Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gap years

I propose that all college students take a mandatory Gap year travelling around the world before starting, or even applying, to colleges.

Think about it, a gap year would not only ensure that Universities got well rounded students, but a certain number of kids who weren't cut out to survive in the real world would be weeded out of precious admittance slots.

Some of you might point out that low income students won't have the same resources to pay for the trips, but if a smart resourceful 18 year old can't find the money to travel, then the probably won't make it in school in anyway.

Hell, if we made the made the gap year requirement three years, colleges wouldn't have to worry about underage drinking either.

Note: This comment was made is entirely tongue in cheek.

Smart teens don't have sex (or kiss much either).

Slightly related to my value of colleges theme, I just read a post on Intercourse and Intelligence by Jason Malloy over at GNXP.

A detailed study from 2000, entitled "Smart teens don't have sex (or kiss much either)", confirms what many of us probably already assume.

Jason comments:

One reason we might guess that smarter people in high school, or in more challenging colleges or majors, delay their sexual debuts is because they are delaying gratification in expectation of future reward. Sexual behavior (or at least the investment needed to procure a partner or sustain one) may compete with time/resources required for other goals, and intelligent people may have more demanding goals.
He also pointed out:
Perhaps more revealing, HS, also showed that intelligence correlates with less sex within marriage for the same age range. While still consistent with pregnancy fears and competing interests, lower sex drive seems like a better fit. In fact another revealing finding from the Counterpoint survey was that while 95% of US men and 70% of women masturbate, this number is only 68% of men and 20% of women at MIT!
So relax all you kids who didn't get into top colleges, elite schools have their price.

Side note: If more intelligent people are having less sex (and I assume less babies), what the hell is driving the Flynn effect?

Update: Pretty weird, but via Darren at Right on the Left Coast, Marginal Revolution quotes Robin Hanson commenting on a study, Reading, Writing, and Sex: The Effect of Losing Virginity on Academic Achievement, by economist Joseph J. Sabia:
My interpretation: Teen boys who want sex out of teen girls have to spend a lot of time in sports, fights, clubs, signaling their attractiveness. Teen girls who want sex just have to say "yes", and the sex itself takes little time, especially given that teenage boys are the partners. :
Well duh. Also note that there was no need to include the phrase "who want sex", since I pretty much assume the overwhelming majority of teen boys want to have sex.

The Be-All End-All College Credential

The Quick and the Ed: The Be-All End-All College Credential

Kevin Carey agrees with my earlier post on the MIT Dean of Admissions scandal.

At the modern university, that distinction doesn't exist--you have to be certified by the institution that taught you. Indeed, since degrees aren't based on any objective, verifiable evidence of learning, that's all they're certifying--that you've been taught. So I wonder if in addition to deterring future resume-fudgers, M.I.T. wasn't exactly comfortable with the idea of employing someone who is living proof that you don't need a university degree to be really good at a complex, challenging, difficult job--particularly one at a university.[emphasis mine]
Wow... I have a whole anti-university theme going today.

The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog: A MySpace Photo Costs a Student a Teaching Certificate

The Chronicle: Wired Campus Blog: A MySpace Photo Costs a Student a Teaching Certificate

If a school like Millersville University of Pennsylvania, denies students a degree because of pictures like this.

I am in trouble...

Me, my son, and friends at Oktoberfest 1998, Munich, Germany

P.S. before anyone starts castrating castigating me, it was family day at Oktoberfest (yes Oktoberfest has a family day), and my ex-wife was sober and taking the picture.

Another Harvard is Impossible Article

Young, Gifted, and Not Getting Into Harvard - New York Times

Quite frankly, I am getting sick of the whole its impossible to get into Harvard meme, so I was pleasantly surprised when I read this article in the NYT.

The author, a Harvard Alumni, no longer gets depressed after he interviews yet another gifted student who probably won't get in to Harvard, even though the students are way more accomplished that he was when he got in.

As he observes in the story:

I came to understand that my own focus on Harvard was a matter of not sophistication but narrowness. I grew up in an unworldly blue-collar environment. Getting perfect grades and attending an elite college was one of the few ways up I could see.

My four have been raised in an upper-middle-class world. They look around and see lots of avenues to success. My wife’s two brothers struggled as students at mainstream colleges and both have made wonderful full lives, one as a salesman, the other as a builder. Each found his own best path. Each knows excellence.
Though I sometimes regret not giving myself the opportunity to attend a good college after high school, I have lived a pretty decent life. I excel at my job, I have a better house than my parents had, and most of all I have five wonderful kids, but I have also had adventures.

I lived in Europe for 12 years, I have met people from the around the world, ordered beers in more languages than I can count, travelled alone, snowboarded the Alps, sipped beers on the Mediterranean, seen Roman ruins, and countless other adventures that I would of never gotten to experience if I had taken the traditional route of a four year University.

You have to wonder if the one thing that is missing from the resumes of applicants to competitive schools these days is a sense of adventure, and an ability to roll with the punches.

Don't get me wrong, I value education, but if my kids chose to backpack around the world for a few years instead of going to Harvard, I wouldn't be at all disappointed.