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MSU = Steppingstone U?

Quincy4Quincy4 Registered User Posts: 620 Member
edited October 2006 in Michigan State University
I'm curious as to why so many cc posters come to MSU with the intention to transfer? A poster on another thread recently asked about his/her chances to transfer from MSU's hotel program to Cornell's when both are equal and the top such programs. Many cc'ers, in their minds, 'settle' for MSU while plotting to transfer elsewhere. It seems like a waste of time and money. And trust me, from what many friends and others I’m aware of tell me, transferring colleges is traumatic; you really don’t feel attached to either place. Is MSU so God awful a place smart people feel they can’t stay, or is it peer pressure? … pressure pushing kids to transfer to a USN&WR ‘Top 25’ school. I happen to know of a much greater number of bright kids who love MSU (and end up being top donor-alumni to the school later in life – it’s $1.5B endowment is some testament to that)..

I'm not attacking, just curious. Let us know what’s on your minds.
Post edited by Quincy4 on

Replies to: MSU = Steppingstone U?

  • MJB4431MJB4431 Registered User Posts: 117 Junior Member
    As someone who transferred from MSU to UM, I feel like I may be able to add something. Coming into college, I had good, not great stats (3.6 UW/28/1300) and was rejected by my #1 school (UM) in-state. After that, coming to MSU was a no-brainer since it was definately the best school I could afford and had good resources, along with many of my friends from HS.

    Whoever said that generally wherever one ends up they like is dead-on...I didn't initially want to come to MSU but had a GREAT time. However, the problem was that I felt like I had hit some kind of ceiling (not to sound like an arrogant prick because I'll tell you right away I'm nothing special). I had sought out opportunities (honors classes, James Madison, high credit load, etc) and managed to get a 3.9. I'll agree that the resources are there at MSU but many times the student body is not that strong. This was my strongest motivation for transferring even after seeing what I had...I really wanted to be exposed to a more talented pool of students. Again I know you will justly defend many of the very smart kids that come to State (some MUCH more than myself) because they do exist and I have never said otherwise, but they are a minority.

    Basically although it seems to be a prestige thing on the surface, it goes beyond that to what finds contributes to their quality of life. The US News thing pales in comparison to atmosphere for SOME people (me in this case). Ann Arbor is a more intellectual setting and more fun (IMO) and even my most most diehard MSU fans hold contempt for many of the East Lansing locals and how they have shaped police policies.

    As far as your argument I have seen about undergraduate educational experience, I can say that I place less of an emphasis on certain factors that you cite and that do mean some things to people (like class sizes). Additionally, the presence of elite grad programs present some trickle down benefits even if they are not fully accessible.

    In the end, I have nothing but respect for MSU, its faculty/resources, but believe I have found the school that fits me best. I can't speak for others, but attending MSU may change at least some of these peoples' minds you speak of.

    I know this is a very longwinded post but I wanted to give you one view and hopefully I didn't sound like a prick.
  • Quincy4Quincy4 Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    MJB4431, I definitely appreciate your thoughtful and detailed response. Let me comment on a few things you’ve said.

    I definitely think there’s a knucklehead culture that hurts MSU’s image – students who feel drinking and partying is some kind of tradition MSU must uphold; they are the ones who are involved in riots and, sadly, alcohol poisoning up to dying – terrible. There are some students who do not deserve to be at MSU. But I find it hard to believe that, (your words) ‘students aren’t that strong’ in the James Madison and esp. the Honors College, those kids should be on par with Michigan, Harvard or anywhere in the country. Having been at Madison, myself as a student, I found it quite intellectually stimulating both inside and outside the classroom -- political discussions sizzled.

    Sometimes we generalize. For example, I spent much time at UVa a few years ago – where students have higher stats than MSU or UM, yet I did not find the ‘intellectual atmosphere there any more stimulating than MSU; it was preppier as UVa students are more showy with their wealth, as some are at UM.

    Also, as you noted, MJB4431, that UM was always your school of choice. Are you sure you didn’t already have your mind made up as to what you wanted to see about MSU, and UM for that matter? Do you think your eyes may have ignored the studious, intellectual students at State while similarly ignoring the anti-intellectual party-types at UM? I grant you, it is very difficult to ignore the greatness of Ann Arbor as a sophisticated, intellectual college town. It may be the best in the country on that score. East Lansing’s no A2, but it’s getting better. Bars are being slowly replaced with coffeehouses, upscale art houses and designer clothing shops plus expensive condos and quality restaurants – and not w/o out a lot of gripes from student ‘traditionalists’. Some call it the AnnArborization of EL. Call it what you will, but there are scores of more somber tables with a buzz of intellectual chatter. It’s changed since in went to school at MSU in the 80s and it’s still changing before my eyes. And pervasive U-influenced institutions like the Wharton Performing Arts Center, the E. L. Film Festival (Michigan’s biggest and best), and the theatre and Music Dept’s influence (esp Jazz Studies: ever go to Beggar’s Banquet restaurant on a Fri or Sat and hear students and, sometimes, profs during jam session’s sound as though they’re Greenwich Village ready?). And the unique (in the nation) One Book, One Community program has E.L. and MSU freshmen read a major literary book, a few years ago it was Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. But even before the current upgrade, E.L. was ranked, by Rand McNally, as one of America’s 5 best college towns (along w/ A2, Madison, Berkeley and Cambridge).

    I agree U-M’s big time grad schools: notably law and medical schools, do enliven the atmosphere intellectually. The downside, from what students I hear is that undergrads quite often feel 2nd fiddle to these schools.

    I would also note you may be, on some level, substituting intelligence/student quality for student geographical diversity, which U-M clearly has over MSU – I’ve chided MSU officials for going after more OOS students about it’s 10-12% and it is doing so – slowly: the goal is 15-20%. Clearly, a lot of students who knew each other from HS are going to seem less interesting and do less innovative stuff opposed to those from another state.

    Anyway, again I thank you for your quality post. And good luck at UM!
  • KnavishKnavish Registered User Posts: 835 Member
    Background: I'm currently a sophomore science major at MSU. I came to Michigan with my mom a year ago, and as an out-of-stater, MSU was a financially appealing choice. I planned on transferring to UMich once I became eligible of in-state status. A year has passed, and this hasn't changed. I'll share my two foremost problems with MSU.

    The classes here, even the Honors classes, are not challenging. Professors cover material on a superficial basis. Having looked at the pace and coursework in, what you argue, are comparable schools, there is a stark and dismaying difference in rigor at MSU.

    Second, the social life here, quite bluntly, sucks. Personalities are extreme. Most are dull.

    If you want more detail on either of this, I'd be willing to elaborate. Right now, I have to go. Tell me what you want more detail on.

    Quincy, why are you so adamant in defending MSU? Are you sure that having attended sometime in the 80s gives you an accurate view of the place?
  • MJB4431MJB4431 Registered User Posts: 117 Junior Member
    While holding off on commenting about the rigor at least for now, I would say that social life at MSU is pretty solid, coming from someone who's now been at both institutions. It's pretty hard to write off an entire student body.
  • KnavishKnavish Registered User Posts: 835 Member
    Well, I didn't mean to generalize. I do have a few friends here; I don't consider them dull. But most think that the only want to have fun is to (a) get drunk or (b) basically do nothing. Also, most students here aren't academically passionate. Sure, everyone wants to get good grades, but that's different.
  • Quincy4Quincy4 Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    Knavish, I stand by what I said. And it’s not a matter of ‘defending’ MSU – MSU is what it is – a world renowned public university -- and needs no defense from me or anyone else.

    As you your comments: it's all but impossible to generalize accurately about 2 diverse, internationally known 40,000-student universities. As I've also mentioned, obviously stats support the fact that UM, overall, has a higher avg statistical student body, in terms of GPA and geographical diversity. But it's not as stark as you make it seem. Also, how on earth could you know how difficult or easy the Honors college is, overall, as MSU's honors program cuts across a wide variety of academic disciplines: literally ever program MSU offers. How could possibly know them all?

    I can't argue what you experienced either at MSU, UM or anywhere else. But I can tell you, that whether it’s someone who experienced MSU in the 80s or today, they would strongly refute the information you are trying to pass off as: “fact”.
  • Quincy4Quincy4 Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    Knavish: "But most think that the only want to have fun is to (a) get drunk or (b) basically do nothing."

    Hmm. Let's see. Would you say that the MSU students who just won the national debate trophy were motivated by getting drunk and doing nothing? Or those who are, year in and year out, runners up in the many various national engineering contest, like the solar car or concrete canoe contest? Or those who’ve put MSU at the top in winning or placing in the annual Putnam math competition? Or those who, even while still at MSU, are winners of various state and national print & broadcast journalistic awards? Or how about those who study abroad? (as MSU has the largest group of such students from a single campus in the country). Or those women who, over the last 2 decades, put MSU in the top 10 of universities that had their women grads earn medical degrees? Or the many campus Christ ministries at MSU; surely THEY are not into getting drunk all the time; or any time. Or the many science students that have, over the years, propelled MSU into having grads receive the most Nat'l Science Foundation fellowships? Or those jazz students -- in MSU's top-rated jazz program -- that, on their own, show up each weekend at jam sessions (often w/ some of their nationally renowned profs) at Beggar's Banquet restaurant... or, etc, etc, etc,… you get my drift.

    ... fact is, Knavish, all your doing is perpetuating those tired old stereotypes which cause me to have real trouble taking your so-called 'insight' with anything but a grain of salt.
  • KnavishKnavish Registered User Posts: 835 Member
    I made it explicit that I was a "science" major. Clearly, as such, my perspective will be tainted. I never pretended to give an unbaised description of MSU.

    Further, I was careful not to speak in extremes. By disregarding this, you made false and desperate accusations.

    I maintain that generalizations contain a grain of truth. If MSU "is what it is," why are you bothered by its stereotypes?
  • MJB4431MJB4431 Registered User Posts: 117 Junior Member
    I'm pretty sure we can agree there's some strong points for MSU and some not so strong. Going to any college has to be right for each individual person. For myself and Knavish, there were factors we believed worked against MSU and that other places we would find more appealing. For Quincy and many other successful alums he has already noted, MSU was able to give them exactly what they were looking for and was an enviornment in which they succeeded.

    No one in the three of us who have all experienced the university, has an actual unbiased opinion of MSU, not to say that's a bad thing. Quincy is a very proud alum and feels obliged to defend his alma mater against accusations of being a shallow party school, as well as trying to improve what he feels is lacking. I personally feel better served at UM but comparing schools of any kind will always carry a high degree of subjectivity.
  • Quincy4Quincy4 Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    Well said, MJB4431, … and true.

    Knavish, I'm bothered by the broad stereotypes on this board, because kids on this board, often HS students, are looking for the truth, not stereotypes and trash talk (I'm not saying you do the latter, but some do). I defend other schools I know against such stereotypes, too, but quite obviously, as an alum, I know and care about MSU the most... Also, you have generalized -- even in backing off/noting you have 'some' friends who aren't 'dull', in saying 'most' simply want to get drunk and 'do nothing' -- I'm not quite sure what the latter means. As I've noted before, there IS a knucklehead class of MSU kids who run around, esp on weekends, and get drunk & make a bad name for the school; students who allow others to point the finger and say: 'See, I told you about MSU.' But these are hardly the norm (many who cause trouble are visitors and not even students) or even the majority by any means... and btw, for the record, I graduated in '92, visit friends who work in the MSU admin and colleges at least 2-3 times per year -- and I work with students -- so my knowledge of what's going on there is pretty current.

    Also, Knavish, I want to congratulate you: if as a science major -- I'm not sure which branch -- you find MSU's science programs, even Honors, neither rigorous nor challenging, then you are truly an Einstein genius, esp given the unlimited opportunity MSU bright students have to work/research individually with some of the finest minds in the world, esp in physics (and esp viz our world famous cyclotron) and in the biological and natural sciences. Harvard may be boring to you – as I’ve known more than a few former Harvard students – who are now grad asses and profs at MSU – who feel that many of MSU’s top programs are equally as challenging, if not more so, than at their old school. The term “best kept secret” and word “underrated” are heard by such employees who are not, and need not, trying to polish their apples by so saying.
  • KnavishKnavish Registered User Posts: 835 Member
    I'm a physics major. I have taken every opportunity given--student organizations, science related work, the cyclotron, Honors classes, you name it. I'm not satisfied. The bottom line is that the classes are not challenging. Physics is stripped of its theoretical, scientific value and degraded into plug-and-chug child's play. There is a stark difference between the textbooks used at (and presumably, what's learned at), say, Stanford, Cornell, or UMich and MSU. I now understand firsthand why a student who graduates from one of the former institutions will in general be more knowledgeable and productive. (I'm not sure how familiar you are with physics; thus I didn't elaborate on specific textbooks and methods.)

    MSU does not provide me with the quality of education I want. I end up having to do this on my own time (and, in effect, see how poorly MSU does). Thus, I want to transfer.

    I made a 4.0 last year with relative ease. And, paradoxically, that's what frustrates me most: I see how easy it is to get by without really knowing anything. This is like high school all over again.

    Quincy, your uncompromising regard for MSU makes me suspicious. Are you seeking truth? It is you who is misleading students.
  • Quincy4Quincy4 Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    Knavish, maybe I'm missing something here... You say you're a physics major and have experience in the Honors College -- obviously, kidding aside, you're the farthest thing from a dummy... and, no, I'm not a science type (econ/poli-sci was me)... But you're harping on textbooks (among the many reasons you advance to prove your belief MSU is trash) -- my understanding of MSU's advanced/honors classes is that they went beyond textbooks and that students were pretty much free to craft their own programs and work more individually with profs. I interact with the Honors Coll; know, personally, of a number of, obviously, very bright students (you have to have 3.5, 30/1360 before they'll even look at you) who engaged in research with top profs -- loved it, and went on to earn Ph.D.'s, often at top grad schools... Sure didn't hurt them any.

    So I don't know what to make of your -- MSU textbooks are inferior in physics, esp Honors physics, for in the cases I'm familiar with, in this field, the coursework is anything but 'textbook' bound. That would be the case at many an AAU research university let alone MSU; so I really don't know what you're talking about (do you?).

    As to your comment about being uncompromising: get a life. As I said, I will never quibble with students' bad experiences at MSU; no place can be all things to all students. And I've never said MSU's a place w/o faults... But it seems you're becoming hot 'n bothered because I dispute your vague, across-the-board, groundless generalizations. Obviously, you've had a bad experience there and want the world to know it. Fine, it's a free country. But I'm going to call you out and ask you to clarify yourself and give specifics and not broad-based, silly ad hominem attacks against me and falsehoods about the school ("everybody wants to get drunk and not do anything") when, really, it's become your mission and agenda in life to simply trash the U. Sorry you’re offended at being challenged.

    I give the truth as I know it... There's nothing I'VE SAID you can point at as a lie or distortion about MSU (if so, lay it out, I want to see where I have); I'm not hear to spread lies only help educate individuals about the school, and others I'm familiar with; and about higher ed in general... You're the one with credibility issues, not me. I don't have an agenda, but obviously, you do...
  • Quincy4Quincy4 Registered User Posts: 620 Member
    Knavish, you might take a page from MJB4431's book. MJB4431 articulated a well-thought narrative as to why MSU didn't serve his/her needs and has moved on to UM where he/she's happy now. No wide, trashing generalizations. That's perfectly fine. It's you I don't get.
  • KnavishKnavish Registered User Posts: 835 Member
    Quincy continues to misrepresent what I write. He accuses me of making ad hominems (does he know what these are?), yet demeans and patronizes me. All the while--especially in the bitter jabs--his insecurity shines through.

    If anybody wants to have a rational, balanced discussion about MSU, I'm willing. I'm willing to say good things. The prompt of this thread asked for reasons why some might dislike MSU. But clearly, this is not what Quincy wanted. He wanted merely to vent on his own.
  • MSUProfMSUProf Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    Knavish, I understand your desire for more challenge and deeper material. Usually, MSU honors college students are permitted to enroll in the most challenging courses for which they are ready. A subset of these students take 400-level (senior) courses during their first year at MSU, and a subset of those take 800-level (introductory graduate courses) during the sophomore year. Juniors and seniors may be admitted to 900-level courses, although these are listed as "reserved for Ph.D. students." This is the mechanism that MSU normally uses to provide an education of high quality for quite talented, quite serious students. It usually works. You should ask your academic adviser about your options--you can still change classes for this spring. I would also be glad to make specific suggestions.

    The only part of your post that I do not understand is the comment about the cyclotron. The program in nuclear physics at MSU is ranked as the #2 program in the U.S. in that field. If you are a professorial assistant in the cyclotron, have you asked your adviser about a more challenging project?
This discussion has been closed.