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Grove City Academics

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Replies to: Grove City Academics

  • Whistle PigWhistle Pig - Posts: 4,093 Senior Member
    zman, good, fair question about the possibilities of eng profs commiting themselves to a GCC because of their professional calling. My speculation is absolutely. And I've no doubt GCC engineering profs are collectively there because of that calling and a desire to NOT be required to produce scholarly research to their engineering peers and communities. And btw, that does not mean some either do not produce such or that they are incapable. What is known is for whatever reasons, they don't. Either capability or inclination or perhaps time. They are required to teach too many students in too many courses relative to their peers at a GA Tech or a Penn State. And as scott has rightly argued, that is not necessarily a bad thing for his son or other students there. And it can be a positive.

    But it's important to recognize, as you already have, that unlike virtually every other department @ GCC ...check them out...history, English, even the pure sciences like bio, chem, and math ...they are about approximately equally populated with profs who are products of Christian colleges vs. secular institutions.

    This is not the case in engineering. So, no matter who might claim to "know" what has led these persons to GCC, only they really do. But it's a fair question to ask when you visit. Why would they forego the vast worldly opportunities and recognition of their profession to teach at GCC? Choice, calling, default, function of a spousal location, what else have they done, where have they been, etc? All reasonable topics for a serious, prospective student to know, especially in a very small department where no doubt, students will be instructed in multiple areas by the same prof.

    The fundamental issue is that unless it is, as you've suggested and hope, zman ...a decision of mission/ministry/calling, engineers @ GCC must make substantial professional sacrifice to be in a place like that, absent pay (and the disparity for engineers, even in academe vs. liberal and fine artists and pure scientists is huge, security of tenure, lucrative retirement benefits and bonuses, opportunities to interact regularly and frequently with top-shelf colleagues, time for research, writing, publishing, chance to consult regularly in cutting-edge or even relatively mundane industrial arenas, limited possibility of specialized focus of expertise.

    The upside can be that there are few distractions from the biz of instructing. No doubt, scott's son and others benefit from this focus. And as in every case, especially where current knowledge is critical, teaching can be a distraction to keeping current. Especially with high teaching loads, high numbers of students in class, and substantial numbers of advisees. All these must impact GCC profs in both positive and negative ways.

    And what is the ultimate evidence of all this, no matter the nay-sayers or character assassins? It's as obvious as the good question zman has asked, times two, i.e. ...

    Why are there so few outstanding engineering programs and virtually none generally recognized as top 10 or even top tier 1????

    Doing so requires huge $$$ and consequent resources to both start and sustain a program. Same story in many applied techno-scientific fields, but especially in engineering. They become rapidly under-resourced, dated, and marginalized. And so virtually all Christian colleges opt for the Biola/USC model, realizing it's difficult, or impossible to provide a high quality engineering program.

    And of course this is confounded to the Nth degree at GCC. Why? Because they charge the lowest tuition on the planet.

    Again, GCC's saving grace in this venture is ...good students in/good students out, extremely limited curricula with only 2 major areas, a niche as a Christian engineering dept., and a faculty willing to work cheap and absent of the income, benefits and security their colleagues enjoy, be it for God or some other reason. But to suggest that GCC is the same engineering game as GA Tech, Case, Rose-Hulman, Harvey Mudd, etc. simply holds no water. Like Heaven's manna, anything's possible with Him, but I seriously doubt this is on the Master Engineer's front burner.

    So why would students pick such a route. Simple. It's a balancing act. They are willing, even desirous to forego the benefits of one scenario for those of another. At GCC those might include size, ethos/values, certainly cost, geography, extra-curriculars (it might be possible to play basketball or swim or dance @ GCC along w/ getting a basic engineering degree and doing so at Princeton or GA Tech or Penn State or even Illinois, would be out of the realm of possibility), etc. And while each has it's advantages, each has it's disadvantages. Pick your poison.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,034 Senior Member
    I've heard they have the best academics out of the Christian(non-catholic) colleges for engineering.
    While GCC has a fine reputation, many people would give that distinction to Calvin College in Michigan. Calvin is ABET accredited in General Engineering, with concentrations in mechanical, civil/environmental, electrical/computer, and chemical. Conventional college rankings, such as those of USN&WR, often put Calvin in a higher tier than GCC.
  • berryberry61berryberry61 Registered User Posts: 596 Member
    Conventional college rankings, such as those of USN&WR, often put Calvin in a higher tier than GCC.

    This statement is incorrect when looking at the college as a whole. GCC is a much more selective and higher ranked college than Calvin and attracts a higher caliber of students overall. With respect to engineering only, I can not comment
  • Whistle PigWhistle Pig - Posts: 4,093 Senior Member
    Both Corbett and berry2 are accurate, correct in their reporting. GCC is generally considered more selective among students, less so among faculty rankings. Calvin's engineering program is ranked higher than GCC's as noted.

    I'm curious about selectivity of students specifically in engineering? Does either/both provide this information? I believe that is one of the ABET assessments.
  • cross0328cross0328 Registered User Posts: 567 Member
    it is necessary to keep in mind that wildwoodscott's son may be an exception to the trend of engineering students at GCC. i have nothing against gcc, but i am gonna guess her son is one of the few students there going to top grad schools
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,034 Senior Member
    This statement is incorrect when looking at the college as a whole. GCC is a much more selective and higher ranked college than Calvin and attracts a higher caliber of students overall.
    Based on the stats at collegeboard.com, GCC does appear to be more selective than Calvin. However, the most popular college guide in the country, from US News and World Report, still rates Calvin significantly higher. They currently have Calvin as #112 in the National Liberal Arts College ranking, while GCC is classified as "Tier 3". This difference reflects the fact that selectivity is only one of the factors addressed in the USN&WR rankings.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,034 Senior Member
    With respect to engineering only, I can not comment
    I don't have the latest rankings, but the 2008 USN&WR rankings, for undergraduate engineering at schools without graduate programs, were posted here at collegeconfidential (scroll down to post #39). Calvin was ranked higher than GCC for undergraduate engineering at that time (#47 vs. #65).
  • zman5zman5 Registered User Posts: 247 Junior Member
    Thanks for the link corbett. I have been looking for a list longer than 25.
  • berryberry61berryberry61 Registered User Posts: 596 Member
    Based on the stats at collegeboard.com, GCC does appear to be more selective than Calvin. However, the most popular college guide in the country, from US News and World Report, still rates Calvin significantly higher. They currently have Calvin as #112 in the National Liberal Arts College ranking, while GCC is classified as "Tier 3". This difference reflects the fact that selectivity is only one of the factors addressed in the USN&WR rankings.

    Corbett - I guess my only comment here would be to use caution in using the USN&WR rankings for anything. They are based on some limited factors and do not always yield good results. This appears to be one such example.

    FWIW Grove City and Calvin are both included in Princeton Reviews Best 371 college list. From my research, I actually like and am impressed by Calvin and it is a school my daughter is considering. However, Grove City IMO is academically superior overall to Calvin. Their really is no valid reason I can think of why USN"WR would have one as a Tier 3 and the other as #112 overall
  • CreeklandCreekland Registered User Posts: 3,748 Senior Member
    Their really is no valid reason I can think of why USN"WR would have one as a Tier 3 and the other as #112 overall

    From what I've heard (and seems to be true in other instances), Conservative colleges (politically) get ranked lower than their Liberal counterparts in USNWR - mainly due to the aspect of educators rating each other - the stats tilt liberal. Then too, reputation is often based on name alone with some of those doing the rating having no idea what actually goes on in the school.

    Hearsay, of course, but completely plausible for both.
  • CreeklandCreekland Registered User Posts: 3,748 Senior Member
    Interestingly enough - I just looked at Forbes List for 2009. GCC ranks #364. Calvin ranks #455.

    Personally, while I don't really have a horse in this race (between Calvin and GCC esp for Engineering), I prefer Forbes List in that they rank schools by what graduates and profs have done plus debt accumulated (and not prestige or peer thoughts). I DO wish they would change part of their rating system - that which relies on "Rate My Professors..." but I have beefs with all rankings in one way or another. I just think Forbes criteria is better than USNWR - not that they are perfect by any means. Even within a school, departments differ greatly.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,034 Senior Member
    my only comment here would be to use caution in using the USN&WR rankings for anything. They are based on some limited factors and do not always yield good results.
    I actually agree, but it's also true that the USN&WR rankings are by far the most popular and recognized college rankings. For better or worse, they are the reference that most Americans turn to for evaluating or comparing different schools. So the USN&WR rankings are highly influential, whether we like it or not.

    I found a paper copy of the 2008 USN&WR rankings, which is a couple years out of date, but which has Calvin and GCC rated similarly as in 2010. At that time, Calvin was rated significantly better than GCC in terms of:

    - Peer Assessment (2.9 vs. 2.3, higher is better)
    - % classes of 50 or more (1% vs. 8%, lower is better)
    - Alumni giving rate (33% vs. 23%, higher is better)

    I agree that the USN&WR peer assessment score has a shaky basis. Nonetheless, the differences in PA score, as well as the overall differences in ranking, may reveal something about the way that these two schools are perceived by secular employers or graduate schools.
  • Whistle PigWhistle Pig - Posts: 4,093 Senior Member
    Gotta agree. The lists have one, and only one objective. Sell magazines, manuals, and books. End of story.

    They can be useful in gathering data and a few opinions in a single publication, but it is laughable how so many people place so much value on these meaningless assessments.

    And they are meaningless, because in the end, for any and all individuals going to college, they will be of no value in forecasting one's success, growth, development and future. And that's how people portend to employ these things.

    Pace and Astin have this thing as "right" as anyones can, imo. The ultimate measure of an institution's merit is how much value does it add to the life ...and lives ...of its students vis a vis other insitutions and/or simply growing older, spending one's days in other ventures. So much of this is this industry's attempts ...oh so successful... to play to people's egos and insecurities. And we take the bait. And so do college/university presidents.

    But when you look at who is most asked and responses most weighted about opinions????

    College presidents & next in lines.

    The advice offered here of go and see, talk, really ask TOUGH, non-softball questions and listen for genuine answers. Talk to kids. Many kids. Talk to profs and challenge them to candor, that which they've allegedly been trained to pursue. Take cheerleading for what it is. Another attempt to get you and yours to spend more time and money than most of us will on any other purchase in our entire lives. Visit and spend some time on those places that seem to make more sense than others.

    And that is what Pace and Astin conclude. The primary measure of real value is ...time. How students spend it, collectively. Because that will determine growth, development, learning. It's the great neutralizer to all the chest-thumping, and gets to real substantive issues.

    That said, Corbett's points are well taken. There is a certain reoccurring consistency. here ... and they are really not so miniscule as it seems in comparing them head to head. Approx. 25% , 700%, and nearly 50% diff in the 3 categories asking for both perception, class size, and support from among those who've been there. The differentials are substantial in every area. btw, the middle one is key to how GCC keeps its costs so low.
  • CreeklandCreekland Registered User Posts: 3,748 Senior Member
    The advice offered here of go and see, talk, really ask TOUGH, non-softball questions and listen for genuine answers. Talk to kids. Many kids. Talk to profs and challenge them to candor, that which they've allegedly been trained to pursue. Take cheerleading for what it is. Another attempt to get you and yours to spend more time and money than most of us will on any other purchase in our entire lives. Visit and spend some time on those places that seem to make more sense than others.

    On this you and I agree 100%. And since we're on a Christian board, can I also offer, visit colleges that seem to make sense, ask good questions all around, and pray - then follow God's leading. I would think both GCC and Calvin would be worth a visit - along with secular Engineering schools + their counterpart Christian clubs.
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