Over the years, we’ve come to believe that the spring admissions machine is the ultimate sorter of humans. The kids enter the machine and leave in some bin labeled “good”, “great”, “okay”, or “meh”. The schools try really hard and it’s all so serious. We’ve got to believe in it or else all of our faith in the college industrial complex will be for naught.
The kids that leave in the Stanford bin are supposed to be the best and the brightest but maybe the admissions office is just letting in the slick ones with the BSing skills to put a great gloss on everything they do. Tamar Lewin at the NY Times has a longish piece about the new online courses that we keep hearing so much about. While it’s filled with the usual head scratching puffery– is a online video any more of a “personal tutor” than a book– it does include one fascinating tidbit.
160,000 enrolled in one course on Artificial Intelligence last year and 23,000 completed it. Only 248 got a grade of 100% and none– that’s right– none of them were actually enrolled at Stanford. The current students went head to head with the great unwashed from the Internet and they couldn’t come close.
This must be freaking out the folks at the university who worry about kids peaking behind that curtain. You would think that the awesome, wonderful admissions office would have managed to locate one kid who could keep up with the great unwashed. Why pay all that money if your kid is just going to be trounced by some smart kid who isn’t distracted by the coffee shop at Tresider?