[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

[Fwd: Re: US News rankings, and comment. . .]

forwarded from Sci.Bio.Paleontology
simply as an FYI

> benw@mail.uca.edu and Dr. Prothero wrote:
> The U.S. News & World Report issue with graduate school rankings
> recently came out. It ranks geology departments, and then ranks
> departments by perceived excellence in geological subfields, including
> paleontology. For those too cheap to buy the issue, the top ten paleo
> grad programs in the United States are:
> 1. University of CaliforniaBerkeley
> 2. University of Chicago
> 3. Harvard University
> 4. University of MichiganAnn Arbor
> 5. University of Kansas
> 6. Yale University
> 7. University of Iowa
> 8. Ohio State University
> 9. University of Cincinnati
> (tie) 9. University of TexasAustin
> At least this is what US News *thinks* are the top ten. . . this has
> sparked some discussion on the PALEONET e-mail list. Some people
> have made the point that some of these programs are running more on
> reputation than on really dynamic ongoing science. There are also some
> programs not on this list that have recently caught fire -- Indiana,
> UC Davis, and the University of Southern California were all mentioned.
> The ranking was done by polling department chairs and administrators, who
> are usually behind the times; a poll of active researchers would probably
> produce very different results.
> I got permission to pass on to s.b.p. part of a message from Dr. Don
> Prothero, because I think it offers a different perspective on these
> rankings. It's also exceptionally sound advice for anyone who's thinking
> about getting a degree in paleo. And so, without further ado, I give you,
> all the way from Occidental College, Los Angeles. . . Dr. Don Prothero:
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>    But this raises the larger issue in the original query: what to tell a
> student?  First of all, no high-school student should be looking at grad
> school rankings to decide where to get an undergrad major in paleo.  As
> most of us in academia know, many departments that are highly ranked in
> graduate studies do so at the expense of their undergrads, so a
> high-schooler interested in paleo may get little or no guidance at places
> like these. (My personal bias is that they're better off in a smaller but
> rigorous college where they get lots of personal attention and small
> classes, with lots of paleo classes being a bonus--but then I'm at a small
> liberal arts college where there are no grad students and undergrads get
> royal treatment).
>     So the next time you run into a  high school student who is seeking
> advice on where to go to become a paleontologist, tell them what Reid
> Macdonald told me 30 years ago when I was an eager  high-schooler trying
> to find out this same thing:
>   1) Get into the academically strongest school your grades will allow;
>   2) You may find a smaller college which focuses on undergrads to be much
> better if you want lots of attention from the instructor (although some
> students thrive in giant classes in the Big U);
>   3) Pick an undergrad program which will give you a solid background in
> geology and/or biology; paleo classes are a bonus, because most undergrads
> will take only one paleo course before they graduate.
>   4) Pay no attention to the "rankings" like US News, or other glamorous
> media events like spectacular finds in the NY Times or on Nova--the
> paleontologists who are focused on teaching undergrads and preparing them
> for graduate school in paleontology are rarely represented in the media.
>   5)  Once you have finished your junior year in college in geology or
> biology or both, talk to your paleontologist/mentor about which grad
> programs are CURRENTLY hot, and what they do best, and what their
> individual reputations and personalities are like. Any paleontologist who
> keeps up with the meetings and literature is a much better index to the
> grad programs than some out-of-touch department chair who is probably not
> paleontologist, and who does not keep up with the current status of the
> profession.
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Flying Goat Graphics