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  1. #31
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingenue View Post
    Oy, I have a lot of comments on this! But I shall limit it to a few key points.

    1) The rankings systems you named earlier are based upon the quality/quantity of research produced, how much grant funding the school receives, how many nobel scholars there are in that school, yadda yadda... NOT the quality of teaching--which is why the small liberals arts schools with very good reputations don't get ranked very well on those lists.
    It actually says on some of them that the criteria are things like reputation, competitiveness, and admissions criteria, or academic peer review, employer review, citations per faculty, student faculty, international faculty, international students, etc. Did you link at every link?

    2) Many people from other countries come to the US to study for a variety of reasons... one being "brand recognition" in their home country (that is related more to a school's marketing campaign), the opportunity to improve their English, and just wanting an experience abroad. I wouldn't say that it is entirely because the US has the best higher education, even if this is the case. However, these international students come from exceptionally prosperous background, and oftentimes US universities treat them as full tuition-paying cash cows (just to be able to enter most schools require of international students proof of a certain minimum in your bank account). It is not as meritocratic an admissions system for them as it is for domestic students, so it's a stretch to say that their presence increases the quality of learning. And... I am currently doing research on the dynamics of social integration on campus, because there is not much evidence that the presence of international students necessarily adds to "diversity" as they are often self-clustered in their own groups.
    I don't disagree on all of these points, but I will say that I am currently in grad school in a Top 100 MBA program, and the Asian students are quite active on campus and not self-segregating at all. Oddly, I found that to be more common in my undergrad experience at an Ivy League school. Still, international students with brains and/or means come to the United States in droves. It's not because they want to dick around in the States for a few years.


    3) Interestingly study abroad patterns are changing. The US still receives the most international students, but the rate of growth has slowed in recent years. International students in the US mostly come from Asia; now there is much more intra-region Asian study abroad (with China's growth rate of incoming international students skyrocketing).
    That speaks to improving standards in Asian universities rather than decreasing standards in the U.S., though, doesn't it?
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  2. #32

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    Okay let's deconstruct some of your examples:

    reputation: While this is rather vague in one word alone, I imagine this means reputation amongst faculty members--who will most likely bias towards top research institutions.

    competitiveness: Again, vague (where are you finding these? I can't seem to find a breakdown of the terms). Is this institutional competitiveness, because that would again relate back to research-oriented institutions who are more successful at acquiring grant funding. If this means competitiveness of student admission, fine, but you can argue that students like yourself buy into these ranking systems (that are ultimately research based) and thus increase competitiveness of admissions vis-a-vis the research quality. Same goes for admissions criteria.

    academic peer review, citations per faculty: again, bias towards research-based

    The only example I see as indicative of quality of teaching/learning is the example you indicated of student/faculty ratio.

    Not to say that these top-rated institutions are not deserving of their ranking status, because they are, but it is better to judge them as a prospective researcher and not as someone looking for quality of teaching and learning.

    And... calling something THE BEST is inherently comparative...

  3. #33
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingenue View Post
    Okay let's deconstruct some of your examples:

    reputation: While this is rather vague in one word alone, I imagine this means reputation amongst faculty members--who will most likely bias towards top research institutions.
    I believe it would be faculty and post-graduate employers, but I would have to chase down the research.

    competitiveness: Again, vague (where are you finding these? I can't seem to find a breakdown of the terms). Is this institutional competitiveness, because that would again relate back to research-oriented institutions who are more successful at acquiring grant funding. If this means competitiveness of student admission, fine, but you can argue that students like yourself buy into these ranking systems (that are ultimately research based) and thus increase competitiveness of admissions vis-a-vis the research quality. Same goes for admissions criteria.
    Competitiveness is selectivity of admissions. I don't know why you are so hung up on "research" stuff here. I know that top universities don't all have tremendous teachers down the line (I attended a school that is always Top 10 in the U.S. and Top 20-25 in the world, and some of my teachers were mediocre). Do you really think that quality of teaching has no bearing on the schools top high school students apply to?


    academic peer review, citations per faculty: again, bias towards research-based
    Wouldn't lots of citations and peer review at least demonstrate that these professors are expert in their fields? That doesn't make them inspiring teachers in the classroom, but eminence within a field is part of what makes a prof a good one.

    The only example I see as indicative of quality of teaching/learning is the example you indicated of student/faculty ratio.
    It's not the strongest indicator, though. There is diminishing utility eventually with class size. One of my best classes at Penn was Criminology, and there were at least 180 students in that lecture.


    Not to say that these top-rated institutions are not deserving of their ranking status, because they are, but it is better to judge them as a prospective researcher and not as someone looking for quality of teaching and learning.
    A truly great professor can have both qualities. It also depends a lot on your field.


    And... calling something THE BEST is inherently comparative...
    Clearly.
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  4. #34
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    Wouldn't lots of citations and peer review at least demonstrate that these professors are expert in their fields? That doesn't make them inspiring teachers in the classroom, but eminence within a field is part of what makes a prof a good one..
    Yeah, what I wonder is: do those professor teach most undergrad courses, or are they mostly taught by young assistants?

    3) Interestingly study abroad patterns are changing. The US still receives the most international students, but the rate of growth has slowed in recent years. International students in the US mostly come from Asia; now there is much more intra-region Asian study abroad (with China's growth rate of incoming international students skyrocketing).
    IDK, that seems brand-related too. Why would anyone want to study in a terribly overcroweded dictatorship where research plagiarism runs rampant?
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  5. #35
    Sugar Hiccup OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    I admit I can be a poor snob. I grew up lower middle class (or something like that) and am somewhat suspicious of upper middle class & wealthy people. There's something so "out of touch with reality" about them, although I suppose I might seem that way to people poorer than me. I also don't like the assumptions people make about class, as far as intelligence, hygiene, etc, goes. I suppose I make assumptions about wealthier people though, as far as pretension & materialism goes.
    Often a star was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you out of the distant past, or as you walked under an open window, a violin yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission. But could you accomplish it? (Rilke)

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  6. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeAppled View Post
    I admit I can be a poor snob. I grew up lower middle class (or something like that) and am somewhat suspicious of upper middle class & wealthy people. There's something so "out of touch with reality" about them, although I suppose I might seem that way to people poorer than me. I also don't like the assumptions people make about class, as far as intelligence, hygiene, etc, goes. I suppose I make assumptions about wealthier people though, as far as pretension & materialism goes.
    You know, the older I get I feel that there is more class discrimination coming in that direction. Many times I have heard someone snidely say, "Oh you're one of those..." when I mention that my parents paid for all my college expenses, or something to that effect, when I am just stating a fact. But yes, I recognize that I am certainly out of touch with the reality of most people's lives. The best way to handle this, I think, is to just be more didactic about things, because it is a genuine learning experience for someone who doesn't know. I would never say, "Oh you're one of those..." when I learn that someone had to work during college or took out expensive loans.

  7. #37
    Nerd King Usurper Edgar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FDG View Post
    The situation is very similar over here. Although, if you're sufficiently smart & have managed to have "Academic" friends since childhood-early youth, you can successfuly "change class" without anyone noticing. Doesn't happen frequently, though. Generally speaking, university professors are considered the top-class. Second, anyone being in a relatively high position in a very complex institution (say, a research facility, lab, bank, etc.)...
    lol, no. University professors are desperately middle class. Your views on the idea of what defines class are actually that of a middle class person, i.e. class is determined by education. Read CLASS by Paul Fussell, it's still very relevant even though it was written decades ago. Amongst other things, he explains that proles (lower class) determine class by the amount of money one has, middle class determine class by the amount and quality of education one has, and upper class determine class by how "cultured" a person is.

    I interact with people from lower class to upper middle class (and various degrees in between) on a daily basis, and their distinctions are very evident - and this isn't necessarily related to their occupation and the amount of disposable income, although there are some correlations. It's more on how they carry themselves: ways of speaking, ways of handling themselves, topics of discussion, etc. However, I rarely have a chance to communicate with people from the true upper class (i.e. old money who don't have to work for a living), because those folks tend to keep to themselves, and rarely hang around in "public" areas.
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  8. #38
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    lol, no. University professors are desperately middle class. Your views on the idea of what defines class are actually that of a middle class person, i.e. class is determined by education. Read CLASS by Paul Fussell, it's still very relevant even though it was written decades ago. Amongst other things, he explains that proles (lower class) determine class by the amount of money one has, middle class determine class by the amount and quality of education one has, and upper class determine class by how "cultured" a person is.
    Idk, I was speaking specifically about the place where I live, have you lived in Italy? Besides, generally I'd say that university profs. are the most "cultured" people here, but it might be different overe there...but yeah I wasn't fully trying to correlate it to education, because you can hold a PhD and still be a thug.
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  9. #39
    Nerd King Usurper Edgar's Avatar
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    Ah, sorry. I was speaking of the American class system.
    Didn't realize you from another country that is not nearly as important.
    Listen to me, baby, you got to understand, you're old enough to learn the makings of a man.

  10. #40
    Superwoman Red Herring's Avatar
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    FDG directly responded to my post about Germany with a post about Italy. Please forgive us for derailing a thread about the only country that matters! God forbid this might turn into a discussion about different conceptions of class in different cultures!
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