Category Archives: College

China’s Conformity Challenges Innovation??

Source: NY Times, Nov 2019

Mr. Peng is one of a growing number of “student information officers” who keep tabs on their professors’ ideological views. They are there to help root out teachers who show any sign of disloyalty to President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party.

“Everyone feels they are in danger,” said You Shengdong, a longtime economics professor at Xiamen University in eastern China who was fired last year after students reported him for criticizing one of Mr. Xi’s favorite propaganda slogans.

“How do we make progress,” Mr. You asked, “how can we produce inventions in this environment?”

The proliferation of student informers has raised concerns among scholars and students, who see the practice as another attempt to stifle classroom debate. All universities in the country are controlled by the party, which appoints the institutions’ top administrative officials and runs party committees on campuses.

Professors say the use of student informers is creating a climate of fear in classrooms.

Mr. You, the economics professor who was fired from Xiamen University, said students had reported him for questioning Mr. Xi’s trademark slogan, the “Chinese dream,” a vision of prosperity and strength for the nation. Mr. You said he told his students that dreams are “delusions and fantasies — not ideals.”

Mr. You, 71, who has since relocated to New York, said his students began referring to him as extreme and “anti-Communist.” His classroom was equipped with a video camera, which is standard at many Chinese universities, and the authorities warned that they could easily turn up evidence of inappropriate remarks.

“Xi’s goal is to reintroduce that element of self-censorship so that people start to think twice about speaking,” he said. “When political orthodoxy takes over, that’s how the collective mind of society begins to close down.”

Fast-track to Harvard University undergraduate admissions

Source: TaxProf blog, Oct 2019

Using publicly released reports, we examine the preferences Harvard gives for recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs).

Among white admits, over 43% are ALDC. Among admits who are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, the share is less than 16% each. Our model of admissions shows that roughly three quarters of white ALDC admits would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs.

Removing preferences for athletes and legacies would significantly alter the racial distribution of admitted students, with the share of white admits falling and all other groups rising or remaining unchanged.

Educational Credentials for the Digital Era

Source: HBR, Sep 2019

In a market that continues to prioritize formal educational credentials, the once free-of-charge MOOC upstarts have found a business model — and today it is squarely focused on online degrees and other fee-based educational credentials. MOOC platforms such as Coursera and EdX have transitioned to focus on the thriving online degree business, a market also long-served by publicly traded education companies such as Pearson, Wiley, and 2U. The MOOC platforms that birthed new credential products such as the “nanodegree” and the “MicroMasters” (both trademarked terms) are now competing in the established, two-decades-old market for online degrees — one of the only growth segments in American higher education.

More than 3 million students study fully online in the United States — and notably, 29% of all students enrolled in any type of graduate-level program are fully online students.

Today, according to our national surveys, a majority (61%) of hiring leaders view credentials earned online as equal to or better than those completed in person. This acceptance of online delivery has been steadily driven by employers’ years of growing direct experience hiring from, participating in, and sending employees into online university programs.

Georgia Tech has successfully scaled its innovative MOOC-based master’s degree program in computer science, priced at just $7,000 and now enrolling more than 6,000 students. As part of this program, the university has notably pioneered the use of AI-based teaching assistants. Other colleges offering MOOC-based, AI-driven degrees — many launched in just the last year — include the University of Michigan, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of London, and a number of others.

Richest Graduates

Source: Visual Capitalist, Aug 2019

Elitism –> Wealth

Source: Psychology Today, Aug 2019

we discovered that from 2002-2016, the billionaires who earned their money in the technology—and especially the finance and investments—sectors have increasingly attended elite schools.

In 2002, 62 percent of the finance and investments sector were elite educated, whereas in 2016, a full 73.5 percent were elite educated. For technology, the numbers were 50 percent and 63 percent, respectively.

the economist Greg Mankiw stated, “changes in technology have allowed a small number of highly educated and exceptionally talented individuals to command superstar incomes in ways that were not possible a generation ago.”

Income-Sharing Agreements for College Tuition

Source: Quartz, Feb 2018

Theoretically, ISAs incentivize students to maximize their income while repaying investors who assume the bulk of students’ risk relative to private debt. Payments scale with earnings, so high-earners pay more of their income and the share progressively declines as income falls.

The exact percentage depends on their course of study, earning potential, caliber of school and other factors, but terms of 10% of future income for 10 years or more for shorter periods are not uncommon. Below a certain threshold, students pay nothing, and an upper cap can ensure students will never pay back more than a fixed share of the initial value of their ISA.

One of the first firms to enter the US market was the Chilean firm Lumni founded in 2002 (although it only came to the US in 2009) followed by 13th Avenue (2009), Cumulus Funding (2011), Upstart (2012), Pave (2012), and Vemo (2015). Not all are still signing ISAs, but current interest seems to be based on growing demand.

ISAs essentially allow students to pay for today’s tuition out of their future earnings. 

A 2017 American Enterprise Institute study of 400 college and high school students and parents found just 7% of students and 5% of parents even knew ISAs existed.

Related Resource: EdSurge, Feb 2019
<with list of institutions supporting ISAs)

… rather than paying tuition up front, students pay back a portion of their income after graduating and landing a job. And if students don’t land a job, they pay back nothing.

Venturing Forth Beyond College

Source: Both Sides of the Table, May 2019

1. Networks.

You learn so much more in life by surrounding yourself with talented people.

2. The world works on a pull model.

The best opportunities in life come from people who PULL you into them. When people are building teams and looking for talented, hard-working people they break down walls to pull you in.

you need to build a network even outside of your company.

3. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

It’s not good enough to know people. In order for them to pull you in and pull you up you need to ASK.

4. It is better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

… Sometimes asking alone isn’t enough. Decide which rules are acceptable to break.

5. There’s a time to learn and a time to earn.

Learn tangible skills that will be valuable in your future.

6. Be politely persistent.

More than 50% of people I meet with don’t proactively push for more meetings or interactions. You can’t get mad if people don’t return your emails or calls. Every person worth meeting is so busy they can barely get through their day’s work. Success comes to those who follow through and do so with grace and humility.

7. Get your foot in the door.

8. Build a personal brand. Be known for something. Develop your voice.

Every now and again somebody figures out how to communicate a unique message to an audience and become known for something in a field. Developing an audience gives you a bigger network, bigger knowledge and more power to get ahead.


  • Take some risks. I have.
  • Take the time to experience new things in life.
  • Take hard forks in the road and don’t worry about what the other path held. As you age your crossroads narrow.
  • Take chances.
  • Ask for the crazy promotion with a sly smile on your face.
  • Show up in an unexpected place.
  • Every now and again beg for forgiveness. Taking risks is, by definition, risky! But nothing ventured, nothing gained.

If you make the most of your crossroads and live without regret, your relatives will smile from the beyond knowing their hard work gave you the freedoms of choice that you now enjoy.