College Profiles & Rankings

The Economist’s College Ranking

The Economist’s College Ranking

Several years ago the Department of Education proposed its own college rankings. Many institutions serving the postsecondary market in the United States demurred.   

Consequently, the Obama Administration decided not to go forward with the ranking. It did, however, make its treasure trove of data available on the Education Department’s College Scorecard website, which went live September 12th.

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Researching a College: Grinnell a Case Study

Researching a College: Grinnell a Case Study

The better you know prospective campuses, the better you can figure out which might fit in with your postsecondary expectations. If you don’t have any or few expectations formed as yet, doing some research will get your thoughts of college into motion.

A good place to begin a search is with guides such as Fiske, Princeton Review, The Ultimate Guide to America’s Best Colleges, and the Yale Daily News Insider’s Guide to Colleges.  

 

Finding the Best Professors

Finding the Best Professors

When boiling down the college experience to its essence, students usually best remember getting to know one or two professors who were pivotal in sparking their curiosity and jumpstarting their motivation.

Richard Light of Harvard School of Education in his Making the Most of College, Students Speak Their Minds, describes the factors that define faculty who ‘make a difference.’ Professor Light interviewed over 1400 students to isolate his list of important factors

Haunted Campuses

Haunted Campuses

The New York University (NYU) application essay reads: ‘NYU is global, urban, inspired, smart, connected, and bold. What can NYU offer you, and what can you offer NYU?’ Whatever you might offer NYU, NYU offers you a place in the elite of haunted campuses, along with a very good scare above and beyond its annual tuition rate of $45,000.

Founded in 1831, NYU has over 20,000 souls buried beneath its main campus. The land comprising Washington Square Park, NYU’s Greenwich Village location, was a ‘potter’s field,’ a graveyard for the indigent.  It also served as a mass grave for the thousands who died in the Yellow Fever epidemic of the 1820s. The Old University building, one of the first buildings built on the campus, was haunted by a young artist who committed suicide in one of its turrets.

Go Midwest Young Man

Go Midwest Young Man
Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune in 1871 told RL Sanderson, a correspondent, to go West, ‘where men are wanted, and where employment is not bestowed as alms.’ Had Mr. Greeley been around today, and the question was finding solid educational opportunities, he might well have altered his direction to the Midwest.

Soka University of America, the Newest Orange County Liberal Arts College

Soka University of America, the Newest Orange County Liberal Arts College
When first describing Soka University of America (SUA) in Aliso Viejo in Orange County it’s tempting to draw an analogy to Pepperdine in Malibu: both campuses are mere miles from the Pacific and have stunningly beautiful campuses…but then the analogy begins to falter.  

Grove City College, a Hidden Gem

On occasion people ask me where are the hidden college gems?

I have a found that the 50 Best Colleges list (www.thebestschools.org) is a pretty good source of hidden gems. The list’s primary criterion is that college is for undergraduates, not graduate students—which eliminates many of the big names, such as Harvard or Northwestern. It surveys the record of achievement among a college’s graduates to determine whether they have the skills to succeed in the real world. It also considers whether a college offers a ‘diversity of courses’ free of dogmatism, ideology or political correctness, delivers academic rigor so that students master their subjects, and watches its expenses to avoid adding an unwieldy debt load that indentures many graduates for decades to come. 

True Values in Public Education

Consumers Digest in 2011 published its list of Top 100 college values; it included real values.

Number one on the list is Truman State University (TSU) (Kirksville, MO), followed by the University of Minnesota-Morris (UMM) (Morris, MN).  Both have out-of-state costs comparable to Cal State’s in-state costs, yet they offer substantially higher graduation rates, smaller class sizes, and a load of major selections that are not impacted. To this duo of public values add FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) which is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. FIT in Manhattan is one of the top five fashion design schools in the world (it includes Calvin Klein among its alumni), and has a COA under $30,000. This is a serious value.

Cooper Union: No Longer ‘Free as Water and Air’

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, located in Manhattan’s East Village with 1,000 students and an admission’s rate of 8%, was founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, a successful entrepreneur who had designed and built the first steam railroad engine.

Cooper wanted to create a college, ‘equal to the best’ yet ‘open and free to all’ regardless of sex, wealth, or social status. Cooper Union is comprised of three schools: Irwin Chanin School of Architecture, the School of Art, and Albert Nerkin School of Engineering.

The engineering school offers both bachelors and masters degrees in chemical, electrical, mechanical, and civil engineering. Thomas Edison is a notable former student.

The architecture school, ranked among the five top architecture programs in the country, offers a five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree.  Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio, architects of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Redevelopment project, and the expansion of the Julliard School and the School of American Ballet, are Cooper graduates.

The School of Art’s 4-year BFA degree allows students to select courses from any of the school’s departments thereby creating their own program of study. Focus is on imagination and creativity. Milton Glaser is a famous alumnus whose graphic designs brand DC Comics, Target, and JetBlue.  

With the endowment of the land under the Chrysler Building in 1902, Cooper Union had sufficient funding to be tuition free through two world wars, a depression, and even the devastating crash of 2008; however, 2013 will put an end to its111 years of free tuition, leaving Cooper’s faculty, students, and future applicants shaking their heads in dismay— what happened?

What happened were miscalculations in managing its endowment. First, 84% of Cooper’s $667 million endowment is in one asset, the land under the Chrysler Building. John Michaelson, Chairman of Cooper’s investment committee stated having so much money in one asset, “is against everything I stand for”. Emory University in Atlanta, which in 2001 had over 60% of its endowment in Coca Cola stock, sold and diversified. Yet, Cooper’s board appears to have a sentimental attachment to the Chrysler Building, describing it as a ‘gift from the children of Peter Cooper.’ In 2006 the 666 Fifth Avenue Building, which doesn’t compare to the Chrysler building, sold for $1.8 billion; Cooper never explored the market.

When Cooper needed to upgrade the engineering facilities, instead of first arranging for a donor, Cooper built a $166 million building using the Chrysler Building as collateral, and then went searching for a donor—no one has come forward. In 2008, Cooper’s portfolio (excluding the Chrysler Building) was $169 million. By the end of 2012 it had sunk to $86 million and Cooper’s operations suffered a cash flow shortfall of $13 million.  

This left Cooper Union with two funding alternatives: donations (alumni contributions), and tuition. Cooper has not nurtured a charitable alumni base. It’s not easy to do. UCLA Anderson School of Management, to offset state funding declines is developing alumni giving; it takes time. This leaves raising tuition. Though Cooper’s consultants recommended charging a maximum 25% of posted tuition (listed at $38,500 a year) Mark Epstein and his Board of Directors elected to charge 50% (Olin School of Engineering transitioned from tuition free in 2010 to charging 50%-a precedent had already been set).

In April, Mark Epstein announced, “The time has come to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future.” Cooper’s President, Jamshed Bharucha, asked faculty for advice on future revenue streams. When the Art School faculty refused to comply, early acceptance letters to art school applicants were not sent out. Mauricio Higuera, a senior art student, while protesting the tuition decision, told a group of about 200 students assembled at the Great Hall, where Lincoln had once given his Cooper Union Address: “For 150 years this building, these columns, has held a dream, a dream for free education for all. I propose we all join hands and give this institution a big hug, because it needs it.” The crowd encircled the building and complied.  

Oberlin-The Queen of Ohio Liberal Arts Colleges

Oberlin-The Queen of Ohio Liberal Arts Colleges

Ohio is rich in liberal arts colleges: Kenyon College, Denison College, and Ohio Wesleyan to name but a handful of the twenty six; then there is Oberlin College, a boundless bastion of liberal arts, with extensive historical roots, and resources that few schools of 2,900 might even dream of matching.