Fairness

I always thought that it was a bad idea to admit students with differing levels of support, at least up-front. Here is a nice write-up as to why I think so:

Lesboprof: Privilege You Can Feel, Even If You Can’t Always Name It.

But then, I remember that I was a low quality candidate at the Master’s program I went to, and so had the worst funding of all, and needed to take ‘make-up’ course work at the start. If that school had a ‘everyone equal policy’ I would not have been admitted, since I looked so bad on paper. Even though I just needed the chance to be admitted, because I was the top student after the first semester, and surprised everyone (including me).

So it does not seem so clear to me after all. If I was a data=anecdote type, I would say that you should re-evaluate after one semester. But that is wrong-sometimes graduate students students surprise you—they do well at coursework and terrible at research, or more happily, bad at coursework but great at research.

Where I work, you can tell after about a year and a half if a student is going to be good. It is not 100% though. The winning strategy is to treat them all well. But we are small, and I am sure we miss lots of potential greatness because we don’t let people in who are slightly worse ex-ante because we keep everyone’s funding at the same level—and so are budget (and faculty time) constrained.

No surprise, there is a trade-off here.

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