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Friday Fragments

A few friends who work at other colleges have mentioned that as a morale boost, their colleges have instituted “no-meeting days.” They’re exactly what they sound like.

On campus, some Fridays were pretty close to no-meeting days. But with Zoom and quarantine, the days all kind of run together. “No-meeting Mondays” (or Tuesdays, or Wednesdays) would make it a lot easier to get all other kinds of work done.

I think I have a new pet cause.

The new College Scorecard is up, featuring all manner of updated data. The headline innovation is that average salaries are broken out by major. It makes quite a difference.

If you’re so inclined, you can dig up all sorts of fun facts. For instance, compare the following salaries two years after graduation. To make it fair, I chose two schools from the same region of the country (in this case, central New Jersey):

Princeton University, majoring in English: $47,260

Brookdale Community College, majoring in nursing: $68,079

If you’re looking only at bang for the buck, the choice is obvious.

Data like these can be used, or misused, in any number of ways. The message I hope to send my daughter, who is scouting out colleges, is that it’s possible to be successful in lots of places.

From a community college perspective, of course, measures like these discount the value of transfer. Two years after graduating here, a student may just be graduating from a bachelor’s program. Over time, those are likely to be the highest earners, but they disappear from our data. That kind of measurement error is often held against liberal arts or general studies degrees, which were built specifically for transfer. A student who starts here, then transfers to Rutgers for an engineering degree, shows up in the Rutgers stats but not in ours. That leads to misleading data and misled conclusions.

And there is far, far more to education than starting salaries.

Still, I can’t deny that it’s fun to poke around in the data. Keep trying, Princeton! Maybe you’ll catch up someday …

Spotify has a feature now that reports your most common listens over the previous year. It breaks them down by artist, genre and decade, among other things.

The Girl showed remarkable accuracy in guessing my top five. When I asked her how she knew, she said, “That’s what you play when you make dinner.” She’s right.

Somehow it’s comforting to think that in years to come, whenever she hears the Replacements or Randy Weston she’ll think of her dad in the kitchen.

She reported that over 50 percent of her listening this year was Hozier.

Still, if you’re looking for something charming and upbeat and just generally great to listen to as you try to manage stress, I just discovered “Strasbourg/St. Denis,” by Roy Hargrove. It’s on his Earfood album, and there are several great live clips of it on YouTube. Hargrove was a trumpeter who died in his late 40s a couple of years ago, leaving behind some impressive work. “Strasbourg/St. Denis” is one of those songs that almost physically forces you to move. It has “dad in the kitchen” written all over it. Highly recommended.

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Thursday, December 3, 2020
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Thursday, December 3, 2020