Academic quality?

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Discus: College Search and Selection: May 2003 Archive: Academic quality?
By Mzinn (Mzinn) on Sunday, May 18, 2003 - 08:26 pm: Edit

People are always writing about how University A has a better academic record than University B. I'm just wondering how all you guys determine the academic quality of a certain school. It seems that most people just spit out what they've read from US News ratings. What are some other good sites/resources that have a different approach?

By Lethalfang (Lethalfang) on Monday, May 19, 2003 - 04:22 am: Edit

Cal Tech has better academic record than Middle Tennessee State...... well sometimes it's just common knowledge. Most of the time though, it's not.

By Drusba (Drusba) on Monday, May 19, 2003 - 11:14 am: Edit

US News does not really measure academic quality, e.g., whether the teachers are really any good, can speak English, or whether the students really learn and enjoy doing so, etc. Neither does any other source except in a cursory manner -- for example Princeton Review at least does some student surveying to see if teachers are believed to be any good. Many of the opinions about such quality you see on these boards are often based on the incorrect belief that US News and some other "raters" establish academic quality. I would more rely on actual graduates opinions than those kinds of views and sometimes you see such opinions here. The reality is, as far as teaching goes, is that most schools (bottom tier to top tier on the US News list) tend to have very good teachers, have those that are just OK, and have those who really should be looking for another job (or left to just do their research) because they are complete failures in the classroom. Schools that tend to emphasize teaching more than research--such as many liberal arts schools as opposed to well-known universities--are likely to have a lesser percentage in that last catogory than the universities but then often have a different problem: because they are small and don't have a huge number of classes to choose from, students often cannot avoid taking that one professor in a required course who really is incompetent at teaching. In essence, academic quality is probably not that much different between the top and other tiers in US News and all have the good and the bad and fortunately for students most of it is usually the good.

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