Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sleuth Before the Big Decision

Not to be annoying, but I have one more consideration to add as students and their families think through college options.

Are you absolutely sure of the health of the program or major you are pointing toward? Take the time for a little detective work before making your final decision.

Why? Some colleges may not be as committed to a program as you are. Penn State just announced cutbacks in its English department,home of a literature doctoral program ranked in the top 15 in the country by the National Research Council; the department is not taking any more students into its MFA in creative writing program. A subset is a nonfiction masters program ranked among the top five in the world.

You'd think Penn State would build on this strength, which, I am sure, attracts prospective English majors because of its stellar reputation. But no, that's not the case in this crazy, economics-driven world. According to a dean, the reason the cuts have been made is because the English department has a smaller enrollment of undergraduate students than other departments.

I get it, on the filthy lucre level. But for an institution to have worked so hard to build a significant, well thought of department, only to tear it down so quickly seems shortsighted, frightening and sudden.

So, before you sign, do a little digging. Make sure you check chat rooms, contact any majors in your chosen field that you may have met, and do a general search to see if the intended college has a history of cut backs in departments important to your teen.

Maybe there won't be any danger signs. Maybe the Penn State situation is an anomaly. But no harm in doing a little more homework before making this big decision.

No comments:

Post a Comment