Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Save the Watchtower

As I was commuting in to work this morning, two people were standing outside the train station handing out pamphlets on vegan-ism.

Somehow, I got a flash of the scene early in the first Back to the Future movie, where the old lady was handing out "Save the Clock Tower" pamphlets.

That gave me an idea:

Not now, but maybe when I retire, every once in a while I'll stand outside the train station during peak commuting times, and hand out "Save the Clock Tower" pamphlets. 

Most people won't "get it" -- because by that time the Back to the Future movie would be fifty years old.  But some people will get it.

And I'll be amused...  :)


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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Expensive versus cheap universities

 Here's the punchline:  for nearly all students, I don't think there's a justification for attending an expensive university over a "regular" university -- e.g. a "state school".

As someone who's attended three universities and taught at one American university and two Australian universities, my assessment is that it's more about the student (and possibly the prestige/reputation of the university?), and not about the "quality" of the school.  That is:  unless you're doing some high-powered medical or science degree where there can be substantial differences in the resources (high-end lab equipment) -- there are good instructors and bad instructors everywhere, and it really comes down to how smart, and how studious, the student is.   Maybe at the ultra-high end there might be more opportunities for the "gifted" student:  but my impression is that the higher-end student will either "make" his/her own opportunities, or else maximize the "standard" opportunities (e.g. do a really ambitious "capstone" project). 

So my 2c is that if there's an in-state/out-of-state tuition cost difference, to just stay in-state.  If she truly wants to get away from the parents for "independence", just move to the other end of the state.  ;) 

The exception is if you think that a "fancy" school (Harvard?  Yale?) will build business networks that you otherwise wouldn't gain.  I can't speak to that.

The other exception would be if there's a very specific program, or person you want to study under, at a specific program.  (And!  Professors leave universities for a different one ALL THE TIME -- so do not attend a university JUST for one specific person; do it because the university also has a strong program.)

For "advanced" work -- sure, go for the peak.  But as an undergraduate:  let's say the calibre of one program is 70% the quality of the other.  Is the student really going to learn 100% of what is being offered?  Will the student **really** "max out", and absorb 100% of what the professors have to offer...?

Unless the student believes that she or he will be the equal of the instructors at the end of the program (unlikely -- even for graduate students) -- she or he will still be developing and learning, right up to the end of the program.

Definitely, some programs are better than others.  But (in my observation) it's more because some programs/departments are actively bad (i.e. dysfunctional) -- not that some are definitively superior to another.

Again:  it comes down to the student -- both the intellect and the effort -- not the "quality" of the program.  As long as the program's quality is at least "pretty good".

That said:  if she truly wants to go out-of-state:   if it's a state school, it would be far cheaper to investigate the "residency" rules and (presumably) move there for a year or two, work, and then attend university once she can pay in-state tuition.

I ended up having to take a year and a half off between the first half and second half of my undergraduate degree:  it was an incredibly useful and informative experience, and I don't regret it for a moment.  (I worked one and a half jobs -- but I was young and energetic, and it was only for a year and a half...)

That's my assessment, anyhow...   ;)


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