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Wednesday's Most Active Threads

by Jeff Steele — last modified Feb 08, 2024 11:45 AM

Yesterday's most active topics included the cost of attending Tufts University, diversity trends in area private schools, prestige of colleges and universities, and filming fights in MCPS.

Yesterday the King Charles thread was again the most active thread of the day. But since I have already discussed that thread, I'll go on to the next which was titled, "Tufts tuition" and posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. The original poster says that he checked the cost of Tufts University on the school's website and saw that it comes to $88,300 per year. The title only mentions tuition, but this amount is actually what colleges refer to as the "cost of attendance" that includes food, housing, books, and other expenses. The original poster seems astounded by the price and asks how any school can be worth this amount and wonders what Tufts offers to justify charging 2 or 3 times the price of other equally-good colleges. Several posters question whether there actually are comparable universities that cost significantly less. They argue that this is simply the going price for private colleges and even many public universities. Some posters attribute this to the market pricing of universities and suggest that as long as someone is willing to pay the cost, that is what it is worth. Others argue that students are simply paying for the name or connections that can be made at the school and that the education is not significantly better. Posters suggest Michigan State University and Florida State University as colleges that offer merit aid to highly-qualified students that brings down the cost to less than half of Tufts. Another poster suggested Rutgers University. Other posters contested the idea that any of these schools were the same caliber as Tufts. There are a couple of different arguments going on in this thread. One is that expensive colleges such as Tufts offset the price by offering merit aid to "high stats" students. But one poster, whose son has great grades and extracurriculars, says that their experience is that even with merit aid the colleges are too expensive. The second dispute is similar to those about the value of private k-12 schools compared to public. Posters point to smaller class sizes and a more exclusive student body as advantages. Much of the college forum is taken up by threads about admissions and who is being advantaged and who is getting an unfair deal. But, increasingly, discussions about the cost of college are becoming almost as popular. Thread after thread highlights that while the super wealthy can simply write a check and the very poor can count on financial assistance, those in the middle are challenged by the costs. Posters can make any argument that they want to justify the cost of selective private colleges — and indeed they make many — but if others can't afford the cost, none of those advantages matter. As a result, in real life just as in this thread, many are beginning to see more value in lower-cost public universities.

The next most active thread yesterday was posted in the "Private & Independent Schools" forum. Titled, "Anti-diversity trends.", the original poster says that she is a person of color and planning to send her child to a private school. However, she has already withdrawn applications from schools that are actively decreasing diversity efforts and fears that even the school she has chosen will take a similar path. She says that she has been bothered by attitudes among other parents suggesting that Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts have decreased the quality of schools. She says she doesn't have the energy to be part of a "diversity struggle" and doesn't have to fight attitudes that her child is bringing down the level of the school. However, she grudging accepts the possibility that her child will be going to a school that is trying to become less diverse and she wants to know how other parents are dealing with this. This thread obviously deals with a number of hot button issues and, therefore, it is no surprise that it is among the most active threads of the day. Reading the responses was sort of a surreal experience because not only did few posters actually address the topic, several seemed to be addressing another thread altogether. Many posters wanted to know from which schools the original poster had withdrawn. Others made suggestions for schools that still value diversity. Some posters argued that private schools are not, in fact, decreasing emphasis on diversity. Some posters argued that the original poster was better off in public school, though it was difficult to tell whether this was honest advice or intended as some sort of insult. A few posters expressed happiness in reduced attention to DEI, probably confirming the original poster's concerns. A sort of side discussion took place concerning "affinity groups", something the original poster values. Several posters had no idea what is meant by "affinity groups" and had to have it explained to them. Others dislike the entire concept of affinity groups, finding them divisive. Eventually the thread devolved to just a debate about DEI and I stopped reading. That is a discussion that I would be happy to never have to read again.

Next was a thread titled, "Which schools are gaining/loosing [sic] prestige" and, like today's first thread, posted in the "College and University Discussion" forum. The original poster asks what colleges others think are either gaining or losing prestige, suggesting a few colleges for each category. Right off the bat posters take issue with the original poster's spelling (twice using "loosing" instead of "losing") and interest in "prestige". A number of those responding say they are tired of discussions about "prestige" which they don't consider a significant factor in choosing a college. The original poster argues, much as was done in the first thread I discussed today, that given the high costs of attendance, the degrees must carry some prestige. Personally, I am sympathetic to the group that is tired of hearing about "prestige". I'd even go further because I am sort of tired of the entire genre of random posters arbitrarily ranking schools. Most of the posts addressing the topic in this thread are simply opinions which are not based on any sort of quantifiable data. Moreover, "prestige" is a pretty amorphous concept and, like beauty, very often something that is in the eye of the beholder. This is demonstrated in the thread when one poster indicates that prestige can be determined by the ability of a school's students to perform in "Jeopardy". Moreover, many of the suggestions seem like little more than wishful thinking. For instance, a number of posters are convinced that Harvard is losing prestige. But is there any reliable data about the number of applicants who were accepted but subsequently decided not to enroll? I would be very surprised to see any increase in that number. Several posters have said that their kids decided not to apply, but given the selectivity of Harvard, that is a bit like me saying that I have decided not to apply to become the starting quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. On top of all of this, the college forum has a few posters who are either haters or promoters of specific universities. Several of them showed up to either claim the eminent demise of the colleges they hate or the meteoric rise if the ones they love.

The last thread that I will discuss today was posted in the "Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)" and titled, "Fights at school". The original poster asks what happens to a student who films a fight at school during lunch hour, wondering if they get in trouble. There is a small group of users that haunts the Montgomery County Public Schools forum in search of any opportunity to bash the school system. Such posters immediately responded to the original poster claiming that there would be no consequences, making snarky remarks about restorative justice, and generally making uninformed and fairly useless comments. In contrast, other posters reported that at their kids' schools, students have been suspended or otherwise punished for such filming and sharing such videos. The thread very quickly turned into a debate about the propriety of filming fights and circulating the videos. A number of posters said that they would welcome video of their children if they had been fighting because it could be used as evidence. Similarly, some posters thought filming was fine if the videos were then given to the school administration or the police. However, many posters, including some who had no objection to filming, opposed any circulation of the videos. Often a fight involves one kid who is being bullied or picked upon. Circulating a video of the kid being beat up only adds to the bullying. Other posters argue that school administrators' opposition to filming is aimed at protecting themselves and making it easier to cover-up violence in the schools. The MCPS critics don't seem to have their story straight in this regard. According to them, the schools won't do anything about filming a fight. But, also according to them, MCPS will surpress videos as part of a cover-up. Which is it? The thread devolved into a general discussion of MCPS discipline and problems within the schools. Many posters blamed school staff while others blamed parents. Some posters fear that phones actually increase violence because the constant filming and circulating of videos leads to retaliation or publicity seeking. The most recent posts in the thread involve a discussion of privacy and how that applies to filming and circulating videos.

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