Currently browsing the archives for September 2016
Most interesting sentence in the Record this week:
Under the tenures of President Morton Shapiro and President Adam Falk, full-time positions at the College have greatly increased. That said, the growth of faculty has been 10 percent higher than staff since 2002.
Anyone who follows higher education closely (like our friends at Dartblog) would find this claim shocking/unbelievable. Director of Media Relations Mary Dettloff kindly provided these details to EphBlog.
1. Since 2002, there has been growth throughout the college — staff AND faculty. Schapiro grew the faculty dramatically from approximately 259 in 2002 to 306 in 2009. That represents an 18 percent increase. Falk further increased faculty to approximately 340 (our current number/2016). That is another 11 percent since 2009. So, total faculty growth since 2002 is 81 positions or 31 percent.
2. Since 2002 non-faculty staff has grown by 138 FTEs or 19 percent. This includes about 24 daycare workers that we brought on when we in-sourced the childcare center.
3. Growth in non-faculty staff occurs partly as a lagging response to growth in the faculty and the demands that places on the institution (more faculty means more demands on staff at all levels — daycare, faculty housing, science center technicians, as examples). Staff growth also has occurred as an investment in a changing student population. Today, we have a professionally staffed academic resources center, the Center for Learning in Action (community engagement), a Muslim chaplain, and increased staffing in the health center, just to name a few. None of those existed in 2002.
To sum it up, since 2002, the faculty has grown 31 percent while the non-faculty staff has grown 19 percent.
Good news! Williams should have more faculty (and smaller classes and more tutorials). It does not need any more staff. But there is still a lot to unpack in those details. (Thanks to Dettloff for providing them.) Worth three days to do so?
To the Williams Community,
The College’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report was published on-line in September 2016 and can be viewed at – http://security.williams.edu/files/2010/04/Clery-2016.pdf
The Annual Security Report discloses information concerning campus safety and security policies and procedures, as well as statistics regarding certain types of crimes reported to the campus and local law enforcement during the calendar year 2015.
This report includes:
Policies and procedures
Security awareness programs
Security of and access to College facilities
Campus Safety Authorities CSA
Possession, use and sale of alcoholic beverages and illegal drugs
Sex offenses and the sex offender registry
Violence Against Women Act VAWA
Reporting of crimes and emergencies
Emergency notification systems
Crime statistics for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015
The Annual Fire Safety Report includes:
Fire safety policies
Fire statistics for on-campus student residences 2013,2014 and 2015
Fire safety systems, alarm monitoring and sprinkler systems
Polices relating to portable electrical appliances
Fire safety training
Together, these reports provide students, prospective students, employees, and prospective employees with key information regarding the security of the campus and surrounding areas, and ultimately, create a safer, more secure campus environment. To request a paper copy of the current Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, please contact our Associate Director for Clery Compliance and Training, Alison Warner at 413-597-4444 or by email at email@example.com
[Editor — Permanent copy here (pdf).]
What advice would you give to Williams students preparing for life after graduation?
Find your passion and stick to that. If you want to work in a smaller community and work one on one with people, you might not get rich monetarily, but you’ll benefit in other ways.
The other thing is: be open to new experiences and understand that you can only control what you can control. There are outside influences like my injury that no amount of planning in the world can account for. If you only have one plan like I did, it’s damaging. Control what you can control but be willing to be flexible and roll with the punches because they’re coming. With a Williams education you should always be able to dust yourself off and get back in the game.
Read the whole article here.
An interesting perspective on mulitculturalism from Chief Wynn here.
A regular reader sent us (pdf) these details behind this year’s US News rankings. Let’s spend five days discussing them. Today is Day 4.
Continuing our discussion of the underlying data, I am most suspicious of the Financial Resources information. Recall the methodology:
Generous per-student spending indicates that a college can offer a wide variety of programs and services. U.S. News measures financial resources by using the average spending per student on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures in the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. Spending on sports, dorms and hospitals doesn’t count.
The problem is two-fold: First, spending on dorms should count! Williams is a better college, at least partly, because our dorms are much nicer, especially the number and quality of our single rooms. A similar argument applies to our spending on sports. Second, lots of spending is suspect:
Nothing wrong with whales, of course. We are in no way Cetacea-phobes at EphBlog! However, the money spent here (which presumably helps Williams ranking) would have been better allocated to matching the financial aid awards from places like Harvard and Stanford.
2) Any thoughts on how much better Williams (93%) does in percentage of high school students in the top 10% of the class compared to colleges like Middlebury (79%) and Wellesley (80%)? This has, for years, been a strange statistic since so many high schools (especially elite prep schools) no longer report class ranks, both to decrease competition (the surface reason) and to make it easier for colleges to accept their students (the real reason). For Williams, the data looks like:
How long before US News gets rid of this component of its rankings? Middlebury, for example, no longer (pdf, page 10) reports high school ranks. Is about 80% what schools who don’t report get stuck with? Or does Middlebury report this data secretly to US News but not in its common data set?
Supporting Each Other in the Midst of Tragic National Events – Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6 PM in Hardy House
Dear Members of the Williams Community,
During the past few weeks our nation has again experienced a wave of tragic and disturbing events – events which are having a significant impact on our campus community.
Tomorrow evening, members of our community are invited to gather in a safe space where we can reflect, listen, speak and support each other.
Members of the Davis Center, Chaplains’ Office, Dean’s Office and other supportive staff are available – today, tomorrow evening as we gather, and in days ahead.
Those offices are open; students are always welcome to reach out. After hours, Campus Safety and Security can always help you connect with any of these supportive resources if you call 597-4444.
Leticia Smith-Evans Haynes
Institutional Diversity and Equity
The Davis Center
Chaplain to the College
A regular reader sent us (pdf) these details behind this year’s US News rankings. Let’s spend five days discussing them. Today is Day 3.
We talked yesterday about the importance of Faculty Resources to Williams’ dominance of the current rankings. Here are some more data points:
1) There are two components to the Faculty Resource score that don’t appear in this summary: percentage professors who a) have the highest degree in their fields and b) are full time. Any readers interested in a detailed analysis of the complete data set? The Record ought to partner with some other college papers to see how consistent elite LACs are in their reporting to US News. For example, does Williams count Winter Study instructors as faculty members? On one hand, they probably should since these instructors teach/grade required courses. But I bet that Williams doesn’t, not least because doing so would hurt these metrics.
2) Why does Williams do so well on the Faculty Resources score when compared to other elite schools? It is a mystery! We do relatively well on the percentage of classes below 20 (thanks Morty!) but (equally?) poorly on the percentage of large classes. (Are 3% of the classes at Williams above 50? That seems high.) I am also curious about the details associated with counting classes. Does a tutorial count as one class of 10 or five classes of 2?
3) What should Williams do? No More Lectures!
4) I am impressed with Amherst’s SAT scores. But are they still cheating? I think they are (pdf)!
Recall our discussions a decade ago (which, alas, I can’t seem to find). Honest college report the scores for all the students who take the SAT and all who take the ACT. Since many students take both, the data usual looks like this (from Williams).
How could it possibly be that 30% fewer students at Amherst take the SAT relative to Williams? I bet that the proportions are similar, but that Amherst cheats and does not report 30% of its SAT scores, for all those students whose ACT scores are better than their SAT scores. There is a great story here for a talented Record reporter.
How Lester Holt left out our candidate’s best stuff. The system is rigged!
A regular reader sent us (pdf) these details behind this year’s US News rankings. Let’s spend five days discussing them. Today is Day 2.
Continuing our examination of the first portion of the data:
Note the key importance of Faculty Resources. On almost all other measures, Williams is very similar to its peer group, as we would expect. From the methodology:
Faculty resources (20 percent): Research shows that the more satisfied students are about their contact with professors, the more they will learn and the more likely they are to graduate. U.S. News uses five factors from the 2015-2016 academic year to assess a school’s commitment to instruction.
Class size is 40 percent of this measure. Schools receive the most credit in this index for their proportion of undergraduate classes with fewer than 20 students. Classes with 20-29 students score second highest; those with 30-39 students, third highest; and those with 40-49 students, fourth highest. Classes that have 50 or more students receive no credit.
Faculty salary (35 percent) is the average faculty pay, plus benefits, during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 academic years, adjusted for regional differences in the cost of living using indexes from the consulting firm Runzheimer International. U.S. News also weighs the proportion of professors with the highest degree in their fields (15 percent), the student-faculty ratio (5 percent) and the proportion of faculty who are full time (5 percent).
We will look tomorrow at some of the underlying details of this score, but, to the extent that there is a single explanation as to why there is a such a big 5 point gap between Williams and its peers, Faculty Resources is the primary explanation.
By the way, recall this question:
David, can you provide one single piece of evidence that this ranking is in any way important to the college’s reputation, let alone critically important? Maybe it was in the 1980s when these rankings first came out. But I don’t think you can.
Foolish reader! If the rankings weren’t important, than how do you explain this?
A presentation by Catherine Watt, the former institutional researcher and now a staff member at Clemson University, laid bare in a way that is usually left to the imagination the steps that Clemson has (rather brazenly) taken since 2001 to move from 38th to 22nd in U.S. News’s ranking of public research universities. …
When President James F. Barker took over the South Carolina institution in 2001, he vowed in his initial interview to move Clemson into the top 20 (a distinction that many research universities covet, but few can achieve, given that most of those already in the top 20 aren’t eager to relinquish their spots). Although many people on the campus were skeptical, Clemson has pursued the goal almost single-mindedly, seeking to “affect — I’m hesitating to use the word ‘manipulate,’ ” Watt said — “every possible indicator to the greatest extent possible.” She added: “It is the thing around which almost everything revolves for the president’s office.”
That statement was among the first at Watt’s session that provoked murmurs of discomfort (and more) from the audience — there would be many more as she described the various steps Clemson had taken to alter its profile in order to improve its U.S. News standing. …
The easiest moves, she said, revolved around class size: Clemson has significantly increased the proportion of its classes with fewer than 20 students, one key U.S. News indicator of a strong student experience. While Clemson has always had comparatively small class sizes for a public land-grant university, it has focused, Watt said, on trying to bump sections with 20 and 25 students down to 18 or 19, but letting a class with 55 rise to 70. “Two or three students here and there, what a difference it can make,” she said. “It’s manipulation around the edges.”
If the rankings are not important, then why do Clemson (and dozens of other schools) go to so much trouble to manipulate them?
Some of our snottier readers may mock Clemson for this manipulation, but such mockery just demonstrates their naivete. Consider Williams class sizes this fall. Example:
You think that the English department made a careful study of the optimal size of 100-level classes and just happened to decide that 19 or fewer was best for our students? Ha! President Morton O. Schapiro wanted Williams to be #1 in US News and he decreed that, to the greatest extent possible, class sizes should be fewer than 20. His legacy lives on.
Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Surely all Ephs can agree that tonight’s debate should be a rap battle?! Take it away Oren Cass ’05:
Trump: It was the best of times when we were strong, now it’s the worst
Elites detest America, put D.C. donors first T
hey grease each other’s wheels, spinning globalist ideals
Let’s get back to winning like I do in all my deals
Ah, just look how Clinton panders
Abandoning all standards just to outflank Bernie Sanders
That man had no immigration plan and still La Raza panned hers
Now a promise to ignore the law is all she really stands for
Clinton: Not true.
Trump: Ooh, it’s much too late to pivot
If someone comes illegally why should we forgive it?
The president must take care to provide for law and order
Your job as top cop don’t stop on arrival at the border
Real Americans are sick of all your tricks
We want unity but you play identity politics
I’ll deport, build the wall, track down visa overstays
And once they back down on my crackdown, Mexico pays!
Stand with me in the land of the free
Pray to god we never see Hillary’s amnesty
Her plan to hand out healthcare led a White House to despair
Imagine what gon’ happen when illegals get welfare
Clinton: Donald, you did well in your primary fight
But the general electorate ain’t the alt-right
Race-baiting for your base is rating poorly in the polls
You gotta be swing-stating, not elating Russian trolls
Immigration is what built this nation
If we embrace every race we create a safe space
Show the world a better face You’re a disgrace
You hate on those who immigrate
Seeking freedom, ‘stead you’d lead ’em
Back to some poor, war-torn place
Why this panic, about anyone Hispanic?
Your own forefathers ain’t from this side of the Atlan’ic
“I’ll deport, build the wall,” yeah keep ranting
We know whose really doing all of Mar-e-Lago’s planting
Oh, and speaking of skin color, Mr. Super Self-Important
Your spray-tan’s too orange, no one cares you went to Wharton
You think you impress with your asinine demands I think you’re just compensating for your tiny hands
Will Donald Trump really install a tall border wall or
Is it just an empty promise his supporters all fall for
Reporters say “Deport or stay?” Why won’t he clarify?
Can’t you see, the plan’s only amnesty and e-verify!
To make our country great again let’s not kick out Latinos
Just anyone so dumb he loses money on casinos
Genius! Longtime readers will recall that Cass was a rap battle genius at Williams more than a decade ago.
Got an opinion on the debate? Tell us below.
A regular reader sent us (pdf) these details behind this year’s US News rankings. Let’s spend five days discussing them. Today is Day 1.
1) The most important data point here is the huge gap between Williams and Amherst. (Thanks to our regular reader for pointing this out.) Recall the methodology:
To arrive at a school’s rank, U.S. News first calculated the weighted sum of its standardized scores. The final scores were rescaled so that the top school in each category received a value of 100, and the other schools’ weighted scores were calculated as a proportion of that top score. Final scores were rounded to the nearest whole number and ranked in descending order.
Exercise for the reader: Assume that by “standardized,” US News means that they take the mean and subtract the standard deviation, leading to sub-scores that are N(0, 1). How much does Williams have to be leading the other schools in various categories for it to have a 5 point lead in the overall ranking based on 100?
2) Note how well Williams does in the Peer Assessment and High School Guidance Counselor rankings. Note the circularity that this can generate. Williams has been ranked #1 by US News for 14 years. What sort of high school guidance counselors are likely to fill out a random questionnaire from US News? The sorts that care about the US News rankings. What sorts of schools are they likely to rank high? Schools that they have read about before in US News! Williams could, in truth, become a horrible school tomorrow and, for years, these counselors would rank it highly.
3) For giggles, not this part of the methodology:
To reduce the impact of strategic voting by respondents, U.S. News eliminated the two highest and two lowest scores each school received before calculating the average score.
Watt said that Clemson officials, in filling out the reputational survey form for presidents, rate “all programs other than Clemson below average,” to make the university look better. “And I’m confident my president is not the only one who does that,” Watt said.
If such strategic voting is widespread, it is not clear if eliminating just four outlier scores will be enough to fight it.
Horn Hall opened this fall, making it the first new residential building the College has completed since Mission Park in the 1970s.
The building, which houses 60 sophomores, juniors and seniors in its 40 singles and 10 doubles, boasts a number of amenities. …
The construction of the hall was made possible by a donation from Ragnar Horn ’85 and Joey Horn ’87. Both live in Norway and Joey Horn is a member of the Board of Trustees. The Horns’ $10 million gift contributed to a total of $15 million spent on construction.
The need for new residential space took root in a college planning process that goes back several years.
“We looked at all the spaces and many were in need of major renovations,” Puddester said. “To start that project, we need extra beds. Now we only have enough space for current students.”
Garfield House, named for college President Harry A. Garfield, is scheduled to be the first building renewed in the multiyear renovation project. The former fraternity house dates to the 1880s and is built in the Tudor style.When renovations are under way, the 41 students living there will be placed in the new Stetson dormitory.
Key document in that planning process is the 2013 Residential Sector Plan. Should we spend a week going through it? Key point, with regard to Horn Hall, is that Williams does not expect to expand the student body. Instead, it will be renovating much of the current housing stock, taking a building or two “off-line” each year, housing the displaced students (conceptually) in Horn Hall. (From the student point of view, of course, there is not an actual displacement. Horn Hall is just another house that students can pick into.)
Quick feedback to Record reporter James Rasmussen: Try to be more than an Administration mouthpiece, taking dictation from our friends in Hopkins Hall. The construction was not “made possible by a donation”! This implies that, without the Horns’ generosity, the building would not exist. Absurd! The College has a $2 billion endowment. The College was going to put up this building no matter what. But, once they have a new building under construction, a wonderful “naming opportunity” arises. Whichever donor coughs up $10 million gets to slap any name (within reason) on the structure. Nothing wrong with that! Indeed, this is how big-ticket philanthropy works everywhere. But, please, try to do a better job informing your readers.
An anonymous Williams professor points to this Daily Message:
Basquiat and Black Lives Matter at WCMA
Jean Michel-Basquiat’s painting “Defacement” becomes the focal point of WCMA’s Reading Room and the centerpiece of a series of conversations about police brutality, Black identity, and the Black Lives Matter movement. If you or your group are interested in hosting a conversation in the space please click for more info …
The professor comments:
Just what the College needs. A nice neutral space for a quiet, rational, dispassionate discussion of policing black communities. . .
Those who remember know me as PTC. I commented here for years talking about townie life and critiquing the college whenever I could. We had a lot of spirited arguments on this blog. Thanks to David for allowing this open forum.
Ephblog kept me home. I was overseas a lot when I posted.
My real name is Cleave Carter. My dad, Harvey, was class of ’60, my mother in law director of security, Jean Thorndike.
Is she the only college administrator that David Kane likes?
I got out of the Navy in 2012, after operating in over 27 nations and serving in three wars in the US Navy SEAL Teams. I am a retired Master Chief SEAL. When I got home, I went back to undergrad at MCLA (summa cum laude/ 4.0). Then, I got a Master’s in Liberal Studies from Dartmouth College. I won the award for best thesis there.
Yes, I can write. Yes, I am bright. Yes, I have a ton of experience. Yes, I am a townie. Yes, I am a legacy. Yes, I am a veteran.
More school is next.
I live about 20 yards from campus. I grew up here, but no Williams for me. Such is life in the big city.
Williamstown is an odd place to come back to after so many years in war. You can never really come home when you are not welcome…
Williams College should, and now does, matriculate veterans. David is wrong in his sentiments about this matter. Absolutely wrong. The men and women I served with are the most capable people I have ever met in my life.
You have given one a chance now… and he is crushing it. The proof is in the pudding.
It's almost as though Trump has no grasp on general election campaigns and can't manage his way out of a paper bag. https://t.co/7AErQzQOPx
— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) August 13, 2016
But, of course, Drezner ’90 is a highly credentialed political scientist, a tenured professor at Tufts.
He must know much more about how to win a US presidential election than an idiot like Trump . . .
[Those interested in arguing about the election should argue in this thread, not elsewhere.]
The Atlantic.com posts this story of the plight of Liberal Arts majors …
“A large chasm has opened between the fates of young liberal-arts majors and their peers in STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) fields. The former are struggling to find work that pays, at least before their late twenties. The latter are mostly finding lucrative work after they graduate.”
While pulling back on the ‘barista’ a bit, the story is interesting reading.
Having found my first job in the training program at BBDO at the bar in the Williams Club (RIP), I feel I am unable to relate.
But I am sure that some readers will have up-to-date experience.
Comment. 45 minutes. Use as many blue books as you need. Sign the Honor Statement.
(You can see what I mean about being out of it.)
Here are some topics that I could spend a week writing about. Which ones would readers be interested in, if any?
1) The 2016 annual report from the Investment Office should appear next month. To be honest, I will probably spend a week on this regardless because Whitney Wilson requested it last year.
2) Review in more detail the November 2011 racist graffiti in Prospect, which was almost certainly a hoax.
3) Review the board of trustees. This is a topic that we have covered extensively in the past, but less so recently, especially with regard to the major changes in membership that have occurred over the last few years.
4) Deconstructing the College’s statement on climate change.
5) Thomas Klingenstein ’76 argues (pdf) that the trustees at Williams, and other elite schools, are failing to perform their duties. Is he right?
6) IPEDS is the premier source for data about Williams and other elite colleges. Should we spend a week exploring how to use it and looking at what is there?
7) Deconstructing Adam Falk’s statement about John Derbyshire.
8) Review an updated version of this plan (from 2005!) to improve Williams housing, now that the nightmare of neighborhood housing has ended.
9) Events in Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston and elsewhere have led Professor Neil Roberts to think about a potential new class on dismantling white supremacy. You can read some his tweets here. Worth a week of discussion?
10) Other topics?
Some dates to note:
– TONIGHT, Monday, in Baxter Hall, from 5:30 to 7:30, come meet your candidates for election
– Polls are open from this Thursday, September 22 at 4:00 PM until this Sunday, September 25 at 8:00 PM
Thank you for voting, and don’t forget that it’s never too late to get involved with CC. Even if you didn’t run, feel free to drop by one of our weekly meetings once our fall term starts in October.
VP for Communications
[Ed. — Permanent copy here.]
At least half the Ephs who attend law school are making a mistake. Their lives would be fuller, happier and, often, monetarily richer if they did something, anything else. I spent 30 minutes five years ago talking with a junior (and occasional EphBlog commentator) about why his ill-formed plans for attending law school were a bad idea. Below is a cleaned up version of what I told him. Other comments welcome.
1) The vast majority of Ephs who attend law school have little/no idea what law school or the practice of law are like. They have watched Law and Order. They know that successful corporate lawyers in big cities make a lot of money. They like thinking about constitutional issues in a class like PSCI 216: American Constitutionalism I: Structures of Power. But this knowledge provides almost no grounds for making a good decision. As Jeff notes:
The only definite advice I’d give is to figure out BEFORE law school one (or more) legal career paths that are of interest to you, and try to learn what a day in the life on those paths is truly like. Too many people pursue law school, and go into enormous debt, thinking that it will “open up doors.” 99 times out of 100, the only doors it uniquely opens are doors to traditional legal careers, typically in law firms, academia, or government.
First, before you apply to law school, you should attend a normal (not staged for applicants) first year class in something like torts or civil procedure at Albany Law School or at a night school in your hometown over the summer. (Yes, I realize that this is a hassle. But don’t be stupid. You are about to spend $150,000 (at least) and devote three years of your life. You need to get a clue.) Find out what a real law school class is like. You will probably be shocked at how boring it is. Do you remember that annoying PHIL 102 class in which 2 or 3 dweebs prattled on endlessly about the most semantic/pointless disputes imaginable? That is what law school is like. If you do not enjoy detailed discussions about extremely minor points, you will not like law school.
Second, try reading some of the material from law school, like this set of cases about torts. Current students should read at least 100 pages of cases and commentary before they apply. You will read thousands of pages in law school. Now is the time to find out if you want to. Just because you like the sort of readings assigned in a typical Williams class does not mean that you will like readings in the law.
Third, you should also spend a day with a lawyer, a regular working attorney. There are several alumni in the Williamstown and Albany area who would be happy to let you shadow them for a day. Find out what their lives are like. It is not glamorous! Law jobs are varied, of course, but you owe it to yourself to learn about the profession before going into significant debt. (Note that pre-med students have much less to worry about in this regard. Their interactions with doctors growing up have been very representative of what most doctors spend most of their time doing.)
All of the above is the minimum you should do before applying to law school. Too many Williams students (like the one I talked to in January) tell themselves some version of: “I like writing. I like reading. I like thinking. I was good at all those things before Williams and I have only gotten better at them. Lawyers seem to do a lot of writing, reading and thinking. So, I should go to law school.” This is faulty reasoning because law school (and law practice) are radically different from your Williams experience.
Even worse are the Williams students who think: “I get good grades at Williams. I like school and do well at it. I don’t really know what I want to do with my life. Getting a job doesn’t have much appeal. My parents will be happy if I go to law school. So, let’s apply!”
2) The vast majority of Ephs who attend law school have little/no idea what their likely career path in the law will be. At least 1/3 of the Williams students who apply to law school would not apply if they took the above steps. They would realize that law school and a legal career are not for them. But there are still many Ephs, even among the 2/3 who find tort law cases interesting and who were intrigued by the life of a lawyer, who are making a mistake in going to law school because they misestimate the odds of getting the law job that they want.
It’s time those of us inside the profession did a better job of telling others outside the profession that most of us don’t earn $160,000 a year, that we can’t afford expensive suits, flashy cars, sexy apartments. We don’t lunch with rock stars or produce movies. Every year I’m surprised by the number of my students who think a J.D. degree is a ticket to fame, fortune and the envy of one’s peers — a sure ticket to the upper middle class. Even for the select few for whom it is, not many last long enough at their law firms to really enjoy it.
There’s something wrong with a system that makes a whole lot of people pay a whole lot of money for jobs that are not worth it, or that have no future. If we wanted to be honest, we would inform students that law school doesn’t keep their options open. Instead, we should say that if they work hard and do well, they can become lawyers.
Every year tens of thousands of wannabe lawyers enter law school. The majority will be extremely disappointed by their career opportunities.
Thus the title of this essay: law school is a big lie. People enter law school with the idea that a law degree is their ticket to a comfortable upper middle class lifestyle. In fact, just the opposite, law school for most is a ticket to a worse financial state than if they had not attended at all.
Read these posts. (What other links would Ephs suggest on this topic?) Now, to be fair, much of this advice is being given to students without a Williams IQ, students who are considering Tier II or Tier III law schools. Most Williams students attend highly ranked law schools. But even among the graduates of elite schools, the career paths are much more restricted then current undergraduates might suspect. The vast majority of Williams students who attend a highly ranked law school go in one of three directions. (And there is a great senior thesis to be written about the career paths and choices made by Williams students who attended law school over the last 50 years.)
First, they drop out of law altogether. Our lawyer readers can tell numerous stories about their classmates who no longer practice law. Almost none of those students go into a career that either required, or provides an advantage to those with, a legal education. They are just three years behind (and much more in debt) than the students who avoided law school. (If you and/or your family are independently wealthy, then, obviously, you can afford to spend three years in law school — or getting a Ph.D. in English Literature or sailing around the world or whatever — but almost all Williams students have money concerns.)
Second, they enter poorly paid government work. Now, there is nothing wrong with becoming a lawyer for the FDIC or HUD, but students need to be aware of the economic realities of those career paths. Most Williams students, to the extent that they want to work in government, are better off just going straight from Williams to those agencies. They will be in a position to climb the ladder faster without all the unnecessary debt.
Third, they enter BIG LAW, the elite law firms of the major cities in the US. Want to know what that is like? Read this:
Economically it represented a perfect reification of various Marxist theories. As associates we were wage slaves, members of a white-collar proletariat, objectively closer to the model described in Das Kapital than most nineteenth-century factory hands. It may seem odd to call someone a wage slave whose starting salary was $85,000 (though broken down per hour it was much less impressive). But the work of a junior associate, in reality, is being a clerk, a checker, the one whose job is on the line to make sure that the decimal points are in the right place. No one with an Ivy League education is going to perform this sort of drudgery for much less than 80 grand.
We were also faced with alienation from the products of our labor. You would work on the tiniest part of a huge transaction. You would never see the big picture, never know if your all-nighter made a difference, if your clauses appeared in the final documents, never even find out if the deal had gone through.
Biglaw women are more screwed because society expects more from mothers than “I pay the bills.” It’s BS, but it is where we still are. So on top of paying all the bills (to say nothing of actually carrying a child to term — you know, something that might get you laid off from K&L Gates), Biglaw women are also expected to invest the emotional and caretaking energy a family needs.
Which is impossible to do while billing the hours Biglaw requires. Not difficult, not challenging, it’s straight-up impossible. Biglaw women can break themselves in two and put on a cosmetically enhanced face and claim that they have the perfect job and family and life, but the only people stupid enough to buy it are younger women who want to be in Biglaw and aren’t yet able to deal with the fact that their career choices will have consequences in other areas of their lives.
What other articles about life in BIG LAW would readers recommend?
Both my parents are lawyers and both my grandfathers were lawyers. I was accepted to law school and (almost) attended. I am the sort of person who would have (and does at EphBlog!) liked arguing about minor points in endless detail. I know people who are perfect for a legal career. Yet most Williams students who apply to law school are completely uninformed about what that decision implies about their future.
Summary: Do not go to law school just because you are good at school, it will make your parents happy, and/or you don’t want to start a real job. Those may all be true, but they are bad reasons. First, learn about what law school and the legal profession are like. Second, understand what sort of career you are likely to have. At least 50% of the Williams students applying to law school from the class of 2017 are making a mistake. Avoid their error.
From seven years ago. Ephblog readership was larger and more diverse in interests than deconstruction. A number of comments by different readers.
I’d have the post live on a click, but the “link” command doesn’t seem to be active. (Old dog etc.)
You remember this post, David.
The last paragraph of the College’s news release about the class of 2020 is so filled with fascinating facts that we need four days to go through it. Today is Day 4.
Fifty percent of students will receive financial aid, with an average aid package of $53,194.
Remember last September when we mocked New York Times editor David Leonhardt (@DLeonhardt) for his naiveté in believing that “Williams has recently been making an effort to become more [economically diverse].” This was absurd because, for decades, Williams has been run by people who care a great deal about socio-economic diversity. For Williams to pretend otherwise — and for Leonhardt to allow them to pretend without doing any real reporting — was embarrassing.
Although we documented this absurdity then, the arrival of the class of 2020 allows us an opportunity to revisit it. Leonhardt reported, as fact, that Williams cared more about economic diversity now than it has in the passed. Perhaps the simplest measure of such caring is: How many students receive financial aid? At first glance, 50% of the class of 2020 receiving financial aid seems diverse! But, 8 years ago, fifty percent of the class of 2012 received financial aid. And, 11 years ago, 49% of the students in the class of 2009 received financial aid.
About half of each Williams class has been on financial aid for more than a decade. If “percentage on financial aid” is your preferred measure of economic diversity, then Williams is no more diverse now than it was in 2005.
Not so fast! Williams total cost has dramatically increases over the last decade, from $42,310 to $65,480 this year. (By the way, is there some official source of total costs over time at Williams?) Since US cash-incomes are largely flat over this time period, Williams has become much less economically diverse in the last decade.
In other words, in 2005, the wealth/income of the median family at Williams was large enough that they could afford $42,310. In 2016, the median family at Williams is much richer! It can afford $65,480. In all likelihood, the entire distribution of family income/wealth has significantly increased. Not that there is anything wrong with that! Williams has always been a school for the children of the rich, now more than ever.
And EphBlog does not mind! Williams should accept/recruit/enroll the most academically gifted and ambitious 18 year-old English-fluent students in the world. Some will be rich, some poor. Some US citizens, some not. The changes in the joint distribution of income/wealth/IQ in the population at large, changes forecast in The Bell Curve a generation ago, are not the College’s problem.
Studying the increase/decrease/stability of economic diversity at Williams over the last 50 years would make for a great senior thesis. Start with my ten day rant on related topics in 2014. Summary: The economic diversity at Williams has been largely constant for 50 years. There were poor kids at Williams in the 1960’s. There are poor students today.
In 1998, the 426th poorest family at Williams had a family income of $63,791. What is the family income of the 426th poorest family at Williams today? How has that number changed over the last two decades?
Professor Love has easy access to this data because the College has the family incomes for every student who requests aid. He could answer this question. Is the Record smart enough to ask it?
The last paragraph of the College’s news release about the class of 2020 is so filled with fascinating facts that we need four days to go through it. Today is Day 3.
The students come from 42 states, represent 52 foreign countries, and two of them are military veterans.
1) Given the way that the College likes to brag about the number of states represented, it may be an advantage in admissions to come from a state (Wyoming? Mississippi?) with few applicants.
2) Recall last year’s four part series on country of origin. Read the whole thing! Highlights:
a) Since there are only about 39 international students, it is tough for them to represent 52 countries, even with dual citizenship. Or am I missing something? Perhaps the 52 number includes US dual citizens? Or perhaps a student from Zimbabwe who went to high school in Sweden counts for two? Clarifications welcome.
b) Although the biggest problem with international admission is the quota — and kudos to Jim Kolesar for explaining that the bump the last couple of years was random and that the quota was still in place — the second biggest problem is College’s desire to maximize the number of countries represented rather than find the best international students, regardless of nationality. If we used Academic Rating more seriously, we would have more students from East Asia, especially China and the Chinese Diaspora.
3) Recall our four part series on veteran admissions two years ago. My views have not changed. First, if a veteran (US or otherwise) has Academic Rating 1 or 2, he should be admitted. If he is 3 or lower, he should not be. Second, very few veterans are AR 1/2. This means that William should have few if any veterans. And that is OK. There are other ways — like veterans on the faculty — to provide the veterans’ viewpoint. Third, it is not clear to me that Williams is doing academically ill-prepared veterans any favors by admitting them. Mismatch theory applies as much to veterans as it does to African-Americans. Fourth, it is not obvious that veterans — unlike other applicants who benefit from various flavors of affirmative action — will have much if any impact on the quality of their classmates’ experiences at Williams since many/most veterans will be older, with families, living outside the dorms and eating outside of the dining halls.
At some point, I am going to do a VERY annoying rant about the absurdity of models that spit out a % likelihood of a candidate winning.
— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) September 9, 2016
Latest odds show a tightening race.
Those Ephs who hate statistical models — in the same way that Young Earth Creationist hate the theory of evolution — might consult the betting markets, which currently give Trump a better than 32% chance of winning, the best odds he has had so far.
My question: What do Ephs think about the video of Clinton’s stumble/fall/collapse?
The last paragraph of the College’s news release about the class of 2020 is so filled with fascinating facts that we need four days to go through it. Today is Day 2.
Of the 552 incoming students, 267 identify as men, 251 as women. Two identify as trans or transgender, and one identifies as non-binary. Thirty-one students did not respond to an optional question about gender identity (but did answer a required binary question that appears on the Common Application).
That sure is confusing! Can someone provide the details for parsing this?
First, I think that the Common Ap has a question about “gender at birth” which is required. If so, it would be useful for the College to report that data in the news release. Mary Detloff kindly responded to my question with the answer: female (266) and male (286).
There has been an interesting trend in gender over the last few years. A few years ago, there were more females than males among first years. In 2012 it was it was 291/256! At the time, I attributed this to either a) more competitive female than male applicants and b) a desire for the resident population to be 50/50 requiring more female students since women were (are?) more likely to study abroad. But that trend changed last year, when the split was 270/281.
There are lots of possible causes for this. First, random variation. Second, perhaps women are more likely to take gap years than they used to be, leading to a greater “melt” among female first years than was historically the case. Third, the college making an affirmative choice, perhaps because men are more likely to drop-out/transfer, so you need to start with more men in order to have a graduating class with a 50/50 split. Other possibilities?
Second, can someone provide the details of the College’s questions, and how have they changed in the last few years? Future historians will thank you! According to Inside Higher Ed:
The last year has seen many more colleges let applicants indicate that they are transgender, and — in what may be a first — Williams College included the data in its press release on the incoming class. … A spokeswoman for the college said that officials there did not know of other colleges that have included this information in press releases, but that the goal was to be inclusive.
Inclusiveness is fine, but what is Williams going to do when it files the Common Data Set in two months? It has (I think) no option other than to abide by the requirement that data be provided for men and for women. There are no other gender options. So, either Williams classifies as “female” students who told Williams they were transgender — presumably because that was the gender at birth they gave to the Common Ap — or Williams doesn’t include them at all in the Common Data Set (which would probably cause the submission to fail because of data quality checks). Tough question! Perhaps the statistically sophisticated approach would involve treating gender as missing data and using multiple imputation . . .
Third, spare a thought for our friends in Institutional Research: Courtney Wade and James Cart. What a hassle it will to deal with this complexity in future research! For example, suppose Adam Falk wants to update his claim:
And while women students and faculty are well represented throughout most of our curriculum, there remain fields such as physics and computer science where the numbers of women, both nationally and at Williams, do not reflect our nation’s distribution of talent or potential interest.
What definition of “women” should be used? Not an easy question!
Williams is #1 in the US News ranking for the 14th year in a row.
The 2017 Best Colleges rankings are out from U.S. News & World Report — and there are some familiar schools in the top slots. For the sixth straight year, Princeton University was named No. 1 in the “best national universities” category by the magazine, which surveys more than 1,800 colleges in America for its annual list. Meanwhile, Williams College in Massachusetts took the top spot among best national liberal arts colleges for the fourteenth consecutive year.
1) Every time that Williams appears in a headline like this with Princeton, the value of the Williams brand improves. Kudos to Adam Falk and the rest of the administration! There are few things more important (rightly or wrongly) to the College’s reputation, especially with international applicants and their families, then maintaining this ranking. Staying #1 may not be hard, given Williams’ resources, but screwing this up could have been easy.
2) Many schools do a lot of suspect/sleazy things to improve their rank. Does Williams? Morty, infamously, capped discussion class size at 19 to ensure that the maximum number of classes met this US News cut off.
3) There is a great senior thesis to be written about the rankings, similar to this article on the US News law school rankings. If you write such a thesis, hundreds of people around the country will read it.
The last paragraph of the College’s news release about the class of 2020 is so filled with fascinating facts that we need four days to go through it. Today is Day 1.
The class is also incredibly diverse. Thirty-seven percent of students in the incoming class are U.S. students of color, and another 7 percent are international students
Has the percentage of US students of color leveled off? Or even dropped? From Adam Falk, the class of 2016 has 38%. According to the current version of Fast Facts, it was 40% for the class of 2019. According to the 2011-2012 Common Data Set (pdf and only available on EphBlog!), it was 37% ((64 + 44 + 57 + 37)/546) for the class of 2015. Comments:
1) Definitions matter. Are we talking about the percentage of the entire class that is US students of color (I think this is correct) or percentage of US students that are students of color. Does the College (does everyone) use the same definition? For reference, here (pdf) are the definitions used in the Common Data Set for the class of 2019.
Note how this lines up, almost, with the 40% claim in Fast Facts: (67 + 51 + 1 + 76 + 27)/546 = 41% — with rounding. So, perhaps the big story here is that “US Students of color at Williams drop by almost 10% (222 to 204(?)) in class of 2020!”
2) Behavior matters. How honest are applicants in checking these boxes? How have their choices — honest or not — changed over time? Intelligent applicants know that there is a bias against Asian-American applicants, if not at Williams than at places like Harvard and Stanford. So, they have every incentive to check the “white” box if they can. In particular, mixed race (white/Asian) applicants are foolish if they don’t check the “white” box. There is also evidence that more applicants who used to check the “white” box are now making other choices. Background reading here. Note my prediction from a decade (!) ago:
The point is that there are significant preferences given to those who check certain boxes and that cheap genetic testing will provide many people with a plausible excuse to check boxes that, a few years ago, they did not have. How much will the admissions process change as a result? Time will tell. It will be very interesting to look at the time series of application by ethnic group over this decade. I predict that the raw number (and total pool percentage) of African-American and Hispanic applicants will increase sharply.
Has that happened?
The most depressing news about the class of 2020 is the decline in international students back down to the usual quota level of 7%. Sad! I was wrong about Adam Falk. He continues to discriminate against international students in exactly the same way that his predecessors at Harvard discriminated against Jewish students a 100 years ago.
A New York Times op-ed last week:
Faculty members in New England are far more liberal than their counterparts anywhere else in the nation, even controlling for discipline and school type. In 1989, the number of liberals compared with conservatives on college campuses was about 2 to 1 nationwide; that figure was almost 5 to 1 for New England schools. By 2014, the national figure was 6 to 1; for those teaching in New England, the figure was 28 to 1.
I cannot say for certain why New England is so far to the left. But what I can say, based on the evidence, is that if you are looking for an ideologically balanced education, don’t put New England at the top of your list.
Who are the Republican/Conservative/Libertarian professors at Williams? According to campus gossip (and EphBlog reporting), the following is a partial list.
Conservatives: Michael Lewis is perhaps the most famous “conservative” professor at Williams, known for his writing at the Wall Street Journal, Commentary and other outlets. He was a strong critic of Falk’s decision to ban Derbyshire.
Curmudgeons: This is the category of professors who all almost certainly voted for Obama and are not registered Republicans, but who care about ideological diversity and/or are conservative (or at least anti-leftist) in the context of the Williams faculty. James McAllister, Robert Jackall, Darel Paul and George Marcus come to mind. Others?
There are no women here (other than Swift who is both a visitor and a vanishing presence on campus). Who is the most conservative (or least liberal) tenured or tenure-track female professor?
UPDATE: Apologies (?) to Professor Paul who has kindly informed us that he did not vote for Obama.
Much of the trauma of that day lives on.
We are looking for Howard Kestenbaum. He was on the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center South Tower (the second building that was hit). If you have any information please contact me.
That link worked five years ago, a constant reminder of the turmoil of those blue September days. It has since disappeared, like so many of our memories. First years at Williams now were three years old when the towers fell.
Howard Kestenbaum worked at the top of the south tower, the second to be struck. In the midst of chaos, his was a voice of calm and reason in the 78th floor sky lobby as people waited anxiously for the express elevators that were to take them to the ground floor. They could not know about United Airlines Flight 175, just minutes away from impact.
Wein and Singer joined three of their Aon colleagues: Richard Gabrielle, 50, Vijay Paramsothy, 23, and the group’s boss, Howard Kestenbaum, 56.
Two elevators in the north half of the lobby were out of service, but Wein’s group stood near one of the idle cars anyway; it was less crowded there than at the south end of the lobby.
I’ve left my purse, Wein recalls saying. I don’t want to go back up, but how will I get the bus?
“Here, take some money and go home,” Kestenbaum said.
Singer remembered something she had left at her desk.
No, Kestenbaum said. Don’t go back up. They stayed in the lobby.
Howard’s last moments were spent taking care of those around him. The College has done a fine job of memorializing Lindsay Morehouse, creating an award for the player at the New England Championship “who best displays the ideals of sportsmanship, friendliness, character, fair play, and hard work that Lindsay embodied until her untimely death 9-11-2001.”
Kestenbaum was an athlete and wrestler at Williams. The College should honor him in a similar fashion. Perhaps the class of 1967 might to do the same for Kestenbaum in conjunction with the planning for their 50th reunion. Do wrestlers at Williams today know about Kestenbaum’s bravery? Why not a Kestenbaum Award, given to the member of the wrestling team who best displays the ideals of teamwork?
And then the second plane hit.
A deafening explosion and a searing blast of heat ripped through the lobby. The air turned black with smoke. Flames burst out of elevators. Walls and the ceiling crumbled into a foot of debris on the floor. Shards of glass flew like thrown knives.
The blast threw people like dolls, tearing their bodies apart.
“Howard!” Judy Wein was yelling to Kestenbaum, her boss.
It was Vijay Paramsothy who called back: “We’re over here!”
Paramsothy was sitting up, scratched and bloody. Marble slabs had fallen onto Richard Gabrielle and broken his legs. Wein tried to move the slabs with her good arm, and he cried out.
Howard Kestenbaum lay flat and still. To Wein, he looked peaceful.
Dead and wounded covered the floor of the lobby like a battlefield after cannon fire. A ghostly dusting of plaster lay over everyone.
Wein was soon saved by Welles Crowther, one of the many heroes of that sad day.
Judy Wein of Aon Corporation had also been in the 78th floor. She too was badly injured and she too heard the voice: “Everyone who can stand now, stand now. If you can help others, do so.” He guided her and others to the stairwell.
Apparently Welles [Crowther] kept leading people down from the top floors to the lower ones, where they could make their way out. Then he’d go up to find more. No one knows how many. The fire department credits him with five saved lives.
He never made it home.
“Vijay was trying to get Howard up,” Gran Kestenbaum said, recounting a story a witness had told her. “That was the last I heard of either of them.”
EphBlog remembers Howard and Linday and Brian. Who remembers Vijay Paramsothy, one of the thousands on hard-working immigrants who made and make NYC a city unlike any other? Who do you remember?
Howard Kestenbaum was a Ph.D., a builder of models, a quant operating in the rarefied world of risk analysis. Yet only a modeller can know that models don’t really matter, that who we are and what we have done is much more to be found in the families we cherish than in the money we make.
From the very beginning — when he accidentally fell on her at a party in the West Village — he made her laugh. He walked her home that night but, amusing or not, she wouldn’t give him her phone number.
A few days later, however, she picked up the phone to hear someone say it was “Howie.” Not recognizing his voice, she asked: “Howie who?”
“Fine, thank you, and how are you?” Howie Kestenbaum replied.
For 31 years of marriage, Howard and Granvilette Kestenbaum of Montclair talked every day, and he always made her laugh.
All good husbands want to make their wives laugh. All of us should do as well as Howard. Gran Kestenbaum desribed her husband this way.
Howard was a really good man. That may seem an ordinary epithet, but Howard thought of himself as an ordinary man — an ordinary husband, an ordinary father and an ordinary friend… He loved and cared for his family, helped friends, visited with the homeless, lonely and infirm. His modesty and leprechaun smile belied how quiet and graceful, without fanfare, the shining spirit of an extraordinary good man can touch and transform others. He would have been surprised that anyone noticed him, for that is not what he sought. And that is why we who love him are so honored to have known him, if only for a moment.
Thirty one years of marriage and family, of trials and triumphs, does indeed seem like only a moment. May we all live our moments as well as Howard Kestenbaum lived his.
How will you be spending today? Please spare a thought for Gran, Howard’s widow.
Every year on the anniversary of Sept. 11, Gran Kestenbaum steers clear of morning memorial services, to avoid the media. Later in the day, she typically leaves roses by her husband’s name on the 9/11 memorial in Eagle Rock Reservation and in Watchung Plaza. Along with the flowers, she usually leaves a note saying something along the lines of, “We are family and we will always be family. This didn’t part us.”
Condolences to all.
Interested in SAT score changes at Williams over the last 15 years? Me too! Alas, the College does not make it easy to study these things since they deleted the old Common Data Sets. Fortunately, I saved this link from 1998-1999 (although the link does not work):
and number of first-time, first-year students enrolled in fall 1998 who
submitted national standardized (SAT/ACT) test scores. Does not include
partial test scores. SAt scores are recentered.
submitting SAT scores: 99%
SAT scores: 529
submitting ACT scores: 15%
ACT scores: 80
of first-time, first-year students with scores in each range
Here is the Fall 2014 data from IPEDS:
By the way, does anyone know how to get time series data out of IPEDS?
And here is a relevant table from the 2015-2016 Common Data Set (pdf):
1) I apologize that this is such a mish-mash.
2) It is not clear how comparable these numbers are over time. First, the rise of score choice and/or super scoring has made it easier (and more common) for students to take a test multiple times and only report the best results. Second, students are now more likely to take both the SAT and the ACT and either only report one. (Or, they report both and the College only uses the better in its own reporting.) But ignore those complications for now.
3) Scores have increased meaningfully over the last 15 years. But, given 2), I can’t say whether or not this is because the students have gotten smarter. Opinions from readers?
Donald Trump is inconsistent on everything except racism and authoritarianism.
— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) September 8, 2016
This is your weekly space for arguing politics. Have at it!
The other consistent thing about Trump, at least in the last month, has been his increasing chances of becoming president, at least if you believe those wreckers at 538.
An anonymous professor provided this Williams grade distribution (pdf) for 2013-2014. Comments:
1) Williams should be more transparent, especially with information like this that is available to hundreds of Ephs. (I believe that all members of the faculty are e-mailed a copy.)
Key question: Has grade inflation at Williams (almost) stopped? Recall this discussion from 8 years ago which quotes a Record article from 2000:
The most frequently given grade in 1999 was an A- and the mean grade hovered just above a B+ at 3.34.
If the average grade since 2000 has only increased from 3.34 to 3.41 then grade inflation, while still a problem, has at least slowed down significantly. The overall average in 2008–2009 was 3.39. Again, the thing I find most embarrassing (and what we need current data about) is the hundreds of A+ grades handed out.
3) The results by Division are consistent with the standard stereotypes.
The most distressing aspect of the differences across Divisions (and across departments) is the bad signals that it sends to students. If a student gets a B+ in an intro Computer Science class but an A in Theatre, she might thing that this means she is “better” at theatre than computer science. Isn’t this one way that Williams guides her on choosing a major that matches her abilities? But, of course, the College is lying to her. She is an average student in computer science and in theatre. Lax grading by the latter is misleading her.
There is much more here. Worth a week to discuss?