Archive for October 14th, 2009

US News

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

The popularity of the US News & World Report’s annual College Issue has spawned numerous copycats; each trying to offer its’ own spin on how it rates colleges. It’s all about selling magazines. Unit sales directly impacts advertising rates.

It’s more about the money than the value of the content. What does it really mean when you learn what the six year graduation rates are, the average financial aid a student receives, the student/faculty ratio, average SAT scores and average loan burden/student upon graduation?

admissions cartoon picIt is interesting to see that more colleges are eschewing such assessments and not returning the self-reported questionnaires sent to them by the publications. Others are critical of their methods, but when a college is recognized in the “Top 10” or “Best of” in a particular category they are not shy about letting you know about it on their websites.

And yes, I am one of those who buy those magazines. I buy them because you are, and I want to be ready for your questions when you ask…

“Why do you recommend the 41st ranked University of the South @ Sewanee for Carolyn instead of the well known 18th ranked Colgate University?”

I appreciate such questions.  More often than not, the answer has to do with a combination of factors. The academic profile of the student and learning style, how a student expresses interest in different majors (however vague they may be early on), financial parameters of the parents, campus ethos and the nature of the academic and career advising.

All of which we take into account when suggesting the ‘starter list’ of fifteen colleges for a junior.  I invite you to arrange a FREE “get acquainted” conversation with us. We work with students all over the country (and in Europe) thanks to the Internet. Please click here for more information.

Ratio Schmatio

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Ratio, Schmatio

By SAMANTHA STAINBURN

ISABELLE CARBONELL, a college senior from Bethesda, Md., has thrived over the last four years as part of a small learning community. Most of her classes have had fewer than 35 students. For freshman and sophomore years, her dormitory was in the same building as the cafeteria and many of her classrooms and professors’ offices. “You see the same people over and over, and that lets you create networks,” she says. “You get to know your professors informally. You see them in the hallway, they say, ‘How’s that project going along?’ and you bounce ideas off them.” Prospective undergraduates are deluged with statistics — from average class size to the number of Nobel Prize winners on staff — with which to take the measure of a college. Is Ms. Carbonell’s story an argument for choosing your college by the numbers?

U of Michigan pic

Not exactly. She attends the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, which has some 25,000 undergraduates, 4,100 full-time faculty members and 540 buildings. If she had been looking for an intimate experience, the numbers would have led her elsewhere.

That’s just one of the problems with statistics: they rarely tell the whole story. (Ms. Carbonell’s story is that she signed up for Michigan’s Residential College, a program in which students live and attend classes in the same building. She now lives off campus but continues to take classes in the R.C. building.)

Another problem with numbers: “Often statistics don’t measure what’s important,” says Lloyd Thacker, executive director of the Education Conservancy, a nonprofit group working to improve the college admissions process. For example, the selectivity of a college, measured by how many applicants it denies, provides little information about the educational experience there. (more…)