|By Iska (Iska) on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 09:25 pm: Edit|
Interesting article on how Yale maintains a high graduation rate:
|By Sakky (Sakky) on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 10:25 pm: Edit|
It is also notable how part of the article talks about how some people at Yale attribute the low failure rate simply to the high academic caliber of students. Heh heh, tell that to Caltech, which has a student body whose academic caliber is arguably one of the best, if not the best, in the country, yet Caltech seems to have no problem in flunking out lots of students. The same could be said, to a lesser extent, of MIT.
I also saw the notion that the low failure rate has to do with safety nets and support services, and I would then ask the question - if it all has to do with safety nets and support services, then why is it that math/science/engineering majors, whether at Yale or any other school, always seem to have higher flunkout rates than non-tech majors? Is it just because math/science/engineering programs have fewer safety nets and support services?
I think the real truth is that certain programs and certain schools have low flunkout rates simply because the administrators of those programs have decided that they are going to be easy. Conversely, certain programs are hard because the administrators of those programs have decided that they should be hard. It has very little to do with the caliber of student or the amount of support services, it primarily has to do with what the administrators want to do. For example, the administrators of the electrical engineering program at MIT have simply decided that they want EE at MIT to be very very hard, and that's the primary reason why lots of MIT students (who are already of a very high caliber) who want to study EE are unable to make it through the program.
|By Iska (Iska) on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 10:33 pm: Edit|
I also think top Ivies work harder to look good to USNWR and exert pressure on departments across the board to fudge.
|By Justin871 (Justin871) on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 11:55 pm: Edit|
One of the bigger reasons I think schools like CalTech and MIT have higher flunkout rates is that "so many students come to college with a certain idea of what they want to do, and then that idea gets challenged. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton can accommodate students who come in with one thing in mind and then want to pursue something different." That's why I want to go to Yale anyway. If my interests change and I change my mind about what I want to do, I'll still be at one of the best places in the world for it.
|By Sakky (Sakky) on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 12:34 am: Edit|
Justin871, what you say is plausible, and indeed I believe it is an explanatory factor. However, I believe there is a larger factor at work. Consider the small LAC's. For the most part, they also have low flunkout rates despite offering only a limited number of majors. I would argue that the number of majors available at most LAC's is actually less broad than the number of available majors at MIT, and yet the flunkout rate at MIT tends to be larger.
So, again, while I agree that what you have pointed out is a contributory factor, what I think is a larger factor is simply that certain administrators have decided that they want their program to be easy and other administrators have decided that they want their program to be difficult. I believe that MIT administrators actually want to flunk students out because by doing so, it enhances the tough reputation of the school. I believe they actually think that MIT wouldn't be MIT if it didn't flunk quite a few students out. Administrators at other schools have decided that they'd rather be easier.
|By Iska (Iska) on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 03:09 pm: Edit|
I was told by an MIT assoc. prof. that MIT makes courses harder than necessary because, any easier, students begin to feel they are not getting their money's worth (i.e. they come to think MIT is not all it was cracked up to be vis-a-vis Harvard etc.). This artificial toughness becomes too much for less prepared students who, in other equally elite settings, would have made it. That's why I didn't apply, even though I was just about assured pre-application admission (by letter, with the usual legalistic caveats, plausible deniabilities, and self-indemnifications).
|By Sakky (Sakky) on Sunday, October 10, 2004 - 04:56 pm: Edit|
I think you, iska, hit it right on the head. MIT is hard primarily because the MIT administrators and profs have simply decided that they want it to be hard. It's a deliberate choice on their part. Now, we can all argue about why they made that choice - whether it's Harvard-envy or whether it's something else - but the salient point is that it was a deliberate choice. Nothing forced the MIT administrators to make MIT hard, they decided that it should be so all by themselves.
I would also ask whether, if MIT decided to make its courses harder than necessary because if they didn't, then their students wouldn't feel that they were getting their money's worth vis-a-vis Harvard, then why doesn't Yale do that? Why doesn't Stanford do that? Why doesn't everybody do that? In other words, why doesn't Yale also make its courses artificially hard so that Yale students feel that they are getting their money's worth vis-a-vis Harvard? But again, I think that that's neither here nor there. At the end of the day, MIT administrators made a deliberate decision, for whatever reason, that MIT should be difficult. Yale administrators have made a deliberate decision, for whatever reason, that Yale should be (relatively) easy.
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