard comes from Harvard University, Harvard College -- (women also get a degree issued by Harvard University, Radcliff Colleege I believe -- they keep Radcliff legally alive to keep using it's endowment).

Perhaps outside of Boston, nobody knows what the Extension school is, but if you were to imply a degree from Harvard College instead of Harvard Extension, you would at a minimum be unethical.

I looked into the program when I was there, looks good. Harvard offers LOTS of adult continuing education approaches, Executive format Certificate programs, etc. Plenty of people use it to imply a connection to Harvard...

It's Harvard pimping out it's brand, which throws cash into the system, which they can direct toward student aid or toward what really interests them, building more palatial buildings in Cambridge or over the bridge in Allston.

Perhaps the Harvard Extension is a way to impress unimpressive people, but if you play with the big boys that went to an Ivy Caliber school, it won't work out that way.

Anonymous said...

"if you were to imply a degree from Harvard College instead of Harvard Extension, you would at a minimum be unethical."

I agree. I've seen several resumes that are careful to state that a degree or program is from the extension school. If someone didn't and they got caught (which is pretty easy to get caught) they would be out on their tush.

Anonymous said...

Here's a FAQ page:

Eli said...

A university comprises many divisions, by definition of what a university is. Harvard is a university. Among its divisions is Harvard College and the Harvard University Extention School. Graduates of both Harvard College and of the Extention school are graduates of Harvard University. There is no ethical problem in saying that because it is true. Saying or implying that you are a graduate of Harvard College when you went to the Extention School would be unethical. You have to keep the distinction straight.

Before today I had never heard of the Extention School. I don't imagine that I'm different from lots of people around the country. And don't be so sure Al that what you call the big boys of the Ivies know all about the Extention School. I went to Columbia--why would I possibly need to know everything that goes on in Harvard? The School of General Studies at Columbia offers the exact same courses that Columbia College does and the courses are taught by the same teachers and the degrees offered are the BA and BS. Why would I consider that Harvard does it differently?

JS said...

I'm not really sure what the point of the post is. I detect the following themes, but I'm not sure if they're intended or not:

1) Ivy and top-ranked schools aren't all they're cracked up to be.

2) Ivy and top-ranked schools are overly expensive for no reason.

3) Ivy and top-ranked schools don't provide a good value (bang for the buck).

4) Ivy and top-ranked schools have a good reputation that is largely undeserved.

5) Ivy and top-ranked schools are really not all that different from the disparaged diploma mills.

And then there's the overall theme of "this is a good way to game the system and get your coveted Harvard degree on the cheap without having to work too hard."

So, I'm confused. What exactly is the point? Don't bother with Harvard go to CUNY? Don't go to CUNY go to Harvard Extension? Every college is really just a variation of a diploma mill?

What exactly am I supposed to take away from this? Should I petition Harvard and other Ivies to not offer such a program? Or should I encourage people I know to take advantage of it?

Miami Al said...

There are some major firms (Management Consulting, Investment Banking, etc) that only recruit at around 10 schools, and expect a near-4.0 GPA, that is their focus. Many people feel that grades aren't that meaningful, and felt no compulsion lying on their resume to get interviews/jobs with those companies.

Every single one of them washed out within 6 months.

The reason those companies only recruit at top schools and require a top GPA is that the skills that get you into a top school and then top grades there ARE the skills that their company's value... entry level management consulting isn't that different from writing undergrad term papers, you are grinding out documents, not really thinking.

If you fake your way through an Ivy League education, you will have the career of someone that faked their way through it.

Unless your career path is Con Man, then I don't see how this helps.

ProfK said...

JS and all the other commenters:

The purpose of this posting? One purpose is informational. In concert with many others out there I had no idea that Harvard University had an Extention School. It might make a viable alternative for some people looking for a "good" education but who can't, for whatever the reason, apply to one of the Ivies or high ranked schools.

A second purpose: as a general population, we Americans are somewhat label crazy. Certain of the labels lusted after have higher cachet than others, have higher value to us. See a particular label on a product and we not only look at that product with higher regard, we make assumptions about the person who owns that product as well. Someone wearing a $13,000 suit by designer X must have money/taste or what have you. Someone with a Harvard University degree, any one of its degrees, must be intelligent and of a higher caliber than a student from Podunk College.

Third purpose: we've come to endow those Ivies with magical powers. Mention the name of one of the Ivies and people ooh and aah. Now obviously there are some true advantages to the education provided by the Ivies. But it's not an across the board advantage, and every program in those vaunted universities needs to be looked at individually.

After reading some of the comments, now there's a fourth purpose: learn the difference, as it is used in the US, between a college and a university. And learn which parts of the country define those terms differently. As a general rule those colleges and universities that we consider "real" are accredited by one of the seven regional accreditation commissions affiliated with the Council for Higher Education (for info see here

Also as a general rule, colleges in the US are considered places of undergraduate education, although some may offer some post-graduate programs. Universities are places of both undergraduate and graduate education as well as containing research facilities of one type or another. Middle States, which has authority here in the NY area, has different requirements for attaining university status than does the Western Association. For Middle States, a school must have at least two state-certified PhD level granting programs, and they do not count a school's having a law school or a medical school, to gain university status. Thus, Touro College in NY is not yet a university, although it is close to meeting the requirements, even with a law school and multiple medical schools. However, Touro in the west is a university, since the requirements are different.

The comment above is correct when it said that there is no ethical problem in saying you have a degree from Harvard University even if the school you attended is the Extention School. The ethical problem would be if you tried to mislead someone into thinking you have your degree from Harvard College, Harvard University instead of the Extention School.

Fifth purpose: not every program offered online or with requirements different from what we consider the "standard" way to get a college degree is a diploma mill.

Finally, apply the old saw: let the buyer be ware. Or even all that glitters is not gold. Don't be taken in by names and labels--investigate.

Anonymous said...

A BA from Harvard comes from Harvard University, Harvard College -- (women also get a degree issued by Harvard University, Radcliff Colleege I believe -- they keep Radcliff legally alive to keep using it's endowment).

Al, get with the times. There are both men and women at Harvard College and there are also some men taking courses at Radcliffe. The college name on the diploma depends on which college you apply to and register with, not your sex.

JS said...

The tone underlying your post and your comment above is basically one of disapproval for those who would be foolish enough to strive for the "label" of an Ivy or top-ranked degree and for those who seek out those who attended those schools. You compare the education and experience at those universities to buying an overpriced suit merely for the name inside the jacket. This isn't the first post touching on this.

I'm really not sure why you see fit to take on this mantel to crusade against these esteemed institutions or those who attend them. It's not like we have a problem of people being too highly educated in this country or, perhaps especially, in klal. I don't see all too many graduates of these vaunted schools on the RW side of Orthodoxy. If anything, I'd think we need more posts encouraging people to attend these places of higher learning so they can accrue the benefits attending their graduates.

But, besides this, I think you're simply wrong about the quality of the education one gets at these schools and, further, the quality of the people who get into and graduate from these universities. It's simply not the same as what may occur in a clothing factory where identical items have different labels attached and hence radically different prices between the lowly brand and the popular brand despite being the same goods. There is a substantive difference between the people who get into an Ivy or other top-ranked school and those who do not. SAT's, SAT II's, AP's, GPA, and extracurriculars really do separate the wheat from the chaff. Top-ranked schools really do have smarter students who are more motivated and driven and who go on to accomplish bigger and better things. The quality of the education and experiences between highly ranked and middling schools is simply not comparable. If it makes people feel better to attribute the higher success rates to "labels", fine. But, it couldn't be further from the truth.

The fact that Harvard offers this program is irrelevant. Harvard Extension isn't Harvard College. It's that simple. People looking specifically to hire Harvard graduates are smart enough to know the difference.

Abba's Rantings said...


"Someone with a Harvard University degree, any one of its degrees, must be intelligent and of a higher caliber than a student from Podunk College."

you seriously don't think that on average this is true?

Unknown said...

I'm from the College and would not call the Extension a mill. If I remember correctly, only three percent of enrolled students pass and receive a degree. It seems pretty tough and they should be given the kudos for that.

Miami Al said...

Harvard Extension's primary market is Boston area professionals looking to branch out. Lawyers taking a history course, things of that nature. People that would like to learn for the sake of learning, don't need a degree, but somehow wouldn't consider such a course at a local community college, but at Harvard College, might.

Anon, "Al, get with the times. There are both men and women at Harvard College and there are also some men taking courses at Radcliffe. The college name on the diploma depends on which college you apply to and register with, not your sex."

My bad, in 1999 Radcliff College ceased to exist as a paper college, I guess Harvard drained the resources. In the 80s and 90s, female students got a second degree (if they wanted it), so Harvard could use the Radcliff endowment funds for Harvard students, while pretending to have an Underraduate.

Regarding the graduation rate, most people take a course or two, not pursue a degree program. But if you need Harvard for your Bio (but not your resume), Harvard Extension is a great way to get it.

Anonymous said...

@Miami Al: The 97% failure rate is in fact referring to those who are accepted to degree programs, not the open enrolled casual learners.

BostonTech said...

Linda Attiyeh, ABE ’61 — Director, McKinsey & Company ----- Seemed to do fine with an extension degree.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why extension students get all defensive about their affiliation to Harvard. I may not have got the admission the regular way, but I worked very hard to finish my ALM,Management degree. The degree itself may not carry the same weight as the college degree but I surely learned a lot from some of the worlds best qualified professors. I'll do it all over again if I have to..

Dovy said...

Any comments out there on the NYP's article last week detailing how Bernie Landers, head of Touro, earned over 4,000,000 bucks a year -- 500% more than the heads of Harvard, Yale, or Columbia?

Abba's Rantings said...


1) it was closer to 4.8 mil bucks
2) this wasn't his regular salary, but rather a one time deal. in fact his usual salary was a fraction of what the heads of columbia, harvard, yale and some other college presidents (including YU) make
3) the one time deal is not a one time payment and will be disbursed over an extended duration

ProfK said...

Could be some of the comments yesterday were based on a different definition of Ivy League. When I refer to the Ivy League I am referring strictly to the 8 colleges that are in aggregate known as the Ivy league: Brown, Coumbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, UPenn and Yale. These 8 are not the top 8 colleges/universities in the country although they fall in the top 15 of the US News&World Reports rankings.

Yes, a lot of their students fall in the top 10% of high school students, but not all, ranging from a low of 88% at Cornell to a high of 99% at UPenn. Yes, they are highly selective and only take in a limited number of students per entering class. Altogether they have about 12-14 thousand students entering each year across the 8 schools.

Now look at these figures. The class that graduated high school in 2009 numbered 3.2 million students. That would make the top 10% 320,000 students. The top 1% would be 32,000. Now do the math. If the Ivy League schools are only admitting 12-14 thousand of that top 10%, that means that 306,000 of the top 10% students are not in the Ivies. That would mean that 18,000 of the top 1% of students are not in the Ivies.

Obviously a whole lot of the "cream" is going somewhere else. Yes, the Ivies offer a fine education to their students, with a fairly low student to teacher ratio. But they are not the only schools to do so, nor are they the only ones educating the "cream." So why the push to get into these colleges? The prestige/label factor does come into play.

JS said...

"Obviously a whole lot of the 'cream' is going somewhere else."

Yes. They're going to the top 25 schools in the nation. You know, places like Stanford, Cal Tech, MIT, Duke, University of Chicago, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, etc. Those are all pretty good schools too. Who said all the top 10% go to Ivies? Just because they're not going to Ivies doesn't mean they're attending some middling school.

I'm not sure what your point was with those statistics. And I'm not really sure what your overall point is. Is it that there are some smart people at third tier schools? Sure. But, there are a heckuva lot more of them at top 25 schools.

Abba's Rantings said...


"Yes, the Ivies offer a fine education to their students, with a fairly low student to teacher ratio. But they are not the only schools to do so, nor are they the only ones educating the "cream.""

you're shifting the conversation. i think the subtext of a lot of the comments here isn't comparing harvard to MIT, but rather harvard to yu/touro/cuny/podunk . the typical frum attitude is that chaim yankel can go to yu/touro/cuny/podunk and get just as good an education as at harvard. the point isn't that chaim yankel can go to MIT or stanford ad get the same education he'll get at harvard.

no one denies that there are some excellent schools that are comparable (or even better in some respects) than harvard. but as with most things in life, we're talking averages. and it's silly to think that yu/touro/cuny/podunk is one of the excellent schools comparable to harvard. (just for the record, i have degrees from 3 of those poorer-quality schools and i'm not looking to knock them)

JS said...


Spot on.

I feel like a broken record, but I truly don't understand the point here. The debate seems to turn on the illogical argument that because some smart people go to 3rd tier schools, the third tier schools are just as good as the 1st tier schools. Or, similarly, because you know some successful person who went to a 3rd rate college, there's no need to attend a top-notch school to be successful.

These arguments are nonsensical. It's like arguing you know someone who won at a charity auction, so you should go and buy some raffle tickets too.

ProfK said...


Okay, how about this, in answer to your statement "Is it that there are some smart people at third tier schools? Sure." Given the Extention School at Harvard we can turn the statement around and ask "Are there some not so smart people at Harvard? Sure." I believe that may have been a point to the posting. The Harvard name is not the same thing as the HARVARD name on a diploma, yet people react to those seven letters as if they were. They're caught up in the label cachet, and not all programs within one of the higher ranked colleges and universities are the same, even if the same university is the "mother" of them all. The fact that Harvard has an extention program, given it's own happiness to be considered as "mucho exclusive" gave me pause.

I did not say that CUNY et al gives you the same type/degree of education that Harvard does. They are not in the same tier nor are their objectives the same. But to push frum students towards the Ivies and other high ranked institutions based solely on the pedigree of the name of the school is not how we should be choosing where to educate our kids.

JS said...

You make it sound like a University's name and reputation is like a designer label on a handbag - the same oohing and ahhing one gets over a Louis Vuitton handbag one receives when it is announced one is a Harvard graduate. You attribute this to "label cache" and "exclusivity". I'm sorry, but you couldn't be more wrong. Louis Vuitton gets it's reputation partly because they use higher quality materials and better stitching, but no one buys an LV bag for those reasons. They buy it because it's a status symbol because the brand is associated with being high-class and rich and trendy and you want those qualities to be associated with you.

The Ivies and the other top-ranked schools have high caliber students, conduct higher caliber research, have higher caliber professors, have higher caliber alumni networks, have higher caliber employers seek their graduates, etc. People seek out these schools specifically for these reasons. The reputation and rank of the school is based exclusively on these factors. People don't ooh and ahh over a Harvard degree because of it's "label cachet", they ooh and ahh because you're very likely to be a highly intelligent person who is incredibly motivated and driven and is likely very successful.

The fact that Harvard offers this alternate program is meaningless. It takes nothing away from Harvard or its graduates. The fact that you would compare this program to a degree mill or that it detracts from Harvard's "exclusivity" shows that you think of top tier universities as overpriced handbags. Similarly, the fact there are some dumb people at Harvard is also meaningless. In fact, the fact that there are dumb people at Harvard is just as meaningful as the fact that there are smart people at a community college.

Finally, if everyone were just as misguided, it wouldn't be the worst thing if smart frum kids were pushed to good schools based solely on the name. At least they'll get a top-notch education and gain access to top firms.

Anonymous said...

Credentials first--I attended two of those Ivy League schools for undergrad and grad school. Yes, I believe that my grad school program, ranked in the top five for that area of study, gave me more than I would have gotten elsewhere.

Undergrad? A different story. The higher the ranking of the school and the more the professors in that school are known for their research and participation in their fields, the less likely you are ever going to see those professors, never mind actually have them teaching you. I'd say about half my undergrad courses were taught by teaching assistants rather than the professors the university is known for having. Some of those teaching assistants were grad students at the university and some were hired from outside. Some of those teaching assistants, especially the ones in the sciences, had only a very basic grasp of English, having been educated outside of the US. One of my writing courses was taught by a CUNY graduate.

Yes I got a good education, but a lot of that education was provided to me by people who didn't attend the top ranked schools. Go figure.

Abba's Rantings said...


"But to push frum students towards the Ivies and other high ranked institutions based solely on the pedigree of the name of the school is not how we should be choosing where to educate our kids"

1) you're doing it again. your implying (perhaps not intentionally) that it's all in the name. which of course is ridiculous. and even if it is all in the name, from what i see ivy (or top-tier) grads have many more and much better opportunities than the rest. whether this is justified or not is irrelevant. (admittedly that observation is completely anectodal and i wonder if there are stats comparing the opporunities and earning power of a degree from higher and lower tiered schools)

2) i think that there are legitimate reasons why certain frum kids shouldn't go to certain higher tiered schools, but on the other hand i think that we need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that (on average) if we send our kids to yu/touro/cuny/podolk they will get the same education and professional opportunities.

Steve said...

For a lot of jobs it's not where you went undergrad that is make or break but where you went for grad school. Even with their supposedly generous scholarships the ivies and the other top ranked schools cost a lot of money. And grad school costs even more. If in your field they look at where you went to grad school, then save your money on the undergrad level. Go to one of the schools not as high up in the rankings and where the tuition is lower and where you stand a better chance of getting a bigger scholarship or even a free ride or close to it. But the key is apply yourself and do well there. Then apply to the higher ranked grad schools. A 4.0 phi beta kappa student from Cuny in the top 1% of the graduates will make it into the top grad schools.

Anonymous said...

Those of you who complain about spelling and grammar mistakes, please stop misspelling "Extension" as "Extention". If you think proofreading is important for other folks, it's important for you too.

ProfK said...


Check this out if you want to know about comparative salaries by school. The article is interesting and the info at the embedded links even more so.

ProfK said...

Anon 12:30,
Point taken, but a simple "Extension has been misspelled twice in the comments" would have sufficed. And since you brought up the issue of proofreading, please note that the period ending a sentence belongs inside of the quotation marks, not outside, hence "Extention." not "Extention".

JS said...

This is very informal, but I think it rises above being "anecdotal" because the data set is around 60-70 people.

Here's what I observed at my 10 year high school reunion and my wife's 10 year high school reunion (different schools, but same general geographic location and both Modern Orthodox):

In my high school, about 1/3 of graduates went on to a top 25 college. In my wife's high school only a handful did. Roughly the same number of graduates and spouses attended each reunion.

Looking at graduates and spouses:
At my reunion the vast majority of people were doctors, lawyers, PhD's, finance people, engineers, or MBA's. There were at least 2 MD-PhD's. At my wife's reunion the vast majority were yeshiva teachers, occupational/speech/physical therapists, or in a family business. I only remember 2-3 doctors and 2-3 lawyers. Not coincidentally (in my opinion), the doctors and lawyers went to the top 25 schools.

I'd also add that many couples met in college or grad school, so when you had one spouse who was a doctor, often the other was a doctor or lawyer. On the other hand, I met many couples at my wife's reunion where both spouses were yeshiva teachers or OT/ST/PT therapists.

Ruth said...

Interesting figures JS but a lot more info needed to be able to apply them generally.

MO high schools--both of them coed or was one single sex or both? Could make a difference given the occupations you saw. Even the modern schools push their females in different directions then their males.

60-70 people--is that counting just the graduates or counting the spouses also? Is the 1/3 went to top colleges counting just the graduates or their spouses also?

Last question: in NYC or the immediate area or out of town? Also makes a difference when it comes to occupations and the push for certain schools.

JS said...

Both coed and Modern Orthodox. You could argue my wife's high school was a bit more to the right, though some might argue that's not true.

Both high schools are in the NYC area.

The figures I gave in terms of where people went to school were for the graduates (i.e., 1/3 or so of the graduates of my high school went to top 25 schools, only a handful of hers did). Those numbers were based on going through year books and remembering where people went to college. However, as I mentioned, many people met their spouses in college or grad school, so those that went to top 25 schools were far more likely to marry someone who went to a top 25 school, and vice versa as well.

The 60-70 were graduates and spouses. Thinking it over, it might be a bit low. There were around 35-40 people at each graduation.

For what it's worth there was a lot of discussion at each of the reunions about those people that couldn't make it and what they're now up to. Although I only listed the people that were actually present in my comment above, I didn't hear anything about those that didn't attend that would change things - the people who didn't attend were of the same type as those who did.

Ruth said...

JS, not all MO schools are identical in outlook and quality. Some MO schools could be considered to be in the 'ivy leagues' and some of them are second or third level. It's possible that your wife's school was not on as high an academic level as yours was. And if they're both on the same level then one of them is the norm and one isn't, one is typical and one isn't.

Or I suppose you could also wonder if the year you graduated your class and/or your wife's class was or wasn't the norm for the schools.

More to the point might be the curriculum offered by both schools. Were there lots of AP courses offered? Was there an emphasis on SAT prep? Was the school tracked with honor and regular classes? How many students in the honors track?

Were the parents of these students identical as to professions practiced? Or did one school have a heavier concentration of parents who were themselves professionals of the type you mention and the other school's parents not?

JS said...


I think you're asking interesting questions, but the questions aren't relevant to the overarching issue here. Namely, is there some quantitative and qualitative difference between attending 1st tier and 3rd tier universities. Based on what I saw at our respective reunions, I think the answer is obvious. I think 70-80 people goes beyond merely anecdotal evidence.

The questions you're asking is whether Orthodox high schools are encouraging secular academic success both in the schools and later in college and in careers. It's an interesting question and one I wonder about (and was the subject of more than one conversation between me and my wife after our reunions).

To answer briefly: I don't think my wife's high school was as academically rigorous as my own. The year of graduation is not relevant since my wife and I are close in age and we each have siblings who attended the same school and the statistics would be similar for their grades as well. Both schools were tracked and offered comparable number of AP's - it's not like my wife's school was untracked with 0 or an insignificant number of AP's. I don't think her school pushed for secular academic success like mine did or encouraged and worked to get kids into top schools. As for parents' professions, to the best of my knowledge it's similar at each school, maybe slightly more high-end professionals at my school, but I don't think it's significant. There were lots of parents who were doctors, lawyers, etc. at my wife's high school. If anything, I think this indicates one school's grads are comparably or upwardly mobile from their parents while the other are downwardly mobile from their parents.

Miami Al said...


I've done recruitment for both business I own and business I've worked at. I can tell you that the things people screen on are totally random.

I found that screening on education was the most effective for me. Absolutely, on the math, if you expand out the the Ivy Plus schools, you get to an enrollment of 20k - 24k, and the top 1% alone in the country is 32k... and those schools take outside the top 1%, so more than have the top 1% of the country are not in Ivy Plus schools.

Some are going to state schools, others fill out the rest of the First Tier, some drop to second tier schools with scholarship, absolutely.

Is the smartest kid at Touro smarter than the dumbest kid at Columbia? Absolutely. If I have one position to fill, is it easier to scan through 200 Touro kids looking for the diamond in the rough of go through 5 Columbia kids, knowing I'll get one good one in there? Absolutely.

A college screen is a REALLY REALLY REALLY effective way to do a first screen, especially if you are a small business and don't have time to run thousands of people through a filter.

Given the comments you have made about your students, which you used to somehow malign a generation instead of the students attending your university, I don't understand how you can suggest schools that are focused on the best and brightest are equivalent to schools focused on "students without foreskins" as their recruiting strategy.

ProfK said...

Just a little note to the commenter who wrote about Dr. Lander--please go here for a balanced reporting on what actually was the case.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment here --- yes! given all of the legacy and other admissions, the smartest kid at Harvard Extension or CUNY or Montana State is going to be by far smarter than the dumbest kid at Columbia.

And to imagine otherwise ignores social realities that determine where people end up on the socioeconomic ladder.