Tag Archives: College

Pino Goes To College


I recently met with Michael Munger.  Mr. Munger was the Libertarian candidate for governor here in North Carolina.  He also happens to be a Professor at Duke University.  In fact, he’s a former Chair of the Political Science Department there.

I was going to begin the PPE program at Duke and UNC but got busy this year – will go next.

But in the meantime I have enrolled in a course at Coursera.  The course is called “The Power of Markets” and is an intro class in Microeconomics.

Here’s to college!

Financial Aid: Merit or Need


There is no question that education, through college, is critical to economic success in America.  Income and wealth are clearly linked to education achievement.  Therefore, it makes much sense to make sure that as many college ready kids actually make it to college as possible.  Even if this means that we provide financial resources, financial aid, to those college material kids who may not have the resources to pay for that education on their own.

However, the devil is in the details:  College Material.

We do not want to provide financial aid to kids who aren’t going to succeed at the collegiate level.  But you would never know it from reading media stories of what is going on in America:

WASHINGTON — Low-income students are increasingly bypassed when colleges offer applicants financial aid, as schools compete for wealthier students who can afford rising tuition and fees, according to a public policy institute’s analysis of U.S. Department of Education data.

The study by The New America Foundation said that colleges, in their quest to advance their U.S. News & World Report rankings, are directing more financial aid to high-achieving applicants in a bid to elevate the profile of their student population.

I had to read that twice:

  • schools compete for wealthier students
  • directing more financial aid to high-achieving applicants

How does a journalist for Reuters miss this badly?  On the one hand she is claiming that schools are competing for wealthy students.  Why?

…wealthier students who can afford rising tuition and fees…

Never mind that wealthy or not, the student attending the school is going to pay either with their own money or with the money given to them by financial assistance programs.

Yet, on the other hand, she reports that colleges are recruiting the smartest kids they can find.

Which is it?

It continues:

As part of their strategy to compete for the best students, colleges use merit-based aid, which does not take into account financial need. Under this strategy, institutions may, for instance, give four $5,000 awards to lure four wealthy students rather than award $20,000 to one needy student, the organization said.

Okay, so colleges want to admit the best and the brightest.  In order to do this, they invest on high achieving students.  I’m not sure why this is controversial or even surprising.

Now, the interesting question that I think Nawaguna misses is why are high achieving students coming from “students from the rich suburban schools”.

THAT would be an interesting study.

Education: Socioeconomics vs IQ – The Bell Curve

The second installment of the comparison of socioeconomic status and IQ.  This post examines the impact of each on:

  1. Dropping out of school
  2. Obtaining a GED
  3. Graduating from college

In a previous post, I showed various charts.  Among them is the probability of cropping out of school based on the SES of the family:

The pattern is clear, kids from wealthier families have a better chance of obtaining a high school education.

The came the data showing the probability of a kid, who has dropped out, obtaining a GED:

This is a tale that is counter-intuitive.  We expect the narrative to be that rich kids do better than poor kids.  But this data shows the opposite for folks who obtain a GED after dropping out of school.

Finally we show data that speak to college degrees.  College is, arguably, a key factor to the success of an individual in today’s society.  Maybe.

The data suggests a massive SES impact.  Very few kids from the poorest families are graduating college while nearly 40% of the wealthiest kids are achieving that milestone.

The data is somewhat mixed.  High school and college graduation rates seem highly dependent on the SES of the parents while attainment of a GED is the exact opposite.

Now, what if we add in the predictive value of IQ?

First, dropping out of school:

The first thing that should be apparent is that dropping out of school is rare for kids of either average SES or intelligence.  But dropout rates escalate dramatically for those of below average intelligence.  IQ is more than a 3x predictor than SES of the school dropout.

How does GED look?

The data including IQ doesn’t change the fact that obtaining a GED goes against the commonly held belief that kids from poorer households do worse than the rich kids.  Even accounting for IQ, the folks from the poorer families obtain a GED at higher rates than do kids from wealthier households.

Our last look into education is the college graduation rate:

Again, a dramatic difference.  With one exception; the data shows very little difference between low SES and low IQ.  But when it comes to highly intelligent kids, it doesn’t matter if they come from poorer families or wealthier families; the kids are graduating college at a better than 75% clip.

As with poverty, IQ plays a dominant role in the educational attainment of our children.  All else being equal, the smarter the kid, the better they will achieve educationally.


Free College Courses At Elite Universities


  • Gotta have it
  • Too expensive to buy

What to do?

Why, take the courses for free of course:

Durham, N.C. —

Duke University is joining what has been labeled the revolution in education – online and free of charge.

Duke, Johns Hopkins University and the California Institute of Technology have joined Stanford and Princeton universities in offering courses through startup Coursera Inc.

A total of 16 schools are now partners with Coursera, the Mountain View, California-based company said Monday in a statement.

Caltech and the University of Pennsylvania are partnering to an even greater degree, investing a combined $3.7 million in the company.

Coursera, founded last year by two Stanford computer science professors, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, offers university classes online, with the aim of educating millions of people globally for free. The company, which raised $16 million earlier this year from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and New Enterprise Associates, will receive an additional combined $2.3 million from the venture capital firms, both of which are based in Menlo Park, California.

Duke, CalTech, Stanford, Princeton.  For free.

If you aren’t taking these courses…if you aren’t advocating the attendance of these course among our kids…I’m not saying that you don’t value education, I just think you’re valuing fair access to success and not fair access to opportunity.

Equality: Perfectly Providing Equal Opportunity

What if we could, with perfection, create a nation that provided equal opportunity?

Whatever that may mean to you, suppose it’s true.  Every kid has the same chance to get to a good school and graduate from it.  College?  Available to all.  While not important to this conversation, we could say that college could be free.  There would be no need to worry about poor families being unable to send their bright children to the hallowed halls of higher eduction.

Poverty create hurdles due to inability to buy books, electricity or heat?  Gone.  We’ll adjust for it.

Any problem you might have that produces unequal opportunities has been answered.  To your individual liking.

Everyone has the same chance.


What characteristic or quality would determine who succeeds?