May 24, 2011

College admissions advice

A reader sends in the following strategies for getting into fancy colleges:
My advice to all high school kids is the following: 
1. Don't take too many honors classes. Just get good grades. Honors classes don't make you stand out that much. Getting an A in a standard class is better than a B in honors level or AP. If you're smart and want to learn extra, go for it. If you take a regular class, you'll have plenty of time for this either in class where you won't have to pay attention or at home because the homework is easier. You don't get all the extra garbage projects the teachers give you. You can also use the extra time to boost your SAT. GPA+SAT is what really matters.

University of California gives a full 1.0 higher GPA for "Advanced Placement" courses, even though a study says that 0.5 would better predict freshman GPA. I'd like to see Advanced Placement test scores weighed more heavily in college admissions, but there is a lot of resistance to that.
2. Find the majors in your university of choice that have a low enrollment or needs your demographic. Then figure out what the university policy is for changing majors or schools within the University. My school had a college of Arts and Sciences. So you can apply as say a German major and then switch to Biology if you want to. It's easy. If you're a guy, apply to the school of nursing if the school has one. If you're a girl, engineering might do the trick at some schools.

But make sure you can transfer. One hint is if it says "School of ..." they might not let you transfer from the School of Nursing to the School of Engineering.
3. Be a competent athlete. This is obviously easier said than done but many top level schools (Northwestern, Michigan, all the Ivies, Duke, etc.) just need warm bodies to fill out a team that won't fail out, get arrested, get into fights, or develop a drug problem. We had lots of guys on our team that would have been 3rd string on their J.V. team in high school but being an athlete was the bump that got them into an Ivy. Coaches at these schools often don't mind if you're not a great athlete if they think you will be successful in your professional life after graduation. You're a potential donor ($) to the program for life.

In Tom Wolfe's I Am Charlotte Simmons, the Dupont University basketball team has three "swimmies" (tall white guys who aren't terribly good at basketball but have lots of endurance for practice, and who are genuine students) to fill the 13th-15th spots on the roster and boost team GPA. Is that common?

When I was a freshman at Rice, I played in a pickup basketball game in which my team of five non-athletes beat a team of four Division I basketball players 20-16. My big contribution to the upset was calling out, when we non-jocks jumped out to a 16-4 lead on a streak of hot-shooting, "Game at 20!" Not surprisingly, we soon regressed toward the mean, and barely hung on to win 20-16. 

Granted, the Rice basketball team was pretty awful. That Christmas I went to Pauley Pavilion see them play a UCLA team that had four NBA first round draft picks on it. UCLA beat Rice 107-60 and it wasn't that close. The highlight was when Rice's center got the ball down low and tried to lean in on UCLA's David Greenwood, who simply took a step back and let the Rice big man fall down untouched. 

But still ...
4. Go meet the coaches. Go to a summer camp or just call them up and drop by the school and try to meet them. At the top schools, the coaches simply don't have time to scan the whole country looking for athletes that approach the minimum test scores or grades required for admission. They are thrilled if you find them. A ten minute meeting with a coach is all it takes sometimes. Just don't be pushy. Pushy parents are a huge problem that coaches don't want to deal with unless you're kid is an amazing athlete (in which case you wouldn't really need an admissions strategy). 
This strategy is low cost and fairly easy to do. It's even easier with women since Title 9 worships women athletes. This strategy is great for the minor sports. If you're trying to play basketball at Duke, you're out of luck. Wrestling, squash, tennis, track, swimming, soccer, and rowing (at some schools) are prime targets. Even football at the Ivies has some opportunities. Being president of the Spanish club or yearbook editor does nothing for you. Sports can be a great meal ticket. And the alumni benefits are tremendous as you have 10-50 instant connections depending on the size of your team. There are often opportunities for extra money with summer jobs through alumni as well. 


Anonymous said...

You didn't know that AP courses are on a 5.0 scale? Well, now you do. That's how they're weighted. You'll often find top schools saying that the median GPA of students they admit is 4.25, or some such nonsense. That's what it means. AP classes are what make that happen.

AP is already weighted heavily, man. If you got all As but never took an AP course, you'd be far, far behind the curve at the elite schools. Best GPA you could have is 4.0, which is really weak.

Anonymous said...

1. Don't take too many honors classes. Just get good grades. Honors classes don't make you stand out that much. Getting an A in a standard class is better than a B in honors level or AP.

This is flat out untrue at most schools, where a B in an AP class and an A in an ordinary class both count as 4.0, and an A in an AP class counts as a 5.0. At University of California schools, GPAs are capped at 4.0 for the purpose of admissions (meaning, everything above that doesn't count). You'd have to be a fool not to take some APs, assuming you can pull at least a B.

I'd like to see Advanced Placement test scores weighed more heavily in college admissions, but there is a lot of resistance to that.

Lots of schools don't have many AP courses. Weighting them heavily would be pretty unfair to smart kids from rural areas.

But make sure you can transfer. One hint is if it says "School of ..." they might not let you transfer from the School of Nursing to the School of Engineering.

Materials engineering is generally considered to be the easiest engineering major to get into.

Stanford, MIT, CalTech, and most of the big private schools as far as I know will let you switch to whatever you want (unless this has changed in the last ten years or so).

Anonymous said...

Yup, you need AP classes to get into the good colleges. And you need to get A's in those AP classes. No way around it unless you're an openly gay black Native American captain of the high-school football team who plays the bassoon.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how being a sub-par male athlete will get you very far.

Anonymous said...

Let me give some advice.

1.) AP is damn neccessary to getting into a good university these days. I'd strongly reccomend taking as much AP as possible.

2.) Getting on a sports team is harder than you might think. My nephew did crew and I can tell you that even the bench warmers had to be pretty good. Why? Well, even they ocassionally see some action.

3.) Major in engineering if you're quantitative. Otherwise choose business. These majors pay well and provide access to lots of jobs. Engineering is pretty hard though, so just be careful.

4.) GPA is important to employers and even more important to grad schools. Therefore, try to choose a university that does lots of grade inflation.

5.) Stay away from liberal arts. It doesn't pay.

Anonymous said...

In most schools it would be impossible to transfer from Nursing (easy, non-science courses) to Engineering (real science).

Stanford, MIT, and CalTech do not have nursing schools.

Anonymous said...

AP classes are good, but my advice is to take them, but don't take the AP exams. The thing is, while AP courses are superior than regular HS courses, often times they are nowhere near as tough as the equivalent college course. My brother got a B in AP Calculus BC, didn't take the AP exam, and still almost failed Calculus his freshman year. And if he had tested out in high school, he would have been woefully unprepared for the next math course on the engineering track, which I believe is differential equations.

The only exception is if it's something you might not need again, like if you want to use AP U.S. history to take care of your college's social science requirement. But if it's an elite university, I'd still think twice.

Anonymous said...

You were up 20-4 and you won 20-16? Was the game timed???? What the hell was going on down there? What the hell does "Game at 20" mean?

Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

A suggestion, coming from someone who's not afraid to be culturally imperialistic:

Is it too late to follow the Irish example, and simply have a system of standardised, anonymously graded exams, where grades translate into points, which decide admission admission?

I know you have the SATs, but the Established Leaving Certificate is the basis for pretty much all university admission. A few exceptions are made for things like art, architecture or design, which also require portfolios, or theatre, which also requires an audition.

We also have the Applied and Vocational Leaving Certs for less academic students, and link modules for people (worth about 3/4 of the points) for people who want to combine. Also, subjects are divided into higher and ordinary level, with varying worths of points.

It doesn't have to be government run. I personally think the government should stop running third level education, and stop subsidising it and guarenteeing loans, etc. Our system has its flaws and wouldn't work in the US without some huge changes.

But there has to be a better way than your current system. How on earth could anyone complain about standardised, anonymously graded tests? (Okay, okay, I know many people would have a conniption fit - I'm being facetious.)

It would be a decent indicator of how schools are doing. By the by, whose bright idea was it to allow high schools to give their own students their GPAs? Someone has realised that all they have to do is being in grade inflation to hide the realities of their teachers and students, right?

Just a thought. What does everyone else think?

Otto Kerner said...

I was going to ask the same question as Dan in DC. Is "game at 20" trash-talk? If so, nice work. According to NBA public service announcements, "game at 20 / of getting scored on, you've had plenty" would be an acceptable trash-talk, but "you're gay at 20" would not be.

W Baker said...


I'd take those suggestions with large wheelbarrows of salt. My son is 17, a rising senior, a damn good student, and an equally good football player on a top classification football team (6A) in the South (Alabama to be specific). Our recruits are household names in any home which pays attention to hs football recruiting.

My son has all of the Ivies calling, head coaches from U. of Chicago/Washington U./Johns Hopkins, and Duke, W.F., have been in touch, etc. Two of the Ivies travelled to Alabama to meet and watch the boy in Spring practice. Three offers have been made. Very little of what you say is true!

My son has an unweighted gpa of 4.0, 2260 SAT (new), 4 or 5 AP/Honors courses, 5 years of French and two of Latin, and several 4's on AP exams.

The Ivies could care less. He's so far in their top band (AI of 219), that - were he less of an athlete - he would have hurt his chances for admission. The middle academic index band has the most spots, so having a top AI actually hurts you.

If you're a decent student and a very good athlete - living in podunck Kansas or redneck Alabama - the Ivies will find you. They don't care that much about grades as long as your academic index is above 171.

Anonymous said...

According to NBA public service announcements, "game at 20 / of getting scored on, you've had plenty" would be an acceptable trash-talk, but "you're gay at 20" would not be.

Well done Otto, who said Germans aren't funny?

Anyone know what Noah's anti-gay insult was? Was it 'hey buddy, you look exactly like me'?

Steve, did you expect us to know what "game at 20" meant? I play a ton of hoops and have never heard that uttered. Are you just throwing around phrases you think would make sense?

The more I think about it- no way 5 non-athletes beat 4 D1 ballplayers especially with your details out of whack. I need at least 2 attests. You may have gotten confused with your bowling league.

Dan in DC

klaos said...

Wrestling, squash, tennis, track, swimming, soccer, and rowing (at some schools) are prime targets.

If you can make through a week of college wrestling practice, you are an above par athlete.

Steve Sailer said...

"Game at 20" = First team to score 20 points wins.

We were playing "bucket" not "basket," so you'd get the ball back after you made a shot. Bucket is conducive to hot streaks, like the one that got us out to a 16-4 lead over an obviously better team. The four Div. I players unsurprisingly outscored us 12-4 the rest of the way, but I had declared Game at 20, so we won.

Mitch said...

For UCs, "take regular courses instead of AP" is actually a very solid strategy. UC only cares about GPA, so if you can get straight As in regular courses, and then toss in one or two easy APs to get your GPA above 4.0, you're pretty close to a lock for the top school.

You only get 8 semesters of weight at UCs--that is, 8 semesters in which you can count a 5 for an A.

The one error is his comment about SAT scores--they really don't matter much, provided you're above 650 on all three. GPA is 75% of the assessment.

Put another way--about 40% of UC Berkeley students get in with SAT scores in the 600s. About 9% get in with GPAs below 3.9.

The other advice is pretty solid, too. Football's not the only sport.

Anonymous said...

I have a pretty good system for getting my bright but hardly brilliant kids into Ivy League schools. It doesn't involve buckets of money, playing the diversity card, or talking to coaches, and I'll be damned if I'm going to tell anybody.

Anonymous said...

Ok- so that was a typo and you meant to write 16 in the original post. Thanks, I can get on with my day now.... still don't believe you though. Was your team complete non-athletes or non-bball players? Were the bball players trying? I could see some athletes getting lucky but 5 non-athletes are not beating 4 D1 players. Never, no how, no way. Are you sure you're not getting basketall confused with Frolf (frisbee golf)? How much LSD did you take that year?

Damnit, maybe I can't go on with my day.

Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

At BYU, nursing is hypercompetitive for admission. The reason is that it sends great mating signals--a woman who is training to be a nurse isn't trying to outcompete her husband, but obviously has some smarts, work ethic, and service ability, plus she's employable in a pinch.

But most Universities I'm aware of don't admit you to a specific program, they just admit you generally and then a year or so later its up to you to get into a specific program.

-Osvlado M.

Anonymous said...

@W Baker: Have your son contact the football office at Stanford.

More Advice said...

Summary of advice:

1. Wrong! As explained, an AP score of 5 is often calculated as a 5.0 for overall GPA calculations. All things equal (and there is a lot of hair splitting at the top colleges), AP coursework is viewed better than non-AP coursework - especially if it is available but you opt out of it.

This advice may apply more to the IB (Int'l Bac) which is very demanding and may depress AP scores by leaving little time to dedicate to them specifically.

2. May work someplaces. In my competitive university 20yrs ago, HS grads had to apply specifically to the most competitive majors like CS and Engineering. Transfers from general Letters & Science admits were only allowed after demonstrating 1-1.5yrs of exceptional performance in core CS and Engineering coursework. In otherwords, if you couldn't get in from HS you probably wouldn't do well enough in the coursework to be allowed to transfer.

I've seen this work well for guys who have transferred from Community Colleges into UC schools and even Stanford. It may not be as risky as it sounds and definately saves money (but you lose valuable networking, esp at Stanford). If you're good enough to get into Berkeley/Stanford, perfect scores in Community College should be a given with plenty of time to do other off the wall stuff to get noticed.

3. Goes without saying. A close friend at an elite small liberal arts college constantly complaints how the recent proliferation of dumb jock admits are dragging down the institution. If a coach identifies an admit they really want, they can inside/fast track the kid.

There is a general belief that ex-jock grads do better in life and contribute more. I'm not sure this is true overall and it does not appear true at the uppermost end (Wall Street guys, tech entrepreneurs, wealthy family dynasties). This would make an interesting post.

4. OK.

I would add two other big considerations:

5. Be rich and able to pay full fare if you're not a NAM. A lot of the proliferation of dumb jocks at said college in #3 above are full fare kids who displaced smarter fin aid kids. With the run-up in tuition and education bubble, the same collge has a record number of full-tuition white kids. They also need full tution from white kids to subsized the record number of NAM kids they admit with attractive financial aid packages.

6. If you have any preferred ethnicity, use it in your name and highlight it in your essay. If you have any discriminated against ethnicity, ignore it. Although culturally and gentically mainly an American mutt, I had an Asian name. I think I got over the cusp and into a top STEM school by dint of writing about the true racism I faced growing up in a rural Red State. I gave my own children my mother's original Hispanic maiden name.

Dahlia said...

Another suggestion for quant guys is to look into German companies doing work (mechanical engineering and up) in America. Many of these do testing and rely on apprenticeships just as they do in Germany.
The ones that rely mostly on English-speaking German immigrants would be a good bet. In my experience, the Germans find that the Americans are inferior on average, but that's because the Americans are not quite equivalent. The kind of American who typically does not have a degree is less intelligent than his German counterpart. So, yes, there is a need for intelligent Americans at these places.

Anonymous said...

As the reader that sent Steve the original email, I can see lots of people don't think much of my advice. That's okay. I tried to keep my email short. Let me clarify a few things here though.

Don't take too many honors and AP courses is not the same thing as saying don't take any at all. I was not clear with this in my original email. I've seen kids take three or four AP classes in one year and get B's in half of them. I'd say take two AP and take the rest of the standard classes get all A's. Your GPA will be strong either way with less effort taking fewer AP classes. The extra time can be used to improve at your sport or increase your SAT.

At my high school years ago it was possible to get a 4.0 (unweighted) overall for the year without ever getting a 4.0 in one semester. That was possible because of the way they averaged the individual quarter grades in each class over the year. Different schools have different rules. Learn them. Concentrate your efforts where they help the most. Change which classes you study for at different times of the year accordingly.

As far as switching majors goes, different schools have different rules. At Penn switching between schools was not difficult unless you wanted to transfer to Wharton. It was possible but very difficult with stringent GPA requirements. Cornell has a few tricks to admit kids in the Land Grant portion of the school. Learn the rules.

For the guy with the kid that plays football: football is not a minor sport. That's true almost across the board. Soccer is not a minor sport at UVA. Wrestling is not a minor sport at Cornell. Find out what school needs you. You might not find any but you also might be surprised. I knew a guy that got rejected from Cornell and Penn but got into Harvard. They needed him. The others didn't.

There could be a couple of other things working against you. Did you tell Hopkins your son wants to be a biology major and be a doctor and play running back? Well get in line. They don't need you. Other coaching concerns may include: do you give the impression that you'll be a pain in the ass as a parent? (i'm not trying to be a jerk here) might they have concerns about a kid from Alabama adapting to say inner city Baltimore for Hopkins or Harlem for Columbia? Culture shock can ruin athletes.

If you have your heart set on doing one thing at one school you'll likely be disappointed. You need to find out who needs you and fill what they need.

For the non-athletic, I would be interested to know if there is a way to have band help a kid in getting into school. Most schools don't have a school violin team or piano team, but lots of good schools have a marching band.

Steve: having guys on the team to boost the GPA depends on many things. Does the coach or administration care about such things? How big is the team? How good are they expected to be? APR is the (fairly) new system of punishing schools for academic performance of athletes. It is based on the academic performance of scholarship athletes. UConn just lost two basketball scholarships. But the coach just won a national title. You have to be strategic with how you give out scholarship money to manage your APR.

Anonymous said...

W. Baker. Which has a better football team U. of Chicago or Johns Hopkins?


Mercer said...

"Someone has realised that all they have to do is being in grade inflation to hide the realities of their teachers and students, right?"

You are understating the problem. If a teacher gives poor grades to a lot of students she will get complaints from parents and from her principal. It is better for her career to not give many low grades.

A system of anonymously graded exams to decide college admissions like you describe would be better in my opinion. It does not exist in the US for two reasons: 1 The US school system is run at the state level. It would be difficult to get the states to agree on a common curriculum. 2 Any test would show blacks doing poorly.

Anonymous said...

Be like the nerd.

Yan Shen said...

Steve, your reader left out the best advice of all for getting into an elite American university. Make sure you're not Asian American! :)

Traveller said...

"Don't take too many honors classes"

I remember in your recent article it was suggested to take them to avoid the disaster of multiculturalism in normal classes. Or maybe it was in the comments.

fructose said...

I agree with the other commenters that AP and Honors are necessary to get into good schools. The weighted scores are a huge help, and the classes aren't much harder. For example, I usually found we were given less busy work in Honors classes, and we had more in-class discussion and critical thinking exercises.

More importantly, you get to go to school with the better sort of student. You just can't put a price on good neighbors, in school as in life.

Mitch said...

As the reader that sent Steve the original email, I can see lots of people don't think much of my advice.

Hey. I stuck up for you. And I'm an expert.

Anonymous said...

"Steve, your reader left out the best advice of all for getting into an elite American university. Make sure you're not Asian American! :)"

Asians are overrepresented by a factor of 2 - 4 in the Ivy Leagues, so being Asian isn't exactly a deal killer. It's just that Asian high school students all want the same thing -- admission to an Ivy League college -- and spaces are in short supply. So making the cut on test scores and grades isn't a lock.

Ivy Admissions officers are like venture capitalists trying to figure out which kids are good investments with a shot at achieving stunning success. As we all know, most Asians tend to go on to plodding careers in technology, medicine, and business which aren't going to enhance the prestige, quirkiness, or generosity of the alumni pool that much.

Gene berman said...

Wrestling? Not all that long ago I read that somewhere around 385 collegiate wrestling programs were probably going to be dropped very shortly (having to do with Title IX obligations, I think). I even heard that Arizona State (with two Div 1 champs) would be dropping it.

nerd deconstructor said...

"Steve, your reader left out the best advice of all for getting into an elite American university. Make sure you're not Asian American! :)"

I'm sorry but test scores aren't enough to define someone as worthy of a first rate education. I mean what happens if you revert to the nerd mean in adulthood after a not very stellar performance at a career you could've gotten with a degree at a good enough U. Something like I see in this blog, a bunch of whining coulda beens but never weres who thought they could sit on their asses doing differential equations and memorizing abstruse vocabulary and get a free ticket to a life of prestige, power and wealth.

It's not just that you should find a university that needs whatever it is you are at age 18. You should be moving towards becoming something that your society needs as well. Do WE need you? I somehow doubt it.

Anonymous said...

For Berkeley/UCLA, attend a community college with a transfer agreement.It's a lock.

stari_momak said...

For the UC's, by far the best strategy has to be to do 2 years at community college. You'll actually be in smaller classes, your instructors won't be much off the UC professor caliber as far as teaching, and if you do well you are virtually guaranteed admission to some UC.

The only thing to make sure of is, if you are in a technical major, that you prepare yourself for the speed of material at UC.

W Baker said...

Okay, I'll jump back in. I wasn't trying to be antagonistic, and I certainly wasn't trying to extol the football prowess of Chicago or Hopkins. I was just trying to make the point that "academic" schools are not looking for top-notch students as athletes. (My kid's a good student, but he wouldn't stand a chance in the Ivies without football. He's not legacy, he's the wrong demographic (WASP), and there are too many kids prepping for Ivies and similar schools from the time they come out of the womb. The amount of post AP math and science testing alone done by some of these applicants is simply mind blowing. The kids have zero lives.)

The point is have some good physical tangibles (at least 6' 4" to play o-line), play one (or two sports max) at a top division high school, work your ass off in the off season, maintain at least a 3.75 GPA, score well on (above 1800/26 SAT/ACT), and you'll stand a good chance at an "academic" school.

Your on-field performance counts as much as your classroom work. These coaches in Ivies and other places still have a lot of pressure to win (albeit certainly not like the SEC schools).

(Incidentally, as a pet peeve, "academics" refers to those people in academe, not scholarship.)

Anonymous said...

Steve, the best comment on this thread so far is the one from Yan Shen

"Steve, your reader left out the best advice of all for getting into an elite American university. Make sure you're not Asian American!"

Steve, Yan Shen is mostly correct, but over simplifies. First of all admission to the UC schools is mostly on the basis of grades and test scores, and therefore whenever you Steve head down the 405 to Westwood village you will see a student body that is majority Asian. So it is not fair for Yan Shen to say that all colleges discriminate against Asian Americans.

Now when it comes to schools other than the UC schools, yes of course there is rampant discrimination against Asians. Many schools like Stanford would be majority Asian if they just admitted based on test scores and grades, but effectively schools like Stanford do discriminate and as a result, an asian needs higher grades and test scores to get in than he would need if he were white.

Anonymous said...

I think it is important to look at the math.

If admissions to college were based only on grades and test scores, the most elite colleges would be something like 60% asian, 2% nam, and 38% all others.

Instead, the actual breakdown is around 40% asian, 22% nam, and 38% all others

Anyone who is familiar with the system knows that on average, spots that would otherwise go to high scoring asians are instead allocated to low scoring NAMs

Again, different elite schools have different numbers, but the pattern is the same.

Anonymous said...

For Christ's sake, fix the original post so it reads 16-4! It's tiresome to have to read through all the comments to find out what the hell you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

"As we all know, most Asians tend to go on to plodding careers in technology, medicine, and business which aren't going to enhance the prestige, quirkiness, or generosity of the alumni pool that much."

Ha - you're obviously not successful enough to have rubbed shoulders with a sufficient number of us.

Anonymous said...

Steve's post about the Rice basketball team is utter nonsense. I am from Houston and was recruited by a number of academic Division I basketball programs (Rice, Navy, Davidson, Vanderbilt) when I graduated from high school in the late 80s. The idea that any group of RANDOM Rice undegrads could beat a team with 4 Rice players, let alone any 4 DI players is fantasy on the order of Whiskey. Ricky Pierce who graduated from Rice in 1982 played in the NBA for 15 years at a very high level. Rice has had a couple of McDonalds All Americans thru the years, granted that they were transfers from bigger name programs - Bobby Crawford (Michigan fab Five recruit, etc. Athletic scholarships to Rice,Stanford, Vandy, Northwestern are extremely competitive.

Anonymous said...

"Hey. I stuck up for you. And I'm an expert."

I appreciate it. I don't know much about the UC system as I am an east coaster. I would defer to a west coaster or somebody with direct knowledge of the system.

W Baker should be proud of his kid but unfortunately most kids aren't "household names" in football recruiting with a 219 academic index. Knowing about the academic index is quite useful however.

Be at least 6'4" isn't exactly advice. Claiming that elite schools are not looking for good students as athletes is pretty hilarious. What is this based upon? Do you know what APR is?

It's also important to realize that the relationship of the coach with the administration and the importance of the particular sport at that school will also determine a lot in the admission decision at the university. Some coaches/sports have more pull than others.

Steve Sailer said...

Ricky Pierce could have beaten the five of us in a 2 on 5 game. (Ricky could have beaten the 4 basketball players we beat in a 2 on 4 game to 100). But he didn't transfer to Rice until a couple of years later. Ricky was an order of magnitude better than anybody we had before him.

Our best player prior to Pierce's arrival, Elbert Darden, was a really good athlete, but he was three inches shorter and not a supershooter like Pierce. Elbert sent a nice letter to all NBA teams after his senior season telling them not to waste a late round pick on him because he was going to become a preacher.

Anonymous said...

your [community college] instructors won't be much off the UC professor caliber as far as teaching

LOL, no. The profs at Berkeley and UCLA are often world-class, and the TAs are usually smart Ivy grads. You aren't going to find any world-class profs or smart TAs at a CC. Sorry. But going to a California CC is a good way to save money and increase your chances of getting into UCB/UCLA.

Anonymous said...

The advice not to take all honors classes is terrible advice, which I learned myself the hard way, falsely assuming that since I was better at History than Chemistry I should take honors history and regular chem. In fact, honors classes aren't any harder than non-honors classes, and the school is more likely to have the better teachers working the honors sections. Due to weighted GPAs, a B in an honors class is equivalent to an A in a regular class, but it isn't the case that a student who would get an A in the regular class would only get a B in the honors class. More likely he'd get the same A. So kids should enroll in as many honors classes as they can.

Anonymous said...

Re the basketball pick-up game.

Obviously, the team of nobodies wasn't random. I imagine we are talking more like Woody Harrelson's street team from White Men Can't Dance.
OK, I have never bounced a basketball in anger, but I have played all the great codes of football from the English Commonwealth world, including what you guys would call 'All-college Soccer'.
In my experience, in a college size sample there is usually a 'team' of naturals, slackers and freaks who can be rounded up 'just one more time' for that special challenge match. These are guys who for one reason or another can't play anymore, won't play anymore or play something else even better. But they CAN play. And this street team of 'civilians' is likely to run the real team very close.

Gilbert Pinfold.

Anonymous said...

Steve- I am the anonymous from above. I always that thought that Autry was one of the most underrated college basketball atmospheres in the country (seats 3000, mostly students very close to court). At some point, Rice will hire the right coach and have a breakthrough along the lines of Gonzaga or Davidson. There is plenty of talent in the Greater Houston area. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Wrestling is not an easy route to a scholarship. Title 9 decimated men's gymnastics and wrestling programs and now you have to be a superstar in high school to get a wrestling scholarship anywhere. A local wrestler who won a state championship as a sophomore and senior (he was third as a junior) at a top wrestling program in Arizona, just got a scholarship to Fort Hays State. He only lost a few times his last three years of high school, but couldn't get a division one scholarship.

Actually decimation meant killing one of every ten men. What happened to wrestling is more like nine out ten programs were killed.

Joe H.

Jack said...

I was a good tennis player and runner in high school, but my parents were solely focused on my academics and I didn't have the best work ethic. If I had worked more at either sport I could have done either in college, no doubt. I got into a good college anyway but being a college athlete would have been a really cool experience and I would have certainly gotten laid more often.

It's true that for major sports especially, you dont NEED to be a supertop student to get into an Ivy. Ivies are allowed to bring in superstars who only score in the 1150-1250 range out of 1600. But that's for the superstars. the better athlete, the less GPA/SAT you need.

nerd busters said...

"...but effectively schools like Stanford do discriminate and as a result, an asian needs higher grades and test scores to get in than he would need if he were white."

It's not so much that Stanford discriminates but is discriminating. This is a subtle yet important difference in meaning that most Asian students wouldn't understand.

Anonymous said...

This is a subtle yet important difference in meaning that most Asian students wouldn't understand.


Nope it sounds like you are confused.

Anonymous said...

Steve's basketball story isn't that hard to believe. When you're playing make-it-take-it, a good outside shooter can rack up several baskets in a hurry before the other team realizes he's on a roll and sends someone to stick with him 25 feet out. Plus, odds are a bunch of Big Time College Players wouldn't take a bunch of playground jocks seriously until they got well behind.