TOO HARD?

September 7, 2012


Each year the Princeton Review publishes lists of colleges and universities that excel in specific areas of the “university experience”.   They actually conduct polls to question attending students relative to activities that might seem irrelevant to education but none the less very important to students.  I certainly recommend this web site to you.  It has a wealth of information.    Questions are asked regarding several categories as follows:

  • Great Financial Aid
  • Best Career Services
  • Most Religious Students
  • LGBT  Friendly
  • Best Town Life
  • Schools by Type
  • Most Politically Active
  •  Best  College Dorms
  •  Most Beautiful Campus
  • Lots of Greek Life
  • Reefer Madness (Can’t imagine what this one is like.)

 There are also sub-listings such as the ones below:

  • Students Who Study the Most
  • Students Who Study the Least
  • Least Accessible Professors
  •  Best Party Schools
  •  Stone-cold Sober Schools
  • Most Unhappy Students
  • Happiest Students

 It is really fascinating to me that year after year the least happy students seem to be attending schools that are generally known for engineering or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curricula.  The Review goes into significant detail regarding the categories and represents an “illuminating” read if you have already had the “university experience”.   The two lists below will show those schools making the “good” list and those making the “bad” list.

 

The Princeton Review’s “Least Happy Students” List

  1. Montana Tech of the University of Montana ( School of Mines and Engineering)
  2. Marywood University(Scranton, Pa)
  3. New Jersey Institute of Technology
  4. United States Merchant Marine Academy
  5. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  6. United States Naval Academy
  7. Clarkson University( Potsdam, NY)
  8. Illinois Institute of Technology
  9. University of Maine
  10. City University of New York — Baruch College

The Princeton Review’s “Happiest Students” List

  1. Rice University
  2. Bowdoin College(Brunswick, Me)
  3. University of California — Santa Barbara
  4. Clemson University
  5. Vanderbilt University
  6. Claremont McKenna College ( Claremont,Ca)
  7. Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, Ca)
  8. Kansas State University
  9. University of Southern California
  10. Pomona College

 When engineering students are interviewed as to their dislikes we hear the same general comments.

                “This stuff is really hard.”

                “I study all the time.”

                “I had no idea it would be this involved.”

                “The labs kill me.”

                 “I have no beer time.”

                “No time to party like the other students.”

                “My daddy made me go into engineering.”

When I attended the University of Tennessee we had classes on MWF, TuThurs, TuThursSat.  Yes, Saturday classes and it WAS hard but we thought it was supposed to be.  The drop-out rate and transfer rate was north of 50% the first year. My junior and senior classes rarely had more than ten students at the very most.  I understand other disciplines such as engineering physics, materials and nuclear engineering had even fewer students in each classroom during those last two years.   One good thing—if you survived to your second semester junior year, the professors knew you were serious about the subject matter and graduation.    Very few students dropped out or failed their senior year.  The teachers always gave you access and time and worked hard to get you over the finish line.  By that time, you had a reputation, for better or worse, and the professors knew you.   They knew what to expect from each student.  They knew you put in the hours.  They knew you were hard-core and intended to graduate regardless.  

I feel we have become a society in which rigor and discipline, for the most part, have dropped by the wayside.  I had much rather be entertained than study, but hadn’t we all?   I don’t know of a time when attention spans have been so short.  We feel the need to hop from one thing to another.  Multi-tasking has become uppermost in our minds for just about every endeavor.  In looking back, I can say my years at the university were well spent and have allowed me to provide for my family in a nice fashion.  4.0 GPA—forget about it!  Never happened and did not happen to most of my fellow classmates in mechanical engineering.  A “gentleman’s C” was sometimes a hard-fought proposition and concerning finals-win, lose or draw you were very happy when they were over.   Wonder if we can, as a nation, regain the enthusiasm we once had for education, even though some courses of study remain difficult?

 

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