October 12th, 2009 at 12:28 PM ^

The Guardian is often baffling in their British university rankings, they recently put two constituents of the University of London (GOODT) below a school called Thames Valley University, which offers more certificate programs than degrees.

As for our undergrad rankings, we're a research oriented school. I don't find it at all unbelievable that LSA is weak enough to drag us into the 20's.


October 12th, 2009 at 12:33 PM ^

Whoa whoa whoa. I am in LSA and I had to write a paper once, and I had to take three freaking years of spanish (passed by the slimmest of margins) and I do all this hard math stuff.
Oh and Psych 111: not as easy as everyone says it is.

So yeah, obviously LSA isn't weak...


October 12th, 2009 at 2:50 PM ^

University of Michigan - College of Engineering: the real Honors College.

EDIT: For all of those who feel I'm wrong, take a look the following courses I took as an undergrad and then tell me if you think differently:

Fluid Mechanics
Applied Partial Differential Equations
Quantum Mechanics
Nuclear Particle Physics
Nuclear Reactor Theory
Nuclear Reactor Design
Plasma Physics
and a few others I cannot remember off the top of my head.

Now, I'm not saying LSA isn't tough, but come on...


October 12th, 2009 at 3:06 PM ^

Uh oh peeps are pissed. School rankings have more to do with the quality of the faculty and faculty to student ratios than course offerings. The electives that I took in LSA were often much larger than courses you'd see at top private universities or other colleges within the UofM; they also had a high number of GSAs and Lecturers teaching them... that drags down the rankings.


October 12th, 2009 at 3:38 PM ^

Great, you took courses that were relevant to engineering. I know engineers that couldn't write a paper to save their lives at the end of their senior years. I also knew engineers completely and totally competent enough to do so.


October 12th, 2009 at 4:39 PM ^

COE exams have to be written in the students' own blood. No partial credit for passing out before completing the exam. Once, I actually started feeling woozy, and the guy next to me was comatose. I used his blood. I passed.


October 12th, 2009 at 4:43 PM ^

In U.S. History 1865-Present, and in Thermodynamics. I took a different history course, and barely made a B+. It all comes down to the instructor.

The only class which really kicked my ass was Physics 242. It introduced relativity and quantum physics. The quantum physics content was utterly bewildering. That one class almost kept me from getting my degree. It was that bad.


October 12th, 2009 at 3:59 PM ^

Come on, we've been over this before. Our overall ranking has nothing to do with LSA or any other academic program. In fact, our academic score is usually around 15th or so. What hurts us is a combination of us having a higher acceptance rate than the small private schools, and us (like most public schools) having a lower rate of alumni donations.

steve sharik

October 12th, 2009 at 12:45 PM ^

"There is no way that Michigan can be ranked in the top 10 for every grad program and then it's undergrad programs just be 'Eh okay'."

Why not? Profs work with grad. students and rarely w/undergrads.

After asking why the Communications Department wasn't very good (back when they had it, I am dating myself here) I once had an academic advisor tell me, "We can't be expected to be the best at everything." Then I thought, "Aren't we the leaders and best? Did I miss the asterisk? Why do I have to pay the same as those who are actually getting the best?"


October 12th, 2009 at 12:52 PM ^

the case now. For the large lectures you will have a prof leading the lecture and the GA/TA leading the smaller discussions (only once a week).

This is a fallacy and a myth about Michigan/large institutions in general that Professors do not teach undergrads. They do. For every lecture in Econ I had a prof, every Engineering class I had a prof, every science lecture, etc.

steve sharik

October 12th, 2009 at 1:42 PM ^

Lecturing to 250 kids sitting in chairs asking hardly any questions isn't "working with" them. Face it, undergrads do not have the access to profs that graduate students do. Trust me, my dad is a professor. All during my childhood, graduate students would come over occasionally for get-togethers. Not once was an undergraduate a guest. And this was true for my dad's friends who were also professors.

Also, lecturing alone doesn't equal teaching. Lecturing equals books on tape. Genereally speaking, lecturing alone is what happens in those courses with TA's b/c the students are asked to hold their questions for their TA's in the discussion meetings.


October 12th, 2009 at 1:45 PM ^

as you want. Case in point: lectures for Orgo 1&2 the prof had office hours and if you went you would be one of only a handful of people there (if there were that many). I personally got one on one help from the lab professor for lecture (because he was a better teacher I went to him).

If you want the one on one time with a prof you can get it you just have to put in the extra work and effort and most students in college don't do that.


October 12th, 2009 at 1:50 PM ^

It severely depends on the size of the classes and what point of a student's career we are talking about.

For example:
Chem 130 (freshman chemistry) = 400+ student lecture w/little student/prof interaction.

NERS 311 (Nuclear Engineering [my major], a junior class) = 30 students with constant student/prof interaction including office hours and other out-of-class meetings.


October 12th, 2009 at 3:16 PM ^

Why should a professor -- who could be doing meaningful research and bringing in millions more in grant money -- waste time lecturing? It seems to be a horrible waste of time when a lecturer (or post-docs, etc) could be doing the same (in some cases, a better job).

At least in engineering, professors are hired for research and a bit of teaching; lecturers are hired to teach exclusively. Students, in general, have all the opportunities in the world to work directly with professors, whether by UROP or independent study / research. I agree with a previous poster -- (paraphrased) professors are better suited toward teaching smaller classes and specific topics/concentrations. Let "intro to ____" be taught by someone else.


October 12th, 2009 at 1:49 PM ^

But lecturing can hardly be considered "working with undergraduates," which was Sharik's point, not simply teaching them. Lecturing is performing for students, it conveys information to them, but it's not working with them.

Once a lecture gets above 30, professors just don't have the time to work with students in developing their understanding of and ideas about the course material.


October 12th, 2009 at 2:56 PM ^

where most students do not take the initiative to go (until exam time). I've taken many of the largest classes at Michigan and could always have access to a professor.

Another thing let's take Biology, Psychology etc (any class where you just regurgitate material) there is absolutely no difference between a class of 30 and a class of 500. They talk, you memorize, you regurgitate on the exam, forget it forever. You don't really need to talk to the prof to "understand the material" more just memorization is all that matters and you are either good at it or you're not.


October 12th, 2009 at 3:42 PM ^

"After asking why the Communications Department wasn't very good (back when they had it, I am dating myself here)"

Ahh yes, back in the old days of the present...where the Communications Department still exists.

Scott Dreisbac…

October 12th, 2009 at 2:21 PM ^

There are several reasons undergrad it ranked lower than the grad programs. For one, Michigan is a grad oriented research university and puts a huge chunk of resources into its grad/research programs in comparison to undergrad.

Secondly, one of the reasons that our undergrad rankings have dropped in recent years/are lower than the grad rankings is because the percentage of applicants accepted has steadily risen. Last year undergrad accepted somewhere near 50% (I actually believe it was just over 50% IIRC) of everyone who applied. This is in stark contrast to say the law school which accepts around 20% or the med school which accepts under 3%! When exclusivity is a factor in the rankings, it is not hard to see why undergrad is ranked lower. It is not the only reason, but it is one that people have repeatedly pointed out in the past.


October 12th, 2009 at 3:32 PM ^

However you have to keep in mind that the med school acceptance rates for most schools is under 3%, just like Michigan's. It's because virtually the same group of people apply to a bunch of med schools; and then you have the whole early acceptance thing where you only have a couple of weeks to reserve your place at a school before the offer expires. This may lower the weight that rankings give to med school acceptance rates.

Don't know about law school, but it could be the same scenario. But for other grad schools (engin, econ, w/e), acceptance rates probably hold more weight.

The King of Belch

October 12th, 2009 at 12:18 PM ^

I can't wait to see how Popular Mechanics rates the universities of the world! And Mad Magazine as well!

I'm sure that "our fine institution" will also be well regarded when International Phlegm comes out with its annual report!


October 12th, 2009 at 4:17 PM ^

Most students don't take advantage of the prof's office hours, but for those who do, I've never heard complaints about getting all the attention they needed.

Also, while I'd agree that the student-to-prof ratio is very large for undergraduate, low-level classes, I can't for the life of me understand why that doesn't suffice. Grad students need access to professors because they're deep into the heart of the subject matter; profs are the only ones with the foundation to support them. Undergrads, on the other hand are barely scratching the surface of the subject matter. In many cases, a prof ISN'T the best resource - they're too deep into academia to relate to the noob very effectively. A TA, in these cases, are probably just as good. My 2 cents.


October 12th, 2009 at 1:14 PM ^

I can't speak for LSA, but our Engineering programs are top-notch, undergrad and graduate. Mechanical Engineering Undergrad was #2 behind MIT a couple years ago, and is consistently within the top 5. I think the only program that isn't consistently in the top 10 is Biomedical Engineering, which hangs around 11-13.


October 12th, 2009 at 1:51 PM ^

above is true. They didn't receive accreditation until like 2006 or something. Undergrad biomedical engineering is a joke, as will be the case at all schools. We typically look to hire electrical, mechanical, or materials science/chemical engineers before looking at BS-BMEs. Multi-disciplinary fields in general typically require at the minimum a grad-level understanding of the subject.


October 12th, 2009 at 3:01 PM ^

It has to be coupled with going to med school or PHD/Masters program because a bio-med undergrad program doesn't give you enough of an understanding of the core concepts of EE/CE/ChemE/ME to be hired in over the equivalent counterparts mentioned above.