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National Merit Scholars; Lavish $85,000 scholarships (link)

  • Pragmatic said... (original post)

    OSRHE stands for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, which offers scholarship money to in and out of state students based on test scores, if they attend Oklahoma universities. It is tax payer funded, but it is not from OU and would be available regardless of whether OU had a national merit program. OSU makes use of the same OSRHE scholarship to provide a very comparable financial aid package to national merits, though OSU has been far less successful in attracting them.

  • SoonerBeau said... (original post)

    OSRHE stands for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, which offers scholarship money to in and out of state students based on test scores, if they attend Oklahoma universities. It is tax payer funded, but it is not from OU and would be available regardless of whether OU had a national merit program. OSU makes use of the same OSRHE scholarship to provide a very comparable financial aid package to national merits, though OSU has been far less successful in attracting them.

    I think OU is not spending taxpayer money wisely by giving lavish scholarships to NM kids. Even if they get Fulbright or Rhodes scholarships. It's a silly waste of time, but at least OU does not pay for that boondoggle - I hope.

    OU needs to produce civil and mechanical engineers, industrial engineers, finance and marketing majors, productive job producers. OU does not need to spend a ridiculous amount of money for NM scholarships to do that. I would welcome a National Merit student to OU. But that student should pay some of his or her way. In my opinion, they don't deserve any more than a good student from an Oklahoma high school. .

    If OU does try to increase this use of taxpayer money for NM scholarships, I hope it's out in the open.

  • SoonerBeau said... (original post)

    Again, I disagree entirely that $85,000 for 5 years is a ridiculous amount of scholarship money. Having gone through the process myself (and again for law school), I received equal or greater offers from many schools.

    Do you plan to contribute back to OU some or all of the scholarship money you received from Oklahoma taxpayers?

    You say $85 K is not lavish. At what $ point does taxpayer scholarship money become ridiculous? $90 K; $120 K?

  • nm

    This post was edited by SoonerInTN 13 months ago

  • As I previously noted, I turned down the OU financial package to go elsewhere. As for the question of what is lavish, I think anything less than the full cost of education is not lavish. It is not uncommon at all for universities, public or private, to offer full or close to full rides for top students. A school that does not do so will not be competitive (unless, perhaps, it is a really big name school or has a huge applicant pool to draw from). Here is quick listing of just a few of the other schools that offer big awards to national merit finalists. I don't have the full info, but it gives you a flavor, at least. As you can see, OU is not alone (in fact, OU's offer is not a full ride even for in-state students according to the OU website).

    OSU (almost the same as OU)
    Tulsa (full tuition plus portion of room and board)
    Texas Tech (over $63,000 over 5 years; this is about the same as the OU-funded portion of OU's out-of-state NM awards)
    Baylor (full tuition)
    Houston (full ride, and UH is public)
    UNT
    Texas A&M
    Florida (full tuition plus portion of room and board)
    Iowa State
    Arizona State
    Arizona
    South Florida
    Central Florida
    Alabama
    La Tech
    Southern Miss
    Alaska (full ride)
    Kansas (basically full ride for in-state)
    Ohio State
    UT Dallas (may just be for in-state students, but I am not sure)

    Interestingly, while Kansas still offers full rides to in-state national merits, it dropped the program for out of state students, and the following year it only attraced 4 out of state national merit finalists as compared to the 67 it attracted the year before. That is the kind of hit OU would likely experience if it made such a change. That would really impact the quality of the OU student body.

    This again highlights how far off base the author of the article was. Does OU offer attractive awards for national merit scholars? Sure. Does the offer help lure them? Sure. Is OU the only school out there (or even the only public university in this part of the country) that has such a program? No. For schools like OU, offering lucrative, though in my opinion far from lavish, financial aid packages to top students is just part of the cost of staying competitive. It is more the norm than the exception.

    This post has been edited 4 times, most recently by SoonerBeau 3 years ago

  • Beau, you have made some very great points and I completely agree with you. Even an Oklahoma kid who is an avid OU sports fan will leave the state for a nationally known program because it has far more impact on their future than watching a football game live vs. on tv. Southwestern has a great dental school and Northwestern is a great teacher's college and both predominantly serve Oklahoma kids. OU is the flagship university in this state, is a large part of the image of this state, and needs to be more than a regional state school. You can't do that by ignoring the diversity of out-of-state or international students.

    One point that hasn't been mentioned is research grants/projects. This is what truly makes a university stronger and more competitive nationally, not undergraduate degrees. I believe Beau said one of the National Merit scholars he knew went on to become a Fulbright Scholar and another stayed for a graduate degree. In order to produce this quality of graduates, you must have incentives to get those students here in the first place. Nationally recognized scholars and successful graduate programs only increase a University's reputation and academic standing which in turn leads to the ability to attract better professors who bring their research projects with them, which in turn brings in more research grants. Large research institutions bring in better graduate students in science and technology. Many of these research ideas become commercially viable companies in Oklahoma, employing Oklahomans and paying tax in Oklahoma. Employees of those companies may then contribute some of their earnings to OU, maybe send their kids to OU, and more tax money in state coffers might mean that tuition doesn't have to go up one year. Even national merits scholars who don't stay here after graduation (no guarantee Okie kids won't leave) usually still contribute to OU, providing a larger scholarship pool that can be spread around more as you want.

    Pragmatic, you seem to not want OU to be competitive nationally (focusing only on Oklahoma kids) then talk about needing to produce engineers and entrepreneurs who will bring jobs to the state. The two are tied together. The Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility would not be possible if it weren't for the research projects and quality professors & graduate students making OU a nationally respected engineering program. Even if Rawl did graduate from OU, ExxonMobil wouldn't have made the contribution if the department wasn't ranked where it is. That facility improves the education of every Oklahoman with it's K-12 Engineering Education Program which promotes improved science and mathematics programs around the state.

    signature image

    Live On University!

  • nm

    This post was edited by SoonerInTN 13 months ago

  • SoonerInTN said... (original post)

    In all the students that have graduated from OU, how many multimillionaires like Pickens are there? How many from Podunk Oklahoma are there?

    Allowing in lower achieving in state students that are at risk of dropping out ....

    I don't know. But more than you think. There are lots of generous OU guys in the oil and gas business. How many National Merit scholars have contributed the value they received? How about basing the NM scholarship on need?

    Why do you think out of state students are better risks than (Podunk?) Oklahoma kids? Why do you assume Oklahoma kids are "lower achieving" and more likely to drop out? These students will be at OU regardless of the NM program. OU needs these paying students to subsidize the lavish scholarships the NM students receive.

    Although I don't care for the NM scholarship program, it does not cause OU to turn away deserving students. In fact, OU badly needs these paying kids to subsidize the privileged National Merit students. That's my point. Somebody has to pay for the lucky National Merit students.

  • ImaSoonergal said... (original post)

    Pragmatic, you seem to not want OU to be competitive nationally (focusing only on Oklahoma kids) then talk about needing to produce engineers and entrepreneurs who will bring jobs to the state. The two are tied together. The Lawrence G. Rawl Engineering Practice Facility would not be possible if it weren't for the research projects and quality professors & graduate students making OU a nationally respected engineering program. Even if Rawl did graduate from OU, ExxonMobil wouldn't have made the contribution if the department wasn't ranked where it is. That facility improves the education of every Oklahoman with it's K-12 Engineering Education Program which promotes improved science and mathematics programs around the state.

    What does this paragraph have to do with $85,000 scholarships to National Merit students? I know there is probably some vague connection. But, the connection is not clear to me. I am totally in favor of REASONABLE scholarships for engineering and geology and business and liberal arts students. In fact, I favor more scholarships and cutting lavish $85 K packages.

    I appreciate the generosity of Exxon-Mobil, Conoco-Phillips, Chesapeake, Devon, Chevron and on and on. But what does that have to do with $85,000 National Merit scholarships?

    I would add that it is the oil and gas companies and Gaylord (Communication School) that have done much for OU. In my opinion, far more than National Merit give aways.

    Can anyone provide a specific example of a National Merit scholarship student who has made a substantial financial contribution to OU? There probably are some, but I don't know any. The Boone Pickens experience at OSU makes defending the National Merit thing a challenge. The keys are: 1.Reasonable scholarships - more of them. . 2. Oklahoma and regional students. 3. Need.

  • nm

    This post was edited by SoonerInTN 13 months ago

  • Pragmatic said... (original post)

    What does this paragraph have to do with $85,000 scholarships to National Merit students? I know there is probably some vague connection. But, the connection is not clear to me. I am totally in favor of REASONABLE scholarships for engineering and geology and business and liberal arts students. In fact, I favor more scholarships and cutting lavish $85 K packages.

    I appreciate the generosity of Exxon-Mobil, Conoco-Phillips, Chesapeake, Devon, Chevron and on and on. But what does that have to do with $85,000 National Merit scholarships?

    I would add that it is the oil and gas companies and Gaylord (Communication School) that have done much for OU. In my opinion, far more than National Merit give aways.

    Can anyone provide a specific example of a National Merit scholarship student who has made a substantial financial contribution to OU? There probably are some, but I don't know any. The Boone Pickens experience at OSU makes defending the National Merit thing a challenge. The keys are: 1.Reasonable scholarships - more of them. . 2. Oklahoma and regional students. 3. Need.

    Pragmatic, you do make some interesting points, but the thing I think you are missing is that OU's national merit scholarships are competitive and reasonable when viewed in comparison to what other schools offer (OSU, Tulsa, Texas Tech, etc., etc.). Offering close to full rides to top students IS the norm, so if OU stopped doing so, it would not be following the lead of other comparable schools (e.g., the good, above average, but not super prestigous public universities) but instead choosing a path that those other schools have avoided. I can see why you might have mistakenly thought the opposite was true in light of the misleading article.

    I can also understand your philosophical view point, and some of the really selective, really elite schools can get away with offering financial aid based on need and not awarding large merit based scholarships. For example, all the Ivy League schools, by agreement, only award financial aid on the basis of financial need, and many of the other really top schools take a similar approach. No matter how smart a student is, if the student lacks need, Harvard is not going to give the student a big scholarship package. If the student chooses to take the full ride at some other school, that is a risk that Harvard is willing (and can afford) to take, because countless amazing students would give up a limb for the chance to go to school there. OU is not in such a position.

    If OU cut out the large scholarships, it would no longer be competitive with any of the regional or national universities for top students. They would get better deals from virtually any major university. Undoubtedly, OU would lose most of those students. Perhaps OU could make up for that by attracting slightly less stellar, though still very good, students with modest scholarships, but I am not sure that is true. Take, for example, a student with a 30 on the ACT and a class rank in the top 10% of his high school class - an excellent student though not one who would qualify for the near full ride at OU. That student might not get into Princeton, but he would have a very realistic shot of getting admitted to other very strong schools like Penn, Cornell, Notre Dame, Wash U, Chicago, Georgetown, etc. Those schools generally guarantee to meet the need of any admitted student, which means that all but the more wealthy students will often find attending those schools to be pretty affordable. In fact, for many, it will be even cheaper than paying the cost of attending OU in-state, even with a small scholarship. So OU would probably lose many of those students too (and likely already does). That means OU would have to load up on the solid, but far from spectacular, students who cannot get into top schools or get significant scholarships elsewhere. OU already gets many of those students, but at least now OU also supplements its class with a fair number of really top notch students. That would no longer be the case. The quality of OU's student body would take a fall, and with it would go much of the progress made in enhancing the university's reputation. There would be an even greater brain drain from the state than there is already (though perhaps some of that would be offset by students choosing the near full rides offered by OSU and Tulsa, which would now clearly be the premier colleges in the state). In short, I think the net effect would be a negative. Whatever the case, the change certainly would not be toward making OU more like other comparable state universities, which is where I believe you are mistaken.

    By the way, since I had already checked on OSU, Texas Tech, and Kansas, I decided to also check on Arkansas and Texas A&M (perhaps the most similar school to OU). It turns out that Arkansas offers $10,000 per year ($40,000 for 4 years) to national merit scholars (and it could well be that other scholarships are also available). That is less than what OU, OSU, Texas Tech, and Kansas (in-state) offer, but it is still a very large award. For in-state students, the Arkansas offer is actually not that much different than OU's in-state offer.

    And here is a link to what Texas A&M does for national merits. https://scholarships.tamu.edu/tamu_scholarships/freshman/national_merit.aspx

    This looks quite comparable to OU's package for in-state students, and note the comment that out of state students apparently can receive packages that can approach $100,000 due to the out-of-state tuition waiver.

    Again, it looks like OU is already doing nothing more than being competitive and certainly not going to some lavish extreme that other comparable schools will not approach.

    This post has been edited 6 times, most recently by SoonerBeau 3 years ago

  • OK. I read your interesting post. And you made some good points.

  • Pragmatic said... (original post)

    What does this paragraph have to do with $85,000 scholarships to National Merit students? I know there is probably some vague connection. But, the connection is not clear to me. I am totally in favor of REASONABLE scholarships for engineering and geology and business and liberal arts students. In fact, I favor more scholarships and cutting lavish $85 K packages.

    I appreciate the generosity of Exxon-Mobil, Conoco-Phillips, Chesapeake, Devon, Chevron and on and on. But what does that have to do with $85,000 National Merit scholarships?

    I would add that it is the oil and gas companies and Gaylord (Communication School) that have done much for OU. In my opinion, far more than National Merit give aways.

    Can anyone provide a specific example of a National Merit scholarship student who has made a substantial financial contribution to OU? There probably are some, but I don't know any. The Boone Pickens experience at OSU makes defending the National Merit thing a challenge. The keys are: 1.Reasonable scholarships - more of them. . 2. Oklahoma and regional students. 3. Need.

    The last two (at least, not sure of previous) Rhodes Scholars at OU were out-of-state National Merit students, recognized in 2008 and 2010. If OU doesn't get excellent, high quality students capable of winning internationally recognized scholar awards and maintaining an overall high academic standard, the university's national reputation will fall. Without that national reputation, OU will not be able to lure and keep quality professors who bring in considerable research money/grants. This research raises OU's national reputation even more and corporations add their large contributions to the university. This circle all leads back to providing scholarships to more high quality applicants - especially National Merit finalists. And we disagree that $85,000 over 5 years for out-of-state academic all-star students is unreasonable or lavish.

    As for a specific example, no I can't give you one because unlike T. Boone & OSU, OU doesn't issue a press release every time they give/get a few dollars unless it is tied to a building. Besides, how much money has T.Boone given OSU for academics versus athletics? By the way, do you give to OU academics? I do, have for years. Just in case you need it, I provided a link for you.

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    Live On University!

  • OK. I do give to OU. I donate To the Sooner Club - largely for athletics. And our 2 children graduated from OU. They had a small amount of scholarship money. They were solid B + students in HS and at OU. We paid the big majority of their tuition and other expense. Probably 90% or more.

    Boone Pickens has donated generously to Water (extremely important) and Energy things at OSU. Also to a very large fund to recruit and aid students from small high schools to OSU. Ouch! That's an area OU needs to look at. To me those students are more valuable.....Just my opinion.

    The National Merit program at OU: There is clearly some support. And some of us do not support it. I will continue to strongly support OU Athletics. That's about it. I love to support Athletics at OU. Season tickets, contributions to Sooner Club.

    Here's another excerpt from the article: "As a proud Oklahoman and OU alumnus, I enjoy any gains in prestige and stature for which OU is recognized. However, we need to focus upon building a university that can attract the best and brightest without having to hire them. Regardless of how these funds are accumulated โ€” donors, taxpayers or tuition-paying students โ€” they can be better used to make sure that our own resident students can afford the dream of a college degree".

    Read more: http://newsok.com/ou-should-freeze-national-merit-recruitment-for-now/article/3571552#ixzz1NqER5a7z

    This post was edited by Pragmatic 3 years ago

  • Pragmatic said... (original post)

    I can sympathize with the sentiments of the author. Public universities are funded with tax dollars, and one of their primary objectives should be to serve the people of the state. From my perspective, OU already does this, but I can certainly understand why someone might take the position that it makes sense to cut back on funding for the out of state national merit program so as to provide more aid to in-state students. As I earlier mentioned, Kansas has done this. KU still offers the big aid packages to in-state national merits but no longer does so for those that are non-residents. The result, as expected, has been a significant drop in the number of out-of-state national merits enrolled. Whether that hit to the quality of the student body is nevertheless worth it because of savings and the ability to provide more funding to in-state students is a legitimate issue of debate to which I can see both sides. However, if that was the point of the article, the author did a poor job making it, because he spoke of completely eliminating the national merit program (which involves many in-state students) and tried to support his argument by painting OU's national merit scholarship packages as extreme and lavish, when the reality is that they are pretty consistent with those at many schools like OSU, Texas Tech, Kansas (for in-state), and Texas A&M. The author speaks of wanting to "build[] a university that can attract the best and brightest without having to hire them," which I take to mean that he hopes to attract the top students to OU without offering significant, competitive scholarship packages. That is a dream. OU cannot have it both ways. It can either try to attract top students using substantial scholarships (like OSU, Texas A&M, Arksansas, Texas Tech, etc., etc., all do) or eliminate such scholarships and relegate the university to second or third class status.

    Where I come out on this is that it is good for a state to have at least one public university that is among the upper echelon. For years, Oklahoma did not have this, but through the efforts of Boren and others, OU has begun to reach that level. OU is still no Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, Virginia, or even Texas, but it has become a much stronger public university that is at or close to the level of, e.g., Texas A&M. That was not always the case and probably would not have happened without the national merit program. OU still enrolls primarily in-state students, and I believe that a substantial number of the OU national merit scholars are from Oklahoma, so OU still serves the state, though its mission is split between serving residents and being a competitive, top flight university. It is too bad that not everyone who wants to attend OU can, but that is a reality of any strong university that cannot be avoided. As OU's academic strength has improved, its admission standards have increased, and it has become harder for a merely above average student to stand out. But for Oklahoma students who cannot attend OU, there are still many other affordable, public-funded options like OSU, NSU, Southeastern, etc.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by SoonerBeau 3 years ago

  • To me it is a matter of high level direction of Oklahoma University. Tier - Whatever is not a concern to me. The books are the same everywhere. A big give away program wll not make U.S. News and World Report like OU. They are in bed with other schools.

    I want OU to be a school that graduates competent people that can build things (excellent engineers), Explore and produce (geologists and petroleum engineers), do things (finance and accounting), A good engineer or accountant, a good employee does more for OU's reputation than a Rhodes Scholar - as far as I am concerned. I think the National Merit program does little to help OU go in that direction But....it's just intuition. Can't prove it one way or the other.

    I want OU to spend taxpayer money in ways that maximize benefit to Oklahoma. Somebody has to pay for the students that do not pay.

    Baseball: Sooners will play at Regional at Fort Worth. TCU, Dallas Baptist, A good draw for the good guys.

  • nm

    This post was edited by SoonerInTN 13 months ago

  • It costs just as much to educate a 5 star athlete from out of state as an out of state national merit scholar. What's the difference? Both will help OU in the long run.

  • SoonerBeau is a hoss.

    Separately, my boss's genius son (from TX) just decided to attend OU despite lucrative offers from Ivy League Schools. He is a National Merit Scholar (and he's not white, which also helped boost offers from around the nation).

  • SunBeam said... (original post)

    What's the difference? Both will help OU in the long run.

    The major difference is REVENUE. Varsity athletes in football and basketball produce large amounts of revenue.. There are some major differences. Varsity athletes work in practice and in competition much harder and many more hours than pure academic scholars. National Merit scholars don't bring big crowds to the OU campus.

    And, many students get more out of being on a varsity sports team than they many other students get from many academic courses. Many college courses simply do not have any real value to the student. It's often just another inflated grade. However, some courses - that teach students to do something - are great. And OU has some strong programs. Especially business and engineering.

  • SoonerInTN said... (original post)

    At least we know where you stand. As a football fan you have no problem donating to that program

    I donate to other athletic progams - in addition to football. What OU programs do you donate to?

    This post was edited by Pragmatic 3 years ago

  • aggressively retaining the top tier students from in state & bringing in top tier students from out of state helps raise the prestige of the university. in turn, basically everyone who ends up with a degree from the university benefits from that. as OU becomes thought of by perspective employers in similar light as other "top tier" universites, then the students who seek employment with their degrees from OU have a better shot in the end. it is hard to measure that benefit, but should be considered......

    i do think that basing everything on the natl merit competiton may not be the best way to identify that top talent, but no system will be perfect. my hs had a few natl merit scholars, but i know one person who was smarter & more dedicated than most (if not all) of them. she was downright sick on the psat day and it affected her score. she ended up at OSU with a full ride, but i bet she would have gone to OU had they given her the equivalent of the natl merit package.

  • nm

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by SoonerInTN 13 months ago

  • boomerball said... (original post)

    i do think that basing everything on the natl merit competiton may not be the best way to identify that top talent, but no system will be perfect.

    Right. That's why I prefer more scholarships to sharp kids. Say 3 @ $5,000. Rather than 1 @ $15,000. You know 1 or 2 or 3 of those 3 are going to excel. That - to me - is a better use of scarce resource - scholarship $ Dollars.

    This post was edited by Pragmatic 3 years ago

  • SoonerInTN said... (original post)

    Sooner club, college of arts and sciences, college of pharmacy and college of medicine.

    Generous. I also donate to the OU Pride of Oklahoma Band, College of Business and Arts & Science. In addition to lots of tuition. It was money well spent. Our kids had a good experience. They like OU.

    This post was edited by Pragmatic 3 years ago