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How to learn what colleges to look at

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And no, I'm not talking about a high-level screening like you can do with the College Board tool, which I have used and not found what I am looking for.

 

I'm wondering how one goes about finding out which colleges are highly regarded for a specific academic area -- particularly in regard to how they prepare the student for graduate school in a discipline.

 

Let me restate that. Let's use mathematics. What schools are highly regarded by college mathematics professors as doing well at preparing their undergrads for graduate school work in mathematics? See the difference between that question and a screening tool? I am having a hard time expressing it ...

 

Anyone have advice on this?

Thanks,

Karen

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One thing we found helpful was to speak to people who are involved in that discipline. For example, my daughter asked her Latin instructor for recommendations as to colleges with good programs in that field. If your child is taking a community college class, he or she might ask professors in the department there for their suggestions. You could also look at publications in the field to see where the authors are located; that might give you some leads to pursue.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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As a preliminary tool, I am using the Rugg book. It lists majors and which colleges have good departments. It divides them into three categories- something like highly competetive, competive, less competetive. Those aren't the terms but you can get the idea. I chose which schools we will be visiting on our trip this month based on that book. It also has an index in the back with the colleges listed and all the degrees there that are recommended. NOw as I said, I would use this as a starting point and go from there. Some additional points- you need to make sure there is enough faculty there. I was looking at one college that has a certain major, and there is only one professor in that department. IF you go there, you better like that professor. I think that I would be very hesitant to recommend my child to go to a college where their major only has one faculty member. Now if it was a major that had many close kin like international business but there were also business and econ and finance professors around, that could be okay. In this case, it was a major that is a stand alone major and only one faculty member.

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I was looking at one college that has a certain major, and there is only one professor in that department. IF you go there, you better like that professor. I think that I would be very hesitant to recommend my child to go to a college where their major only has one faculty member. Now if it was a major that had many close kin like international business but there were also business and econ and finance professors around, that could be okay. In this case, it was a major that is a stand alone major and only one faculty member.

 

A very good point! And, if your child is interested in attending a college with a very small department in his or her major of interest, it would be worth asking if any of those faculty intend to take a sabbatical during the time your child will be attending.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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I've been using google to look for 'top' or 'best' lists (type in college rankings mathematics and you get some of them) as well as talking with people in the field to see where people they know (and respect) have graduated from.

 

Then I look at those colleges more specifically to see if they match other issues important to me (and my son) - freshman profile, college setting and size, cost, etc, etc.

 

I think it is VERY important to look for a school that is good in the desired major as not all schools are good at 'everything,' and yes, the level of education changes. One really has to figure out what is important to them... I suspect anywhere in the top 10 or even top 20 could be good for a common major like math. I know hubby graduated from Va Tech in Civil Engineering (currently rated #7 in the nation for that program) and can tell the difference among peers, so I'd highly recommend the school for that. I'd hesitate if someone wanted to major in art or theater... even though they offer both.

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:iagree:Looking online for college rankings--US News & World Report, or googling to find others was helpful to us. We were looking at engineering. Another useful tool we came across is Princeton Review's 368 Best Colleges. We found the newest edition in our library. It has a number of lists of best colleges for various academic areas, and it has info on each college (a 2 page spread) that gives a good picture of what the school is like, what the most common majors are, etc. We found that the book's info on the colleges we are looking at was very consistent with what we observed on our college visits and what we already knew about the schools' reputations from rankings and talking to people in the field.

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:iagree: completely. Also, if your child is undecided but has a few things they are interested in, check those majors out too. Another thing to consider is whether the overall education is enough to let you switch in grad school. I was an economics major as an undergraduate. I was able to successfully switch to a master's in criminal justice. There was one other grad student with me who did that and she had gone to a fairly good school. Everyone else had majored in criminal justice as an undergrad too. Those grads were amazed that I especially who only had two sociology classes but only in two specialized areas which had nothing to do with criminology (military sociology and sociology of group dynamics) and no psychology classes after high school, ended up doing so well. Well my excellent well rounded education helped me be able to learn about basically any subject.

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I've been using google to look for 'top' or 'best' lists

 

I tried this, too, but these rankings are for grad schools. Research, etc. always plays a big part in these rankings.

 

I don't care about grad schools right now. What good is a uni with magnificent research reputation when the undergrad classes are taught by foreigners who can barely speak the language (Yeah, I'm still scarred by my first calculus class at a highly-regarded public uni)? What are the best undergrad schools for prep for grad school is my current question. I can't find rankings for that.

 

Another peeve -- 99% of these rankings lists only deal with eastern and California colleges, and with large public unis. I am not sanguine about sending my precious 18yo 1000 miles away to those foreign lands, for many reasons beginning with $$$ and moving on from there. And I'm not convinced that bigger must be better. I know there are good colleges in flyover country, but how to find out about them?

 

Hence my frustration. :confused:

 

Karen

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the Rugg book.

 

I had not heard of this book, but my public library has it, so now it's on my list.

 

Thanks!:)

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One thing we found helpful was to speak to people who are involved in that discipline.

 

Yes, this makes sense. When ds takes a couple college courses in his Jr/Sr years, I guess we will have to learn to network ... not going to be easy for either of us lol.

 

Hey, the author of LOF might help, too -- I'll have to ask him :)

 

Karen

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I just ran across the Forbes college rankings. At first glance, it appears to be looking more at what I'm trying to find .... will have to study it a little more....

 

Karen

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