In My Hands Today…

The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges — and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates – Daniel Golden

Every spring thousands of middle-class and lower-income high-school seniors learn that they have been rejected by America’s most exclusive colleges. What they may never learn is how many candidates like themselves have been passed over in favor of wealthy white students with lesser credentials—children of alumni, big donors, or celebrities.

In this explosive book, the Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Daniel Golden argues that America, the so-called land of opportunity, is rapidly becoming an aristocracy in which America’s richest families receive special access to elite higher education—enabling them to give their children even more of a head start. Based on two years of investigative reporting and hundreds of interviews with students, parents, school administrators, and admissions personnel—some of whom risked their jobs to speak to the author—The Price of Admission exposes the corrupt admissions practices that favor the wealthy, the powerful, and the famous.

In The Price of Admission, Golden names names, along with grades and test scores. He reveals how the sons of former vice president Al Gore, one-time Hollywood power broker Michael Ovitz, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist leapt ahead of more deserving applicants at Harvard, Brown, and Princeton. He explores favoritism at the Ivy Leagues, Duke, the University of Virginia, and Notre Dame, among other institutions. He reveals that colleges hold Asian American students to a higher standard than whites; comply with Title IX by giving scholarships to rich women in “patrician sports” like horseback riding, squash, and crew; and repay congressmen for favors by admitting their children. He also reveals that Harvard maintains a “Z-list” for well-connected but underqualified students, who are quietly admitted on the condition that they wait a year to enroll.

The Price of Admission explodes the myth of an American meritocracy—the belief that no matter what your background, if you are smart and diligent enough, you will have access to the nation’s most elite universities. It is must reading not only for parents and students with a personal stake in college admissions, but also for those disturbed by the growing divide between ordinary and privileged Americans.

In My Hands Today…

Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation – Lynne Truss

In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Lynne Truss, gravely concerned about our current grammatical state, boldly defends proper punctuation.

She proclaims, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. Using examples from literature, history, neighborhood signage, and her own imagination, Truss shows how meaning is shaped by commas and apostrophes, and the hilarious consequences of punctuation gone awry.

Featuring a foreword by Frank McCourt, and interspersed with a lively history of punctuation from the invention of the question mark in the time of Charlemagne to George Orwell shunning the semicolon, Eats, Shoots & Leaves makes a powerful case for the preservation of proper punctuation.

In My Hands Today…

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time – Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban’s backyard

Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school.

Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools— especially for girls — that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth.

As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.

International Day of Education

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world! ~ Malala Yousafzai

Education is a basic human right! It transforms lives and is a great social leveler.

Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility. Education to essential to reduce inequalities and improve health, to achieve gender equality and eliminate child marriage, to protect our planet’s resources, fight hate speech, xenophobia and intolerance, and to nurture global citizenship. Yet, there are at least 250 million children, adolescents and youth are out of school, most of them girls with yet millions more who attend school are not mastering the basics. This is a violation of their human right to education and the world cannot afford a generation of children and young people who lack the skills they need to compete in the 21st century economy, nor can we afford to leave behind half of humanity.

In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as the International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development. Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.

Today, 258 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school. Their right to education is being violated and it is unacceptable. Education transforms lives and is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development.

The right to education is enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which calls for free and compulsory elementary education. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, goes further to stipulate that countries shall make higher education accessible to all. When it adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, the international community recognized that education is essential for the success of all 17 of its goals. Sustainable Development Goal 4, in particular, aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030.

This year is the third International Day of Education which took place yesterdat and will be marked today with the theme ‘Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation’. Now is the time to power education by stepping up collaboration and international solidarity to place education and lifelong learning at the centre of the recovery. The theme has three main segments: learning heroe, innovations, and financing.

So today, in honour of the International Day of Education, if there is a child near you who are not yet in school, please ensure that they get their basic universal right and get an education!

Polytechnic Early Admission Exercise – Part 2

Please read Part 1 before reading this post as it is continuation of that post.

After you submit your choices, you start waiting and hope that your preferred course calls you back. Now different courses have different ways of sieving applicants. In some courses, you need to take online tests, while others call you down for a mass screening. Others don’t have any tests, online or offline and straight up call you for interviews.

In our case, for GG, she was asked to go for a mass screening for one of her choices and for her other two choices, she had to complete a couple of online tests and interviews. BB went to one mass screening and the other just called him straight for an interview. In his case, his first two choices were from the same poly and he didn’t get called even for the mass screening for his second choice. I suspect (I may be wrong though) that the particular poly only called those for the mass screening those who indicated the first choice course from that poly. Why I say is because his friend had indicated the reverse choices (BB’s first choice was his second and vice versa) and he was also called for his first choice course mass screening only. Both boys have a similar profile and are CCA mates. Both courses are similar, but not same.

After going through the first round, you have some more waiting and then if you are successful, you get another email from the poly asking you to go down for an interview. Now interview is a generic catch-all term they use. The interview can be literally anything from an interview with a panel of interviewers, a group discussion or even a presentation. We went through all these with BB & GG. BB went for a panel interview where it was him with two other candidates and then another where around 20-25 applicants were in a room where they were asked to present in front of the whole room, including some lecturers, why they are the best fit for this course and why they should be selected. This was an extempore presentation and they weren’t told about it in advance. For GG, she went for group discussions where they had to discuss a case study and then for another course, they had to do some pre-work and then after a group discussion, they had to present the pre-work as a group. The selection stage is the longest stage with the timeline being around a month and a half, sometime from early July to late August.

Once this is over, then it’s waiting time. This period is frankly speaking quite nerve wrecking. On the date of the results of the EAE, which was sometime towards the end of August. On the day of the results, if you are successful, you get an email from the poly. Or, if you are like me and impatient to know the results, you log into the EAE portal and check the results. BB was the first one to know that he had gotten his dream course and in his excitement, when he called me, he was so excited, that for 30 seconds he could not speak. I was devasted in those 30 seconds as I thought he could not speak because he was rejected, but it was the other way round. GG was still in school and as soon as I could get in touch with her, I asked her to check. She had some issues with her internet and so I checked for her because I could not wait till she came home. And we got both good news that day.

You then get three days excluding the results day to accept your offer which is conditional. If you don’t accept it within this time frame, you are deemed to have rejected the offer. After you accept the offer, you still have time till sometime in early October to do a final rejection of the offer, which gives you slightly over a month to mull over your choice and decide if you still want to go to poly or take your chances with the joint admission exercise.

After this, you are deemed to have been conditionally accepted into the course you have been offered. Why conditional? Because you still need to sit for your O level exams. The blanket score for a poly admission is 26 points at the O level exams and this is the first condition to the offer. Every course has a minimum entry requirement which is the second condition to the offer. Each course requirements vary with some courses requiring a B3 or better for some subjects and some courses requiring passes or C6 and above for all the relevant subjects and some courses only needing a D7, which is essentially a failing grade for certain subjects. You will need to check with the specific course for this information.

Once you have accepted the offer, it does not mean that you rest on your laurels. You still have your O level exams to get through. I would say that study as hard as you would if you didn’t get the offer. This is because you would not want to be too far away from your course mates in terms of the score. This may also hamper your understanding of the course curriculum in case your basics are not strong.

Once the O level results are out, what you will receive are essentially three sheets of paper. The first one is the green O level Cambridge certificate with all your O level passes and the marks you attained for each passed subject. The second is a white sheet of paper with your marks in each subject. The third sheet is another white sheet which is given to you sealed. The sealed envelope contains your Form A which is given to every O level student. This sheet has the scores calculated by the system – L1R5, L1R4, L1R2B2 for all course types A, B & C for poly courses. For those who have a conditional offer, below these scores, you will have a line which confirms your poly EAE admission and also the fact that you will be unable to take part in the JAE exercise. This is assuming you have met the minimum criteria for your course. For the others, the bottom part of the page will have the list of poly and ITE courses you are eligible to enter based on your score.

If you do not meet the criteria, your conditional admission is revoked and you will join the JAE pool. But for those whose EAE has been revoked, I have heard that some of the polys get in touch and do offer the course back to you. You can also appeal to your course and sometimes the EAE is reinstated.

A day after the O level results, you also get a confirmation from your poly for the course either through SMS or via email. The admissions packet will then be mailed to you and you are all set for your course orientation which should take place a week or two before school starts in April.

I hope these posts helped you gain an understanding of how the Polytechnic Early Admission Exercise works, especially from the view of a parent. If you have a child who is interested in going to a polytechnic, I strongly encourage you to get your child to try for the EAE. It really takes quite a bit of the stress out of the O level exams and since the admission exercise looks at passion and aptitude for the subject and not your marks, an average student can get admission into a course which otherwise may be denied to them by virtue of marks when it comes to the JAE.

Check this website which is a common website maintained by all the polytechnics which give you more details and and there is an FAQ section too if you need clarifications

Do comment if you have more questions and I will be happy to answer to the best of my ability.