Thursday, July 29, 2010

What Constitutes a ‘Good’ College?

With approximately 95 days, 11 hours, and 59 minutes left until Early Decision, you're probably scrambling from forum to forum figuring out which are those ‘Good’ colleges that you should apply to.  Well, what exactly makes a college ‘good? Is it the reputation?  Is it it's cost-effectiveness?  Or is it perhaps how well the investment of your money pays off?  Indubitably, these are all attributes of a decent college, and a combination of this sort, with the inclusion of other elements, certainly showcases that top school. But something is missing in this laundry list, something that is indispensable for the ideal learning experience – student: professor ratio. When applying to those colleges, especially the big name schools like MIT, Harvard, Princeton and Yale, make sure that the student-professor ratio is not 20:1 or anything higher!  One of the most crucial factors which leads to that rich learning experience is your relationship with your professor: it may sound ridiculous at first, but will he or she even know your name? At big name schools, there is sometimes a tendency for professors to be more concerned with their research than their students. Many professors fall victim to the ‘Publish or Perish’ ideology within the research schools, so sometimes you may not be  actually receiving that top dollar education that you're paying for.  For example, although the school will cost $50,000+ and boast about its faculty sponsored research, in reality, the undergraduate student will rarely contribute to any of that ‘research.’  In most cases, it will be either a graduate or a Ph.D. student.  The truth is, with the large student to professor ratio, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to work on prize-winning research and at the same time be grading, lecturing, and planning lessons.   Given the high ratio within these ‘Research’ Universities, the chances are high that you're paying just for the ‘name,’ or just for the research, but not to actually be a part of it. On the other hand, a low student-professor ratio allows you to get to know more about your professor; it opens the doors for internships/job opportunities, letters of recommendation, and most importantly, provides an enriched learning environment which ultimately teaches you to step through those doors of success.  A low ratio allows for a rich quality of education which not only presents you with a multitude of opportunities, but allows you to make the most of them.  Thus, for a school to be truly ‘good,’ it must not only possess that prestigious reputation, but must also live up to its expectations regarding the quality of education. If you are still unsure, sit in on a class and ask yourself if this is how you want to spend your next three or four years.  After all, it never hurts to visit a school you are deeply interested in. Do not forget that you can always ‘try it before you buy it'!-originally written by Stan

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