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April 27, 2005

Fontana Labs Gives College Advice

My only quarrel is that it understates the importance of being energetic and aggressive (and tough-skinned) in making a success of one's time at a large state school (or a large private school, for that matter):

Unfogged: Fontana Labs' agony column: college edition: ... an interesting question about choosing colleges: go with a moderate name and a big loan, or Big Ten for free? This is something I think about a bit, since I spent time at Big State as a student and I teach at a moderately tony private college.

The case for a smaller private institution: interesting opportunities are easier to find, and faculty are there for you-- something that's not true at a large university, where faculty are there primarily for research and grad student training. Our undergraduates have tremendous access to faculty.... My colleagues think a lot about teaching, and people can get fired for doing it badly.... The case for Big Ten: a larger, more diverse faculty means that you can find someone who's an expert in whatever you're interested in studying. You can work with profs with more active research profiles. If you're dedicated to finding good teachers and mentors, you can take advantage of these tremendous resources and put together a great education (and you can get letters from people who are pretty well-known, though they won't know you as well as their counterparts at College). Plus, it's cheap, or, in L's case, free.

Verdict: I'd have to go with the Big Ten in this case. Disclaimers: a lot of this depends on what the student is like. Some people get lost in a sea of 30,000 undergraduates. If you're not savvy about course selection, researching your profs, and so on, you can end up with mediocre product. You have to BE! AGGRESSIVE! BE BE AGGRESSIVE!"

Posted by DeLong at April 27, 2005 08:26 PM