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Talent on the sidelines

first_imgEvery year on May 1, high-achieving high school seniors around the country face the final deadline for college commitment. For many middle- and upper-middle-class students, the date marks the end of standardized-test taking, application essay writing, campus visits, and financial aid planning — the complex process otherwise known as the college admissions game.This spring, the conversation about the ever-more-fraught competition for a spot in one of America’s top universities has shifted to an often-overlooked group, thanks to research by Christopher Avery, Roy E. Larsen Professor of Public Policy and Management at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). If admission to elite colleges is a game, Avery and his longtime colleague Caroline Hoxby found, it’s one that low-income students with high potential are too often sitting out.In a National Bureau of Economic Research paper presented in March, Avery and Hoxby, an economist at Stanford University, reported that promising but poor high school students (those who scored in the top 10 percent among SAT takers and whose families make $41,472 a year or less) often do not apply to any selective universities — despite the fact that those colleges, on average, would be more affordable than less-selective schools thanks to their robust financial aid policies.“These low-income students’ application behavior differs greatly from that of their high-income counterparts who have similar achievement,” they wrote. “The latter group generally follows the advice to apply to a few ‘par’ colleges, a few ‘reach’ colleges, and a couple of ‘safety’ schools.”In short, Avery and Hoxby wrote, low-income high performers “exhibit behavior that is typical of students of their income rather than typical of students of their achievement.”The paper spurred a wave of media coverage, much of it critical of the selective colleges Avery and Hoxby studied. If poor students weren’t applying to good schools, the logic went, then it must be the fault of those colleges for not trying hard enough to attract them. In some corners, their work was taken as a sign that the country’s higher education system was broken, or as evidence that growing wealth inequality was stifling opportunity for young people at the bottom of the economic ladder.“I can see why some people take the paper that way, but I don’t see it that way,” Avery said. “We know the colleges are trying really hard to attract these students, but they’re facing a problem that is systematically very challenging. This problem is too large for a handful of selective colleges to solve on their own.”High-achieving, low-income students often live far from major urban centers and from areas with high concentrations of colleges, such as the East Coast, he said. Colleges can still reach students through mailings, “but these students are getting piles and piles of brochures,” Avery said. “They may have heard of Harvard, but there are lots of other great colleges that they haven’t heard of, and they can’t distinguish within this pile where to apply.”Compounding the issue, he said, is the fact that many of these students are the first in their families who plan to go to college. Without any insider knowledge of selective colleges from friends or family members, low-income, geographically isolated students often don’t know what their options are, Avery said — a theme that has appeared in his research on college admission over the past two decades.Avery, who attended Harvard College and received his doctorate at Stanford, hadn’t intended to study higher education when he joined the HKS faculty in 1993.“I was trained in game theory, which is about strategic interactions and incentives,” he said. “I realized the college admissions system had evolved into a situation where there was a lot of strategy involved.”At HKS, Avery began working with a mid-career student, Andrew Fairbanks, whose interest in the economics of college admissions had been sparked by his time as an admissions officer at Wesleyan University. In 2003, with co-author Richard Zeckhauser, HKS’s Frank P. Ramsey Professor of Political Economy, Avery and Fairbanks published “The Early Admissions Game,” the first academic book to fully explore the growing practice of early admission.After studying half a million applications to 14 elite colleges, the authors found, somewhat controversially, that applying early gave students a documentable advantage over peers who applied by “regular decision” deadlines.“We were estimating that at a lot of the colleges we studied, applying early was the same as increasing your SAT score by 100 points,” Avery said. More important, he added, “was that experienced college counselors at private schools already knew this. In a sense, it wasn’t a level playing field.”Since the book’s publication in 2004, many colleges have stepped up their efforts to recruit students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds by raising awareness of their early decision and financial aid programs. Harvard, with its Financial Aid Initiative, was at the forefront of the movement, Avery said.Still, colleges and students alike have opportunities to boost the numbers, he said. Selective colleges that lack broad name recognition can tap alumni to reach out to high school students in isolated towns where admissions officers can’t afford to travel. Low-income students can request application fee waivers, allowing them to apply to several more colleges than they otherwise would and to then compare their financial aid packages.“It’s like looking at a couple of houses,” Avery said. “You may need more than one option.”Working with the Strategic Data Project at Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research, Avery advises fellows who analyze data for some of the nation’s largest public school districts. Through the project, he has become more involved in tracking students of all achievement levels as they move from high school into college — or not.“I now see that there are a lot of students who could go to good colleges but who don’t go to college at all,” he said. One of the Strategic Data Project’s goals, he said, is to help school districts track former students to see how many actually pursue higher education — instead of relying on self-reported plans — and to develop interventions to help graduating students follow through on their college goals.Collaborating with researchers from across Harvard, from the Graduate School of Education (GSE) to the Economics Department, has broadened his work over the years, he said.“There’s a growing community here of people who are really dedicated to these problems,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what we as researchers can do to lower the barriers that have been keeping talented people from making it to college and graduating from college.”last_img read more

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Finding rhythm in reverence

first_img The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news. This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.If one mission of a minister is to bring people together, Aric Bernard Flemming Jr., M.Div. ’19, was born to the role. Only, perhaps not precisely in the way he or his family envisioned.The son and grandson of pastors, Flemming began preaching in his grandfather’s Atlanta church during his freshman year at Morehouse College. Flemming’s father, for whom he was named, had been poised to take up the leadership of the church when he was killed by a drunk driver in October of 1993. His son was born five months later and, as he finishes his degree, seems destined to take up the family mantle.Flemming’s pastoral agenda is, thus, personal as well as professional, but, for a while at least, he has other plans. “For a long time, I have wanted to do music,” says Flemming, who both sings and composes. “But growing up, there was always a disconnect between being able to do music and do ministry,” he explains about his grandfather’s church, “If you were a preacher, you couldn’t sing, and if you were a singer, you couldn’t preach.”Flemming was musically active through high school, singing with a rap group that released an EP. When he went to college, however, he believed he had to put away such dreams. In their place, he looked for ways to turn individuals into reverent communities. At Morehouse, he befriended other young preachers with whom he practiced honing his ministerial skills.“Before I knew it, I was ready to actually develop a whole sermon,” says Flemming. “I had them inside of me. My grandfather knew it the entire time.”Flemming’s skill and determination flourished at Harvard Divinity School, in terms of both secular and spiritual leadership: he has served as vice president of the Harvard University Graduate Council and as a seminarian. When a group of students sought a black worship service, he helped create the Black Student Ministry, which is now sponsored by the Memorial Church. He cited the diversity of the Harvard community as helping him grow spiritually as well as intellectually: “Moving away from exclusive practices and seeing value in everybody, in the sacred dignity of every human being.” As Commencement approached, he talked about upcoming plans to facilitate a BGLTQ Bible study with the BGLTQ office.“Students are spiritually hungry,” he says, reflecting on his experience as a proctor and in the Office of Student Life. “I’ve seen students in need of spiritual spaces where they can engage.”Flemming had originally intended to continue this work by pursuing a doctorate. When he decided on a master’s, however, he realized he had a year to himself. Committed to another season as a proctor in Wigglesworth Hall, he is giving himself over to what he calls his “year of creativity.”“I’m just going to pour myself into my art and not really worry about the future,” he says. “Performing, recording, writing — just everything I can get my hands on, I’m going for it. I’ll probably never have a wide-open opportunity like this again,” adding that moving from the structure of academia to a world of artistic exploration is “scary, but I have to find courage to go forth in this. It’s a real leap of faith.”Flemming has already released several songs on Spotify and recently made the move to iTunes. He points out that music is an extension of — rather than a diversion from — his ministerial outreach.His music, he says, “is rooted in my gospel self. It’s rooted in where I come from and the preacher in me. I’m writing the songs but they’re really sermons.”Citing as influences the gospel-rooted soul and rhythm and blues of artists like Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross, he has come to believe art can create another kind of sacred space.“What I’m realizing,” he says, “is that I want a spiritual experience for everybody who comes in contact with my music.”Preaching, he explains, is not that different from singing. “I want to bring those methods to a concert space,” he says, “where we can create a euphoria within a moment, a collective experience for everybody.“I feel like that is spirit. I feel like that is God. I feel like that is everything about just being in community with people and having a shared experience.”This upcoming musical year may not be what Flemming or his family had initially expected. It is in many ways, however, the culmination of his time at Harvard Divinity School. When he receives his diploma, he will see his father’s name in his. “I want to carry him,” he says, as he makes his own first steps into his future.“Harvard Divinity School has been very, very instrumental in working through my own identity,” says Flemming. “Harvard Divinity School has helped to not only shape my identity, but has helped to shape how I understand people and life, living, and spirituality.”last_img read more

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Buyers continuing to flock to Mermaid Beach

first_imgLuke Henderson and Andrew Henderson of John Henderson Professionals Mermaid Beach. Picture: Jerad WilliamsMore from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa15 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days agoMr Henderson said the range in sold prices varied significantly depending on the location and type of property within Mermaid Beach.“I think that one of the major appeals of Mermaid Beach is that property buyers at all stages can find a property suitable for them,’’ he said.“At the top of the market we sold a beachfront mansion on Hedges Avenue for $16.45 million while the least expensive property we sold was a unit at 2340 Gold Coast Highway, which changed hands for just $231,000.” View of the Gold Coast Highway from Hellenika at Nobbys Beach. Picture: Richard Gosling However, Mermaid Beach, which has the highest median property price of all Gold Coast suburbs at more than $1.6 million, is bucking the trend.John Henderson Professionals Mermaid Beach director Luke Henderson said while buyer demand was now showing the first signs of easing in years, sales had still not slowed over the past six months.“When we examine our internal sales data, our agency sold 85 properties in Mermaid Beach alone during the past year, of which 44 were sold in the past six months,’’ Mr Henderson said.“So, we can see that sales have not slowed at all during the past six months.“Meanwhile, the number of sales of properties that we have sold for above the $1 million mark has remained pretty constant between 35 per cent and 39 per cent over that time.” Property along Hedges Ave, Mermaid Beach. A family enjoying the beach, Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast. Picture: Regi Varghese He said the entry level prices for older-style detached homes east of the Gold Coast Highway now sat at around the $1.2 million mark and buyers are snapping them up to build new homes.However, buyers could find homes for significantly less on the western side of the highway. Mr Henderson said Mermaid Beach has undergone a major period of gentrification over the past five years.“While the suburb has always been considered one of the Gold Coast’s most desirable addresses, there are a number of factors which have made it a stand out performer in recent years,’’ said Mr Henderson.“Firstly, the council saw the wisdom in protecting the three-storey height limits in the residential areas while allowing for higher developments along the Gold Coast Highway. People enjoy a swim on the beach, Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast. Picture: Regi Varghese Cashed-up buyers are continuing to dive into the Mermaid Beach property market.CASHED-UP buyers are continuing to dive into the Mermaid Beach property market despite the slowdown in top end markets in Australia’s southern states.Global investment bank Morgan Stanley this week released research which revealed the nation’s most expensive homes in Sydney and Melbourne were falling at an annual rate of about eight per cent. Cyclists along Hedges Avenue, Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast. Picture: Regi Varghese THE FAST AND THE LUXURIOUS: V8 STAR’S MANSION NEW ERA FOR COAST PROPERTY “I think the that one of the major appeals of Mermaid Beach is that property buyers at all stages can find a property suitable for them,” Luke Henderson says. “The height restrictions in the residential areas have helped maintain that strong community feel in the suburb and have encouraged property owners to upgrade their homes without the fear that a high-rise apartment will be built next door.“At the same time developments along the highway have revitalised what was becoming a tired strip of shops.“The suburb has benefited majorly from the growth of the cafe culture and the area now is home to some of the city’s best restaurants, cafes and bars.“Then you have the knowledge that the light rail is coming plus all the developments that are occurring along the Gold Coast Highway.Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 1:58Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -1:58 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD576p576p360p360p216p216pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenWhy location is everything in real estate01:59last_img read more

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Bumper weekend of club hurling ahead

first_imgSpeaking to Tipp FM Sport Kildangan manager Dan Hackett said his team have underachieved in Semple Stadium over the last few years. The North champion’s manager believes its time to take the opportunity that presents itself. Two hurling double headers take place in Semple Stadium On Saturday the tie of the round sees North champions Kildangan meet Drom Inch at 2pm while at 3.30 Three in a row West winners Eire Óg Annacarthy meet Kilruane McDonaghsOn Sunday Portroe and Nenagh meet at 2pm while Thurles Sarsfields meet Clonoulty Rossmore at 3.30.last_img read more

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