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Study about college rankings

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Higher-ranked colleges don't necessarily provide a better educational experience

 

"In fact, a modest but consistent finding across ranking schemes and class level was a negative relationship with student-faculty interaction, indicating that students at higher-ranked institutions reported fewer interactions with faculty." - agree or disagree?

 

"Consumers, prospective students and their families, should be wary of rankings," said Zilvinskis. "These measures are predicated mostly on the academic profile of first-year, full-time students, but could do more to describe the experience of students while they are in college."

 

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Higher-ranked colleges don't necessarily provide a better educational experience

 

"In fact, a modest but consistent finding across ranking schemes and class level was a negative relationship with student-faculty interaction, indicating that students at higher-ranked institutions reported fewer interactions with faculty." - agree or disagree?

Disagree. Both of my kids have found their professors to be very accessible every time they had a question. All of their classes have been taught by professors. My oldest has had no trouble finding professors to conduct research with, and I am sure that my freshman will have the same experience when he begins thinking about adding some research to his schedule. My oldest even had assistance negotiating a summer internship employment contract.

 

ETA: The number of interactions, imo, depend more on the student than on the professor. The student needs to be the one reaching out to a professor. I don't think you will see many situations where the reverse happens. Although, my youngest has had some of his professors come out to watch his team play.

Edited by snowbeltmom
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ETA: The number of interactions, imo, depend more on the student than on the professor.

I agree. Fwiw, my kids have had zero problems having high levels of professorial mentoring on their large public school campuses. Proponents of small LACs often make it sound like professors on large campuses are inaccessible. That has not been our experience.

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I think some of the researcher's results are closely tied to the instrument that is being used to measure student engagement.  The instrument asks things such as "how often have you discussed your academic progress with a professor this year?"  Top students at top schools may answer "never" while a struggling student at a weaker school may do this often.  If a school has a population of students who are well aware of their academic progress, can easily self-diagnose what they need to do, and are self-reliant, the school may rank poorly in this dimension

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It could be accurate.  Might not be the best Metric though.   I seem to remember in a Gladstone book he mentioned that the students from mid-range schools were more likely to have published academic papers and a higher number then those from the top-tier.    I don't know what would be a good metric though.  The one that uses first-year salaries seems like a good one.   But, then high-COL areas like CA look better than they are, since people tend to not move far.    

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Disagree. Both of my kids have found their professors to be very accessible every time they had a question. All of their classes have been taught by professors. My oldest has had no trouble finding professors to conduct research with, and I am sure that my freshman will have the same experience when he begins thinking about adding some research to his schedule. My oldest even had assistance negotiating a summer internship employment contract.

 

ETA: The number of interactions, imo, depend more on the student than on the professor. The student needs to be the one reaching out to a professor. I don't think you will see many situations where the reverse happens. Although, my youngest has had some of his professors come out to watch his team play.

 

This.  Professors everywhere tend to respond to students (of course there are always exceptions, but in general).  It doesn't matter if they are in CC or Top Whatever.  My kids have been outgoing to connect with profs at all of their schools (from DE on) and had really good experiences.  Kids who never make an effort won't get the same interactions or relationships even if they are spoken to first.  And honestly?  Some kids don't WANT the interactions.  They just want the degree. 

 

It's the same way with research.  Some want to do it, others have no interest. (Middle son sought it out and loves it, oldest had no interest, youngest tried it and got bored with it.)  At middle son's research heavy school there are still roughly 20% of students not involved in research.  I often wonder why they go to a research culture school if they have no interest, but I'm sure they have their reasons.  Upon graduation, they'll still have their degree.  Success can come from any school.  Only the path along the way differs - even within a school.  Personality and desires matter.

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No clue, in general. but my current college student's school has been fantastic. I wish all my kids could have this situation.

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Disagree. Both of my kids have found their professors to be very accessible every time they had a question. All of their classes have been taught by professors. My oldest has had no trouble finding professors to conduct research with, and I am sure that my freshman will have the same experience when he begins thinking about adding some research to his schedule. My oldest even had assistance negotiating a summer internship employment contract.

 

ETA: The number of interactions, imo, depend more on the student than on the professor. The student needs to be the one reaching out to a professor. I don't think you will see many situations where the reverse happens. Although, my youngest has had some of his professors come out to watch his team play.

 

This. My DD had close relationships to several professors at her #3-ranked university. She did have some classes taught by graduate students, but in terms of quality these were not inferior to those taught by professors (the absolute worst class was taught by a tenured prof).

 

The student needs to seek out the relationships. She regularly went to office hours to establish relationships. She ended up working as a TA for one prof. She runs a student organization and through that has made close connections with her department chair and other faculty. Other students do research with professors. She has not found the professors unapproachable or inaccessible.

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I think some of the researcher's results are closely tied to the instrument that is being used to measure student engagement.  The instrument asks things such as "how often have you discussed your academic progress with a professor this year?"  Top students at top schools may answer "never" while a struggling student at a weaker school may do this often.  If a school has a population of students who are well aware of their academic progress, can easily self-diagnose what they need to do, and are self-reliant, the school may rank poorly in this dimension

 

This.

I am an advisor and also teaching a large enrollment introductory course.

The only students who discuss their progress with me (at other than the mandatory advising sessions each semester) are the ones who struggle! I don't need to "discuss progress" with an A or B student - we just talk physics. The ones who need to come in to specifically talk about their progress are the advisees who are on academic deficiency or probation.

Not a sensible measure for student engagement at all.

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It is true that professors in general seem to be willing and eager to share their expertise.   Several times I've read a non-fiction book, and wondered about something in the book.  Then been happy to discover that the author is a professor.  Because, a) it is really easy to find an email for them, and b) they respond to sincere questions completely and quickly.  

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I don't know what would be a good metric though. The one that uses first-year salaries seems like a good one.

How on earth would that tell anyone what quality of education one received? My niece is at an excellent, highly ranked school with very engaged faculty, but a high percentage of graduates set out to do good in their communities and around the world. If they don't get rich that means they didn't have a great education?

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Everyone will define "better educational experience" differently. It's a vague term. Interactions with faculty may be important to some students and inconsequential to others. If this study only uses that as a yardstick for defining "better," that's a rather narrow standard, IMO.

 

I always feel like these types of posts (no matter how presented - not pointing any fingers at the OP) lead unnecessarily to divisiveness. :(

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I always feel like these types of posts (no matter how presented - not pointing any fingers at the OP) lead unnecessarily to divisiveness. :(

 

I don't think so.  There are differences in how folks feel, but it's important that those considering colleges know about those differences so they can better see what fits them.  Without seeing how everyone interprets an article or ranking or whatever, it's easy to just believe the face value or sound bite.  When there's discussion, it's easier for a reader to perhaps see things they hadn't considered before and those things could be vitally important to their overall picture.

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Everyone will define "better educational experience" differently. It's a vague term. Interactions with faculty may be important to some students and inconsequential to others. If this study only uses that as a yardstick for defining "better," that's a rather narrow standard, IMO.

 

I always feel like these types of posts (no matter how presented - not pointing any fingers at the OP) lead unnecessarily to divisiveness. :(

Yeah, I can see that. Let's refocus here.

 

If you have read SWB's Rethinking School, she talks about her embarrassingly dreadful college that her parents just sent her to because she was 16 and didn't really know she should aim higher. And then she goes on to list all of the things she got out of her "tenth-rate college."

 

I'm a firm believer that you get out of it what you put into it. As the parent of a kid that could get into higher ranked schools, but can't afford them, I am proud that he's planning on going the practical route and I'm sure he'll make the most of wherever he is and wherever he goes after that. Best of all, if he completely changes his mind, he still won't be in heaps of debt and neither will we. At least one of the colleges he had looked into had a top-ranked program for his major, but the college itself was not highly-ranked. It all depends on the program, the major, the professors, how the college fits the student, etc. I do think the ranking system is overrated because where a student chooses to go to college is such a personal decision. 

 

Maybe this study is for people who don't think about these things all the time like so many of us on this board do. Maybe it's for the people who blindly choose where their child will go to college by how it will sound to their friends and colleagues. 

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Yeah, I can see that. Let's refocus here.

 

If you have read SWB's Rethinking School, she talks about her embarrassingly dreadful college that her parents just sent her to because she was 16 and didn't really know she should aim higher. And then she goes on to list all of the things she got out of her "tenth-rate college."

 

I'm a firm believer that you get out of it what you put into it. As the parent of a kid that could get into higher ranked schools, but can't afford them, I am proud that he's planning on going the practical route and I'm sure he'll make the most of wherever he is and wherever he goes after that. Best of all, if he completely changes his mind, he still won't be in heaps of debt and neither will we. At least one of the colleges he had looked into had a top-ranked program for his major, but the college itself was not highly-ranked. It all depends on the program, the major, the professors, how the college fits the student, etc. I do think the ranking system is overrated because where a student chooses to go to college is such a personal decision. 

 

Maybe this study is for people who don't think about these things all the time like so many of us on this board do. Maybe it's for the people who blindly choose where their child will go to college by how it will sound to their friends and colleagues. 

 

All that is true enough (though honestly I don't personally know people choosing schools on the prestige factor alone; I see people who seem to lean that way on some message boards though.) It did strike me immediately that the research was done by a SUNY school. No clue how it ranks, but I suppose there could be a bit of bias there in regard to the outcome.

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All that is true enough (though honestly I don't personally know people choosing schools on the prestige factor alone; I see people who seem to lean that way on some message boards though.) It did strike me immediately that the research was done by a SUNY school. No clue how it ranks, but I suppose there could be a bit of bias there in regard to the outcome.

there is always going to be some "bias" intentional or not

just use as another data-point - in the end make your own decision

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How on earth would that tell anyone what quality of education one received? My niece is at an excellent, highly ranked school with very engaged faculty, but a high percentage of graduates set out to do good in their communities and around the world. If they don't get rich that means they didn't have a great education?

 

It is one Metric.  For the people that can afford the financial loss of an expensive education that doesn't lead to increased pay, then that isn't a worthwhile metric.  If I were a young one today looking at the outrageous costs of college it would be a huge consideration to me.  I didn't have the luxury of financial aid or parents that contributed to my college

 

People look for different things.   If people are honest. many just want to delay adulthood, and/or party and/or get an Mrs degree.   For me, I wanted easy access to a job that used my STEM brain.  I wanted to make enough money to be financially secure.  Employers develop an opinion of the quality of graduates from certain schools , and the pay will reflect that.  I don't mean to say that those are the only options for college goals.   

 

I also come from the perspective, that I can learn what I need to learn outside of the degree.   SWB book on educating yourself really resonated with me.  

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It is one Metric.  For the people that can afford the financial loss of an expensive education that doesn't lead to increased pay, then that isn't a worthwhile metric.  If I were a young one today looking at the outrageous costs of college it would be a huge consideration to me.  I didn't have the luxury of financial aid or parents that contributed to my college

 

People look for different things.   If people are honest. many just want to delay adulthood, and/or party and/or get an Mrs degree.   For me, I wanted easy access to a job that used my STEM brain.  I wanted to make enough money to be financially secure.  Employers develop an opinion of the quality of graduates from certain schools , and the pay will reflect that.  I don't mean to say that those are the only options for college goals.   

 

I also come from the perspective, that I can learn what I need to learn outside of the degree.   SWB book on educating yourself really resonated with me.  

From a practical standpoint, I find measures of entry level salaries of graduates to be of little use for a number of reasons.  First, it is a biased sample.  No school truly knows what entry level salaries for all students are; in fact, they tend to know entry level salaries for only a few students.  Second, some of the students who have the highest earning potential may choose not to enter the job market and continue to graduate school; if a school has a large number of students in this category, the earning potential will be highly biased.  Third, the earning profiles in different industries differ; in some industries, salaries start high but there is not much advancement, other industries see a high rate of increase in pay throughout the career path, other careers tend to have income based on commissions and bonuses, making starting salaries look low.  If different schools tend to have different career paths, on average, these numbers can look very different.

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From a practical standpoint, I find measures of entry level salaries of graduates to be of little use for a number of reasons.  First, it is a biased sample.  No school truly knows what entry level salaries for all students are; in fact, they tend to know entry level salaries for only a few students.  Second, some of the students who have the highest earning potential may choose not to enter the job market and continue to graduate school; if a school has a large number of students in this category, the earning potential will be highly biased.  Third, the earning profiles in different industries differ; in some industries, salaries start high but there is not much advancement, other industries see a high rate of increase in pay throughout the career path, other careers tend to have income based on commissions and bonuses, making starting salaries look low.  If different schools tend to have different career paths, on average, these numbers can look very different.

 

:iagree:  If one wants to use my tippy top middle son, he's in med school now, so not earning a thing.  He's gaining more debt actually.  Fast forward about 10 years and then his salary will be vastly different, but not much difference until then (although he'll get paid minimally during residency in 3 1/2 more years).

 

Youngest son will be graduating this year and getting a paycheck, but in 10 years?  I'm not sure his paycheck is going to be anywhere near what middle son should be making.

 

When are they checking these salaries?  

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I agree. Fwiw, my kids have had zero problems having high levels of professorial mentoring on their large public school campuses. Proponents of small LACs often make it sound like professors on large campuses are inaccessible. That has not been our experience.

 

Hmm.  Well, I'm not sure though that "it depends on the student to initiate" isn't pretty significant.

 

Having been a student as a small LAC, it was actually rather difficult to fly under the radar.  You had to form some kind of relationship with your main tutor, you spent a lot of the time over the year with your small tutorial group and at least three other tutors, you had private oral exams with the faculty, there were lots of academic/social events that were part of campus life and included both students and faculty.  I had my introductory Latin class with the president of the university, and would regularly eat lunch with him in the cafeteria - a lot of students did.  

 

I didn't have nearly the same experience at the large research university I was also a member of, though yes, professors were accessible and kind if you approached them.  But - it was really easy not to.  I don't think I ever remember seeing any of them at a social event, or eating in a place where I felt I could sit down with them (or they sat down with me) or met them at a party or was invited to their home.  I'm a rather shy introvert, so maybe if I had been more extroverted and driven I'd have sought that out.  But it certainly was not as easy.

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Hmm.  Well, I'm not sure though that "it depends on the student to initiate" isn't pretty significant.

 

Having been a student as a small LAC, it was actually rather difficult to fly under the radar.  You had to form some kind of relationship with your main tutor, you spent a lot of the time over the year with your small tutorial group and at least three other tutors, you had private oral exams with the faculty, there were lots of academic/social events that were part of campus life and included both students and faculty.  I had my introductory Latin class with the president of the university, and would regularly eat lunch with him in the cafeteria - a lot of students did.  

 

I didn't have nearly the same experience at the large research university I was also a member of, though yes, professors were accessible and kind if you approached them.  But - it was really easy not to.  I don't think I ever remember seeing any of them at a social event, or eating in a place where I felt I could sit down with them (or they sat down with me) or met them at a party or was invited to their home.  I'm a rather shy introvert, so maybe if I had been more extroverted and driven I'd have sought that out.  But it certainly was not as easy.

 

I am not sure how that reflects that it isn't more of a reflection of  "The number of interactions, imo, depend more on the student than on the professor."  

 

FWIW, my kids' universities have given the kids 1 free meal ticket per semester for inviting a professor out to lunch.  My kids have also been part of honors programs where they are invited to social events with the president of the university and all sorts of other events with professors and guest speakers.

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I am not sure how that reflects that it isn't more of a reflection of  "The number of interactions, imo, depend more on the student than on the professor."  

 

FWIW, my kids' universities have given the kids 1 free meal ticket per semester for inviting a professor out to lunch.  My kids have also been part of honors programs where they are invited to social events with the president of the university and all sorts of other events with professors and guest speakers.

 

Because of the way things were set up, and the practices of the institution, even what I'd call the customs of the institution, all students had lots of interactions with professors and faculty.  You would really have to go out of your way not to get to know them, at least a little, and that meant it wasn't difficult to get to them, or some of them, well.  

 

That seems quite different than students having to do something to seek out those interactions.

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If they don't get rich that means they didn't have a great education?

That’s right. Even better if they drop before graduating to “disrupt†something or shill “raw waterâ€....

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From a practical standpoint, I find measures of entry level salaries of graduates to be of little use for a number of reasons.  First, it is a biased sample.  No school truly knows what entry level salaries for all students are; in fact, they tend to know entry level salaries for only a few students.  Second, some of the students who have the highest earning potential may choose not to enter the job market and continue to graduate school; if a school has a large number of students in this category, the earning potential will be highly biased.  Third, the earning profiles in different industries differ; in some industries, salaries start high but there is not much advancement, other industries see a high rate of increase in pay throughout the career path, other careers tend to have income based on commissions and bonuses, making starting salaries look low.  If different schools tend to have different career paths, on average, these numbers can look very different.

 

Yes, that is true.   I know I never told them what I was making.    I wish there were better metrics out there.  

I really dislike the USNWR ranking.  It is a one-size fits all, judged by how much like the ivy-leagues.   

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If you have read SWB's Rethinking School, she talks about her embarrassingly dreadful college that her parents just sent her to because she was 16 and didn't really know she should aim higher. And then she goes on to list all of the things she got out of her "tenth-rate college."

 

I haven't read the book. I thought SWB went to Liberty. Is that the "tenth-rate college" to which she refers?

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I haven't read the book. I thought SWB went to Liberty. Is that the "tenth-rate college" to which she refers?

I would guess that's it. She doesn't have it listed on her bios or anything. 

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I would guess that's it. She doesn't have it listed on her bios or anything. 

 

I'm inclined to agree with the assessment, but I must say I am surprised to see that she said it! Props to SWB.

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FWIW, my kids' universities have given the kids 1 free meal ticket per semester for inviting a professor out to lunch.  

 

What a cool idea!

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I know, that at least within business schools, some of the rankings are based upon votes by deans which basically turns it into a popularity contest.  Deans will call each other up and negotiate "you vote for me for X, and i will vote for you for Y."  

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Unless you're the professor. :tongue_smilie:

I don't understand this comment. Isn't the premise of the article that there is a "better educational experience" where there is more interaction between the students and faculty? Many have indicated that the student needs to be the one to drive the interaction by being the one to reach out to faculty. It does have to cut both ways. A meal with a student isn't the only way to be accessible, of course, but I also think it sounds like a cool idea. If faculty aren't on board with that kind of interaction, then the school shouldn't be offering it to students.

 

As long as we are talking about dining together, ds had a small seminar class (15 students) where the professor invited all of them for dinner at their home.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your meaning.

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I don't understand this comment. Isn't the premise of the article that there is a "better educational experience" where there is more interaction between the students and faculty? Many have indicated that the student needs to be the one to drive the interaction by being the one to reach out to faculty. It does have to cut both ways. A meal with a student isn't the only way to be accessible, of course, but I also think it sounds like a cool idea. If faculty aren't on board with that kind of interaction, then the school shouldn't be offering it to students.

 

As long as we are talking about dining together, ds had a small seminar class (15 students) where the professor invited all of them for dinner at their home.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your meaning.

Maybe she’s making a little joke.

But, from the professors’ perspective, it’s one thing to invite a class or student or small group thereof for coffee or lunch, it’s another to hand the student vouchers and that sort of agency. I mean that takes a bit of nerve. I wouldn’t invite my boss out to lunch either, voucher in hand or not. 😂

I am very picky about whom I choose to spend free time with and free food is never an incentive. Professors have office hours, etc. I mean lunch is quite the commitment/ask. But then, I’m not a professor. Maybe it’s in their contract to endure these things.

Edited by madteaparty
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I don't understand this comment. Isn't the premise of the article that there is a "better educational experience" where there is more interaction between the students and faculty? Many have indicated that the student needs to be the one to drive the interaction by being the one to reach out to faculty. It does have to cut both ways. A meal with a student isn't the only way to be accessible, of course, but I also think it sounds like a cool idea. If faculty aren't on board with that kind of interaction, then the school shouldn't be offering it to students.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your meaning.

I love to interact with my students. But I would prefer any other setting than one that forces me to eat dining hall food. Edited by regentrude
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The food at my younger two's colleges is quite good IME.  It's fairly common to see some profs eating there when we've visited - even when we're not there on special days.

 

What type of college a student prefers really tends to depend upon their personality.  My oldest and youngest wanted a smaller school.  Middle wanted a research U and ended up in a medium sized school.  Hubby and I went to a large school.  I can see why each of mine preferred their choice and both hubby and I might have liked studying at their schools too TBH.  There are pros and cons of all types.

 

That said, middle son - the one who chose the larger school - sat in on a class with youngest once.  He came out surprised at the lack of discussion in the class.  Apparently he was used to far, far more at his school for a similar level and topic class.  I suspect how much interaction there is in any class at any school depends upon the prof and students - not the size of the college.  

 

All three of my kids have dined with profs before - and gone to their houses when invited.

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I love to interact with my students. But I would prefer any other setting than one that forces me to eat dining hall food.

 

The hard sciences at my university had an unofficial Beer Volleyball game on Fridays.    It was students vs. professors.  We kept score, but we stopped playing when it got dark.  It was nice and also very casual.  People came and went on their own schedule.  The professors that brought extra of a good beer were much loved.   

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Maybe she’s making a little joke.

But, from the professors’ perspective, it’s one thing to invite a class or student or small group thereof for coffee or lunch, it’s another to hand the student vouchers and that sort of agency. I mean that takes a bit of nerve. I wouldn’t invite my boss out to lunch either, voucher in hand or not. 😂

I am very picky about whom I choose to spend free time with and free food is never an incentive. Professors have office hours, etc. I mean lunch is quite the commitment/ask. But then, I’m not a professor. Maybe it’s in their contract to endure these things.

 

This. Much as everyone wants to believe that a lunch with their progeny is the highlight of a professor's day, there are a lot of pulls on time that make it less than appealing. Sometimes when your day has been divided into teaching and committee meetings and grant proposals and answering emails and a zillion other things, you just want to try to make a dent in the mounting pile of work to be done while wolfing something down in your office. Uncivilized, perhaps, but then the life of a professor is not always the leisurely life of erudite elegance that people imagine. ;)

 

So while in theory "take your prof to lunch" seems like a great idea, it is often inconvenient. I imagine it was started because professors seem scary and unapproachable to a lot of students, and thus students are afraid to ask for help when they need it. The irony is that the students who are nervous about approaching their profs are the least likely to ask them to lunch!  I dunno, I also think that there can be excellent student-professor academic relationships without adding in a social element. I think office hours are perfectly sufficient. But as always, YMMV.

 

ETA and no, not contractually obligated to eat lunch with students(!), but you do look like a bit of a schlub if you habitually decline. 

Edited by bibiche
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I haven't read other responses yet, but I'm interested to do so.

 

My DH and I went to a large, public, well ranked tech program with a strong research component.  My professors were generally inaccessible.  Many obviously hated teaching and were in it for the research.  I graduated with 2 BS degrees.  I had a advisor in one of those areas that I saw maybe 1-2 times a year.  I never was assigned an advisor in the other area and never developed a real relationship with any faculty in either department.  We toured that school recently and though they talk a better game and my DS LOVES the campus and the vibe, I get the feeling they've maybe just inched a step toward being a bit more student friendly.   I wouldn't want to send a kid there that wasn't pretty independent and self motivated and out going.   Our student tour guide mumbled a story about the inaccessibility and turn over of her advisors when asked. 

 

My DS is dual enrolled at a local CC.  He is having an amazing academic experience there with real PhD holding professors, including some that also teach at highly ranked universities in the area.   He doesn't and will not connect with other students there but I've been very impressed with the teacher/class quality and accessibility there.  This is a CC that regularly ranks in the top 10 in the country by some list maker.  I think it was #1 a few years ago.  It also has a lot of services available for non-traditional and struggling and low income students. 

 

We've toured some smaller LACs that obviously have very integrated relationships between their student body and their professors.

 

Anyway - I get the feeling it really varies.  I do think some of the ranking criteria are hooey and it really is a variety of factors you need to be looking at when looking at colleges that are a fit for any one particular student. 

Edited by WoolySocks
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This. Much as everyone wants to believe that a lunch with their progeny is the highlight of a professor's day, there are a lot of pulls on time that make it less than appealing. Sometimes when your day has been divided into teaching and committee meetings and grant proposals and answering emails and a zillion other things, you just want to try to make a dent in the mounting pile of work to be done while wolfing something down in your office. Uncivilized, perhaps, but then the life of a professor is not always the leisurely life of erudite elegance that people imagine. ;)

 

So while in theory "take your prof to lunch" seems like a great idea, it is often inconvenient. I imagine it was started because professors seem scary and unapproachable to a lot of students, and thus students are afraid to ask for help when they need it. The irony is that the students who are nervous about approaching their profs are the least likely to ask them to lunch!  I dunno, I also think that there can be excellent student-professor academic relationships without adding in a social element. I think office hours are perfectly sufficient. But as always, YMMV.

 

ETA and no, not contractually obligated to eat lunch with students(!), but you do look like a bit of a schlub if you habitually decline. 

 

I can't really imagine asking a professor to lunch either, without getting to know the person first - so it seems like at that point to require some other social element.

 

My college mostly provided group social events (or less formal academic events) which included both students and faculty, to allow people to get to know each other, small tutorials, and some faculty lived in residence so they were around a lot.  Even a shy person can have conversations with people you are in a small group with on a regular basis.  Anyone I had lunch with I already had been friendly with in some other setting.

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This is an interesting thread, because the reason I chose a slightly lower-ranked university (lower graduating pay, fewer research publications) with better student ratings was for those discussions. They were nothing like "let's have lunch in a nasty cafeteria" or "uh oh I'm failing help me manage my life!"

 

Instead, what I valued were conversations with professors about concepts, about the state of the field. I could bring in papers I had read. I could talk through an argument I wanted to make and ask them what was going on. I was a B+ student and that was working full time--I wasn't struggling to get concepts.

 

I could go to a professor and say "So, this is what I'm looking at in the paper, and this is how I see where it applies in the field, but what do you think the significance is? What further reading should I do? What was interesting about that article?"

 

Also, a lot of people who are A students still want to learn. My best grades, my As, were in classes that I had time to ask, "I got 95%, but this 5% seemed to be based on grammar and style, or was there something more substantial?"

 

I hated our flagship U for this stuff. Every time you went to a prof, they acted like all you wanted were points on a paper. I never got to talk to anyone--I was in my 30s and had a fellowship and was not struggling at all--not once, without them asking what I wanted. I walked out of one prof's office fuming after saying "I am here to discuss the ideas in this paper, not to beg for points--I don't need grades here, I am here to learn." Pissed me off. Still aced the final. I had an A in his class and I was thirty freaking five years old! God the arrogance. And that was most of my interactions with profs there. "What do you want...." Uh, what are they paying you for?

 

Lectures, I guess, not dialogue.

 

This paper validates my anecdotal experience well.

 

And no I never asked to eat in the lunchroom though it was great to go out for beers afterwards. The lunchroom! We weren't 15.

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My DS is dual enrolled at a local CC.  He is having an amazing academic experience there with real PhD holding professors, including some that also teach at highly ranked universities in the area.   He doesn't and will not connect with other students there but I've been very impressed with the teacher/class quality and accessibility there.  This is a CC that regularly ranks in the top 10 in the country by some list maker.  I think it was #1 a few years ago.  It also has a lot of services available for non-traditional and struggling and low income students. 

 

Anyway - I get the feeling it really varies.  I do think some of the ranking criteria are hooey and it really is a variety of factors you need to be looking at when looking at colleges that are a fit for any one particular student. 

 

Mine have had wonderful experiences with the community college too. Theirs is in the top thirty, and I work for one in the top three. Students from both to some of the best colleges in the country. My son is at a state school that is in the top twenty in his major, but he still says that his best professors were at the community college in terms of the depth of instruction and their accessibility.

 

The community colleges to the south of us are NOT good though. They have a major issue with grade inflation, and the counsellors at the school that my son attends have told me that there are significant issues with their graduates. Most of their students don't go to 4-year schools after graduation. For the local CC, 3/4 of their graduates say that they plan to go to a 4-year. 

 

When I was in research, there was a MAJOR difference in the opportunities available to me as a graduate of the state STEM flagship versus graduates of the other state colleges.

 

You still should go to a good school, but in some fields, it matters more that you went to an upper-middle or better school than if you went to a top school.

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My DS is dual enrolled at a local CC.  He is having an amazing academic experience there with real PhD holding professors, including some that also teach at highly ranked universities in the area.   He doesn't and will not connect with other students there but I've been very impressed with the teacher/class quality and accessibility there.  This is a CC that regularly ranks in the top 10 in the country by some list maker.  I think it was #1 a few years ago.  It also has a lot of services available for non-traditional and struggling and low income students. 

 

This sounds so much like the lower-tier State U my dd attended her first year.  The classes were small, the professors were amazing, she ended up getting to know some of them really well, and they loved her.

 

But she did not and was not going to connect with the other students, most of whom were commuters going through the paces.  She ended up transferring.  She has some great profs at the new place too, and she's found more student peers (yay!), but advising is a bit thin on the ground at that much-bigger (and much more highly ranked) U.

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My DS is dual enrolled at a local CC.  He is having an amazing academic experience there with real PhD holding professors, including some that also teach at highly ranked universities in the area.   He doesn't and will not connect with other students there but I've been very impressed with the teacher/class quality and accessibility there.  

 

 

 

We have had this experience with our CC, too, for our DE kids.  My older sons graduated from our state flagship university and, in general, our CC classes/professors are so much better.  My dd is a DE sophomore now and is hoping for a similar environment in college because the CC has been so wonderful for her.  

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So I spent half an hour trying to find out how good my local community colleges are, comparatively (or in absolute terms).  But all the "community college rankings" sites google gave me suggested largely different sets of schools (although a few were always in the top 10) and some had criteria that are not relevant to us.  Is there some gold standard ranking set I should be looking at, or a way to assess other than trial and error?

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I have not seen a comprehensive ranking system for community colleges. I think the reason for this is two-fold:

 

1)  People generally are not shopping around for a community college like they would be a four-year school.  The reasons for going to CC could be to continue living at home, continue working at a job, or something similar.

 

2)  The outcome for CC can be very different--some specialize in being a gateway to a four-year college while others specialize in two-year associate degrees with a high level of job training/preparation.  Some CCs specialize in servicing students who are not college ready.  

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I have not seen a comprehensive ranking system for community colleges. I think the reason for this is two-fold:

 

1)  People generally are not shopping around for a community college like they would be a four-year school.  The reasons for going to CC could be to continue living at home, continue working at a job, or something similar.

 

2)  The outcome for CC can be very different--some specialize in being a gateway to a four-year college while others specialize in two-year associate degrees with a high level of job training/preparation.  Some CCs specialize in servicing students who are not college ready.  

 

:iagree:  I do think this is true.  Ours shows up on some lists and not the others.  They can vary so widely, I think it's even hard to compare.  Some send out high numbers to 4 year degrees and some really don't and never will.  It's not part of their mission.  It really depends on the data you're looking at.

 

I have just been incredibly impressed with the class and teacher quality and accessibility in the program my son is dual enrolling in close to home that we picked purely on geography and services for dual enrolled students.  Especially after personally attending a competitive 4 year tech program that you need an ACT > 30 to enter and having a very mediocre experience in terms of teacher quality and accessibility. 

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Could you look at whether the classes transfer to the state flagship? My sister works at a CC in Virginia and she has made sure that her electrical engineering classes transfer to UVA. This means they must cover the same breadth of content and be of the same quality. Seems like a pretty good indication of her CC program.

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This. My DD had close relationships to several professors at her #3-ranked university. She did have some classes taught by graduate students, but in terms of quality these were not inferior to those taught by professors (the absolute worst class was taught by a tenured prof).

 

The student needs to seek out the relationships. She regularly went to office hours to establish relationships. She ended up working as a TA for one prof. She runs a student organization and through that has made close connections with her department chair and other faculty. Other students do research with professors. She has not found the professors unapproachable or inaccessible.

 

I agree. The students need to head to office hours and meet their professors. I had a terrific student a few years ago, and we actually wound up co-writing a peer-reviewed article together. It really made her grad school applications stand out.

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