Category Archives: College

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.

Nerds Learn Improv Comedy

Source: ZeroHedge, May 2019

Computer-science majors at Northeastern University face perhaps the most difficult test they’ve ever encountered; improv class.

The class forces the bona-fide computer nerds to bring out, or at least emulate, their inner alpha – overcoming crippling fears of interacting with other humans, face-to-face, in front of a bunch of other people. The course requires public speaking, lecturing on nontechnical topics, and speaking gibberish such as “butuga dubuka manala phuthusa,” according to the WSJ’s Sara Castellanos.

Over 800 Northwestern CS majors have taken the class, which also involves awkwardly staring into a classmate’s eyes for 60 seconds unless someone laughs first. Another activity requires students to tell a joke.

“The stereotype is that we can’t talk to people and we’re nerds and wear hoodies,” said Catherine McLean who was initially skeptical about the course, only to find that she learned to better use her voice’s volume and pitch, as well as the ability to hold casual conversations with people on topics which she was not an expert.

Harvard Almost Went Bankrupt

Source: Manifold Learning, May 2019

the four fund managers at Harvard, just four individuals who were involved in running Harvard’s endowment, they together earned more money than all the professors at Harvard combined, which is astonishing. And because Harvard had invested in mortgage securities and derivatives, Harvard actually almost went bankrupt.

Harvard came within a whisker of going bankrupt — if not for the bailout, you know, the financial bailout, Harvard would have gone bankrupt.

Related Resource: Reuters, Nov 2009

Most people, if they’ve hired a legendary fund manager on a multi-million-dollar salary to look after investments and liquidity, would listen to the advice of that person. But most people aren’t Larry Summers:

It happened at least once a year, every year. In a roomful of a dozen Harvard University financial officials, Jack Meyer, the hugely successful head of Harvard’s endowment, and Lawrence Summers, then the school’s president, would face off in a heated debate. The topic: cash and how the university was managing – or mismanaging – its basic operating funds.

Through the first half of this decade, Meyer repeatedly warned Summers and other Harvard officials that the school was being too aggressive with billions of dollars in cash, according to people present for the discussions, investing almost all of it with the endowment’s risky mix of stocks, bonds, hedge funds, and private equity. Meyer’s successor, Mohamed El-Erian, would later sound the same warnings to Summers, and to Harvard financial staff and board members.

“Mohamed was having a heart attack,’’ said one former financial executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of angering Harvard and Summers. He considered the cash investment a “doubling up’’ of the university’s investment risk.

But the warnings fell on deaf ears.

Summers, amazingly, wanted to invest 100% of the university’s cash in the endowment, and had to be talked down to investing a mere 80%. No wonder Meyer and El-Erian tried to talk him out of it: the Harvard endowment was never designed as a place to invest sums of cash which might be needed immediately. Instead, it’s designed to invest for the very long term, taking advantage of the higher returns on illiquid investments.

Summers was playing a high-risk carry-trade game with Harvard’s cash:

The aggressive investment of cash accounts is part of how the university has long run its “central bank,’’ an account that holds funds from its various schools and pays them a modest US Treasury rate of return. The “bank,’’ in turn, has invested the lion’s share of that money with the endowment, generating returns that are used to pay for shared needs, like graduate housing and financial aid.

No one had the stones to stand up to Summers when it came to this high-risk strategy of essentially borrowing at Treasury rates and investing the proceeds in an illiquid long-term endowment — certainly not James Rothenberg, Harvard’s part-time, unpaid, California-based treasurer.

After Summers left, sheer inertia took over, and nothing happened — maybe because El-Erian was soon on his way out as well. The result was that the university ended up losing 27% of its $6 billion in “cash”: a whopping $1.8 billion. 

An Education .NE. A Degree

Source: ZeroHedge, Mar 2019

there’s an enormous difference between an education and a university degree.


a university degree is just an expensive piece of paper; it doesn’t actually confer any real knowledge.

An education, on the other hand, develops skills and mental agility to create real value in the world.

There are thousands of free resources out there that people can take advantage of to learn valuable skills. That’s an incredible opportunity to learn real-world, applicable skills that you can use to create an income for yourself.

every time I hear someone whining about wanting free university education, I always ask them how many online courses they’ve taken. How many books have they read?

I typically receive nothing more than a confused look in return.

But that’s the nature of entitlements: people feel that they should have everything provided for them without having to lift a finger to help themselves.

Let’s be honest– a lot of people waste away in university. They skip classes, drink beer, and learn nothing.

Others work their butts off to learn and live as much as they can, and genuinely become better people as a result.

This notion of treating them all the same, and investing equally in each of them, is beyond insane.

Aceing Your Next Exam

Source: Scott Young blog, Mar 2019

1. When to Study and How Much

2. What to Study and How to Do It

3. What Kinds of Practice to Do

4. Make Sure You Really Understand

5. Beat Anxiety by Simulating the Exam First