Iowahawk on the Harvard factor

The language is blue, but don’t let that stop you.  Read it.  Read it all.

My favorite line, incidentally, is this one:

Despite her underprivileged background Professor Kagan rose to the challenge and graduated magna cum laude, an honor reserved for the top 89% of Harvard Law alumni.

Right there is one of the dirty little secrets of the America’s top private universities back in the 1980s, when Elena Kagan (and Barack Obama) attended.  I don’t know if it’s true know, but I know it was true then.

It was in 1988 that a Stanford math professor explained to me how the system worked back then:

People paid a whole lot to get their little darlings into Stanford (or Harvard, or Yale, or whatever other prestigious school you can think of).  And coming in, there was no doubt but that their little darlings were the best of the best back at the hometown prep schools and high schools.

Each of those incoming students suddenly found himself in a Garrison Keillor situation, with all “all of the kids . . . above average.”  Once they were all packed into that little brilliant pond together, logic would dictate that a bell curve would come into play, with some of those above average kids showing academic skills ahead of or, sadly, behind the pack.

It turned out, though, that Mummy and Daddy got upset when their darling, who was class valedictorian at her fancy New York prep school, proved to be less capable than her college classmates.  After all, why would Mummy and Daddy pay Stanford $50,000 a year so that their baby could bring home a C or, worse, fail?  The answer was for the school to say that, because everyone was brilliant, regardless of actual classroom performance, everyone should therefore get a good grade.  Or failing that, students who could not possibly satisfy even the minimal grade requirement for a given class should be asked, quite politely, to leave that class, with no record and no repercussions. Net result:  Students happy, parents happy, school happy.  Future employers . . . well, not so happy.

What the Stanford professor told me wasn’t anomalous.  When I was a law student down in Texas, also in the 1980s, I knew a lot of employers, employers at big, fancy, well-paying Texas firms, who wouldn’t hire Boalt grads.  They still hired Harvard grads, because they couldn’t make themselves back away from the cachet (which is a big deal in Texas), but they drew the line at Boalt.  They told me that Boalt’s grading system was so “student friendly,” they had no idea if they were getting someone who was solidly in the middle of the bell curve, or the kid who couldn’t be bothered to show up to any classes.  Texas, by the way, graded on a very strict bell curve.

So read and enjoy Iowahawk but know that, despite the tongue in cheek, every word of it is true!

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  • suek

    And when you’ve finished that, read this.  I don’t even know what to say about it, except that it’s from the military.  The military can be stupid about some things…we all know that…but at it’s heart, it’s the soul of bureaucracy. The rest of the government uses all those fantastic Ivy League grads to churn out this  same kind of  stuff for _everything_.  Which is why we have 2000 page bills.  And of course, the reason they have to do that is that they know that the best of the best will be out there trying to poke holes in what they’ve written, and can get away with it because those of their membership club get promoted to judgeships and then make decisions by deciding who pokes the better holes  – not what the law actually intended.

  • jj

    Every year back at 30 Rock there would be a bunch of freshly-minted Ivies shipped in.  They were routinely gone within a year.  They brought their own peculiar species of uselessness to the mix – but the bottom line was: useless.

  • Al

    Iowahawk is correct, of course. Though his comments are distressing. They are an up close and personal description of criminal  corruption of America that the Left has engineered over the last several decades.
    My father graduated from Harvard College in 1934. And from Harvard Law School in 1937. He loved what it used to be.

  • Ymarsakar

    The Left turns what will be into a dumping ground for executed infants.

  • Michaelneedsgrace

    Where did I go wrong?  I only have a BA in Bible and Theology from an obscure Christian College.  I shudder to think what could have been had I been a Harvard AH like BOM or Elena Kagan?  I could have changed the world.

    P.S.  My eyes are still wet with laughter.