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The Stanford decision boils down to two things

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3 minutes ago, Plasmodium said:

I made no mention of trading student slots to optimize revenue.

What do you think "molding the student body" even means? You have X slots, and the more you add, the less scarce those slots are. You can trade them for an asset that has present financial value or an asset that has future financial value. Without exaggerating, almost every admissions decision gets made from that basic perspective, as cynical as that may sound.

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Just now, wrestlingnerd said:

What do you think "molding the student body" even means? You have X slots, and the more you add, the less scarce those slots are. You can trade them for an asset that has present financial value or an asset that has future financial value. Without exaggerating, almost every admissions decision gets made from that basic perspective, as cynical as that may sound.

They want the best student body they can get.  They don't want to trade a potential Larry Page or John Steinbeck for Joe Palooka.

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2 minutes ago, Plasmodium said:

They want the best student body they can get.  They don't want to trade a potential Larry Page or John Steinbeck for Joe Palooka.

Yes, where best is defined most productive financial asset. Stanford, much like any university, is a business. I think that's a good thing, by the way.

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3 minutes ago, Plasmodium said:

They want the best student body they can get.  They don't want to trade a potential Larry Page or John Steinbeck for Joe Palooka.

Depends on how you define "best."  Stanford could fill their entire incoming class with valedictorians who got 1600 SAT scores if they desired.  But they don't because they recognize that sometimes having some "Joe Palookas" on campus can be better.

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1 minute ago, wrestlingnerd said:

Yes, where best is defined most productive financial asset. Stanford, much like any university, is a business. I think that's a good thing, by the way.

You can make that argument all day, it might not be wrong.  I think athletes should be held to the same admissions standards as their peers.

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1 minute ago, Plasmodium said:

You can make that argument all day, it might not be wrong.  I think athletes should be held to the same admissions standards as their peers.

It's not an argument. It's a fact. Do you seriously think these elite schools are not businesses and therefore run like them? You can do the "right" thing and still run a good business. Not mutually exclusive!

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1 minute ago, wrestlingnerd said:

Yes, where best is defined most productive financial asset. Stanford, much like any university, is a business. I think that's a good thing, by the way.

True, but their brand also depends on their admissions numbers (test scores, gpa, etc...). It's not necessarily just financial. They're trading slots from worse academic applicants for better ones in this hypothetical situation.

If it was purely financial, they could just admit more students. But if they admit more students, they become less selective and therefore less elite and their brand suffers.

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5 minutes ago, uncle bernard said:

True, but their brand also depends on their admissions numbers (test scores, gpa, etc...). It's not necessarily just financial. They're trading slots from worse academic applicants for better ones in this hypothetical situation.

If it was purely financial, they could just admit more students. But if they admit more students, they become less selective and therefore less elite and their brand suffers.

What I said doesn’t mean anything different than that. There are two general types of financial assets. Those whose value is high because of direct financial contribution and those whose value is in the form of “goodwill” that drives the brand’s perception which in turn stimulates more of the former. Financially, the efficient frontier requires a delicate balance  of the two, and more of the latter than the former, which speaks to the wealth gap in this country, but that is a separate (related) topic. 

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Just now, wrestlingnerd said:

It's not an argument. It's a fact. Do you seriously think these elite schools are not businesses and therefore run like them? You can do the "right" thing and still run a good business. Not mutually exclusive!

We are probably in violent agreement, but I'm not sure what argument you are making.  Stanford revenue strategies are powerful, in existence and even mold the entire university.  High level careers depend upon them.  Stanford revenue strategy is not focused on tuition and fees.

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23 minutes ago, Plasmodium said:

You can make that argument all day, it might not be wrong.  I think athletes should be held to the same admissions standards as their peers.

Should a world-class HS violinist be held to the same admissions standards?  You seem to be pushing for the "let's have a student body of all valedictorians, because we can" standard.  More likely is the "let's have a diverse student body, all of whom can succeed academically" standard.

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3 minutes ago, Plasmodium said:

Stanford revenue strategy is not focused on tuition and fees.

This is the only part where I am not sure we agree. Think of a university's top line as having the following streams of revenue: tuition, funding from endowment allocation, and donations to fund annual budget (from so called "annual funds"). At elite schools (say, top 25 or 30 or so), the share of total from each is roughly 1/3. At Stanford, it may be 1/4 in some years, give or take. Trust me, there is focus on it. The biggest focus is the endowment, since that is what financiers refer to as permanent capital. The university can generally do whatever it wants with those funds. But tuition revenue is important even to the most financially capable university in the world, Harvard.

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38 minutes ago, uncle bernard said:

True, but their brand also depends on their admissions numbers (test scores, gpa, etc...). It's not necessarily just financial. They're trading slots from worse academic applicants for better ones in this hypothetical situation.

If it was purely financial, they could just admit more students. But if they admit more students, they become less selective and therefore less elite and their brand suffers.

You are totally missing the point. You are saying what I'm saying without understanding that I'm saying it at a higher level.

Net worth of a university is a function or various factors: size of endowment, tuition revenue stream, donations of any kind (short-term, long-term, cash, in kind, etc.), credit rating, etc.

What ultimately drives those financial factors? Consumer demand. What drives consumer demand? First and foremost, the school's reputation. Whether the reputation is quantified through the USN&WR ranking system (which I find faulty and subject to ridiculous amounts of gaming), number of applicants, yield of accepted applicants, etc., the key point is people generally want to go to the most elite school they can get into, and a minority of those people have the substantial majority of the financial capability to pay for it even at exorbitant cost. The two are very closely related. The more elite a school is, the more it will cost the minority with the majority of financial wherewithal to all but ensure admission. I know of a parent who donated $2 million to Stanford to try to get his daughter in and she was rejected. It is very, very competitive even to try to buy your way in. The amount of money it takes to be considered a so-called "development candidate" is directly correlated with some of the academic KPIs you mentioned.

So, in fact, those KPIs such as average student SAT scores, class rank, GPA, etc. are in fact "financial". Very much so. You need to balance admissions to academically elite applicants who prop up those KPIs (some of which literally affect the credit score of a university directly!) with admissions to applicants who will punch above their weight class in financial contribution. 

Edited by wrestlingnerd

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4 minutes ago, klehner said:

Should a world-class HS violinist be held to the same admissions standards?  You seem to be pushing for the "let's have a student body of all valedictorians, because we can" standard.  More likely is the "let's have a diverse student body, all of whom can succeed academically" standard.

Yes, the violinist should be held to the same admission standards as their peers.  Music is an intellectual pursuit, so there aren't going to be any issues there.  That is not what I said.  Being valedictorian doesn't distinguish someone enough to be admitted into Sanford or Harvard.  They must do that some other way.   

Don't get me wrong.  I like sports.  They play a vital role in society and in millions of lives, but they have their place.  Do you really think it is in Stanford's best interest to pursue a Division 1 football championship?  It is ridiculous.

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1 minute ago, Plasmodium said:

Yes, the violinist should be held to the same admission standards as their peers.  Music is an intellectual pursuit, so there aren't going to be any issues there.  That is not what I said.  Being valedictorian doesn't distinguish someone enough to be admitted into Sanford or Harvard.  They must do that some other way.   

Don't get me wrong.  I like sports.  They play a vital role in society and in millions of lives, but they have their place.  Do you really think it is in Stanford's best interest to pursue a Division 1 football championship?  It is ridiculous.

It probably is. That D1 championship drives a lot of alumni engagement. It puts the Stanford brand in front of a very large share of households in this country. Only the top brass at Stanford can tell you how much alumni engagement, but some very intelligent people decided that saving 30-40 admission slots a year for knuckle draggers, some with sub-1200 SAT scores, was a smart financial decision. And it probably is.

That alumni engagement pays for facilities, scholarships, tenured professor slots, and other academic assets that improve the experience for all Stanford students. 

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18 minutes ago, Plasmodium said:

Here is where the money comes from.  We are all wrong.  The largest contributor is health care at Stanford's hospitals.

https://facts.stanford.edu/administration/finances/

 

Not really. The vast majority of an endowment is restricted, meaning there is a specific use for that capital from which the university cannot deviate. Where do the unrestricted gifts come from? By far the most prized dollars are the unrestricted donations. 

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There are a combination of reasons Stanford is eliminating wrestling, and none of them has anything to do with "social justice". I've been reading for years about Stanford having a hardon against their athletics department because the GPA of the athletes drags down the academic performance at the school. That, plus wrestling not generating a fat profit, are all Stanford needs to justify eliminating the wrestling program. I don't like it, but that's how it is. 

Seems to me if Stanford was truly concerned about GPA they'd eliminate the football program. They could get rid of a whole lot of stupid athletes that way, as opposed to merely a couple dozen dumbasses by eliminating the wrestling program. But, football is a cash cow, unlike wrestling. 

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What a trash article to post. Zero evidence and a claim that foreigners and social justice (I.e. letting in minorities) is to blame.  
 

Of course the decision is about $$$/maintaining their US News rank and not politics.  The only reason Stanford has carried so many sports for so many years is donations from alumni. It’s just now more lucrative to have those spots free and let in good students/more donors. It really doesn’t make sense for a university as elite academically as Stanford to admit enough athletes to maintain 36 D1 sports. It just sucks that wrestling was one of the sports that was cut. 

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2 hours ago, klehner said:

Depends on how you define "best."  Stanford could fill their entire incoming class with valedictorians who got 1600 SAT scores if they desired.  But they don't because they recognize that sometimes having some "Joe Palookas" on campus can be better.

That’s not why they don’t do it. They do it because the difference between somebody who scores 1500 and 1600 on the SAT is basically meaningless when it comes to academics, since the SAT only covers very basic concepts. And Valedictorians aren’t always taking the most challenging classes. So somebody with a 1500 and 5s on BC Calculus, AP Physics C, etc, is a better student than a valedictorian with a 1600 and no AP credit.  

1 hour ago, klehner said:

Should a world-class HS violinist be held to the same admissions standards?  You seem to be pushing for the "let's have a student body of all valedictorians, because we can" standard.  More likely is the "let's have a diverse student body, all of whom can succeed academically" standard.

A world class musician can’t be compared to an athlete. Music is actually part of the curriculum at Stanford. There are professors in that field. Athletics are extracurricular and not relevant to academics. 

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49 minutes ago, TobusRex said:

There are a combination of reasons Stanford is eliminating wrestling, and none of them has anything to do with "social justice". I've been reading for years about Stanford having a hardon against their athletics department because the GPA of the athletes drags down the academic performance at the school. That, plus wrestling not generating a fat profit, are all Stanford needs to justify eliminating the wrestling program. I don't like it, but that's how it is. 

Seems to me if Stanford was truly concerned about GPA they'd eliminate the football program. They could get rid of a whole lot of stupid athletes that way, as opposed to merely a couple dozen dumbasses by eliminating the wrestling program. But, football is a cash cow, unlike wrestling. 

Academic integrity is serious response for why they would consider dropping sports. And of course, football brings in money to the athletic department, so it is never seriously on the chopping block. I could accept such an answer, even if I prefer they keep the wrestling program.

But then we are back to information release they gave. Academics were not mentioned. It was finance and competitiveness that they listed. Why? I reject that financial and competitiveness are the real reasons (as mentioned above). If it really was for academic reasons, why not say so? I would have accepted it had they said it, but they did not. The fact that it is not listed when it would be such an easy thing to claim, makes me think it is not the real reason. But of course I could be mistaken.

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3 hours ago, klehner said:

That's just silly.

You really think that people that strongly associate the concept of masculinity with toxicity like the sport of wrestling as much as other people on average?

I am not talking about individuals, I am talking about the group as a whole. There are many great fans of the sport who are SJW's and that is great. I am not saying otherwise.

Maybe this did have nothing to do with it. I admit it freely as a possibility. But I don't think the athletic department was honest or transparent in their release, and then I am left wondering "what are they hiding?"

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2 hours ago, wrestlingnerd said:

Yes, where best is defined most productive financial asset. Stanford, much like any university, is a business. I think that's a good thing, by the way.

The governance structure and stakeholders of a non-profit are very much unlike a for profit business.  I think that is a good thing by the way.

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3 hours ago, uncle bernard said:

I know how it works. I actually work at a university. My point was that he probably doesn't like the idea of bringing in more foreign students because he doesn't like the idea of foreign students in general. 

Overall, the point was that he was looking for ways to tie in his own personal politics to an issue where they don't apply. 

I agree that he probably was, but at the same time (as you clearly must know) foreign students are generally not going to immigrate.

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4 hours ago, wrestlingnerd said:

It all comes down to that meaningful reason you mention: trading student slots to optimize revenue. The "politics" reason he cites may or may not be true; we will never know, but it's a secondary consideration at best.

It is not true that the aforementioned meaningful reason has nothing to do with tuition. A top university funds maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of its annual expenses through tuition, so that is in fact a very significant factor. I'm not saying other sports' athletes pay tuition but the 11 sports that were cut don't. You can contribute financially either directly or indirectly (by contributing your credentials to the school's brand, thereby stimulating more financial contribution from alumni, who are largely motivated by getting their kids in while maintaining the elitism of their alma mater, two conflicting goals with one solution: money). 

If tuition covers a minority of the operating expenses, then what drives the rest? A portion of their multi-billion dollar endowment and the critical "annual fund", the administration of which every Ivy+ school treats as a core competency, especially the HYPS schools. Who donates most to these annual funds and also to the endowment via an even more scared institution: the multi-year capital campaign for [insert hoity toity cause here]? Rich alumni. Why? To create legacy, so their kids and their kids' kids can get preferential treatment during admissions. At academically elite schools, these capital campaigns literally create major facilities and even new schools from single donors almost every time they're run. People who have a track record of running these campaigns successfully are among the most sought-after employees in higher education and are therefore among the highest paid.

So what does all this have to do with the article? First, international students are important for tuition reasons since they usually pay fully, so the author got that right. However, second, legacy students are much more important (tuition + annual fund + capital campaign), and he didn't mention them. Third, it is important to note that wrestling alumni from Stanford have generally come from less privileged backgrounds (that part he definitely got right, and ironically, it was a selling point of the Save Stanford Wrestling campaign), so they are less likely to contribute financially in the future. But most importantly, fourth, the cut athletes are double whammies to the negative: not only are they less likely, based on history, to contribute financially in the future, they are also bringing down the academic elitism of the school because they get favorable admissions treatment (I know the grades and SAT scores of some of the kids on the team and let's just say their wrestling got them in). And they don't have a major patron alumni base of donors behind them. In other words, Stanford wrestlers on average are lesser financial assets that can be traded for superior financial assets.

While this may seem like a cynical view to some, I worked in the industry on the endowment management side for a portion of my career and it is accurate.

This is largely why sports like beach volleyball were saved, and partly why some sports were cut but only for one sex (e.g. men's volleyball but not women's, women's sailing but not men's).

Alumni banding together to raise $12 million (or even $20 or 30 million, for that matter) is a factor, but it pales in comparison to a history of consistent donations that in aggregate far exceed that number. Also, every university rightfully discounts funds raised because commitments do not equal donations. It's a lot easier to say you'll write a check than to actually write it.

Finally, I will say there is some honesty to the statement that prior success was a factor too. Stanford really values athletics, much more than its peer schools. They are arguably the most successful sports school overall, or one of the handful of best. But a big part of the reason sports are valued is because the sports in which they are successful drive a ton of alumni engagement. Alas, wrestling is not one of those sports. 

I agree with Plasmodium that I think the biggest reason is that athletes (and their likely lower academic credentials) make up too much of the student body.  Note this doesn’t mean that everyone has to have a 1600 SAT...just that they may not want anyone except for the football and basketball team to be less than 1100 or whatever that number is.

In relation to the OP and as I think you alluded to, if it had anything to do with “SJW’s” wrestling (and probably field hockey) should be kept because they have more likely to come from underprivileged backgrounds.

And if it were about the overall school “brand” I don’t really buy that since NCAA championships and Olympic medals help the brand too, even if they’re in niche sports.

I would guess those academic credentials tend to correlate with what you talk about in terms of future donation potential which could certainly be a factor and yes could potentially have more value than a $12M endowment.

But then what I’m confused about is why would they cut fencing, rowing, squash and synchronized swimming?  Aren’t those rich people sports likely to create future donations (and maybe even have people that could meet the academic standards of their other students, although maybe I am overestimating the “richness” of those sports)?  Note I didn’t include sailing because I’m sure Operation Varsity Blues may have had something to do with that.

Edited by 1032004

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