Wednesday, March 30, 2005
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The decline of Harvard and the return of COFHE
Between my junior and senior years at Williams College, I was an intern for the Office of the Provost. It was there I found out about the Consortium for Financing Higher Education (COFHE), a little-known organization of elite schools that pooled data on admissions, tuition, and the like. When I was working there, COFHE was twitchy about being subject to antitrust investigations, but that died down in the late eighties. As the COFHE website suggests, this is an organization that doesn't really like to advertise its existence.
I hadn't thought about COFHE for at least a decade -- until I saw this Boston Globe story by Marcella Bombardieri:
I'm dying to know where the University of Chicago came out in those rakings. If the U of C -- a place at which the logo "Where Fun Comes to Die" appears on many a t-shirt -- ranks higher than Harvard in terms of satisfaction, then Harvard really has some catching up to do.posted by Dan on 03.30.05 at 11:21 PM
Knowing a bit about Harvard students from having been a grad student there, there are many who would give the Garden of Eden no more than a 3 on a 5 point scale. Which is not to deny that many faculty view students as an annoyance, but really, a class with 8 future pressidents, 4 future Nobel lauraeates and both the next Hemingway and Fitzgerald can be tedious.
To stop being snotty, these are kids who mostly have worked very very hard to get to Harvard and not unsurprisingly many of them feel special for it. And now they are at the place that is supposed to be the best, but it's far from perfect and I suspect the disillusionment is simply greater than at other schools. Who goes to MIT or Univ Chcago expecting a social life?posted by: Gene on 03.30.05 at 11:21 PM [permalink]
Got "Real" (dis)Satisfaction?
Of Significance and Statistical Significance and Practical Significance--Hmmm...are the differences in Satisfaction measures that you report statistically significant??
If not, your reporting of the numbers may be somewhat misleading.
Randy Piper, Ph.D.,M.B.A.
How DID they skate by those anti-trust charges? It seemed fairly clear-cut to me.
Crankyposted by: Cranky Observer on 03.30.05 at 11:21 PM [permalink]
Matt Yglesias had a funny post in this, to the effect that Harvard selects students who don't know how to have fun.posted by: Greg Marx on 03.30.05 at 11:21 PM [permalink]
When I was an undergrad at Virginia Military Institute (in the pre-coed days)nobody even surveyed our (dis)satisfactions. At least Harvard has enough interest to gather statistics. The real test, however, is what the administration is going to do about it. By the way, do they break down the student reactions by faculty?posted by: Bob on 03.30.05 at 11:21 PM [permalink]
When I got to Chicago as an assistant professor, at one of the welcoming events Geof Stone talked a little about Chicago's rankings in the COFHE surveys of alumni. On questions like "What do think about the education you received?", Chicago was near the top. But on questions like "Would you send your children to the same school?", we were near the bottom. In other words, it's the best possible education, but still not worth the suffering.
I do think things have gotten a lot better, even just in the last ten years.posted by: Sean on 03.30.05 at 11:21 PM [permalink]
I recently filled out one of those Chicago alumni surveys and ranked Chicago high in both the categories that Sean lists.
I went to Harvard and have taught at a good, though not quite top-tier, liberal arts college. There's no comparison. If you want a first-rate undergraduate experience, go to a place where that's the stock in trade, not to a research university where it's an often-neglected sideline.posted by: Steve LaBonne on 03.30.05 at 11:21 PM [permalink]
Bottom line: Hyde Park is dull, dull, dull. At least Harvard's got the Square.
So long as U of C students have to take cabs to Lincoln Park to have a good time, mark the school down as a no-fun zone. Oh, and I don't think moving the Checkerboard changes much at all.posted by: Larry on 03.30.05 at 11:21 PM [permalink]
"..and that they don't have as much fun as peers on many other campuses."
Gosh, that's horrible.
On a 60 Minutes piece a few years ago, the report projected the idea that sometime in the future there will be a lawsuit over false advertising of the "prized faculty" that undergraduates (especially) never see.
Is Harvard leaving itself open for trouble?
One has to wonder just how many student have negociated a "better deal" based on this "dissatisfaction".posted by: Neo on 03.30.05 at 11:21 PM [permalink]
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