Intentional grade inflation

A story in the NY Times describes how at least 10 law schools have deliberately made their grades more lenient. The reason? To have their students appear more attractive in a weak job market.

[Loyola Law School Los Angeles]  is retroactively inflating its grades, tacking on 0.333 to every grade recorded in the last few years. The goal is to make its students look more attractive in a competitive job market.

In the last two years, at least 10 law schools have deliberately changed their grading systems to make them more lenient. These include law schools like New York University and Georgetown, as well as Golden Gate University and Tulane University, which just announced the change this month. Some recruiters at law firms keep track of these changes and consider them when interviewing, and some do not.

The article also discusses other interesting measures including abandoning traditional grades and paying students to take unpaid internships.

Are we too incompetent to recognize it?

A social psychologist stumbles upon an article about an incompetent bank robber:

As Dunning read through the article, a thought washed over him, an epiphany.  If Wheeler was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber — that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity.

An interesting discussion with this professor, who developed the “Dunning-Kruger Effect.”

Bonus: talk about the usefulness of Donald Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns”!

Training a young American soccer star

Two articles that disagree about whether young male soccer players in America should be going to Division One college programs to play. There are now many more female Division One soccer programs and they can offer more scholarships than men’s teams.

It has been my understanding that soccer is like baseball; college, for many, is a waste of time. (Baseball players have terrible education levels due to this common life in the minor leagues.) The best young soccer players in the world are often discovered before they are 15. College simply delays their development. Soccer has a sort of informal minor league system; young players play for lesser leagues (like MLS in the US or Division One or Two in England) before they are bought by a first-rate squad. American soccer players are only now consistently playing for better overseas squads, such as Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, and Landon Donovan in the Premier League.

For women, it is a different story. There is a professional women’s league in the US – but it attracts little attention and pays little. College offers good competition while getting an education. Outside of going on to play for the Women’s World Cup, many players may never see the attention they get in college.

1. The New York Times: How A Soccer Star Is Made.

2. Minding the Campus: Why U.S. Men’s Soccer Will Now Decline.

David Brooks defending the liberal arts

David Brooks takes a run at defending the liberal arts. Perhaps not an easy task in this financial milieu. According to Brooks, the benefits: improved reading and writing, increased knowledge of the language of emotion, providing a wealth of analogies, and a better understanding of “The Big Shaggy.” Seems like a typical defense…though I question the use of the term “The Big Shaggy.”

No UofI Interim President statue

With the financial difficulties in the country plus expanding college costs across the board, particularly at state schools (and especially in broke Illinois), I wonder how UofI leaders could have thought commissioning a $100,000 statue of the Interim President (though he was formerly president from 1979 to 1995)  was a good idea.