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Archive for November 29th, 2010

When I made enquiries of the Alphalearning Institute, I was kindly sent various information about what the Institute does. Attached to the email was a pdf document called “I.Q. Explanation” and one page was entitled “What do the numbers mean?”

The scale went along the lines of:

200 – Goethe
175 – Above here are the top 20 IQs of all time
150 – Genius – top universities send a plane for you
125 – Top universities with “C” average / Lower universities with “B” average
100 –  High school graduate with “C” average

I had to laugh at the line that read: “150 – top universities send a plane for you”.

The following is a factual account of what happened at one North London establishment that allegedly prided itself on selecting students from “non-traditional” backgrounds.

I was looking for a business management course at the time, and was making general enquiries to see what was available in the area. I saw that the University of North London was running an open evening, and I decided to pop along for a chat.

The middle-aged, female admissions tutor I saw seemed terribly interested in my school record and apparently didn’t wish to talk about my more recent accomplishments at all.

She had no interest in the fact that I had been selected as a candidate by a mainstream political party and run my own election campaign, which included going head-to-head in debate with candidates from the other parties and fielding questions from the floor in public meetings, as well as canvassing in the street. Parties, as far as I am aware, do not select candidate in whom they have little confidence to hold their own in such situations. This, in the opinion of the tutor, did not prove any ability to retain facts or construct arguments.

She had no interest in the fact that, having been made redundant at the age of 19, I did what any good member of the Thatcher generation would have done and started my own business, and made it work despite the economic climate of the time. This, in her opinion, did not demonstrate persistence, “horse sense”, or the ability to make sense of the legal and financial understandings necessary to running a business – surely what the content of the course was supposed to be all about?

She was not interested in the fact that I had been selected to be sent on an elite training program in the United States by a previous employer purely on the basis of my study record and test scores in that organization (I made clear I had achieve maximum points), nor in the fact that the purpose of the program was to train me up to run the organization’s own courses at its London branch. The fact that I had actually been running professional-level STUDY SKILLS courses apparently counted for nothing, and I could not possibly have the study skills necessary to do a business BA.

Whatever examples I gave, she simply came back with the same answer: “It’s not the same thing.”

Apart from dissecting school grades that had been gained nearly two decades beforehand, and under very different circumstances, she seemed extremely interested in my choice of pleasure reading. I was heavily on a Trekkie kick at the time, and I didn’t feel like sharing the fact that I was heavily into the DS9 relaunch novels, so I mentioned that I had read some travel books about Norway.

On hearing this, she picked out of the air some bizarre, almost non-sequitur question along the lines of: “What is the level of economic development of Norway?” I wasn’t about to get drawn into a discussion on a subject I knew little about, and tried to explain that the books were travel guides that I had read in preparation for a trip.

The conversation rapidly went south, and the tutor became very rude. Every time I opened my mouth to speak, she talked over me, and I tore up the form I had been asked to complete, and left.

Needless to say, I wrote a scathing letter of complaint to the vice chancellor, who replied with the usual platitudes, saying that the person I had seen was a very experienced tutor. I wrote back and said I too am a very experienced tutor, and that based on what I had seen and heard, I would not be spending my money at his establishment even if he personally reviewed my case and offered me a place.

I subsequently found out that that particular university had the worst drop-out rate in the entire country. I must conclude that they were offering places to people who were not going to make it, but who apparently had all the right credentials on paper.

Anyway, the upshot was that I did do a business management course elsewhere, which only shows that once the opportunity is there, I’m perfectly capable of making it through.

Does the Institute’s claim hold water regarding persons with a 150+ IQ having a plane sent for them by top universities? I’ll believe that when Oxford and Cambridge start fighting each other to offer me a place.

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