Category Archives: Profiles

Hand tool

Often a lot of insight can be garned from documents like the common data set or a university’s strategic plan. Certainly you can google it, but some universities bury it it. I stumbled on this tool today from the Association of American University Date Exchange. “These are links to various resources at member institutions including the websites for the institution and IR office, course catalogs, factbooks, Common Data Set, organizational charts, and financial reports.”

““People without a liberal-arts background really have no place to go with their skill sets,”

so explains the head of the CIA. Not that CIA, but rather the Culinary Institute of America. I had never really thought about the CIA as being a liberal arts institution. Afterall, its mission states


The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is a private, not-for-profit college dedicated to providing the world’s best professional culinary education.

Excellence, leadership, professionalism, ethics, and respect for diversity are the core values that guide our efforts.

We teach our students the general knowledge and specific skills necessary to live successful lives and to grow into positions of influence and leadership in their chosen profession.

No real mention of a liberal education beyond the most cursory “General knowledge” statement. They offer 4 Bachelor and 3 assoicate degrees in their upstate New York Campus. So what do they actual expect? Roughly 40% of the upper class requirements are firmly in the liberal arts:



  • Liberal Arts Requirements (24 Credits)

Anthropology of Food or Psychology of Human Behavior or Social Psychology 3 credits
Calculus I or College Algebra or Introduction to Statistics or Science Fundamentals or Survey of Mathematics 3 credits
Foreign Language 6 credits
History and Cultures of Asia or History and Cultures of Europe or History and Cultures of the Americas 6 credits
Literature and Composition 3 credits
Principles of Macroeconomics or Principles of Microeconomics 3 credits

  • Liberal Arts Elective (3 Credits)

Select from liberal arts courses listed on CIA Main Menu (the student web portal).

  • Business Management Requirements (15 Credits)

Finance or Managerial Accounting 3 credits
Financial Accounting 3 credits
Foodservice Management 3 credits
Human Resource Management 3 credits
Marketing and Promoting Food 3 credits

  • Business Management Electives (9 Credits)

Select from business management courses listed on CIA Main Menu (the student web portal).

  • Advanced Concepts Requirement (3 Credits)

Advanced Cooking or Advanced Principles of Service Management in Hospitality or Menu Development and Testing 3 credits

  • Free Electives (9 Credits)

Select from elective courses listed on CIA Main Menu (the student web portal).

  • Total Credits: 63 (Junior/Senior Years)


    Please note:
    • The foreign language requirement must be fulfilled by the end of the junior year.
    • Not all electives will be offered each semester. For the most current list of elective offerings, students should check CIA Main Menu (the student web portal).
    • The Global Cuisines and Cultures elective travel courses take place between bachelor’s semesters in late April/early May and late July/early August.
    • Course prerequisites and corequisites are listed in the course descriptions.




  • Carolina Gomez, CIA culinary arts alumni, is co-owner, Three Little Pigs Charcuterie & Salumi.

    Spotlight On:Carolina GomezBachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts Management

    Students often make valuable connections at The Culinary Institute of America, and that was especially true for Carolina Gomez. That’s where she met fellow student Jason Story ’11, who would not only become her husband, but her business partner as well.


- See more at:





























































Certainly, you can more readily see the liberal arts embedded in Westpoint’s mission:

“To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.”

The US Military Academy, as another instituion profiled in the same article, articulates strongly for the liberal arts: “It’s important to develop in young people the ability to think broadly, to operate in the context of other societies and become agile and adaptive thinkers,” Trainor said. “What you’re trying to do is teach them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. They’re having to deal with people from other cultures. They have to think very intuitively to solve problems on the ground.”

So what does Westpoint expect?

Alll Cadets will complete 26 units in a common core:


  • CH101 General Chemistry I 
  • CH102 General Chemistry II

Alternative sequence:

  • CH151 Advanced General Chemistry I
  • CH152 Advanced General Chemistry II

Computer Science/Information Technology 

  • IT105 Introduction to Computing and Information Technology
  • IT305 Theory and Practice of Military Information Technology Systems

Alternative course:

  • IT155 Advanced Placement Introduction to Computing and Information Technology
  • IT355 Advanced Theory and Practice of Military Information Technology Systems


  • SS201 Economics: Principles and Problems

Alternative course:

  • SS251 Advanced Economics: Principles and Problems


  • EN101 Composition
  • EN302 Advanced Composition through Culture

Foreign Language

  • Two courses required; sequence determined by the Department of Foreign Languages


Choice of two sequences:

  • HI105 History of the United States
  • HI108 Regional Studies in World History


  • HI107 Western Civilization
  • HI108 Regional Studies in World History

Alternative sequences:

  • HI155 Advanced History of the United States
  • HI158 Advanced Regional Studies in World History


  • HI157 Advanced History of Western Civilization
  • HI158 Advanced Regional Studies in World History

International Relations

  • SS307 International Relations

Alternative course:

  • SS357 Advanced International Relations


  • LW403 Constitutional and Military Law


  • PL100 General Psychology
  • PL300 Military Leadership

Alternative sequence:

  • PL150 Advanced General Psychology
  • PL350 Advanced Military Leadership


  • EN102 Literature


  • MA103 Mathematical Modeling and Intro to Calculus
  • MA104 Calculus I
  • MA205 Calculus II
  • MA206 Probability and Statistics

Alternative sequence, MA104 validated:

  • MA153 Advanced Multivariable Calculus
  • MA255 Mathematical Modeling and Introduction to Differential Equations
  • MA206 Probability and Statistics
  • MA100/MA101 may be required in lieu of MA103.

Military History

  • HI301 History of the Military Art
  • HI302 History of the Military Art

Alternative sequence:

  • HI351 Advanced History of the Military Art
  • HI352 Advanced History of the Military Art


  • PY201 Philosophy

Physical Geography 

  • EV203 Physical Geography


  • PH201 Physics I
  • PH202 Physics II

Alternative sequence:

  • PH251 Advanced Physics I
  • PH252 Advanced Physics II

Political Science

  • SS202 American Politics

Alternative course:

  • SS252 Advanced American Politics

It is interesting that two schools with very specific career preparation ambitions emphsise the well-rounded thinker in their process of education. The article also mentions art schools like SCAD and engineering speciality schools like WPI giving a sense of how important this approach is. 


Want to live on campus? Check out these colleges

FORBES TOP COLLEGE Dorm Capacity Frosh Soph Junior Senior
Cooper Union 21% X      
University of Texas, Austin 22%        
University of Washington 28%        
University of Wisconsin, Madison 31%        
University of California, Berkeley 34%        
University of Southern California 34% X X    
University of Florida 36% X      
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 39% X      
University of Virginia 44% X      
Jonhs Hopkins University 48% X X    
University of Notre Dame 50% X      
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 52% X X X X
Lehigh University 52% X X    
University of Maryland, College Park 52% X X    
University of Chicago 53% X X X X
Northwestern University 56% X      
Whitman College 56% X X X X
Santa Clara University 56%        
University of California, Los Angeles 57% X X X  
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 58% X      
Emory University 58% X X    
New York University 59% X X X X
Unviersity of Pennsylvania 65% X      
Macalester College 65% X X    
DePauw Unniversity 65% X X X X
Washington and Lee University 66% X X X  
University of Rochester 68% na na na na
Tufts University 68% X X    
Reed College 68% X      
Georgetown University 69% X X X  
Villanova University 69% X X X  
Carnegie Mellon University 71% X X X X
Rhodes College 72% X X    
Georgia Institute of Technology 73% X X    
Columbia University 76% X X X X
Colorado College 76% X X X X
College of William and Mary 77% X      
Occidental College 79% X X X  
Boston College 80% X X X  
Brandeis University 80% X X    
Boston University 80% X X X X
Grinnell College 81% na na na na
Brown University 81% X X X X
Vanderbilt University 81% X X X X
Wake Forest University 81% X X X X
Skidmore College 82% X X X X
Duke University 85% X X X X
Rice University 85% X      
Trinity University 86% X X X X
Bucknell University 87% X X X X
College of the Holy Cross 87% X X X X
Scripps College 87% X X X X
Dickinson College 87% X X X X
Dartmouth College 89% X X    
Claremont McKenna College 89% X      
Wheaton College 89% X X X X
Carleton College 91% X X X X
Barnard College 91% X X X X
Oberlin College 91% X X X X
Trinity College 91% X X X X
Yale University 92% X X X X
California Institute of Technology 92% X      
Williams College 93% X X X X
Davidson College 93% X X X X
Bates College 93% X X X X
Wofford College 93% X X X X
University of Richmond 93% X X   X
Swarthmore College 94% X X X X
Smith College 94% X X X X
Colgate University 95% X X X X
Lafayette College 95% X X X X
Bryn Mawr College 95% X      
Pomona College 96% X X X X
Connecticut College 96% X X X X
Bowdoin College 97% X X    
Vassar College 97% X X X X
Hamilton College 97% X X X X
Middlebury College 98% X X X X
Colby College 98% X X X X
Harvey Mudd College 98% X X X X
Franklin and Marshall College 98% X X X X
Sewanee–University of the South 98% X X X X
Cornell University 99% X X    
Denison University 99% X X X X
United States Military Academy 100% X X X X
Haverford College 100% X X X X
Wellesley College 100% X X X X
Wesleyan University 101% X X X X
Washington University in Saint Louis 101% X X X X
Centre College 101% X X X X
Mount Holyoke College 102% X X X X
United States Naval Academy 104% X X X X
Kenyon College 105% X X X X
Amherst College 106% X X X X
United States Air Force Academy 113% X X X X
Union College 117% X X X X
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 129% X X X X
Princeton University 131% X X X X
Stanford University 157% X X X X
Harvard University 178% X X X X
Sources: IPEDS, 

Published in Forbes

Entrepreneurship incubators in the form of colleges

Want to create your own business? Head to business correct? Hang on, not so fast, at least according to Linked In and the editors of Forbes Magazine. On their 2015 Americas most entrepreneurial colleges, only 2 speciality busines schools made the list. In fact, most of these colleges do not even offer a business program. To arrive at their rankings, Forbes “ranked the country’s most entrepreneurial schools based on the entrepreneurial ratios – the total number of alumni and students who have identified themselves as founders and business owners on LinkedIn, divided by the school’s student body (undergraduate and graduate combined).” They did the same for comprehsnive universities. I like their methodlogy as it focuses on what students actually do, rather than what the college says they do.I wish they provided the actual ratios so you could compare the university list with the college list. 

The granddaddy of Entrepreneurial rankings come from Entrepreneurial Magazine, a publication that should know a lot about starting a business. They outsource the porject to Princeton Review: “The survey asked school administrators 60 questions covering: their schools’ levels of commitment to entrepreneurship inside and outside the classroom, the percentage of faculty, students, and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors, and the number and reach of their mentorship programs. The company also asked schools about their scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies, and their support for school-sponsored business plan competitions.” While their rankings seem to make sense when you look at it, in terms of academic preparation. But do they hold up to the real world test? Of the top 24 programs they ranked, only 8 made the rgade on Forbes/Linked in rankings that actually exmine who are entrepreneurs (at least say they are in their Linked-In Profile). 

How about another list, put out by College Choice? They have rather nebulous criteria: “Through an analysis of data from Crunchbase, Angel List, public business data, and other factors (such as proximity to major metropolitan entrepreneurial ecosystems), we have brought you a list of the 50 best colleges in the U.S. for aspiring entrepreneurs.” Comparing Collegechoice with Princeton Review/Entrepeurship Magazine we see a higher levelof cross over with 11 schools appear on both lists. Only 7 schools appear on all three lists. 


Princeton Reivew/Entrpreneurship

Forbes/linked in

College Choice

1. Babson College



2. University of Houston



3. Baylor University



4. Brigham Young University



5. University of Oklahoma



6. Syracuse University



7. Northeastern University



8. University of Southern California



9. Baruch College



10. Miami University



11. Temple University



12. Uni. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill



13. University of Dayton



14. Clarkson University



15. DePaul University



16. Washington University in St. Louis



17. Lehigh University



18. University of Michigan



19. University of Washington



20. Texas Christian University



21. University of Maryland



22. University of Arizona



23. Saint Louis Univers



24. Bradley University




So which list should you believe? Like any ranking, the key lies in the methodology: One set of criteria will review different facets. Reading beneath the text, what you should be looking for are schools that:

  • Start up money to get you going (this may be in the form of a competition
  • Provide real world mentoring opportunities so you have someone who has been there/done that to bounce ideas off of
  • A club or group that gives you the kindred spirits to support you
  • A rigourous training in critical and original thinking and problem identification

Some examples:

  • Tufts University boasts an Entrepreneurial Leaderships Studies (ELS) program specifically for undergraduates. The Tufts Entrepreneurial Network keeps students connected to on-campus entrepreneurial activities as well as to alumni, and the Entrepreneurial Society sponsors several competitions, conferences, and networking opportunities.
  • the University of California Irvine is home to the Don Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which offers students opportunities to immerse themselves in a culture of innovation, ideas, and best practices. One of the most popular activities at the school is the annual Business Plan Competition, which offers over $100,000 in cash prizes for the most promising startup ideas. Merage offers a BA in Business Administration with several opportunities for specialization.
  • RPI has has eight Entrepreneurs in Residence, all successful business leaders.
  • At Middlebury, The four-week immersion program MiddCore has brought in over 40 entrepreneur mentors such as Peet’s Coffee and Tea CEO Dave Burwick.
  • Thanks to $1 million from alum and VC Michael Vlock, Hampshire is shelling out $200,000 a year to student ventures.

Where are you at with your entreneurial chops? Check out Gallup’s Entrepreneurial Strengthsfinder which rates you on the 10 talents of successful entrepreneurs:

  • Business Focus: You make decisions based on observed or anticipated effect on profit.
  • Confidence: You accurately know yourself and understand others.
  • Creative Thinker: You exhibit creativity in taking an existing idea or product and turning it into something better.
  • Delegator: You recognize that you cannot do everything and are willing to contemplate a shift in style and control.
  • Determination: You persevere through difficult, even seemingly insurmountable, obstacles.
  • Independent: You are prepared to do whatever needs to be done to build a successful venture.
  • Knowledge-Seeker: You constantly search for information that is relevant to growing your business.
  • Promoter: You are the best spokesperson for the business.
  • Relationship-Builder: You have high social awareness and an ability to build relationships that are beneficial for the firm’s survival and growth.
  • Risk-Taker: You instinctively know how to manage high-risk situations.





Structures that promote caring, Part II: The Residential College

Residential Colleges

Since the earliest days of Universities, students have lived in a system that has become known as the Residential College. Starting in Cambridge and Oxford, many other universities adopted the Residential Colleges as they sprung up. In modern times, the residential college has become synonamous with places like YaleRice, and University of California at Santa Cruz.  Collegiate way lists another 28 colleges in the USA that offer students the opportunity to live and learn in a residential college. Some Universities, like Duke and Vanderbilt offer a freshman residential experience that would be on par.

The Residential College is not just a dormitory, but something much more important and integral to the learning experience:

In its most generic sense, the term may be used to refer to an institution that houses most of its students on-campus as opposed to an institution with a large commuter or off-campus population. Many small, independent, liberal arts colleges conform to this definition of residential college. In a more restricted sense, the term residential college may be used interchangeably with terms such as living-learning center, theme house, and residential learning community. This usage, however, may obscure important differences between the classical model of residential college, conventional residence halls, and other types of contemporary residence education programs.

And more:

A 1998 meta-analysis by Gregory Blimling of studies published from 1966 through June 1997 shows, however, that residential colleges, as compared to conventional halls, increase students’ academic performance and retention and enhance the social climate of the living unit. Blimling’s study does not distinguish clearly between classic residential colleges and living-learning centers.

According to studies conducted in 1991 by George D. Kuh and associates and in 1993 by Jerry A. Stark, faculty participating in residential colleges or living/learning centers report improvement in their teaching skills and enhanced relationships with faculty from other disciplines. Frances Arndt reported in 1993 that faculty also held positive attitudes about opportunities offered by residential colleges for teaching a variety of special and experimental courses.

Also well worth the reading an artcile for StateUniversity.Com And this: 

Previous literature has consistently demonstrated a positive influence of residential living on the success of a student’s university experience (Stevens, 1996; LaNasa, Olson & Alleman, 2007). The impact of residential living on the university experience is believed to be multidimensional (Zhao & Kuh, 2004), it may also depend on how satisfied the student is with their arrangement. The most successful residential colleges are those living-learning colleges prominent in USA (LaNasa et. al, 2007). These colleges facilitate not only heightened living conditions but the environment assists to recruit and support student success and learning. Therefore such findings emphasise the need for residential communities to not only be a place to live, but to also foster academics and student success. There has been shown that on-campus living has a positive, often indirect effect on student growth and social development, this is associated with the on-campus environment increasing student involvement through maximised opportunities for social, cultural and extracurricular involvement (LaNasa et al, 2007).

Other research shows that

Students in residential learning communities had significantly higher levels of involvement, interaction, integration, and gains in learning and intellectual development than did students in traditional residence halls. 

The Collegiate Way, a web sit dedicated to Residential College, provides four questions that you should ask when exploring how a college’s living situation works:

o   “How many faculty live on campus?” The number of faculty living on campus is a good sign of an institution’s commitment to creating a comprehensive educational environment. And the question is not how many staff members or “student life professionals” live on campus, but how many faculty: professors, lecturers, deans, and so on, who not only participate in residential life but who also teach biology, or philosophy, or mathematics, or art, or some other academic discipline. Are there faculty offices in the dormitories? If so, that is also a good sign.

o   “Does the university have ‘theme halls’?” Theme halls are dormitories or dormitory corridors that group together students who have a common interest or background. Although at first glance this might seem like a good idea, theme halls are really not in students’ best educational interest. If all the art students live together, or all the science students, or all the athletes, how will any of them be able to learn and grow intellectually from exposure to the full range of talents and interests that other students have? If the university you are visiting has theme halls you might ask instead, “Why does the university segregate students in this way instead of integrating them so they can benefit from living in a diverse environment?”

o   “How many juniors and seniors live on campus?” How many graduate students? Are they segregated from the other students, or is everyone mixed together? If the campus dormitories are populated almost entirely by freshmen and sophomores, that is a bad sign. It means either that the conditions are so poor that older students don’t want to stay, or that the university is only concerned with rental occupancy and is not trying to create a rich and diverse educational environment.

o   “Do faculty eat in the campus dining halls?” If you visit a dining hall, look around and see if there are university faculty and staff eating there as well as students. Is the dining hall a noisy student ghetto with a widescreen television blaring away, or is it a relaxing, home-like place where people can talk and get to know each other?

o   “How are the dormitories used during the summer?” Many universities rent their dormitory space during the summer to make money, and in itself this is not objectionable. But who are the tenants? If the space is rented to academic societies, professional organizations, local charities, and the like, that is a good sign. If it is rented to summer sports camps, that may be a bad sign. Years of personal observation have taught me that summer sports camps are often badly supervised and commit extensive vandalism. Their presence may mean that campus buildings are so poorly maintained that more responsible groups don’t want to stay in them. Do you want your son or daughter’s campus home to be routinely vandalized over the summer?

Looking at the CollegiateWay’s listings, you can see that he makes a distinction between the Residential Colleges of Universities and the small liberal arts and science colleges that offer a very similar experience, albeit on a more intimate experience.

Each of these institutions—along with many others around the world—has established, is planning, or is expanding an internal system of residential colleges: permanent, cross-sectional, faculty-led societies that provide the advantages of a small college in the environment of a large university.

For what may be the most comprehensive listing of Residential Colleges in the world, visit Collegiate Way:



Structures that Promote Caring, Part 1: Tutorials

Gallup and Purdue’s research clearly indicte that the professor’s relationship is central to not just the student’s experience at college, but also life later on. With only 27% of college graduates indicating that they had at least one prfoessor that cared about them, clearly this suggests colleges can do more…and students should demand more. 

While this might sound fundamentally an issue of personality, but I suspect there is more to it, more that a college can do to create structures of caring. The first thing that sprang to mind is the Oxbridge Tutorial System. Oxford details their tutorial system here:

A very indepth profile of the Oxford tutorial system here. Cambridge calls their approach supervision

  • This more personal tuition, organised by your College, is one of our greatest strengths and a key advantage of studying at Cambridge – most students find their supervisions the most rewarding and beneficial part of their course.
  • Supervisions are teaching sessions for one or two students or small groups.
  • They’re led by supervisors who are specialists in the subject being studied, and could be one of the country’s or world’s leading authorities.
  • As well as helping you develop independent learning skills, supervisions enable you to explore course material in much greater depth than lectures allow, to gain further insights into your subject, to clarify anything you’re not clear about, to discuss your own work and ideas, and receive regular feedback.
  • You go to different supervisors (often, though not always, from your College) for different parts of your course, in order to learn from specialists in particular areas of your subject.
  • Typically, you have one or two hour-long supervisions each week, although the frequency does vary from course to course.
  • What actually happens during supervisions also varies but generally you’re expected to do some preparatory work for each supervision (eg reading, write an essay, work through some problems), which you then discuss in the sessions.
  • You receive regular reports from your supervisors but aren’t formally assessed on this work, so you can take advantage of this opportunity to take risks with your own ideas, investigate new approaches, and discuss the set topic as well as other aspects of the course.


A few other UK universities (EG King’s Colleg and UCL) also utalize tutorials as an integral part of the the learning experience.

Across the pond, some US colleges also utalize the tutial approach. Sarah Lawrence College has long used the same approach to their education, but called it donning. Willaims embraced the tutorial system after years of exchange students coming back with such favoruable experience at Oxford. 


Some public universities have embraced it for their honors colleges:

The corruption of college admissions

As NACAC is set to deliberate on changing Statements of Principles of Good Practices to firmly straddle the line re using commission based agents (“We do not think it is a good idea, but since you are going to do it don’t let the agents take advantage of it and for heaven’s sake, don’t pay the high school counselor”), the media has been abuzz with many different articles focusing on the admission landscape. The articles range from cringe worthy to straight up corruption:

Boston Magazine pulls back the curtain to reveal how Northeastern “gamed” the system to improve their ranking from 162 in 1996 to 49 last year. Did they do anything wrong? unlike some other schools who cheated and lied to improve their rankings, Northeastern simply spent money–new dorms, more professors and meetings to press the flesh and impress other college leaders. 

Bloomberg BusinessWeek profiles Steven Ma, a former Hedge fund analyst turned college admission consultant, and his burgeoning business. He says he can get you into any school…or your money back. He claims to have cracked the code and can accurately predict the likelihood of admissions. He then offers to guarantee admissions. You tell him which college, he tells you a price. You pay. Your kid gets in, he keeps the money. Your kid does not get in, he gives the money back. Of course he is earning interest on your money in the months or even years in between. 

Another person ever so willing to take your money is Eunice Park, who tells how she has been ghost writing student application essays. She shows no remorse as she pens:

I’m a black market college admissions essay writer, and over the last three years I’ve written over 350 fraudulent essays for wealthy Chinese exchange students. Although my clients have varied from earnest do-gooders to factory tycoon’s daughters who communicate primarily through emojis, they all have one thing in common: They’re unable to write meaningful sentences.

She prostitutes her experiences for $400 a pop. 

Anthony Green tutors kids on the SAT for an enormous fee. $1000 an hour. On Skype. And you have to pay for 14 90 minute sessions. Apparently he has to turn away people. 

In each article you hear the sound of money swapping hands and for what purpose? Not to get into college, but to get into an elite college: The Ivies and little Ivies, perhaps a tech like one the Pasadena or Boston or another top 30 school. And yet, at least one of their former professors commands you to not Send your kid to the Ivies. William Deresiewicz missed tenure at Yale so has taken it out on the students he calls Excellent Sheep:

Look beneath the façade of seamless well-adjustment, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. A large-scale survey of college freshmen recently found that self-reports of emotional well-being have fallen to their lowest level in the study’s 25-year history.


Steven Pinker aims to defend education at the elites, but comes across partly agreeing with Deresiewicz and partly protective papa bear arguing his poor students are just too busy doing stuff to think. 

Knowing how our students are selected, I should not have been surprised when I discovered how they treat their educational windfall once they get here. A few weeks into every semester, I face a lecture hall that is half-empty, despite the fact that I am repeatedly voted a Harvard Yearbook Favorite Professor, that the lectures are not video-recorded, and that they are the only source of certain material that will be on the exam. I don’t take it personally; it’s common knowledge that Harvard students stay away from lectures in droves, burning a fifty-dollar bill from their parents’ wallets every time they do. Obviously they’re not slackers; the reason is that they are crazy-busy. Since they’re not punching a clock at Safeway or picking up kids at day-care, what could they be doing that is more important than learning in class? The answer is that they are consumed by the same kinds of extracurricular activities that got them here in the first place.

Many pundits have weighed in, arguing both sides for and against elite education. Well worth reading is Maureen O’Connor’s essay “The New Privilege: Loudly Denouncing Your Privilege.” This is none better illustrated than by Alexander Nazaryan’s piece for  Newsweek: “American Horror, Ivy League Edition

Together, these three books make a persuasive case that the Ivy League is, collectively, a moribund institution, a triumph of marketing whose allure far exceeds its social utility. After all, if our finest colleges can neither turn relatively privileged men like Lohse into models of society nor vault someone like Peace out of the urban destitution from which he’d so nearly escaped, then what are they good for? Perhaps what Will Hunting says to a pompous Harvard scholar is really true: “You dropped a hundred and fifty grand on an education you coulda’ picked up for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library.” Except, of course, an Ivy League education has become even more obscenely expensive in the 17 years since Good Will Hunting romanticized Southie autodidactism.


Nazaryan’s calls up a couple of tell all articles of frat boys gone wild and alumni drug dealers who end up dead. While he rehashing some of the same points Deresiewicz spelled out, he lays the blame more squarely at the professors:

There is another striking similarity between Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy and The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: the absence of professors. Lohse went to a small college that, according to U.S. News & World Report, had the best undergraduate teaching in the nation; Peace to a world-class research university that managed to keep an impressive 6-to-1 faculty ratio. And yet neither had a professor who spoke to him, who pulled him aside, suggested over a beer that things were slipping out of hand. Both met with deans over disciplinary matters, Lohse for cocaine (possession of which precipitated his eventual separation from his fraternity) and Peace for weed. But that isn’t quite the same.

I strongly suspect that Deresiewicz was the kind of professor—attentive, perceptive, kind—who took care to know his students. But that is a rarity, as he surely knows. He must know, too, that if the Ivy League is turning out imperfect citizens, then its imperfect teachers are to blame. He says as much, arguing that “professors don’t care because they have no incentive to care.” Forget the mentorship of lost souls like Lohse and Peace; some in the professoriate farm out the most basic aspects of instruction to already overworked adjuncts.

How bad is the student-teacher interaction at thee elite colleges like the Ivies? The most useful indication would be the NSEE, but none of the elites make their student survey’s of engagement available. 

Gallup partnered up with Purdue to investigate what experiences matters in college in producing engaged and happy workers later in life. Three of the six items they found had everything to do with professors. Sadly, few students experience all three (let alone all six) in their college lives:

   I had at least one professor at [College] who made me excited about learning. (63%)

   My professors at [College] cared about me as a person. (27%)

   I had a mentor who encouraged me to pursue my goals and dreams. (22%)

The two proxies we do have are Princeton Review’s list of great professors and Rate My Professor. 


Princeton Review

Best professor’s list

Rate My Professor


























 Honestly, I am surprised how few professor’s the Ivies have on the list. The Rate My Professor’s averages seem ok. But how do they compare to some of the great Liberal art schools the Deresiewicz identifies (I added 3 other liberal arts colleges to bring it up to 8)


Princeton Review

Best professor’s list

Rate My Professor














Mount Holyoke



Harvey Mudd



Sarah Lawrence






So while our Liberal arts colleges have overall more great teachers, their averages are only slightly better than the Ivies. What to make of this? 

1) Professors matter. Investigate who is teaching at the college and what the students experience of them are. 

2) Newspapers aim to sell. Stories of sensational nature provoke our interest. 

3) Regardless where you go, you have a choice of how you participate in your college experience. 

How to game the rankings and win

Very interesting and informative article of how one college “gamed the system” to improve their rankings. BY gaming, they simply spent more money to hire more faculty and recruit more students, builty more dorms to attract more students, change SAT pocilies to remove a barrier for admission to overseas students. They pressed the flesh and impressed upon those who voted that Northeastern was doing great things. It worked:


New insight of the admissions process: GWU

Followers of this log know I am a fan of trying to demystify the admissions process. While it might seem a straightf forward proposition to assemble the best students for a college campus, with over 300 colleges admitting less than half of their students, it can seem a bit of a shell game.

The Washington Post has profiled the inner working of DC’s George Washington University:

In: The standout student, a mover and a shaker, aces the most demanding curriculum offered, sets the tone for classroom interaction, understands GW.

Out: The so-so student, with few tough classes, an undistinctive personal story and a thin sense of the university.

Unfortunately, little in teh artcile adds insight into wat sets applicants apart let along what GWU is looking for. 

New insight of the admissions process: GWU

Followers of this log know I am a fan of trying to demystify the admissions process. While it might seem a straightf forward proposition to assemble the best students for a college campus, with over 300 colleges admitting less than half of their students, it can seem a bit of a shell game.

The Washington Post has profiled the inner working of DC’s George Washington University:

In: The standout student, a mover and a shaker, aces the most demanding curriculum offered, sets the tone for classroom interaction, understands GW.

Out: The so-so student, with few tough classes, an undistinctive personal story and a thin sense of the university.

Unfortunately, little in teh artcile adds insight into wat sets applicants apart let along what GWU is looking for.