One Philly College Makes Forbes’ Top 10 List

Photo credit: Fritz Ward via Flickr.

Photo credit: Fritz Ward via Flickr.

Well, Forbes has published its 2015 list of the Top Colleges in the U.S., and it’s bound to cause some consternation among status-conscious grads hereabouts, given what New York Times columnist Frank Bruni has called these rankings’ “quasi-biblical power.” Alas, the only local school to crack the Top 10 was Swarthmore, weighing in at number seven. (True, Princeton stands in fourth place, but we can never quite decide whether it’s “local” or not.)

For the curious, here are the Top 10 in order: 1) Pomona College; 2) Williams College; 3) Stanford; 4) Princeton; 5) Yale; 6) Harvard; 7) Swarthmore; 8) Brown; 9) Amherst; and 10) MIT. In case you’re wondering, these are Forbes’s all-around rankings, based, it says, in this “new age of return-on-investment education,” on “outcomes.” Factors taken into account include low student debt, student satisfaction, and four-year graduation rate.

Other local schools in the top 100: Read more »

New York Times on Penn’s Problems With Suicide and Perfectionism

Terracotta Heraldry on the Duhring Wing.   | Steven Minicola, University of Pennsylvania  Communications.

Terracotta Heraldry on the Duhring Wing. | Steven Minicola, University of Pennsylvania Communications.

Today’s New York Times has an article on campus suicide that features the story of Kathryn DeWitt, a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Like her classmate Madison Holleran, DeWitt was a standout student and athlete in high school, but arrived at Penn to find that plenty of other students were just as remarkable as she was — and many were such high achievers, they made DeWitt feel inferior. In what seemed like countless ways, DeWitt imagined she didn’t measure up, as the TimesJulie Scelfo writes: Read more »

Rare Big 5 Doubleheader Scheduled for Palestra This Season

The Palestra - Penn vs. Saint Joseph's

Penn and Saint Joseph’s before a January game at the Palestra in 2006. (Photo by John Shadle via Wikimedia Commons; used under a Creative Commons license)

The Palestra is always named among the best gyms in college basketball. The arena, built in 1927 and most recently renovated in 2000, used to be the biggest, best gym in the city. And so it hosted many double- and triple-headers involving teams from the Big 5, the city’s informal basketball association.

As college basketball became more of a television attraction, the doubleheaders became harder to schedule. The city’s round robin basketball games ended in 1991, but returned in 1999. Doubleheaders, though, have only been done sporadically since — teams understandably don’t want to give up a home game to play a neutral gym.

Fortunately, next season is one of those occasions. The Big 5 announced this morning that, on January 20th, four Big 5 teams will play in a a doubleheader. Penn will play Saint Joseph’s, while Temple will take on La Salle. The doubleheader is being held to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Big 5. Read more »

BizFeed: The 10 Best Philly Colleges For The Money

1. Best Colleges for the Price

The News: Money magazine has determined which colleges deliver the most value. It looked for schools that deliver “a great education, at an affordable price, that helps students launch promising careers.” Money used 21 factors in three equally weighted categories — educational quality, affordability, and alumni earnings — to rank each school.

Here’s how Philly colleges stacked up: Read more »

Penn Ranks No. 1 in Return on Investment for Business, Economics Careers

Wharton Penn

With student loan debt reaching crisis levels and the debate around the value of a college education boiling over, students and parents are becoming more practical when evaluating colleges. So which college provides the best return on investment for a business career? The University of Pennsylvania, according to a new study.

PayScale’s 2015 College ROI report surveyed more than 1.4 million bachelor graduates around the nation, and calculated ROI by factoring each college’s costs against expected future income. Penn costs $234,000 over four years, the study said, but delivers a 20-year net ROI of $979,000. Upon graduation, Penn grads (in all careers) “earn an average of $77K” the study says. Read more »

Penn Study: Trying Kids as Adults Can Reduce Recidivism

Photo |

Photo |

A number of academic studies have found that prosecuting juveniles as adults increases the likelihood that they’ll end up back in the criminal justice system, with recidivism going up as much as 20 percent to 30 percent in such cases. This has led some policymakers to try to raise the age that kids can be tried as adults.

But a new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania flips that narrative on its head.

In a paper published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, assistant professor Charles Loeffler and doctoral candidate Ben Grunwald tracked the outcomes of 78,142 felony drug arrests of teenagers. They found that processing these juveniles as adults actually reduced their chances of being arrested or charged again after being released — by a significant amount.

“Processing juveniles who are close to their 17th birthday in the adult system is associated with a roughly 28 percent reduction in the relative odds of rearrest or a 5 percent reduction in the probability of recidivism,” the authors wrote. Read more »

Alice Goffman’s Book on “Fugitive Life” in Philly Under Attack


Last year, Alice Goffman published On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, an adaptation of her dissertation at Princeton. For six years, while a student at Penn and at Princeton, Goffman immersed herself in a Philadelphia neighborhood that she writes is “a lower-income Black neighborhood not far from [Penn’s] campus.” The book is an ethnography of the lives of the young men (and a few women) she hung out with in the neighborhood. She changed names and calls it “6th Street,” to avoid identifying her subjects.

In the book, her subjects are profiled, beaten harassed and tracked by the Philadelphia Police. She writes of police stealing from suspects. She says she witnessed 24 different police raids, including one where she was handcuffed, and four instances of men from 6th Street released from police custody with bloody fingertips.

It was met with massive praise upon release. Goffman, the daughter of esteemed sociologist Erving Goffman and a Philadelphia native who went to the Baldwin School, had already won a major award for her dissertation. Malcolm Gladwell called it “exceptional … devastating.” Cornel West said it was “the best treatment I know of the wretched underside of neo-liberal capitalist America.” The New York Times said it was “a remarkable feat of reporting.”

Goffman, now a professor of sociology at University of Wisconsin-Madison, has recently come under criticism. An anonymous take-down has floated around in academic circles. Northwestern law professor Steven Lubet, in an essay in the online book review site The New Rambler, accused Goffman of being “an accomplice in the evident commission of a major felony,” as well as getting facts wrong about policing in Philadelphia. Read more »

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