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Thought about some stuff

International95International95 Registered User Posts: 1,611 Senior Member
I recently learned that Mount Holyoke College dropped its natural science w/ lab requirement--quietly--for the class of 2017. I'm not sure if they have done this for everyone but they did drop at least half of the distribution requirements for the class of 2017, maybe even 2016. Initially, I struggled to make sense of this, but then Colin Diver's words came to me: "By far the most important consequence of sitting out the rankings game, however, is the freedom to pursue our own educational philosophy, not that of some newsmagazine." It seems that Mount Holyoke's decision to drop those distribution requirements, particularly the science requirement, was out of a need to improve the graduation rate, which is a component of the rankings. Isn't this just sad? Isn't Colin Diver right? Is this why institutions moved towards open curricula (i.e making the students happy at the expense of pursuing the institution's academic philosophy)? When did Grinnell, Vassar and Hamilton move towards open curricula?

PS Out of curiosity, does anyone know where Reed was ranked in the years 1989-1995?

Replies to: Thought about some stuff

  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    Does it matter?
    I havent watched this for a while, but perhaps Steve will answer your ?
    http://youtu.be/KC_lkTnbXPg
  • International95International95 Registered User Posts: 1,611 Senior Member
    lol, "out of curiosity". It doesn't matter, of course not. That's a pretty cool video. The science buildings looked brand new in 1997!
  • rhg3rdrhg3rd Registered User Posts: 947 Member
    edited June 2014
    Not certain what MoHo's decision is based upon. Women's college are subject to lower graduation rates due to women wanting to transfer out. Could it be due to lack of men or just the ones who go to Hampshire? Don't expect the other four remaining Seven Sisters to follow suit.

    There is no evidence that an open curriculum improves graduation rates. The liberalization more likely has to do with surveys conducted on the perceived value of distribution requirements by past students. A likely scenario is that some colleges created easy science courses for students who were just fulfilling requirements. However, students weren't worked hard enough; so they didn't see much value to the experience. Further, the math abilities of the students who attend LAC's (versus uni's) isn't what it used to be. Foreign language requirements were dropped by a few institutions after many Ph.D. programs eliminated the requirement of reading knowledge in two foreign languages.

    At the other end of the spectrum from open curriculum, the University of Chicago has increasing in popularity. At Yale, a foreign language course is required even with a 5 on an AP test. http://yalecollege.yale.edu/content/foreign-language-requirement Harvard still has its general education requirements. https://college.harvard.edu/academics/planning-your-degree/general-education

    Brown and Wesleyan went "open curriculum." Their ratings aren't what they like them to be. So now there's another test-optional "open curriculum" LAC. So what?
  • circuitridercircuitrider Registered User Posts: 2,972 Senior Member
    @rhg3rd
    Brown and Wesleyan went "open curriculum."

    Wesleyan and Brown adopted open-curriculums - with some tweaking since - about twenty years before the USNews rankings came into existence.
  • whenhenwhenhen Registered User Posts: 5,638 Senior Member
    Why do you assume that changing the distribution requirements was in response to the USNWR rankings? For all we know, the science professors just decided it wasn't a valuable requirement. Wouldn't that be far more likely than changing the curriculum because HAR HAR US News exists.
  • International95International95 Registered User Posts: 1,611 Senior Member
    edited June 2014
    Okay, they didn't just drop the science requirement, which was arguably the most difficult requirement for non-majors. They dropped:

    1) the minor/second major
    2) two science classes with one lab (now just one science class--no lab required)
    3) three humanities classes requirement (now just one class)
    4) two classes in the social sciences (now just one)

    MHC's ranking, though insignificant, has gone down a lot these days, and I can't help but wonder if this change, which came around after a few months after US News released its 2014 list, was instituted in an effort to improve the graduation rate, amongst other objective factors.

    Also I (or any professor) would hardly think science courses with lab are not a valuable requirement. For social science majors, strong experience in the natural sciences can be very helpful in terms of understanding their disciplines and their origins.
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