Interesting on many levels….
Yes, it’s another college ranking list, but this snarky / cheeky one really stands out. Radar Magazine Online recently put together a “semi-scientific guide to the most substandard schools in America.” Using a wide variety of sources, Radar took up the challenge of choosing which accredited 4-year colleges with physical campuses made the “dishonor roll.”
Worst Party School: (Tie) California State University-Chico; San Diego State University
Illustrious Alumni: Chico lays claim to good-time-guy novelist Raymond Carver (who graduated elsewhere) and bare-knuckled political consultant Ed Rollins, while SDSU graduated disgraced former CIA executive director Kyle “Dusty” Foggo and oft-disrobed former C-movie actress Raquel Welch.
Worst Trust-Fund-Baby College: Bennington College (VT)
Notable Course: “SHHH! The Social Construction of Silence,” a class focused on breaking down the classification of silence as an absence of sound and “establishing it as a presence.” Or, the class where you sleep off your hangover.
Worst Ivy League University: Cornell University (NY)
School Pride: “I haven’t overheard a single intellectual conversation in three years, unless it was between Indian or Asian students,” writes an architecture major on Students Review.
Worst Christian University: Liberty University (VA)
School Pride: “The mountains and all are beautiful. It’s right near the Wal-Mart too,” writes a student on Campus Dirt.
Worst of the Big Ten: Michigan State University (East Lansing)
It’s not surprising this hard-drinking football school hasn’t made it to the Rose Bowl since 1988: Much of its student body seems to be in jail. Over 1,000 students were arrested for drug and alcohol offenses last year, along with another 1,224 perps in the crime-ridden city.
Worst Military Academy: Virginia Military Institute
VMI excluded women from its ranks until the U.S. Supreme Court forced the academy to admit female cadets in 1996.
Worst Women’s College: Texas Woman’s University
Notable Course: Cultural Perspectives of Personal Appearance.
The Worst College in America: University of Bridgeport (CT)
Fun Fact: At orientation, all incoming students are given a “personal alarm locator” that will send swarms of campus policemen racing to their rescue whenever they press a panic button.
via Nine Worst Colleges in America | Educated Nation | Higher Education Blog.
6 responses to “Nine Worst Colleges in America | Educated Nation | Higher Education Blog”
Scott, I bet you weren’t surprised when you discovered that Liberty U. was on the list. But two on this list from Va.? I was surprised that Yale U. wasn’t on this list considering that institutions reputation as a party school and it produced “grade C avg.” G. Dubya Bush.
This is ridulous. Michigan State University has a large student body. So if you compare ratio’s instead of numbers when discussing crime it’s about the same as any other major 40000+ university. As for for Rose Bowl comment, 8-0 is a pretty good record.
Are you kidding? Michigan State has long been considered one of America’s “Public Ivy” institutions – indeed, Newsweek stated that students should consider Michigan State as one of the best alternatives to the Ivy League. We’re inexpensive, have a large student body, and a plethora of highly-ranked courses and majors. Our undergraduate physics program is one of the best in the nation, as is our nuclear physics department. I could name program after program, degree after degree, and alumnus after alumnus who distinguishes Michigan State as one of the best universities in the nation. Certainly we’re of the highest caliber of all public universities in the nation!
Plus, we kicked ass this year. We lost one game, all season.
MSU Student wrote: “…we kicked ass this year. We lost one game, all season.”
Yeah, to MY school, University of Wisconsin-Madison! That is what it’s about, you know. The Big Ten, as far as the public is concerned, are just twelve (Yes, TWELVE! Go figure why we are still “The Big Ten”) huge excuses for twelve huge football programs. That they are also good – many even great – schools goes almost unnoticed.
MSU is indeed a great school, cursed by being located in East Lansing, which is, as Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi said best, “a wretched hive of scum and villainy.”
Michigan State is terrible, the fact that their football team performs well and 2 of their majors are nationally competitive says nothing to the quality of life for students NOT in that major. ‘Inexpensive’? You pay so much and receive so little at MSU.
Bob has a point. The issue is not, as he implies, particular to MSU. It is endemic to nearly all big state universities. States are having trouble balancing their budgets. Hard times, precipitated in part by a bursting housing bubble have taken their toll nearly everywhere. People spending less means less sales tax revenue and housing values in the tank means less property tax revenue, etc. State university systems are a favorite target of legislatures, especially GOP-led ones. They relish every opportunity to cut off at the knees these “ivory towers” of lefty/commie elitism. The only people they alienate are the ones who are students in these universities (who typically don’t vote, so they don’t even count) and their parents, who have always been a minority of the electorate and now are an ever-dwindling one at that; it’s simply no-brainer Politics 101.
So MSU, as well as UW-Madison, where I went to grad school, have to make ends meet. And they do it in two ways. They raise tuition as much as they can, as much as the market will bear. And, they cut expenses by not replacing tenured professors who die, retire or otherwise leave. Instead of hiring new tenure-track assistant professors, they hire more TA’s and so-called “adjunct” professors, who are paid much less, are technically LTE’s (Limited Time Employees, though many work for YEARS in this status) who are non-tenure-track “at-will” employees with few or no benefits, no pensions, no health insurance, etc. They cut any small-enrollment undergraduate classes they can without risking their accreditation status. And they cram as many undergraduates as they can into huge lecture halls with hundreds of students per section. The mantra is maximum contact hours per faculty member per week. A professor who teaches classes of 10-20 students is less valued than one who teaches lecture halls full of 400+ students.
I, as a graduate student, got every class I wanted, was always in classes of fewer than 20, and got ample individual attention. I had my issues with Wisconsin, but not with the quality of instruction I received. UW-Madison, like MSU, hangs its hat not just on its athletics but on its reputation as a cutting-edge research university. And the heavy lifting of research activity – the real grunt work – is carried out by graduate students, post-doc fellows and the like, regardless of whose name ultimately appears at the top of the paper or which high-priced full professor gets the trip to Stockholm for his or her Nobel Prize. So it is very much in the interest of these “research” universities to attract and keep the best and the brightest graduate students they can.
So, who gets the shaft? The undergraduates do. They are increasingly seen as income generators – “profit centers.” An out-of-state undergrad at UW-Madison pays almost as much to be there as if he or she were at Yale or Princeton! But they are treated like cattle and spend most of their time in classes taught by TAs. I have nothing against TAs; I was one once, and I like to think I was good at my job. Like professors, many TAs are talented, accomplished and conscientious, and some are not, but unlike tenured professors, ALL TAs are inexperienced! That is why they are TAs! In my mind, if I am paying top dollar to be at a “name” university, I want experienced, credentialed, honest-to-God professors to be teaching me – at least SOME of the time.
So Bob is right, at least as far as undergraduate education is concerned. Big university life – at least for undergraduates – has never been worse, and never been more expensive. For graduate students, I have no problem recommending ANY Big Ten school with a program in one’s field of interest. For undergraduates, I would recommend going to a smaller – and usually cheaper – teaching-oriented college or university that doesn’t treat undergrads as second-class citizens. In Wisconsin, for example, Beloit College is consistently rated among the very best values in undergraduate education. Despite that it is not a so-called “name” school, people who do well there can usually get into any graduate school they want. Another bargain is Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. Their faculty and programs are very solid, are teaching-oriented and they teach ONLY undergraduates – no graduate school at all. I know personally several Lawrence grads who have gone onto places like UW-Madison, Northwestern, Stanford, University of Chicago, Yale, Harvard, et al. For undergrads, seeking out these hidden gems is not only a way to get a better undergraduate education, it’s a much more efficient way to leverage oneself into a top graduate school and save a boatload of money in the process.
So, what’s the solution? I don’t know that much specifically about MSU, but nationally, I do know that as recently as the 1960’s, state universities nationwide were, on average, funded by the states to the 60% level; six dollars of every ten in their operating budgets were paid through taxes. Now, I know that at least UW-Madison gets only 15% of its money from Wisconsin taxpayers. UW-Madison, like most other state universities, has closed this ever-widening gap through private sources, including corporate donations, naming rights and sponsorships, as well as alumni fund-raising and the establishment of private-school-style endowment funds, and… not to forget… ever higher tuition bills to Mom and Pop and bone-crushing debt incurred by their graduates. Yet, though the state only pays 15 cents on the dollar, it still tries to maintain 100% of the control! This analogy admittedly isn’t perfect, but in what world would I get to exert 100% control of a corporation by owning just 15% of the company’s stock??
UW-Madison and, I strongly suspect, MSU are already operating very much like private universities. I say they should take it the rest of the way and “break out of jail.” Go the rest of the way and totally privatize. They are almost there already. I think they can make up the difference with more private money, more aggressive fund-raising, by filling endowment fund coffers with returns on investment from research-won patents, government and private contracts, grants, etc. The states are already sawing through the cord, just speed it up and CUT it off altogether!
If Wisconsin is going to charge Yale-like tuition, and continue raising the academic bar for admittance toward Ivy League levels, they should bloody-well become more like Yale – becoming financially independent and prosperous the way Yale has done it. That way, they will no longer have to come hat-in-hand, begging the state for crumbs. I don’t know what mechanism it would take to make this happen, but I think that state universities everywhere are becoming whipping boys in increasingly vitriolic and partisan state politics, and they are being systematically gutted by the increasingly short-sighted politicians the public is foolishly putting into power these days. I think privatization, or at least something in that direction, is the only way to save MSU, UW-Madison and other big state universities from the fate of becoming merely high-priced degree mills – empty shells of what they once were… only with great football teams!