Archive for the ‘College life’ Category

Colleges hit by surge in covid cases…

December 17, 2021

Dual culprits: Omicron and waning vax effectiveness …

This headline from the AP caught my eye earlier in the week :


The story in a nutshell:

Facing rising infections and a new COVID-19 variant, colleges across the U.S. have once again been thwarted in seeking a move to normalcy.

They are starting to require booster shots, extend mask mandates, limit social gatherings and, in some cases, revert to online classes.

Cases in point:

Cornell University abruptly shut down all campus activities on Tuesday and moved final exams online after more than 700 students tested positive over three days.

Hours later, Princeton University moved its exams online and urged students to leave campus “at their earliest convenience” amid a rise in cases.

A day later, New York University canceled all non-academic events and encouraged professors to move finals online.

Moments after I read that, I got a blast alert email from Georgetown:

We are experiencing a notable and concerning increase in COVID-19 cases on our campuses this week.

Yesterday marked the largest one-day total for COVID-19 cases within our community.

Accordingly, we are taking several immediate steps to help protect the Georgetown University community.


Here’s the ironic twist:

Cornell, Princeton and NYU all report student vaccination rates of more than 98%.

I assume that Georgetown has about the same, near total vaccination rate.

In fact, practically all colleges in the U.S. required that students get vaccinated before returning to campus in the Fall.

That’s a key point that we’ll get to later.


Why it’s happening…

One reason for the surge is Omicron — a well publicized and  highly infectious strain of the virus.

A second, less publicized, but mathematically logical cause of the surge in infections is the vaccines’ “waning effect”.

Awhile back, we worked through the math:

If 100% were vaccinated, would we be out of the woods? … or, would we morph to a “pandemic of the vaccinateds”?

The post is worth re-reading in its  entirely, but for those of you who want to just cut to the chase…

It has been reported that covid vaccines start with an effectiveness rate over 90% but, over the course of 6 months, the vaccines lose about half of their effectiveness.

Again, re-read the original post for an explanation of what 90% effectiveness really means,


The bottom line…

To keep the arithmetic simple, we’ll assume that all college students were vaccinated last August.

That puts the August “cohort group” 4 months along the waning curve … down to about 65% vaccine effectiveness.

That means that — at the 4 month mark — about 1/3 of the matriculating students are medically equivalent to being unvaccinated.

One more time, , re-read the original post for an explanation why this is logically and mathematically true.


When a highly transmissible strain of the virus hits a campus that is, practically speaking, 1/3 unvaccinated, you’re dealing with a surge in cases.

That’s not medical theory or political philosophy … it’s simple arithmetic.


So, what are colleges doing?

Simple answer, dusting off the old mitigation playbook: cancelling social events and athletic venues, requiring social distancing (preferably outdoors), finishing the semester with online classes and tests.

What they’d like to do is have all students get booster shots ASAP.

That would reset the the “waning curve” back up to the full 90%+ effectiveness.

But, there’s a problem with that …

The official CDC policy is wait “at least 6 months after completing the patient’s primary COVID-19 vaccination series.”

That means, the cohort of students who got vaccinated in August won’t qualify for boosters until next February.


If your kids are college bound…

March 29, 2019

Here’s a site that you must check out.

In a prior post, we questioned: “Are colleges watering down their curriculums?” … and reported on  a survey conducted by American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

The ACTA criteria and methodology  specifically  assesses whether students are learning the “essential skills and knowledge” for work and for life.

The results: Only 2% of the surveyed schools earned an A grade from ACTA.

For details, see “Have colleges watered down their curriculums?”


The overall statistics are interesting (and disappointing), but what’s more meaningful is how specific schools are doing.

Here’s how to find out…


No grades below C and no written exams … say, what?

June 2, 2016

Those are the student demands at Ohio’s Oberlin College


Students at Oberlin College are asking the school to put academics on the back burner so they can put more time and energy into political activism.

No kidding …



According to The Week, channeling a New Yorker article:

“More than 1,300 students at the Midwestern liberal arts college signed a petition asking that the college get rid of any grade below a C … and some students are requesting alternatives to the standard written examinations, such as a conversation with a professor in lieu of an essay.”

The students say that between their activism work and their heavy course load, “A lot of us are suffering academically … finding success within the usual grading parameters is increasingly difficult.”

So, just forget about Ds and Fs and Incompletes … just go with As, Bs and Cs.

Might work …


“You know, we’re paying for a service. We’re paying for our attendance here. We need to be able to get what we need in a way that we can actually consume it.”

Because I’m dealing with other stuff, I can’t produce the work that they want me to do. But I understand the material, and I can give it to you in different ways.”

Like, one-on-one “conversations” with professors in lieu of written exams.



Sounds pretty preposterous, right?

But, students point out that there are historical precedents.


If it hadn’t been such a tragic week, this stuff would be (damn) funny …

March 28, 2016

The Brussels terrorists’ attacks were were an immense tragedy … to be taken seriously.

You wouldn’t know it, given some of the past week’s noteworthy dumb & dumber happenings.

Let’s start with the UK’s response to the bombings.

Did the Brits make any notable raids to crack the terrorists’ network of killer cells.

Nope, instead of going for the jugular, UK authorities went for the capillaries and arrested some dude for for making an inappropriate, potentially anti-Islamic tweet:



The charges were eventually dropped, but please tell me, how does law enforcement prioritize chasing insensitive tweeters over cold-blooded killers?

Maybe it has to do with the UK police patrolling with 1 bullet less than Barney Fife.

Tweeters are probably “safe stops” … cold-blooded killers, not so easy.

Or, maybe the world is just going completely wacky.  A couple of more examples …


Employers: 9 of 10 college grads poorly prepared …

January 13, 2016

According to the WSJ

9 out of 10 business owners surveyed by the American Association Colleges and Universities said that recent college graduates as poorly prepared for the work force in such areas as critical thinking, communication and problem solving.

“Employers are say that they don’t care about all the knowledge you learned because it’s going to be out of date two minutes after you graduate … they care about whether you can continue to learn over time and solve complex problems.”




Are employers being too critical?


Georgetown: A bunch of pretty faces (and much more) …

October 9, 2015

No, it’s not your imagination if, when strolling around the Georgetown campus, you find yourself saying to yourself:

“Holy smokes, there are a lot of good looking  students walking around this place.”

It’s certifiably true: – a trendy college selection site – scores Georgetown an A+ for “Most Attractive – Girls & Guys”




But, good looks are just part of the story.

Niche gives Georgetown an overall A+.

Here’s the drill down on the factor scores that underlie Georgetown’s well-deserved overall A+ ….


College life: Off-campus housing goes resort-style …

September 8, 2015

Will the aged 3-to-a-room dormitory go the way of of the dinosaur?

A growing trend is local privatization of student housing.

And, I’m not talking about the pest-infested, party-trashed places that populate most college towns.



Nope, we’re talking serious upscale residences …


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