Periodically some group or another comes out with a list of the top colleges and ranks them according to their methodology. See, One Opinion of of the Top 2000 Colleges
One of the newest lists is from What Will They Learn They use the following criteria:
What Will They Learn?SM rates each college on whether the institution (or, in many cases, the Arts & Sciences or Liberal Arts divisions) requires seven core subjects: Composition, Literature, Foreign Language, U.S. Government or History, Economics, Mathematics, or Natural or Physical Science. The grade is based on a detailed review of the latest publicly-available online course catalogs.
The fact that a college has requirements called Literature or Mathematics does not necessarily mean that students will actually study those subjects. “Distribution requirements” on most campuses permit students to pick from a wide range of courses that often are narrow or even outside the stated field altogether. To determine whether institutions have a solid core curriculum, we defined success in each of the seven subject areas outlined as follows:
Composition. A college writing class focusing on grammar, style, clarity, and argument. These courses should be taught by instructors trained to evaluate and teach writing. “Across-the-curriculum” and “writing intensive” courses taught in disciplines other than English do not count if they constitute the only component of the writing requirement. Credit is not given for remedial classes, or if students may test out of the requirement via SAT or ACT scores or departmental tests.Literature. A literature survey course. Narrow, single-author, or esoteric courses do not count for this requirement, but introductions to broad subfields (such as British or Latin American literature) do.Foreign Language. Competency at the intermediate level, defined as at least three semesters of college-level study in any foreign language, three years of high school work or an appropriate examination score.U.S. Government or History. A course in either U.S. history or government with enough breadth to give a broad sweep of American history and institutions. Narrow, niche courses do not count for the requirement, nor do courses that only focus on a particular state or region.Economics. A course covering basic economic principles, preferably an introductory micro- or macroeconomics course taught by faculty from the economics or business departments.Mathematics. A college-level course in mathematics. Specific topics may vary, but must involve study beyond the level of intermediate algebra. Logic classes may count if they are focused on abstract logic. Computer science courses count if they involve programming or advanced study. Credit is not given for remedial classes, or if students may test out of the requirement via SAT or ACT scores.Natural or Physical Science. A course in biology, geology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, or environmental science, preferably with a laboratory component. Overly narrow courses and courses with weak scientific content are not counted.
With these criteria in mind, we assign grades based on how many of these seven subjects students are required to complete. If a core course were an option among other courses that do not meet the What Will They Learn?SM criteria for a certain subject, the institution did not receive credit for that subject. Credit is given only for what an institution requires of its students, not what it merely recommends. The grading system is as follows:
A: 6-7 core subjects required
B: 4-5 core subjects required
C: 3 core subjects required
D: 2 core subjects required
F: 0-1 core subjects required
This one set of criteria, remember the decision to attend college is an individual choice based upon individual needs.
Daniel de Vise in the Washington Post article, College Ratings Ignites Debate Over Core Requirements reports:
Today, only a handful of national universities require students to survey the span of human knowledge. Two schools, Columbia University and the University of Chicago, are known for century-old core programs that have managed to survive. They cover enough subjects to earn each institution a B from the advocates of general education.
“If you tried to start a core curriculum today, the battles you’d fight would have to be enormous,” said John Boyer, dean of the college at Chicago. “Once you have it, you don’t want to lose it, because it’s very hard to get it back again.”
More extreme is the “great books” approach of St. John’s College in Annapolis, where students follow a four-year syllabus of essential texts. St. John’s campuses in Maryland and New Mexico are two of 17 colleges that receive an A in general education. …
Neal says the group’s examination of more than 700 college catalogs proves otherwise. “It is quite possible to avoid American history, or Plato, or science,” she said. “Many colleges don’t even require their English majors to take a course on Shakespeare.”
The schools awarded “A” grades by the raters are an unusual bunch: highly structured military academies, a few public universities with unusually deep general-education lists (the University of Texas at Austin), tradition-minded Christian institutions (Baylor University) and the “great books” schools. All require at least six of the seven “essential” subjects.
Harvard, meanwhile, got a D. Only a few of the nation’s top national universities and liberal arts schools fared better. Not by coincidence, the group released its ratings – expanding on a smaller effort a year earlier – to coincide with the popular college rankings from U.S. News & World Report.
Georgetown University received a D for requiring just two of the seven prescribed subjects, composition and foreign language. The College of William and Mary, which requires foreign language, math and science, drew a C.
Hopkins students must complete 30 credit hours outside their major. To guarantee academic balance, a humanities major must take at least 12 credits – roughly four courses – in math, science or engineering. A math major must take 18 credits in humanities or social science. It would be difficult, but not impossible, for a humanities major to satisfy the distribution rules while avoiding natural science entirely.
“Everything we teach constitutes ‘essential human knowledge,’ ” said Katherine Newman, dean of the university’s college of arts and sciences, “but that’s a huge range of territory, and we encourage students to make some serious choices about what they specialize in.”
Chung-Ha Davis, a senior science major from Brandon, Fla., acknowledges that his Hopkins education has left “some gaps in my knowledge, where people say there shouldn’t be a gap if you’ve had a university education.”
He says he has traded breadth for depth.
“If you want to go somewhere in life,” he said, “you’ve got to pick one thing and get really good at it.”
Keep in mind the group uses their criteria to rate schools.
This is the ranking for Washington schools by What Will They Learn?
Central Washington University
City University of Seattle
Eastern Washington University
Evergreen State College
University of Puget Sound
University of Washington
Washington State University
Western Washington University
Given the economy and the high cost of college, more and more people are asking the question of what is the purpose of a college education?
A university is what a college becomes when the faculty loses interest in the students.
A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.
It takes most men five years to recover from a college education, and to learn that poetry is as vital to thinking as knowledge.
~Brooks Atkinson, Once Around the Sun, 1951
A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or Ph.D. Unfortunately, they don’t have a J.O.B.
Fathers send their sons to college either because they went to college or they didn’t.
Dr. Wilda may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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