Recommended viewing/listening

Over the past few weeks, while the weather here was not as conducive to being outside as one might wish, I had a chance to catch up on three programs focusing on aspects of education and college admissions. Two are podcasts, one is a documentary film – they look at different topics from very different vantage points – and each one is entertaining and informative. I think many college counselors and admissions officers will find them as interesting as I have.

The documentary is part of the PBS “POV” series – it’s called American Promise. The film follows two African-American boys in New York City over the course of thirteen years, from elementary school through high school graduation. It’s a fascinating film throughout, though the family interactions are uncomfortable to view at times — especially when one of the boys receives his college admission results.   It looks as though PBS isn’t offering the film for streaming online now, but a trailer and clips are available on the website. Many PBS documentaries also become available through Netflix, and this one should, too. It’s definitely worth putting on the “save” list.
Details at the PBS website:

The two podcasts are episodes from programs I listen to regularly: This American Life, and Planet Money.

The podcast “How I Got into College” has two parts – the first is a discussion about mistakes applicants (and their parents) make in the admissions process, with Rick Clark from the admissions office at Georgia Tech. The second part is contributed by Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side, and several other (wonderful) books. Lewis is a great storyteller, and in this podcast, he introduces listeners to Emir Kamenica, now a professor of economics at the University of Chicago. I don’t know how in the world these two ever crossed paths, but Lewis was intrigued by Kamenica’s narrative about (as the blurb on the episode web page puts it) “how a stolen library book got one man into his dream school.” It’s a terrific story about the way we construct our life histories, the way others view those histories, and about the things we believe cause or create the opportunities life presents to us. Lewis is a smart, funny, and very engaging interviewer and narrator.

The second podcast, “Duke’s $30,000 Tuition Discount,” investigates the claim often made by private colleges and universities that the education students receive costs more than the sticker price. Hats off to Duke for opening their accounts to the Planet Money team – I’m not sure every university would be willing to do the same. This podcast takes a thorough look at the cost of private higher education – listeners decide for themselves whether spending $60K per year for college is a bargain or not.

Perhaps spring break will provide you with a little time in which to watch or listen to these programs – if not, do bookmark them for summer.

Meanwhile, best wishes to friends and colleagues who are sending out and receiving admissions decisions now. May the force be with you!

(And may appropriately spring-like weather come to all areas of the country…soon!)

Spring last!