[ExI] gre

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Fri May 31 13:23:22 UTC 2019



From: extropy-chat <extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org> On Behalf Of William Flynn Wallace

Subject: Re: [ExI] gre


Always in the mood for a story.   bill w




Isn’t much of a story, but your comment on correlations reminded me of it.  


The dean of my engineering school took all the GRE scores from our class and the two previous graduating classes, and plotted them with GRE scores on the vertical and GPA on the horizontal.  He had all the engineering graduates in there, looking for any signal, such as subspecialty (electrical, mechanical, civil vs GRE), wanted to know the correlation coefficient between GRE and GPA, that sorta thing.


My roommate was a super-disciplined straight A sort of guy.  His homework was always perfect, by the book, procedural, step by step algorithmic.  He earned a PhD from Purdue and is a professor of engineering where we went to college.  My college experience was way different from his.  My approach was a lot more open-ended, experimental, concepty rather than algorithmy, emphasizing inventiveness and alternate approaches and such, a lonely ENTP in a world more suited to ISFJs, the kind of approach you would expect from an oddball who dreams up toilet snake warning devices you can trigger remotely if you don’t mind having to scrape your brother-in-law off the damn bathroom ceiling, that sorta thing.


One day the dean called me over, Jones see me in my office please.  He had plotted the GPA vs GRE and had the kinda football shaped scatter one might expect.  The first thing that surprised me was that there was a clear correlation, but a bit less than I expected.  There were two odd outliers from those 300-ish points that would immediately catch one’s eye.


We already had our scores back, so I knew I had scorched that test, whacked it outta the park.  But my GPA was tepid, middle of the pack-ish.  He showed me that graph and pointed at one of the two outliers, and asked: Do you know who this is?  Me:  hmmmmmm… that would be… me?  Why that slacker…


He gently inquired as to why my score wasn’t way over to the right on that curve.  I had no good answer.  That was in the days when one couldn’t just claim to suck.  The term had a different meaning back then.


The other odd outlier was my roommate, whose GPA was 4.0.  But his GRE score wasn’t even in the top 30.  He had the only 4.0 in those three graduating classes, and did really well in the engineering section, but overall was just good, perhaps 80-ish percentile.  His point and mine were outliers on that graph.  


In any case… he went on to a PhD and has been a college professor ever since.  I went on to a career in aerospace engineering, retired at age 49 to be a fulltime parent and community volunteer.  I am still in regular contact with him.  He came to stay with me last year and show his son the Tesla factory.  He’s still smart as a whip, still methodical and structured, organized, efficient.  I’m still dreaming up goofy weird inventions and suggesting we go into business to make a ton of money.  Neither of us have changed all that much, just grown older.  We have both had a great life.





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